Throughout all of history there has been one disease which has occurred naturally in all animals and in humans. It has been dubbed Cancer and has always been considered the formation of malignant and non functioning cells within the body, which disrupt the functions of said body. The body supports these cells in spite of fact that they are in fact killing it. In recent years cancer has become more and more common in humans. They said it was because of the chemicals in our lives but that never made any sense, those chemicals had been more apparent and more widespread in the early years of industry than they were now. Although certain things seemed to be carcinogenic the occurrence of the condition in various parts of the body seemed erratic and coincidental. Radiation seemed to cause it but we had no idea why even in areas devoid of radiation and chemical corruption its manifestation could still occur. It was theorized by many that it was simply the result of a malformed piece of genetic information that occurred randomly throughout the body but the truth is despite all of our knowledge we really knew nothing about it. We could treat it, but we couldn’t prevent it, and we still didn’t know what we were really dealing with.
That’s why the center for disease control sanctioned a specialized study of a unique patient known as subject one for a long term analysis of the disease. The subject was a thirty five year old male. In relatively good health who had smoked for most of his life. Since 14 he told us coughing erratically. Cancer had formed in his lungs but much to the surprise of the people in the lab his general lung function had not declined. Subject one had a great sense of humor in the beginning, often jokingly referring to all of us as the eggheads, and asking for more smokes claiming he wanted to give us more to look at. His family was being well compensated for the study which put him in high spirits. He had several well formed and malignant tumors on his lungs. The doctors he had been seeing previously had given him a few months to live.
Subject One stopped coughing a few weeks into the study. After a chest X-Ray we were able to determine that the tumors had overtaken his lungs and were beginning to spread to his throat. The man’s sense of humor continued to keep his spirits high. Despite the tumors on his lungs he seemed to have no apparent problem breathing. After all the tests we ran his blood pressure and other vital signs all appeared normal and the number of breaths per minute he was taking was actually far lower than average, indicating that his lungs were in fact absorbing more oxygen or so we had thought. The lumps in his chest were large and bulbous and could be seen on his bare skin. They sent a chill down my spine every time we had to look at them, every time I had to check his pulse, or prep him for more X-Rays.
I knew something was different about this Cancer study when I was instructed that the patient was going to stop chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and that all procedures to remove the tumors on his lungs which until that point had been green lighted were now to be cancelled. In spite of our Hippocratic oath we were told to let the disease run its course. Every last thought in my mind screamed out in protest but I went along with the study anyway, because the pay was good and I was sincerely curious as to what exactly they wanted to observe in a patient seemingly doomed to die from terminal Cancer.
After another two months the tumors in his lungs literally overtook his lungs. The tumors hadn’t just rendered the lungs dysfunctional they had literally eaten away at the majority of the healthy cells in his lungs. His average breaths per minutes continued to drop as did his sense of humor. Subject one claimed to be in extraordinary pain almost constantly, so we issued him a heavy dose of pain killer to help ease his suffering knowing that we could do nothing to stop it. He was starting to lose his voice then and he choked out in a raspy voice over and over again that we should get off our overpaid asses and start getting to work. We were giving him placebos at the time and telling him that it was a new drug designed to completely replace standard cancer treatment. I don’t know why he believed us, but the lie made me feel horrible.
By month three he started smiling. That horrible leering smile of odd and eerie confidence. The cancer had stopped decaying his lungs and spread to both his heart and brain. We assumed psychosis was the reason he started smiling the way that he did. The tumors in his throat made talking for him almost impossible but he wrote down his requests for several drugs, including a stronger pain killer, nitroglycerin for chest pains, and an anti depressant to help him cope with the separation from his family. It seemed odd to me that a man who claimed to be depressed could smile the way he was. It was a large toothy grin, the kind that you would think insincere if you told a joke. A taunt issued to a real smile. All the same no one questioned him wanting the drugs and we gave them to him without so much as a second thought.
At month four, the Cancer had spread to most of his major organs, his stomach, his kidneys, his liver, his lymph nodes. and his skin. The surface tumors gave him an odd texture oddly enough they started on his chest were the other visible tumors could be seen. All of his organs continued to function however, in spite of the appearance of the tumors at the sites. His health has stayed constant and that damn smile stays plastered on his face, it seems the muscle around his face have grown stronger to keep his teeth exposed. His mouth must be getting dry, is all I can think. He takes even fewer breaths now, and his lungs seemed to have all but withered away from the malignant tumors. I’m not sure how he even breathes, his organs shouldn’t even be working, his lungs don’t even look like they could hold air. He has utterly stopped talking, and has also stopped requesting medications. In fact he has stopped taking his medications all together.
