The Great Beautifier

Submitted into Contest #158 in response to: Write about a character with questionable morals.... view prompt

13 comments

Fiction Science Fiction Speculative

Dr. Roivas grimaced. He hated it when they screamed like this.

He looked down at the woman thrashing on the table, thin shirt slipping down over her shoulder and dark wet hair splayed across her white forehead, and tried to force the expected smile. He replayed the last hour's events in his head. She had run. His men had tackled her. The rain had been smacking the pavement hard during the chase.

So she was wet and his once-clean hospital floors were muddy.

Her black shirt clung to her body and her hair flung water against the white hospital walls with each spasm and shriek. Steel bands cut into her wrists and ankles, and Dr. Roivas noticed blood on the crinkling white paper spread over the table.

He sighed and nodded to big man to his left. In another time, the man would have worn a bulldog-scowl, but now he grinned around thick lips and nodded his head. With one fluid motion he had slipped a needle off of a small rolling stand next to the table and pushed it into her arm.

The woman immediately went limp.

Roivas nodded again and the big man slid past him. The door clicked shut. The doctor knew the girl would be screaming again, but they all did before they were healed. For now, she was quiet. The short, blueberry-shaped man wiped hot beads of sweat off his forehead. Rebirth isn’t an easy process.

He bent, brushing quivering fat fingers against her wet cheek. He supposed she was pretty in a sort of savage way. Not at all like the beauty she would be after the procedure, but nonetheless, she wasn’t like most women he had seen stuffed into the government trucks that ran in a steady stream past his hospital. He pushed the wet hair off her pale face and rubbed his thick palms down both sides of her temples in a slow, caressing motion, wiping off rain spots.

Her mouth was, well, different. Beautiful? No. He couldn’t figure out why, but it fascinated him. His face twitched.

He pulled away quickly and let out a long breath. He had to get started. Now that the procedure was required by law, there were many patients to treat. Maybe soon he would have less people who needed to get it done. The doctor smiled and nodded curtly to himself. It would be good then. Everyone would be so much happier. Society would run much smoother when everyone looked the same and felt the same: there would be no more silly complications like those caused by all the many different people. If everyone was the same and everyone felt happy, what could go wrong?

Dr. Roivas squeezed past the table and standing on tiptoes, pulled a thin, red box out from one of the white cabinets. He plopped down into a small rolling seat and spun over to the table. The woman lay silently, her chest rising and falling steadily. Her lips were parted slightly.

The box cracked open allowing knives and syringes to gleam under the luminescent light. Chemical and nanotech vials glistened in neat little multicolored rows. Roivas shivered involuntarily. He still remembered his own procedure.

He paused and looked at the woman’s face. She was pretty. Yes; she was beautiful. The curve of her lower lip, the straight line of her nose, the arc of her eyebrows . . .

His head snapped up and he glanced at the door furtively. They would be watching. They were always watching. They couldn’t trust someone like him. Someone who only went halfway. His thick fingers fumbled into the sleek box and unfastened a shining knife. The first step was always the most difficult.

Roivas snatched a couple earplugs from the rolling table. They always screamed the loudest during this part. He didn’t really understand why, but anesthetics were not allowed in the procedure. They said it counteracted the nanotech particles and the chemical properties. He swallowed hard and licked his lips. At times like these, he wished he would have mustered the courage to just get the whole procedure completed instead of simply fixing his face. Then he wouldn’t feel so uncomfortable. Then a smile would be stretching his cheeks right now, and complacent contentedness would be filling him up. The chemicals and the nanotech made sure of that. 

He bent over the woman and lowered the knife slowly, almost hesitatingly. Then he pulled back again, cocking his head sideways towards the small window, and up to the little swiveling camera in the corner. He breathed in deeply and swallowed hard.

“It’s not fair.”

He started. His own voice sounded loud in the sterile silence. He could hear the blood pumping into his head and his heart pattering away like a rabbit trapped in a cold white cage.

But it wasn’t fair, was it? That’s why he was doing this. That’s why the government required it. It wasn’t fair. People shouldn’t have to look more ugly than other people. It wasn’t fair for a select few to be more beautiful than everyone else.

Even more importantly, it wasn't right. Not right that some people should have to struggle with depression and anxiety and hurt. Not right that society should be blighted by crimes that were born from malice and anger.

It couldn’t be right.

It couldn’t be that this was how the world was supposed to be. His mind went spiraling back to the statistics he had been shown in his training seminar. Crime was down! Depression was all but gone. Suicide was gone.

This was the way.

Pain was temporary, just a faint memory for him. For her . . . well, she wouldn’t even remember it. She would be happy. She would be beautiful. She would be just like everyone else. Roivas sniffed and a tear splashed across the woman’s lips.

She was different. And different is dangerous.

He wiped his sweaty hands on his pants and smiled weakly for the camera. Then he stuffed the earplugs into his ears and picked up the knife.

August 10, 2022 02:10

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13 comments

Kathleen Fine
23:10 Aug 17, 2022

Great premise to a story that really could be turned into a novel. Since this was only a little taste of the story, I wanted more!

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Benjamin Spivey
00:07 Aug 18, 2022

Thank you for the encouragement!

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Tommy Goround
00:46 Aug 16, 2022

Overview: Man _has_ to modify people. We assume it is the government. He once had his own modification. Theme: What is beauty Theme: who creates beauty The story works for the theme. It needs a wee bit of assistance for entertainment value. Showing 5 pages and around 1000 words now. Dr has a pretty woman He has to cut her. 3.) someone’s watching. 4.) he doesn’t want to cut her. 5.) why does he have to cut her? There’s your story in 5 sentences. Yay. You have plot. All the rest is analysis/feelng/fill? Let’s bump up the fill. Only ma...

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Benjamin Spivey
01:37 Aug 16, 2022

Thank you so much for this feedback! This is really great stuff. The advice to make the story have more impetus and momentum is very good to hear. It should be interesting. Maybe more conflict? Also less vagueness I think.

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Tommy Goround
02:12 Aug 16, 2022

Oh... 1) go full pulp...like Tarantino 2) stop and make it important. 3) end the story with a twist or a huge commentary on society

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Tommy Goround
00:34 Aug 16, 2022

Brb

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Graham Kinross
16:33 Aug 14, 2022

Interesting, forced cosmetic surgery and mind altering nanite technology? That’s quite the combination. Bold choice for your first story. I like the mix and that the protagonist seems like he was a victim who is struggling with what he’s meant to do.

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Benjamin Spivey
01:35 Aug 16, 2022

Thank you! Maybe a bit much to fit into around 1,000 words? 😂 I appreciate it

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Graham Kinross
12:07 Aug 16, 2022

What are you working on next?

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Benjamin Spivey
19:46 Aug 16, 2022

I'm writing a story for the prompt: 'Write about a character who’s never encountered a problem they couldn’t buy their way out of — until they do.' It's an attempt at practicing humorous dialogue and tinges of satire.

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Graham Kinross
21:23 Aug 16, 2022

Humour is one of the best ways to hook a reader and the hardest to pull off, good luck. Give me a link when it’s up.

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Benjamin Spivey
12:46 Aug 20, 2022

https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/wzlv8u/ I guess you can judge how I did ;) Thanks

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Benjamin Spivey
20:09 Aug 11, 2022

First story. I misunderstood contest guidelines and wrote it for a couple different prompts. Whoops. I would Love any feedback or advice!

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