The doctor snapped on his gloves. Straightening the crisp green sleeves of his scrubs, he cleared his throat.
His young protege scrambled to select the delicate blade from the glistening array before him.
“Scalpel.” The young man echoed, passing it with an unsteady hand.
The doctor grasped the blade with a flourish positioning implement between thumb and fingers. He held it with intention, like a poet poised to dip a quill in fresh ink. Then, turning to his audience, he paused. The room fell silent. Rows of colleagues and curious onlookers filled the tiers over capacity.
“Good evening and thank you for joining me.”
The crowd hummed words of appreciation in return. Gesturing broadly, the doctor relished the
Gesturing broadly, the doctor relished the theatre of the moment.
“Here lies a man, who we can only aspire to.”
A murmur of agreement passed through the crowd.
“Today, with much sadness and great intrigue, we will see the inner workings of this extraordinary man.”
Waving the scalpel through the air like the conductor of an orchestra, the crowd rose slightly from their seats. The doctor nodded to his assistant.
His assistant moved swiftly to the table at the centre of the hall. With quivering fingers, he gripped the corners of the sheet veiling the imposing form of the corpse. Drawing the shroud slowly back, he first revealed the face, then neck, then trunk of the lifeless body. The doctor acted with intention as he stepped to the side of the pale, yellowing figure. Wishing to maintain the presence of the moment, he pressed the blade through the hollow at the base of the throat he began to slice. Running the sharp edge along the central line of the rib cage and solar plexus, he sliced, the soft flesh giving way to the soft fatty tissue and muscle of the abdomen. Angling the blade downwards now, he drew the razor’s edge through the cold elastic of the stomach, down to the groin. The incision peeled open, sliding back to reveal the viscera within.
“The innards.” He proclaimed. “The processing plant that kept this remarkable machine running.”
Positioning himself by the abdomen, the doctor readied his blade for the next incision. A bead of sweat formed on his concentrated brow. Placing the blade at a right angle with the existing wound, he pressed the knife down. The crowd craned their necks.
No sooner than he had begun, the doctor jumped backward. The silver blade fell to the ground, clattering and sliding across the sterile white tiles. The crowd rose, a wave of uncertain chatter passing through the stands. The doctor, hands raised, shaking and shielding his face, gasped for air.
“What is it!?” a voice demanded from the crowd. Others echoed the call.
Others echoed the call.
Lowering his hands, the doctor moved forward in trepidation.
“My god,” the assistant whispered breathlessly.
“I can see something,” another voice called from across the hall.
The surgeon moved forward cautiously.
Sprouting forth from the open cavity where the navel had once been, a tiny rose pushed it’s way to the surface, it’s petals slowly unfolding.
“I… I… This is most unusual,” the doctor stammered.
A rumble of excited debate built in the crowd.
In a fit of disbelief, the surgeon grasped the flower by the head, pulling at it in a vain attempt to dispel or remove what he believed to be only an illusion. The petals crushed in his palm. He tugged. Resistance rapidly gave way to the sensation of roots tearing. Ripping forth, the tiny plant brought with it a great yard of colourful silken cloth. Cries of astonishment filled the air. The doctor pulled again; another yard came, then another, and another. The material fell in piles on crisp white tiles, arm over arm. Then suddenly, there was no more. The silken tail tumbled to the ground, and finally, the room fell silent.
The doctor shook, peering into the gaping wound. Something moved within. Using his fingers to pry the flesh back, he slipped his hands inside. His arms went deeper than was seemingly possible. At arm’s length, his fingers met a sack of bloodied tissue no larger than a football, jiggling and bouncing, deep inside the otherwise hollow interior. Grasping it in both hands, the surgeon drew the gyrating sack free of its fleshy cavern. The assistant hurriedly cleared the trolley on which the surgical implements lay. Resting the twitching sack on the surface, the doctor wiped his sweaty brow.
“Ladies and gentlemen.” His jaw flapped, voiceless for a moment.
“There is nothing left to do, but…”
Steadying the sack with one hand, he sliced with the other, careful not to cut so deep as to damage its contents. Working his fingers into the incision, he slowly parted the tissue. At first, it was hard to distinguish what it was. The creature bucked and rolled, it’s eyes slowly opening. Finding its four tiny legs, it wobbled to its knees.
The doctor gasped.
Dragging itself instinctively to its feet, the animal began to lick itself clean.
“Why, it’s a little horse.”
The Lilliputian pony, as if responding to the name of its genus, jumped and rose to its hind legs. It let out a determined neigh. The crowed roared in fear, confusion, and awe. The animal startled. Leaping from the trolley, the animal tumbled to the ground, its head taking the impact of the fall. The fragile neck broke with an audible snap. And, just as suddenly as it was born, the tiny animal lay lifeless on the floor.