Night had long ago set over Shanghai but Dr Beck had hardly noticed, engrossed as he was with the results of his latest tests. He sat at his surgery desk and scribbled hurried notes into his journal…
So busy. The fever is spreading through Shamian’s slums and I can’t stop it. I’ve looked at the slides, I’ve been out to the houses, I’ve done everything I can think of but I’m stumped, and whilst I sit here scratching my stupid head people – good people – are dying. I don’t know what to
Beck’s train of thought was violently derailed as the surgery door burst open, kicked almost of its hinges by a tong thug, “What is the meaning of this?” Beck shouted rising to his feet.
“You doctor, you fix!” the tong ordered with a wild look in his eyes. Behind him a second thug sporting a broken arm dragged a third whose flattened nose poured blood.
Beck hated the tong almost more than the Mechs, they were predators feeding off the misery of their own, condemning decent people to a life of fear and servitude. He didn’t care a jot about his oath, these animals didn’t deserve any help and he’d be dammed if he’d be bullied into giving them any. He stepped up to the thug, looked him straight in the eye and said “I will do no such thing, now get ou…”
The punch to his stomach smashed the breath right out of his body and he doubled over and fell to the ground, his mind spinning with nausea. “You fix bastard! You fix or kill you!”
“No,” Beck wheezed. The kick lifted him off the floor.
“Nnnn” he managed to say, the pain was blinding. Another kick.
“You fix or we burn!”
“No. No fix, get out!” Beck hissed through gritted teeth.
The tong animal was wild with fury. He kicked over the desk, threw supplies across the room, tore a cabinet off the wall until the one with the broken nose spoke, his voice thick and pained. He spoke in mandarin and whatever he said had an immediate effect on the wild one who calmed down and turned back to the figure curled on the floor, “You fix or we burn family, understand? We burn Chinese.”
Beck looked up at the tong and knew from his eyes that he meant it, “You bastard,” he croaked, he had no choice and he hated it.
Beck struggled to his feet, “Yes, I fix, I damn well fix,” he said, “and then you get the hell out of my surgery.”
Broken nose made a strange choking sound and it took a while for Beck to realise he was laughing, “You find something funny?” he asked, furious.
“This our town” the bleeding tong said spitting a wad of blood on the floor, “Mean this place ours too. Now fix or Chang start many fire, you understand Doctor Beck.”
It was not a question. Beck nodded sharply once and reached for his leather bag…
To be continued…
All the “Mutations” posts can be read here.
Links to other blogs and stories:
1) The mysterious callers hail from Darien’s blog here.