Not wanting to startle the patient, the doctor opened the door as gently as he could. His effort was proven futile though, for the patient began screaming as soon as he stepped into the room.

"Oh! Jesus Christ! Please! Have mercy on me!"

"Please calm down, Mr. Smith," the doctor tried to comfort him. "You're perfectly safe and--"

"No! No! Stay away from me!"

The doctor sighed and turned to the nurse standing by the bed. "How long has he been like this?

"Ever since he came out of his coma."

The doctor's mind raced as he tried to take all possibilities into consideration. This patient had been in a coma for decades. Prolonged inactivity of the brain may have caused temporary mental disorders, including hallucination and hysteria. Maybe it would be a good idea to prescribe a tranquilizer for him.

Wanting to check the patient's reflexes, the doctor approached the bed carefully. "Mr. Smith, now would you please--"

"No, you monstrous beings! Fallen Angels! Demons of Lucifer! Oh deliver me from this hell, my Lord!"

"What? What're you talking about?" The doctor blinked in surprise.

Without answering his question, the patient simply ranted on. "I died from a car accident! It's not my fault! I'm a devoted Christian! I do not deserve this! Save my soul from this horror!"

"I believe there has been some misunderstanding, Mr. Smith. You did not die from the accident--though it did cause you to..."

"Leave me alone, minions of Satan!" the patient screamed at the top of his lungs.

It was obviously impossible to carry on with the conversation. The doctor slipped out the room quietly, and motioned for the nurse to follow him. Together they walked silently down the dimly lit corridors of the hospital, trying to ignore the patient's constant screams which followed them like relentless ghosts.

"Now this is a difficult case," the doctor said at last. He fished out a small notebook from his pocket and began to flip through the pages. "Hmm. Interesting. So you X-Ray scanned the man's brain only three days ago, right?"

"Yes. Regular examinations are given to patients in comatose in case of possible blood clots in the brain."

"And nothing out of the ordinary showed up in the last examination, I assume?"

"Nothing at all."

The doctor scratched his head. "Maybe we should ask some of his family members to pay him a visit or something. I'm sure that's going to help. "

"It's of no use. Mr. Smith's wife and daughter came only half an hour ago, and he screamed as if he had seen a ghost."


"Dr. Anderson believes that we should transfer him to a mental institution."

"But it doesn't make any sense. The only way for people to go insane right after waking up from a coma is by sustaining serious brain damage--but it is virtually impossible for anything of this scale to develop within three days. Unless..."


The doctor made no reply. His mind raced; had he somehow missed the most obvious?



"How long has Mr. Smith been out?"

"The car accident happened in 2010," the nurse replied without a hitch. "He spent 10 years in a New York hospital before getting transferred to this ward in 2020, which was 15 years ago."

"Twenty-five years in a coma, " the doctor murmured thoughtfully. "I see--so that's what happened. He's perfectly sane!"


"Think about it, Mary. When was CBT--Customized Plastic Surgery--invented?"

"About 10 years ago. But how is this relevant to--" she paused. "Oh, my God."

"Does Mr. Smith have any relatives who have not yet underwent the surgery?"

"Not many. Nowadays everybody wants to get themselves a new look. Oh wait--there's the patient's aunt, Mrs. Hampton--but she is over 90 years old."

"That's okay. Put her on Skype or something--just let Mr. Smith talk to her."

"I'll see to that."

"Thanks, Mary."

The nurse smiled politely in acknowledgement before turning and hurrying down the corridor on her six busy legs. There was a certain unspeakable grace in her movement, and the doctor could not help but admire the sacrifice she had made for beauty--after all, it must have taken her years just to learn to walk on those new limbs. As for himself, he was quite satisfied with a few modest transplantations--just to make life easier, you know.

He walked towards his office with the notebook in one hand and a sharpened pencil in the other. He did not bother to put either of these items back into his pocket as he turned the doorknob--one of the many merits of having an additional arm attached to his chest.

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