She still had her doubts as she passed her bag through the x-ray machine. As the guards accompanied her down the damp hallway, she had a fleeting thought that she was Orpheus, descending to the depths to rescue his beloved. Except this man had taken her beloved. Like "Lot" maybe. Wait, didn't his wife- They came to a halt in front of the dimly lit cell and she waved away the guards with the assurance that she would call them if she needed assistance. Jaw set, she stepped into the light.
She shuddered and cursed her inability to stop the tremors from visibly rattling her thin frame. That voice brought back memories of that lab closet, where she still found herself sometimes, in the mornings before she was able to distinguish the lampshade from a cold glass beaker and peel away the sheets stuck to a sheen of sweat. Gwen's eyes roamed over her former mentor's haggard visage. He had on prison issued garb: the normal orange jumpsuit for inmates. When he caught her staring, her once esteemed professor, Dr. Curt Connors had this to say, "See anything you like?"
He laughed bitterly while Gwen backed away, her face scrunching. She felt tempted to alert the guards but then she remembered the body, decomposing in the ground, not really her father anymore- "He loved your recommendation letter, you know. Said 'if there was ever another man who understood and cared about his daughter as much as her father did, it was you'. Did you know that?" Connors' face crumpled and his mask of bravado slipped.
"God, Gwen! It was an accident, please! Do you have any idea how I feel—" Gwen opened her mouth immediately, outraged.
"How you feel?!" Connors shrunk back, startled. "What about how I feel? You killed my father!" Tears she had fought desperately to keep from falling finally made their appearance. "You don't have to sit down at the dinner table every night where my mother sets out a plate of whatever it is she's cooking-I don't even taste it anymore-and she sets it out for my father with the ketchup on the side like he always does. Did. It sits there the whole meal and through the night. In the morning she eats it and cries. That's what you did to us."
Her vision cleared, revealing the doctor to be on his cot with his head in his hands and shaking. He slowly looked up at Gwen. She gasped. His eyes were red from crying and feral, reptilian. It's just in my head. The antidote worked! Connors stood up and, bearing his teeth spat out, "You must know I didn't mean to kill your father, Gwen. Did Spiderman not tell you what happened? What really happened? It was him, Gwen! The other side of me, that creature—"
"That you created! You were so obsessed with making all of us monsters—"With that, the doctor changed.
"No—you forget yourself, Gwen!" he growled. "I wasn't! I wanted my arm back, that's all it was!" He sneered at Gwen. "To think that such a smart pupil, one of my best, no, the best and brightest could be dumbed down so far in such a short amount of time out of my presence…"
Gwen was reeling as Connors stalked toward the front of the steel cage. This was the animal that had hunted her in the lab, thirsting for her blood. She pressed herself against the far wall as the doctor reached out through the bars, his hand clawing the air as the guards ran in and took Gwen by the hand. They started to lead her away. She heard a voice call out, "Gwen." The officers looked to her. She nodded and glanced back at Connors.
"I will not forget your ignorance here today, Gwen. You have my word that if I ever get out of here I will not hesitate to show you and your family the true meaning of monster." Gwen was hurried out with the guards; she hyperventilated with surprising ease considering all the oxygen had left her lungs. She'd thought. The door slid closed behind them and Gwen was relieved to find the cab still waited for her. She dropped down unceremoniously onto the seat. As the trees went by she calmed herself by counting them—well, that didn't work too well. Her hands still shook even as she evened out her breathing. She arrived at home and quickly splashed some water on her sweating face. Patting it dry, she looked in the mirror. Gwen hoped she'd never have to face Dr. Connors outside the prison. If the time came however, she would do whatever was necessary to protect her family. If it came to killing blows, then…
Gwen remembered one day in the lab she and the professor had been working on a dissection. She never particularly liked them, but comforted herself with the fact that the animal was helping to create scientific advances. And that it was dead. That helped. She was just about to cut into the carcass when Dr. Connor's hand on hers stayed her. She smiled up at him. He returned the smile and took the scalpel from her.
"Perhaps I should do this one, Gwen. I am more skilled with dissections and knives. I know your fears. Sit this one out, hmm?" Gwen had nodded and sat down gratefully. He always had her best interests at heart…
"Gwen, honey! Time for dinner!" Her mother's voice shook Gwen out of her reverie. Sighing, she took off down the hallway.
After a tense dinner Gwen put on a NYPD shirt that was like a circus tent on her. She hadn't washed it yet. It smelled a bit like his detergent. She fell back into bed, mentally exhausted from her visit. She closed her eyes to no avail.
…the true meaning of monster…
There would be no sleeping tonight.