It’s month six now, and I’m starting to realize that something has gone horribly wrong, what I’m observing from subject one doesn’t line up with my knowledge of human physiology. The cancer has started to overrun his brain and heart, and his heart is beating less and less. He appears to have stopped breathing altogether, but his body isn’t going into distress, his heart just keeps on beating and he just continues to smile at us. He spends his days doing nothing else but staring at the wall now. Where as before he would watch Television, or play cards with his orderlies. Now all he does is stare, and that smile never leaves his face. He stopped smoking as well.
Month seven is here, its December. Subject One seems to have no interest in Christmas, he seems to have forgotten he ever had a family. He is becoming less and less interested in the outside world. We suspect this is a product of the psychosis we had observed earlier. The damage to his organs is staggering. I don’t know how he could be alive. I don’t know how anyone could live through what he has. He has no discernable heartbeat anymore and is eating less and less now. He hasn’t spoken a word to anyone for as long as we can remember but he still has full control of his muscle movements, though he uses them mostly to position himself in the same chair every day and just stare off into space. On an impulse we brought him out into the courtyard where he used to take his smoke breaks and left him out there. He just stood out in the snow. He didn’t show any sign of being cold. He just stood out there smiling.
Its a new year and the study continues but at the highest ethical cost I’ve ever had to even imagine, I never thought I could ever be a part of anything like this. The subject stopped eating, and drinking, he has no heartbeat, he doesn’t appear to be breathing and he’s since stopped sleeping as well. He just stares at the wall all day. If we ask him to go to a testing room he complies. Though he never stops smiling, from what I can tell he doesn’t blink anymore either. Just looking at him sends shivers down my spine. I have nightmares of his face every night now. The Cancer has literally begun to replace of all of his vital organs. By all accounts I don’t even know if we can call him human anymore. I hope they do what’s ethical and euthanize him. I don’t know what psychotic hallucinations he must be experiencing, his brain matter is all but entirely decayed, but I imagine the world he lives in must be something unworldly.
My god, I don’t even know where to begin. It was such an ordinary day, everyone was so off guard. He hadn’t moved in days. He hadn’t spoken in months, he was almost a houseplant, but then it happened. He just started to scream, I guess that’s what you would call it. I’ve never heard a noise like it in my life. It echoed throughout the facility and gave everyone a horrible pain in the ears. Then he began to thrash. Breaking a table and flailing his limbs wildly, he hasn’t even eaten in months. I don’t know how he could have that kind of energy, but he did. When the orderlies attempted to contain him he threw them aside like small children and hurled them against the wall. In the struggle one of them had ripped off his shirt, by tearing it at the shoulder. How we all forgot about the tumors on his skin, they seemed to be almost eating away all of the healthy skin, what remained looked more like a fungus or a mold had overtaken his body. His skin was black and deformed. He lunged forward wildly smashing in the orderlies skulls with his fists spilling their blood in thick wet splashes on to the tile. Then he started ripping out their throats with his teeth, causing jets of blood to come shooting from their bodies. Then he started going mad, he lunged forward attacking nurses, doctors, knocking everyone over with just a single blow. I spun around and sprinted down the hallway as armed guards which were stationed at the facility stormed into the room and opened fire. As I looked back I could see the bullets hitting subject one and spilling his blood everywhere, but he didn’t even flinch. I turned around and kept running I don’t know what that man had become but I didn’t want to see it on a rampage any more than I wanted to admit that I might have had a hand in causing it.
That day one man killed twenty three people before his bullet riddled body fell over and ceased to function. They literally had to shred his body with lead before he would stop moving. He kept fighting after being shot over 200 times. The bullets had pierced his chest, nearly taken off his head, and removed his arm. The facility remains open and we were never told the results of that study, the only thing I was ever told was that I needed to be debriefed and given a complete physical. After all that happened a lab technician sat me down, but something was wrong with him I could tell. His mask was being covered by a surgical mask but the way his face was twisted it seemed wrong. He sits me down and tells me he’s sorry but I have cancer. In awe and disbelief I think how much I hate that word now. What does it even mean, can we ever really know. I feel so angry I swipe at the man and tell him to go to hell. In horror I realize after I’ve knocked off his mask he has that same smile plastered on his face. All teeth, an insane grimace.