William Doonan

I write books and stories.

MedicineLand: Chapter Thirty-Two

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Adam had barely removed her clothes when the phone rang.

“I’m more important,” Celeste said, as he pulled off her sock.

“You are,” he said.  “And I’m sorry.”  He leaned over to find the cellphone.

“The female just woke up,” Denise Rosen told him.

“Is she stable?”

“It’s like nothing happened.”

“And the male?”

“He died.  He cooled down.”

“OK stay with her tonight.  Keep her company.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yeah, stay with her.  I’ll get you another week off in the summer.”

“There’s a paper in this, and I want second authorship.”

“You can have first,” he said, hanging up.

“What did she want?” Celeste asked.

“How do you know it was a she?”

“I heard the voice.”

“She was keeping me apprised on the progress of an experiment.”

“Did it go well?”

“Yeah, one of my mice undied.”

Celeste almost smiled.  “The same thing happened to my uncle.”

“I doubt it.”  Adam crawled back under the blankets.  “For some reason, it seems to work only on females.”

Celeste kissed him.  “No,” she said.  “It works on men too.  It’s just much rarer ,and it makes them impressionable.”

Adam sat up and turned on the light.  “Impressionable,” he repeated.  “What are we talking about here?”

“Almost all women survive,” she said, “but only very rarely do men.  And after  they pass through, they become more stupid.”

Adam stared at her.  “Again, what are we talking about?”

“Pay attention to me,” she said.  “I’ll talk with you about this tomorrow, but we had other plans for tonight.”


Afterwards, when she was asleep, he dressed quietly and drove back to Sentec.  He found Denise smoking under the vent, staring at the female mouse who plodded nervously around her cage.

“She’s hungry,” Denise said.

“So feed her.”

“No.  She’s still groggy and I don’t want her to aspirate while eating.”

Adam removed the cover from the other cage and pressed his fingers on the male mouse’s abdomen.  “He’s cold.”

“What are we doing here, boss?”

“I think we’re doing the first clinical trials of something that could be medically huge.  Think of the surgical implications.  Doctors could operate on patients who were completely inert.  Hearts could be removed.  Lungs could be removed.  Livers and pelvises and what not.  I’m not sure what I’m getting at.  We need more mice.”

“No way.”  She drew on her cigarette.

“Three females and twenty males.”

“We definitely don’t have any protocol for that.”  She shook her head. “ That’s not a normal test parameter in any experimental situation.  Did you just pull those numbers out of your butt?”

Adam opened the female’s cage.  He picked her up and stroked her head.  “I want more females just to be sure it will work.  I need twenty males because I think it might only work on one or two of them.”

Denise looked up.  “Why wouldn’t it work on males?”

“Just following a hunch.”

“No, no.  Picking up an extra six pack because you might have company is a hunch.  Paying off your credit card debt because you think the governor’s new budget is finally going to tank the economy is a hunch.  But suspecting that only female mice can be revived from the dead is more than a hunch.”

Adam stared at her.

“Did you ever take any Biology?”

He shook his head.  “Can’t remember.”

“There’s not much difference between males and females.  Only the sex chromosomes.  Females have two X chromosomes, males have one X and one Y.”

“Even in mice?”

“Even in mice.  So if we’re having a differential effect on males and females, then it’s linked to the X chromosome.”

“Wouldn’t it be linked to the Y chromosome?” Adam asked, “if it’s affecting mostly males?”

She shook her head.  “Did you worry about getting bald when you were younger?”

“I have a full head of hair,” Adam said.  “A gorgeous mane that continues down my back.”

“Whatever.  You ever see a bald woman?”

“Yes, but not a lot of them.  Strange, huh?”

“Not strange.  The gene that codes for what’s appropriately called male-pattern baldness is located on the X chromosome.  If a woman has a mutation, or a defect in that gene, well, she’s got another one on her other X chromosome, kind of like a backup.  She’d have to have mutations in both genes to go bald, which is highly unlikely.  But a man has only one X chromosome, so one mutation, he has no backup, so hello, bald spot.”

Adam nodded.  “OK, see I have no idea what you’re talking about.  But do you agree we might have something significant here?”

Denise nodded.  “Yes,” she said, “but you’re forgetting one thing.”


“We are employees of Snack Happy.  Our professional objective is to create exciting and tasty new cookies, candies, and snack cakes.”

Adam slapped his hand against the wall.  “This really pisses me off,” he said.  “I’ve told then in no uncertain terms that I do not work on candy.”

Written by williamdoonan

April 25, 2013 at 1:02 am

Posted in Fiction, MedicineLand

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