The sirens screech in my ears, but I am so focused on my task that I drown them out. My heart beats a steady rhythm as I plunge the needle into her skin. Once, twice, three times. The thread criss-crosses over the tear when I am finished and I allow my sewing hand to rest against the smooth steel operating table. I watch the women’s pale face as her eyes flutter beneath the lids. I wonder what she sees. I glance at the bodies hanging from the walls, rows and rows of them held up by hooks. The sight would be perturbing to look upon if I weren’t used to it. Stepping away from the table I rap my knuckles against the door. A few moments later, my colleague saunters in.
I stand by while he grabs a clipboard and starts taking down her information. Heart rate, vital signs, the electrodes lining her bare scalp record everything. They even measure the amount that the nerve bundles in her brain fire. I glance at the monitor as a glowing number appears on the screen along with an image. It’s a scan of the women’s brain and I tap it to zoom in on the amygdala, located at the end of a long tubular region called the hipocampus. I frown as the nerves in the amygdala light up a poisonous yellow to signal that she is receptive to feeling in that are.
“What is it?” Jonhson, the only other person in the room, asks as he prepares the woman for placement.
“I think she’s in pain.” I respond, not taking my eyes from the screen. “There’s heightened activity in the amygdala, which you know process’s fear, and the medulla or lower brain. I think the pain is making her afraid.”
I turn my gaze to Johnson just in time to see him shrug. “What’s that matter to us? Our job isn’t to make sure they’re comfortable.”
I scowl as I watch Johnson lift the woman and listen to the odd flapping sound as the hook punctures her skin.
“Well, technically they used to be people.” I reply, somewhat bitterly.
Johnson shakes his head, we’ve had this conversation before. “They certainly aren’t people anymore, so don’t worry about it.” Once the woman is hanging securely, Johnson takes his leave. I wait until the door clicks shut behind him to approach her.
Her eyes are still darting about, but I know from experience that in time she will settle down. All of our long-term growers show increased activity in the amygdala and medulla after the blooding, so this isn’t unusual. I lift a gentle hand to trace a fingertip over her collar bone, across the stitches that are the only thing keeping the jagged gash from exposing her now bloodless veins. A little green light blinks around the edges of the dark thread, signifying that the seed took. It is only a matter of time before the seed germinates.
I can’t help but remember my wife, the first to hang from a hook under these alienly white lights, the first to be implanted, the first of the growers. I imagine the feel of her warm skin beneath my hands as I sliced with the scalpel. It took weeks for the smell of blood to be washed from the tile floor.
I stand on my toes to brush my mouth slightly against the women’s cold lips. “Thank you,” I whisper, “for living so that we may go.”
I can’t wait any longer, I grab a veil of her blood and jam the needle into my vein. Then I lean back and wait for the sweet darkness of death to claim me.