Black Night: The Lab Assistant's Revenge - A One-Shot
By The Inimitable Enigma Cypher
(A/N: This is a one-shot, based off the story "Black Night: The Octopus' Revenge", but told from a different perspective. It occurs between chapters seven and eight, and it is advisable to read said chapters before reading this one-shot.)
11:03 pm, New York City…
The city had quieted down by now. Except for the police investigating the scene of a murder a few blocks away, the night was quiet, for once.
A man was standing outside his apartment, looking up at the night sky, as he reached in his pocket for his lighter to light his cigarette. He was wondering why people did things like this to other people. He heard gunshots earlier, twice, and he couldn't help but be saddened by the thought of another life lost. It happened enough in this city as it was. He found the lighter and lit it.
Suddenly, a low groan could be heard a few feet away. The man looked around, trying to identify its source. But he could see nothing. He put his cigarette out, waved his lighter around as a light source, seeing the dim outline of a fallen figure about five feet away from him.
Probably another drunk, too inebriated to know where he's at, the man thought sadly.
Just the same, he walked over to the figure, and was surprised to find that it was a woman, of about twenty-five to twenty-seven years of age, her hands and coat soaked in blood, holding a pistol. Her black hair obscured her face, but he could see that her eyes were closed.
"Are you alright?" He asked, immediately realizing it was a stupid question; she looked to be anything but alright. The silence that greeted his question was proof enough; she was apparently unconscious.
He knelt down beside her and put his hand to her neck to check her pulse. It was weak; she was evidently very badly injured in some way he couldn't see.
He tried to shake her awake, but she didn't respond. He gently turned her over trying to check for any injuries, unbuttoning her coat and finding two gunshot wounds to the chest.
How long has she been lying out here, like this? the man thought, shocked. As a doctor, he knew he had to do something.
He tried once again to gently shake her awake, and this time was a bit more successful. She looked up at him and started to say something, but he shook his head and said, "Don't try to speak. I'm going to help you."
She shook her head as if trying to protest, but she acquiesced as he picked her up and headed towards his apartment.
"I'm Mendel Stromm, by the way." the man said as he carried her up the stairs.
It was several seconds before she gave her name. When she did, she was so quiet, he almost didn't hear it.
"I'm Dr. Carolyn Trainer."
He did not respond to this as he kicked open the door to his apartment, trying to find somewhere to put her for now. He decided on the couch, walked over to it and carefully placed her on it. He couldn't help but think on the situation that had happened two years ago, when, in a very similar situation, he had found a man lying injured outside his apartment. But that man was a scientist who was afflicted by radiation poisoning. Matter of fact, he knew the man; they used to work together. But he did not know the story behind this mysterious figure, who had lapsed back into unconsciousness. What happened? Why was she holding that pistol?
He decided now wasn't the time to think about it, as the sound of sirens split the air. Could it be that this was the person they were looking for?
I have to do something, though. he thought as he went about the apartment, finding the supplies he would need. It had been a while since he'd dealt with a gunshot wound, but he at least remembered what to do.
He found what he needed and walked back to the couch, first taking the pistol she was still holding and looking at it, confused. Maybe she had been trying to defend herself against someone?
He put the pistol on a nearby table and set to work.
When Carolyn woke up several hours later, she had no idea where she was at. She looked around, but nothing looked familiar.
"Hello? Is anyone here?" she asked, trying to remember. She tried to sit up, but a searing pain forced her back down, and she had to keep from crying out.
"Don't try to sit up." a voice said from somewhere in the room, followed by the sound of footsteps. "You'll aggravate your injuries again."
A man stepped into view, and Carolyn recognized the man who had been standing over her last night. She looked over herself, noticing that, while she was out, he had seen fit to fix her up; he had cleaned and bandaged the wounds she had sustained. Her coat was lying in a chair across the room, and he must have put one of his own shirts on her; she was in a black button-up shirt that she had not been wearing last night.
"Why did you help me?" she asked, putting her hand to one of the wounds. "You don't even know me."
"I'm a doctor. Or, I used to be, anyways." the man replied, pulling up a chair beside her. "I believe you mentioned to me last night that you are one yourself?"
"Well, not exactly. Not in the way you're thinking." she replied. "I'm a geneticist. I've got a Ph.D in both genetics and atomic science."
"Really?" Mendel said, interested in what he was hearing. He was reminded of the last wounded man lying on this very couch, another man in the field of atomic science…
"Then what happened last night?" he asked. "When I found you, you were holding a pistol, like you'd been in a gunfight of some sort."
She racked her brain for a moment, trying to remember.
"I don't even remember." she said, shaking her head. "I remember next to nothing from last night."
"I suppose that's to be expected." Mendel said. "You lost a lot of blood. I don't know how you even made it as far as you did. You must have been a few blocks away when you were shot; the only place I heard gunshots was about six or seven blocks away."
Then, she remembered.
