Daughters of the Doctor
by R. M. Francis
Daughters of the Doctor is a voyeuristic narrative that leads the reader into a strange, abandoned building, where we are witness to uncanny bodies and the unusual horrors left behind by the now absconded doctor…
Tucked away in the crepuscular loneliness of the city lies a grey concrete building. And it is small, vacant. Just where the town centre ceases and just before the suburbs start. Just before the red brick rows of terraces and semis criss-crossing each other in webs of families, trades, tales. By the metal bridge, painted green, that allows single file access over the brook. Close to the last pub in the area with an outdoor. You don’t go in there. Dad said not to. By the tip. By the patch of dead grass we used to swig cider on. The building is here. Brutal, cube, traced in barbed wire. Lightless, barren, rust bars against dark windows.
Inside is barren. A cold warehouse the occupants left years ago – leaving nothing, not even light. Towards the back is a heavy steel door. Bolts and nuts armour it. A figure, mechanical, stealthily standing guard. Dad said not to go in. On the other side is another room; shallow and tight. Three beds line up against the walls.
Dad said not to go. He said, they walk in, one following one as a shadow would. Feet hit the floor in synchronicity. Eyes wide and unblinking. Face relaxed and mouth agape. They plod. No dip or rise. They line up, one by each bed. Three women. Girls really, you think. Lithe and pale and mournful. Sinews, tendons, ligaments – melodies through flesh. You can’t take your eyes off them, he said. You couldn’t.
You keep going back. They live on an intravenous drip supplied by a stranger never seen or heard. They sit together in feeding and all their features start to contort. Not in pain. Not in pleasure. Just muscular instinct shifting. They mould away. Limbs flick, spasm and change. They mould away. And day by day they slowly appear more than similar. Not just sisters. Factory doll facsimile.
Next time, they begin to move as one and talk together. You watch. They stand, they sit, they lie – in order, together – a regiment of one. Then eyes close and as they do, they rise, moving to the centre of the room. And they embrace. Clothes fall and beads of sweat drip over naked figures. They sweat. Opal and viscous. They hug. Then skin begins to drip away – limbs coagulate. Digits of hands grip wrists and sink through flesh – no blood, no viscera – a suck-sinking slick like quicksand. Bone melts into marrow and you think of Nan’s lamb chops. Grandad sucking the joints of bone. Ductile frames. Ductile has a sound. Ductile sounds like slugs slipping suckers from window frames. They melt into each other.