In a dystopian world, Burns and Hart are filling a gap in the market.
Two shady figures waited in the dank, abandoned hospital theatre. The willing organ donor was undergoing their final preparations before surgery.
‘How do you locate these places?’ the surgeon, Mr Hart, asked.
‘Ah, ask no questions, doctor…’ Burns replied.
Apart from the odd dripping sound, the theatre was silent. Burns began to strum against a metal surface, jangling the surgical apparatus.
‘That’s the difference between you and me. I’m improving the lives of the poor souls I operate upon. You’re a trafficker, suffering is your commodity,’ Hart said as Burn’s eye twitched. ‘Kindly stop that strumming!’
Burns strummed even louder to agitate Hart.
‘Oh, Harty boy shut up! Don’t spoil it, I love these moments of anticipation,’ he inhaled. ‘Ah, the smell of oxygen masks first thing.’
Hart sighed and rolled his eyes.
‘Do you also like these horrid, drafty and eerie gothic bloody theatres? It’s like Frankenstein’s castle.’
They surveyed their gruesome surroundings.
‘Too right. Love ‘em, they’re the bollocks!’
‘Trust you… has it ever occurred what if it goes wrong and someone dies?’
Burns contemplated momentarily and rocked on the balls of his feet.
‘I’ve thought about it…’
‘Does it keep you awake at night?’
Burns sucked his teeth.
‘No. I just think tough shit. Everyone dies… you know that! We’re in the business of extending… existences – selling hope. What would you do to save the life of the one you love most?’
‘You mean how much would they pay?’ Hart thought.
‘Well, when you put it as eloquently as that. Perhaps you can put it on the website?’
Burns sniggered at the suggestion.
‘You know it’s called exploitation,’ Hart bemoaned.
‘Oh, piss off, it’s called supply and demand. Hey, it’s not our fault this country went soft and gave everyone a transplant until the system collapsed, is it?’
Hart glanced at him, then the clock with its insatiable ticking… he looked around the dismal surroundings and sighed.
‘Are they going to get the lights on in here? Not long to go now…’ he thought.
Then he winced as Burns cracked his knuckles.
‘What?’ he shrugged. ‘We all just make the best of what we have. You more than anyone should understand… just one quirk of fate.’
‘Oh, where are we going with this?’ Hart wondered.
‘You, the once celebrated and handsome surgeon. Dark hair, blue eyes, polished accent, plenty of money, gorgeous wife and world at your feet. But then, what’s his name? Doctor Arch…’
‘Yeah, him… I’m sure that clever, posh fucker spoke with a plumb in his mouth. But it didn’t stop the jealous get shanking you in the back!’
Hart looked at his gruff business partner. Burns’ appearance was a complete contrast to the distinguished tall and strapping surgeon.
‘Did I hear right? Or was it just his strong cockney accent?’ Hart thought.
‘You know… stab you, nicked your idea. What was it?’
‘Brain freeze,’ Hart sighed.
His head dropped and he stared at a pool of water where a mouse was drinking.
‘Yeah, Jane told me it was the biggest medical breakthrough in 20 years… impressive.’
‘Well, it should have been.’
‘But that public school prick dropped you in the shit.’
‘Struck off. Thanks for the reminder.’
‘You’re welcome. You still have your health, and those blue eyes.’
Hart scowled at the clock and uncovered the surgical equipment.
‘Not ready yet?’
Burns laughed at him.
‘Always! I never know if you have genuinely found a match for the recipient or if I’m going to have to change the blood type – again!’
‘Breaking the rules?’
Hart raised an eyebrow at the question.
‘See, we both do whatever it takes to get the job done.’
They were interrupted by the sound of Burns’ device; he had a message:
- 'Everything’s ready, just as you asked.'
- 'Including the little package?'
- 'It’s primed!'
‘Something is going on, there are too many comings and goings outside theatre,’ Hart thought.
Suddenly, the theatre buzzed into life as the lights switched on. There was a faint hum of the generator in the background. The atmosphere was charged with nervous anticipation.
