Both of them suspected that something was wrong--terribly wrong--in the great medical research center where they worked. Both of them wondered why a beautiful young woman had died on the operating table and her brain secretly removed. Both of them found it impossible to explain the rash of female patients exhibiting bizarre mental breakdowns and shocking behavior. Both of them were placing their careers and very lives in deadly jeopardy as they penetrated the eerie inner sanctums of a medical world gone mad with technological power and the lust for more...
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August 06, 2002
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Excerpt from Brain by Robin Cook
Katherine Collins mounted the three steps from the sidewalk with a fragile sense of resolve. She reached the combination glass and stainless steel door and pushed. But it didn't open. She leaned back, gazed up at the lintel, and read the incised inscription, "Hobson University Medical Center: For the Sick and Infirm of the City of New York." For Katherine's way of thinking it should have read, "Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here."
Turning around, her pupils narrowed in the morning March sunlight; her urge was to flee and return to her warm apartment. The last place in the world that she wanted to go was back into the hospital. But before she could move, several patients mounted the steps and brushed past her. Without pausing they opened the door to the main clinic and were instantly devoured by the ominous bulk of the building.
Katherine closed her eyes for an instant, marveling at her own stupidity. Of course, the doors to the clinic opened outward! Clutching her parachute bag to her side, she pulled open the door and passed into the netherworld within.
The first thing that assaulted Katherine was the smell. There was nothing like it in her twenty-one years of experience. The dominant odor was chemical, a mixture of alcohol and sickeningly sweet deodorant. She guessed the alcohol was an attempt to check the disease that lurked in the air; she knew the deodorant was to cover the biological smells that hovered around illness. Any remnants of denial that Katherine had been using to help herself make this visit evaporated under the onslaught of the smell. Until her first visit to the hospital a number of months previously she had never considered her own mortality and had accepted health and well-being as her due. Now it was different and as she entered the clinic with its smell, the thought of all her recent health problems flooded into her consciousness. Biting her lower lip to keep her emotions under control, she pushed her way toward the elevators.
The hospital crowds were troublesome for Katherine. She wanted to draw into herself like a cocoon to avoid being touched, breathed or coughed on. She had difficulty looking at the distorted faces, scaly rashes and oozing eruptions. It was worse in the elevator, where she was pressed up against a group of humanity that reminded her of the crowds in a painting by Brueghel. Keeping her eyes glued to the floor indicator, she tried to ignore her surroundings by rehearsing the speech she was going to give to the receptionist at the GYN clinic. "Hello, my name is Katherine Collins. I'm a university student and I've been here four times. I'm about to go home to have my medical problems handled by my family internist and I'd like a copy of my gynecology records."
It sounded simple enough. Katherine allowed her eyes to wander to the elevator operator. His face was tremendously broad, but when he turned sideways, his head was flat. Katherine's eyes involuntarily fixed on the distorted image and when the operator turned to announce the third floor, he caught Katherine's stare. One of his eyes looked down and to the side. The other bore into Katherine with an evil intensity. Katherine averted her gaze, feeling her face redden. A large hairy man pushed past her to disembark. Steadying herself with her hand against the side of the elevator, she looked down at a blond five-year-old girl. One green eye returned her smile. The other was lost beneath the violaceous folds of a large tumor mass.