"I… I remember something. I remember this albino man, threatening to kill this woman I know." she said. "I pulled out my pistol to fend him off. But he fired at her anyways. I shoved her out of the way of the rounds fired."
Well, that explains how she wound up injured, he thought. But why did she take that risk?
"Who was this woman?" he asked, intrigued.
"I'm trying to remember her name." Carolyn replied, putting her hand to her head. "The details are still a little foggy… wait! I remember now! Her name was Rosie. Rosie Octavius."
At that, a sly grin crossed Mendel's face. That was a last name he recognized all too well.
"Is this woman of any relation to Otto Octavius?" He couldn't help but ask.
"Yes, she's his wife."
O.K, this was too much. Mendel burst out laughing, doubled over in his chair.
"And what, may I ask, is so funny?" Carolyn asked, looking over at him, eyebrow raised.
"I'm sorry." Mendel said, getting himself under control enough to speak. "It's just that I knew Otto at one time. I wasn't aware that he even had a girlfriend, and now he's married!" A moment of silence passed before he asked, "How do you know him, then?"
"I'm his lab assistant." Carolyn replied, that same odd look still on her face.
"O.K, this is too much!" Mendel said, trying not to laugh again, although this was a bit more serious.
"What is too much?" Carolyn asked, frustrated. "What are you talking about?"
"Well, it's just that… two years ago, a man collapsed outside my apartment, in a similar situation to this. The only difference is that, instead of having been shot, this man was affected by radiation poisoning, and had blacked out there." A moment of silence. "The man was none other than Dr. Otto Octavius."
"You can't be serious!" she said, eyes wide.
"I am. When you leave, you can ask him. He can tell you all about it."
The two of them fell silent, before Mendel said, "So… how are you feeling, now?"
"About as well as can be expected, I suppose." she replied, shrugging, immediately regretting it as the action sent a jolt of pain up her side.
"Don't do that." he said. "It's probably best to move as little as possible. I don't really have anything here to help with the pain. It's been a while since I've dealt with something like this."
"Then maybe you could go get something for it?" she grated, closing her eyes. The wounds were really starting to hurt, now.
"Yeah, I could. There's a place right down the street I could pick up a painkiller from." He stood up and walked towards the door, grabbing his coat on the way. "Just… try not to move too much."
"Like I would."
He did not reply to this as he walked out of the apartment and down the street. He still couldn't help but wonder what had happened to her, and why he had found her holding a pistol. Maybe she really was just trying to defend herself? Maybe she was up to something more… insidious?
He walked into the shop he had mentioned, finding the appropriate medication, paying for it and walking out. On the way back to his apartment, he walked by a newsstand and noticed a headline on that morning's Daily Bugle. It read "ALBINO HITMAN FOUND SHOT DEAD" and underneath it, the subheading read "Victim's Body Still Missing"
Albino hitman? Victim missing? This sounds intriguing he thought
Mendel picked up the copy, paid the man for it, and started reading through the article as he continued walking. He read through it, and was shocked when he got to the part of the article that read, "…Police are still searching for the body of the woman that Tombstone shot in the altercation. The woman, a twenty-seven year old geneticist by the name of Dr. Carolyn Trainer, was caught in the crossfire during the attempt, and has not yet been found. It has been learned that she reportedly shoved the original target out of the way, but was not able to avoid the gunfire herself. It is rumored that she may have survived the incident, and is in fact responsible for Tombstone's demise, although this has not been confirmed."
My God! This explains a lot! he thought, stunned by what he was reading. There's no other explanation for it!
He started running back towards his apartment, more out of paranoia than anything. What if the police found her?
He was relieved when he walked up to the apartment door and found no police waiting for him. He opened the door to find that Carolyn had fallen asleep, the blanket pulled over her head. He must have been gone longer then he thought.
He walked over to her and said, "Hey, I'm back."
He tried gently shaking her awake. She pulled the blanket off of her head and growled, "Did you have to wake me up?"
"Well, no, but I figured you'd want me to." he said, shrugging. "Check this out. I read an article in this morning's paper." He handed her the article and indicated the part he wanted her to read.
She took the article and read through it. When she was finished, she did not respond immediately. Mendel could see that she was thinking about something. He just didn't know what.
Finally she said, "I don't remember this! I couldn't have shot him! I would remember if I had done something like that!"
"Don't look at me; that's just what the article says." he replied, taking a seat. "I did pick up something for the pain. I think it should work." He handed her a small bottle of something and said, "It worked pretty well for me, this one time I broke my arm."
She did not reply as she cracked the bottle open and drank the contents, shuddering at the taste.
"Yeah, it tastes horrible, but it works, trust me." he said as he stood up, walking into the kitchen. "You want something to eat?"
"No, thank you. I'm fine." she said as she picked up a nearby magazine off the table beside her. The cover identified the magazine as an older copy of "Scientific American", and she flipped through it, an amused look crossing her face as she came across an article that she herself had once written, on the possibility of creating automatic computing machines that could perform numerous calculations and functions; more commonly called 'computers'. She had forgotten about that article; it was a few years ago.
