PERFECTION’S FAILURE by Craig Meinhart
Their art is a secret one. They operate in perpetual darkness, their eyes having been carefully removed since being chosen by The Board. Trained to excel in sensory deprivation since birth, the Guardian Angels are so revered by the select few that know of them they are rumoured to come from the farthest reaches of our civilized world or maybe Heaven itself. Little does it matter they were created in a lab, culled from the best genes and raised by the brightest and most baroque minds. Their needs attended to by slave nurses, their job is to save the lives of the world’s most powerful money barons. But this latest procedure is to be different. The Board wishes to show off their prize creations during have a live surgery event. A coming out party of grand design ensues.
You are picked by lottery, miraculously saved from being left to rot in an overcrowded hospital meant for civilians, the odds against you twenty two million to one. Luck is on your side. Unaware that you are to be a star attraction, they transport you from the nausea-inducing stench of the local ward to an ambulance and then to a prep room at a secret location. Giddy fingers poke and prod while celebratory chatter hangs high above your consciousness. No one tells you anything, but since you have no living family no one protests either. From light to dark and back again, all you really see are different shapes wearing the same hospital garb. They never speak to you, only about you, and it’s only the pain you’re in that reminds you that this is real. That dragon never sleeps.
Once prepped for surgery you are wheeled into a cavernous room with an observation deck above. Several microscopic cameras have been carefully installed so that none of the action is missed, and the audience above has special screens to take it all in. You are here to announce to the world that these special creatures exist, that they are beautiful and rare and infallible in a way that radiates a patina of perfection on their masters. This ceremony is an orchestration of indentured servants, Petri-dish abominations, and surroundings so sterile the very presence of life seems like a profanity.
Liver disease is your imperfection, and the surgery begins with a long, curved opening of your flesh starting at the upper abdomen. There is a symphony of silence in the instinctual manoeuvrings of the mythical doctors, offset by the nurses that have been trained within an inch of their lives to place the tools at the blind surgeons’ disposal with supernatural readiness. This is a contest between artist and medium, with no technology used in the procedure, only to record it. Everything is done by touch and smell and sound, and at first even the audience above is hushed in awe of the ceremony, their breathing held low in the presence of such magnificence. Never before has it been dreamt that man could be trained to divine states of instinct, where the Guardian Angels can practically sniff out disease and remove it like a truffle. The crowd grins and sweats and licks its lips at the sight of blood, amused and aroused and enchanted.
None of this offsets the roaring pain that now fills your being, for though you are imperfect you know of a problem before they do. You know because you are awake. There is an abnormality that they did not take into account, and that is your body’s inability to process certain drugs, namely opiates. While the anaesthesia is meant to put you under, it only does an illusory job. Unable to move, unable to speak, but under the full assault of your senses under duress, your brain is screaming in agony so loud you feel like it might explode. Every precise move of the scalpel is a jab of fire, every finger digging inside your body a cruel Grand Inquisitor ready to make you plead for death.
It takes a while, but one of the Guardian Angels senses something is wrong and drops his scalpel. The tinkling of stainless steel on the ground shatters the calm of the event like an explosion, gasps of disbelief escaping both the nurses and spectators. The surgery comes to a screeching halt, the Angels starting to titter and mutter, unable to cope with failure. One of the nurses starts to cry at the thought of her fate while one of the Angels cuts his own throat. No one bothers to sew you back up and try to save you, too shocked to do anything but let you die. People are ushered out in embarrassment, and you are left bleeding and unattended.
A more thoroughgoing investigation of your case history would’ve revealed your deficiencies as a patient, but there was a rush to make the spectacle happen. And now it is ruined by your inability to meet the desires of the masters, who wield their influence to cover the whole thing up. Your death ensures that the Guardian Angels will never reach the perfection they were designed for, and no one cares to mourn your passing because of it.