I stare at the numbers. They weave and dance in front of me as I flick through the papers. Spread sheets of data, lines of ones and zeros, coded names for the patients, I assign them animals. I finished with the mammals a long time ago. I’m on to the more obscure ocean dwellers, I flick past the A names and Arapaima, Archerfish, and Arctic char. They are all people. People I've met, people I've seen, at least on the cellular level. One might be a Adrenocortical carcinoma from a middle aged woman, her DNA code lodged on a cross referenced page across the room, another a sliver from an Esophageal cancer from a man who smoked all of his short thirty eight year life. I don’t know their names, I don’t see their eyes, but I know them all the same. Their paths, their DNA, the cities that spawned them and the culture that drove their choices into their inevitable demise.
I stare at the numbers and see the pattern. The pattern the computers could not work out, the intricacies of peer pressure and pollution, of DNA and viral catastrophes. I have solved it. In my mind the pieces interlock and form a whole, a disease, as splendid complex infinite monster that stalks and culls the strangers who fall into its multi-layered traps.
It had all started so long ago. A short conversation in a lab. How far were the genetic dispositions to addiction responsible for the cancers associated with them? Then another question. How far were the genetic dispositions to cancer growth linked to genetic dispositions to addiction? And then another question and then another. My mind poured into the genome and I tore out the pages of the book searching for more and more connections. Then I looked to the world, the air, the water, the very food they consumed, their upbringing. I started to see it all, an interconnected labyrinth of meaning at the heart of which lay a slumbering, terrifying beast that wanted my life one cell at a time.
I saw it now, I saw the problems, the connections the way the factors moved and whirled and swept through the world. I can see the solutions. The way the puzzle moved under my thoughts, the way it leaps left and right as I prodded and poked in trial and error as I searched for answers. I hear it scream as I remove a number, I hear it whimper as I take a gene, cut a factor; it rages around in my skull indignant I should be so bold, so presumptuous.
You are of our making and we have the right to burn you where you stand. I laugh to myself. It is clear now. It is clear. I can save them. I can save them all.
I turn back to the wall and see her picture, I see her eyes her deep green eyes that were filled with such love, such hope for our lives. I see all of the genes in my mind and I take them to the monster. I see how I could have done it all differently, how it could have worked, how the world would have been so different. The beast laughs at me from behind my own eyes and does barrel rolls in the river of my memory. It sees my death and purses its lips, it sees my faults and failings and knows my time is almost at an end.
I pull a pen from the lapel pocket and walk to the blank snow field of the whiteboard. As I touch the tip to the board I hear a satisfying scream. I begin to write and know I will not stop until everything has poured from me. By the time I am done I will be gone, dead, my energy spent. But I will make this one last thrust.
‘For hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee’