Dolor – 7 – The Proposal


Lumen’s thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door. Spreading his hands apologetically to his patient, he rose and went to open it. He found Dr. Hackman, one of his colleagues, waiting outside. Lumen stepped into the hallway and closed the door behind him.

“How’s it going in there?” asked Hackman.

“I don’t know,” answered Lumen truthfully. “He isn’t like any patient I’ve ever come across or heard of. He’s supposed to be a violent delusional, but he hasn’t exhibited a single violent tendency since I’ve been working with him. There is plenty of evidence of delusion, but it’s strange… I can’t find the slightest gap in his story.”

“Hugo, you’ve been working with this guy for over a week. We can’t keep him here indefinitely. I’ve noticed you’ve even been taking time away from your other patients. You’re only supposed to be completing an evaluation, not trying to cure him.”

“I know, I know. It’s just that…” Lumen looked into his colleague’s eyes and wondered how he would react to what he had been about to reveal. He wanted to say that he almost believed Venatio. That he wasn’t really convinced his patient was delusional at all.  “Never mind. I’ll wrap this up quickly, don’t worry,” he finished instead.

Lumen stepped back into the observation room and shut the door on Hackman.

“Sorry about the interruption.”

“I can prove it to you, doc.”

Lumen froze. He hovered, half-seated on his chair. He looked up into Venatio’s eerily steady eyes.

“What do you mean?”

“I know what you’re thinking doc. I know why you’ve been spending so much time in here. You want to believe me, but it’s against your principles. You were trained never to believe a suspected delusional. But this time, your patient’s not crazy.”

“Prove it, how?”

“I can show it to you.”

Lumen hesitated. On one hand, he was inclined to believe his patient was exactly what he was supposed to be, which had been invariably the case in his considerable experience. On the other hand, Venatio displayed none of the behavioural characteristics that Lumen had been taught to detect in delusionals. His eyes were steady, his voice and his body language unwaveringly confident and consistent. He was clearly aware of his surroundings, of who he was, where he was, and how he had come to be in his present situation. His story did fit with the little factual information the therapist had of his patient.

Moreover, Lumen’s curiosity had been piqued. As with so many others, fascination with the supernatural had been an important part of his life. Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula and the Headless Horseman were figures that would forever conjure up dread and awe. Here was his chance to take up the role of Victor Frankenstein, Van Helsing or Ichabod Crane and live out the adventure he had imagined so many times—to confront the nightmarish creature!

“How can you be sure you can find it again?” Lumen enunciated carefully, attempting to recuperate his clinical air of detachment. “You say it can vanish in a deserted street, turn into shadow, and so forth.”

For the first time, Venatio’s lips parted in a semblance of a smile.

“Oh, I can find it alright. I told you. I know how it moves, how it hunts, how it thinks. It lingers in a city for a while, taking enough victims so that it can sustain itself while it moves on to another city. It never stays long enough in one place to accumulate a noticeable amount of casualties. Even in the crowded streets of today’s world, if too many people die mysteriously, someone might see a pattern, might find a link. Discovery is doom. Dolor is too smart for that. He has only just arrived here though, I’m certain that junkie in the alley was an early victim. That means we have a couple of weeks before it moves on. It hunts in patterns through the city, in an attempt to make its victims’ deaths seem like random occurrences. I know all its patterns, it is only a matter of time before I find it.”

“Since you can find it so easily, why haven’t you been able to destroy it yet?”

“It has taken me years to learn to track it and find it, but that was the easy part. Like I said before, I’ve discovered that for a short time immediately after feeding, it cannot be killed; at least not with the weapons I’ve tried against it. It’s weakest just before it starts to feed. It’s in those moments that I’ve managed to hurt it.”

Lumen inadvertently leaned forward with interest.

“Yes, I’ve hurt it with my handgun,” Venatio continued with a knowing smile. “I’ve heard it squeal and roar, but it heals quickly. It’s strong and very agile. There have been several times when I just barely managed to crawl away in time to hide while its venom ran its course through my body. It could have killed me more than once, but I think it recognized me. It knew it had nothing to take from me, and I must have been beneath its notice from then on.

“Dolor is a wily target and I have yet to hit it in the face, which my gut tells me is the only vulnerable part of its body.”

“Martin, you’ve been arrested for murder,” Lumen returned seriously, regaining some of his clinical air. “Even if I wanted to indulge your fantasy, which would be the worst thing for your mental health, you’re not going to be allowed to wander the streets as you please. Even if you escaped somehow, if you were caught with a weapon, it would guarantee you an even longer prison sentence.”

“I’m not worried about getting caught again. I don’t even care if I do, as long as I kill Dolor first. Now, look around this place. I saw the security on my way in. If you helped me, I could get out of here easily. I’ve gained a certain expertise in escaping from tight spots over the years.”

“Martin, please. I’m a therapist. My job is to help people. I would never be interested in some kind of hunt!”

“Don’t you get it doc? Hunting Dolor is helping people. It isn’t some maladjusted youth with a bad childhood that needs counselling to get itself back on the right path. It’s a monster. A predator. The only help there is, is to destroy it. Killing Dolor means ending and preventing a lot of pain.”

Lumen hesitated again, but finally dropped his pretense.

“How would you get a gun?”

“I’m always prepared. I’ve got a couple of emergency caches in different parts of the city that we can easily get to.”

Lumen leaned back in his chair and put his clipboard aside. Pursing his lips, he asked, “Hypothetically, what is your plan for us getting you out of here?”

Continue to Dolor – The Kill

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