‘Okay people… it’s show time!’ Burns bellowed.
The rest of the team entered with the donor on a trolly. Within minutes they were all prepared.
‘Right, Mr Hart, the donor is now under and stable,’ Jane the anaesthetist confirmed.
‘Ready, as ever…’ Hart thought.
He took his scalpel and made the first incision. Burns looked at the clock. He maintained a wry smile as the first hour passed. He remembered a recent conversation with his Hart:
‘I’ve been thinking Doctor.’
‘I’ve told you before, try not to strain yourself…’
‘Oh, hilarious,’ he scowled. ‘Okay, so we make 60,000 for one kidney right now, for just one organ.’
‘And your point…’
‘Well, imagine if we had a full set.’
‘Set of what?’
‘Organs man… think about it, we’d make ten times that amount. Christ, we’d make a killing!’
‘Precisely… that’s what I’m afraid of,’ Hart told him.
From his momentary daydream, Burns pondered. His presence made Hart uncomfortable.
‘Burns do you have to stand there looking like a Marvel villain?’
‘Got nowhere else to be.’
‘Shame. Then, kindly do something useful.’
‘I was busy thinking.’
‘Oh, here we go again…’ Hart thought.
‘Ever think about the poor sods on the table, who they are?’
‘Burns, please be quiet. You never consider anyone. So, don’t start now, eh?’ Jane asked.
‘Oh, the Knockout Doctor speaks – just listen.’
‘Excuse me Burns, watch the sexist remarks and show some respect.’
Hart and Jane grimaced at one another. They looked towards the monitors, they had problems.
‘I was referring to her knocking the patients out. So, we slice them open,’ he continued. ‘Take what we need, then stitch ‘em back up! And in return they get to live here, as free as they like.’
‘Oh, amazing…’ Hart trailed off.
‘What are you talking about? In 2049, Britain is an industrial, dystopian wasteland.’
‘Well, anyway, it’s all above board, legit,’ Burns stuttered.
‘Oh, absolutely. If by legit, you mean completely illegal…’
The hum of the generator melted into the background. Hart shivered; he could see his breath. The temperature in theatre was artic, the air-conditioning had kicked in.
‘The donor’s blood pressure is dropping.’
‘Ah, bugger…’ Burns sighed.
‘More fluids, Jane.’
As Hart stared at Burns and got a sinister vision:
He visualised going through a door marked, ‘Showing Room’. Inside was what appeared at first glance to be a massive cellar. Burns appeared dressed in white and splashed with presumably red wine. There was a chill in the air, as well as an odd aroma. In the vision, he approached the shelves. They were laden with fresh human organs ready for transplant.
Then, just as feared, the alarms began beeping. But it was music to the trafficker’s ears.
‘Quickly, Jane… more fluids.’
‘Oh, absolutely doctor. Does he ever just get on your bloody nerves?’ Burns scoffed.
He watched on with a sneer, checking the clock as time ebbed by.
‘Finally, wondered how long the awkward git was gonna hang on for?’ Burns thought.
The donor’s condition worsened. Despite Hart’s and Jane’s best efforts, he suddenly crashed.
‘Fuck, his heart has stopped!’ Jane declared.
Hart took control, he pulled open the donor’s chest and reached in to pump the heart by hand.
‘Christ sake, let nature take its course – stubborn bastard!’ Burns muttered.
‘Paddles, charge to 300… stand clear!’
The donors back arched up and he crashed back against the table.
‘Go again… clear!’
‘We have rhythm!’ Hart declared triumphantly.
‘Bollocks!’ Burns exclaimed.
Everyone turned towards him.
‘Oh, well done everyone…’
Burns checked his watch:
- 'What’s going on? What’s the hold up? Worried punters here!'
- 'Minor issue…'
- 'What issue?'
- 'You did give him the full amount!'
- 'Of course, why?'
- 'Because the awkward bastard refuses to peg it!'
- 'Just rallying, don’t worry shouldn’t be long… that amount would kill a horse!'