He walked back into the room a few minutes later with a plate of eggs and said, "Oh, hey, I forgot I had that issue."
"It has one of my articles in it." she said, handing him the magazine. He took a look at the article, noticing that, sure enough, her name was identified as that of the author.
"How ironic! Think maybe you could personalize it for me?" he replied, amused, handing her the magazine.
"I do hope that was sarcasm." she said, looking over at him with a cocked eyebrow, but the mischievous glint in her eyes was unmistakable.
"Yeah, it was, but I wouldn't mind if you did."
"I'll think about it." she said as she put the magazine back on the table, yawning. "Is that concoction you gave me supposed to make one tired?"
"Actually, it does do that sometimes." he said apologetically. "But it's the only stuff that I knew would work."
"Well, in that case, I'm going back to sleep." she said as she pulled the blanket over her head. Within minutes, she was out like a light.
Mendel looked over at her, still curious about her circumstances. She didn't look like the type to shoot someone down in cold blood, but how else would she have wound up outside his doorstep? She was obviously not shot somewhere in his immediate vicinity; the closest gunfire was blocks away from him. And if she was shot, wouldn't she have sought immediate medical attention, instead of trying to hide in the back alleys of the city? And even if she was headed for help, why would she have brought that pistol with her?
Not that she's going to tell me, even if she did kill him. he thought. I may have helped her, but she barely knows me. If she killed someone, she's not going to tell me; she would probably think I would turn her in.
He sighed and picked up a book he was reading, flipping open to the page he had left off on. There was really nothing to do but wait for her to wake up again.
He had been reading now for a few hours when she awoke with a start, sitting bolt upright and immediately regretting it as it sent a particularly bad jolt of pain through her.
He stood up and said, "Hey, you really shouldn't do that." He gently pushed her back down and said, "What caused you to do that?"
"I remember something!" she said, eyes wide, obviously stunned by what she was remembering. "I remember now; the albino hitman walking away after being contacted by his employer. He walked away, and I got up and trailed him for a few blocks before…" she closed her eyes tightly and said, "…before I shot him."
At that, Mendel was stunned. She did shoot him! But why would she do that?
"I think… I think I was worried about him coming back to finish what he started." she said, as if able to hear his thoughts. "He said something like that to Rosie right before he left. I didn't want either her or Otto to become endangered because of him." She ran her hand through her hair, with that stunned expression still on her face. "But why did I kill him! What was I thinking?"
He did not reply to this; she was obviously shocked at what she learned she was capable of, so what could he say?
For several moments, the only sound in the room was silence until she said, so quiet he almost couldn't hear what she said, "I have to get out of here. I'm not going to wait for them to find me first."
"But you're not in any shape to be going anywhere right now!" he protested. "You're still very badly injured! Not to mention, you probably wouldn't make it out the door; you've lost a lot of blood, and you haven't recovered it yet! You'd black out before you even got that far!"
She looked up at him, before saying, in a voice that clearly implied that she did not want him telling her what to do, "I think I can handle myself just fine! I got this far on my own, didn't I?" She made a move to stand up, but a feeling of vertigo overtook her, and she fell to the floor, black at the edges of her vision.
"As I said, you still need some time to recover." He knelt down to pick her back up, carefully placing her back on the couch. "Just one more day. One day, and you can make your run for it. Is that alright?"
She did not reply as she looked away from him.
He merely shrugged and said, "Well, I need to go back into town for a bit. I need to pick up a few things before nightfall. Can you promise me you'll stay right there until I get back?"
Once again, she did not reply.
"…I'll take that as a yes, then." he said as he grabbed his coat out of the chair where he'd thrown it earlier and left the apartment.
By the time he came back an hour and a half later, it was snowing heavily. He walked into the apartment to find something he did not want to see; she was not where he'd left her earlier.
"Carolyn?" he called, looking around, but there was no sight of her. He called her name again as he searched the apartment, but she was gone. Upon further inspection, he noticed that both her coat and her pistol were gone, as well.
She left anyways! And in this storm! he thought, rather afraid for her safety, without really knowing why. Why did she do that!
He sat down in his recliner, rubbing his forehead. It was then that he noticed something lying on the couch where she had been earlier. He walked over and picked it up, noticing that it was the copy of "Scientific American" that she was looking through earlier, opened to the article she had written.
But there was something different about it; she had left him a note, written on the page.
I know you don't understand why I left already; just know that I have my reasons. I'm not going to put you in danger by hiding out here. Rest assured that there's no reason to be worried about me. I've been in worse situations than this, before.
-Dr. Carolyn Trainer
Mendel read the note over again, before looking out the window at the growing storm. He knew, somehow, that she'd be alright. He still couldn't help but worry, though, as he stared out the window at the night sky streaked with falling snow.