‘Oh, people he’s crashed again…’
‘Charge once more… everyone, stand clear!’ Hart demanded.
Burns rolled his eyes. Hart and Jane tried everything they could. They had tried the electric paddles, chest compressions and adrenaline.
‘Come on… come on…’
Jane looked at the flatline on the monitor, there remained no output. She checked the donor’s eyes and stepped away.
‘Both pupils are blown.’
‘How? I’ve not lost a patient in two years while they’ve been organ jacking. He was fit and healthy. Wait a minute,’ Hart thought.
He sighed, then scowled towards a very calm Burns glancing back at his watch.
‘Oh right. No electrical devices in theatre.’
He looked past Hart towards the table, the monitor remained flatlined.
‘Well, these things happen. Life goes on, eh?’ he smirked.
Hart peeled off his gloves, unimpressed.
‘Come on, don’t just stand there scratching your arses… bring in the next one!’ Burns beckoned.
Hart realised he had been played. He peered through the theatre door. Behind the original organ recipient were another five patients. They were gowned and prepped for surgery.
‘What are you trying to pull?’
‘Well, waste not, want not, as my old nan always said.’
‘How the hell do you sleep at night you despicable bastard?’
‘I’d recommend no caffeine after eight.’
Hart was livid, Jane threw a worried glance in his direction.
‘I know you’re not impressed. But I know you took the hypocritical thingy, so won’t walk away with lives in the balance,’ Burns muttered.
‘It’s called the Hippocratic Oath, you devious little shit!’
‘Guilty as charged.’
‘He’s bloody backed me into a corner,’ Hart thought.
So, as Burns watched closely Hart reluctantly performed the first of six operations. Operating from morning through to the following day, all the while quietly seething inside. The surgeon finished the final surgery quite exhausted.
‘Right, that is me done!’
He removed his surgical gloves, threw them down in anger and tore off his apron.
‘Yeah, for today… of course.’
‘No, read my bloody lips; this is you and me finished! I’m never doing this again, you hear?’
Hart had exposed Burns’ little timebomb. A small package of white powder had killed the donor.
‘You’re not walking away, Hart; your family, including your junky daughter will suffer if you do, I promise,’ he said producing her heart-shaped locket. Hart paused a second.
‘Oh, go to hell Burns!’
‘Just remember you came to me when your darling daughter, Marcia, was desperate for a fix. The rest is history… tell me, has she started selling herself yet?’
The normally placid Hart snapped. He seized a scalpel from one of the tables and lunged towards Burns.
Hart grabbed Burns in his left hand; with his right, he placed the scalpel dangerously close to Burns’ throat.
‘Oh, don’t worry, short arse. Nervous?’
‘Shitting myself!’ Burns trembled.
‘Yes, causing your blood pressure to rise. Your jugular is ever-so-slightly throbbing. One slip…’
His eyes widened while Burns shuddered.
‘Okay Hart, you’ve made your point! We want to keep the area sterile,’ Jane joked.
‘Sorry,’ Burns whimpered pathetically.
‘Never threaten my family again. You see, I know how to hurt someone in ways your limited capacity couldn’t even imagine.’
‘Insults too, that’s not the usual gentleman surgeon,’ Burns laughed nervously.
Hart’s rather weary and bloodshot eyes displayed his anger. Apart from a few machine beeps, the theatre was silent.
‘Remember Burns, I would have nothing to lose!’
Hart released his grip. Burns stared into the surgeon’s uncompromising eyes.
‘Okay, okay, you win...’
Burns held his hands up in resignation, slowly backing away.
‘For Gowd’s sake, I just felt we could help medicine or be modern-day, resurrectionists…’
Hart left him at the door.
‘Resurrectionists… yes, and we all know what they became…’
‘Yeah, rich!’ Burns shouted.
‘No, murderers,’ Hart murmured back.
‘This is my last chance to get out and deny any knowledge of Burns’ trafficking ring,’ he thought.
‘You’ll be back!’ Burns called after him.
Like his career, the theatre door swiftly closed behind the once great surgeon.