Wilbur Cranford Dibbs lay sprawled in a hospital bed, dying. Three rounds of chemo and two extreme diets hadn’t fixed his problem, but a new fresh-faced doctor had just come in with one final plan.
“You’re sure this will work?” Mrs. Watkins, Wilbur’s sister asked.
“Very little is certain in medicine,” Dr. Smite said. “There are always complications with new medications, but all the research says it’s promising. Human trials have been mixed, though.” Dr. Smite smiled. “He may end up growing a horn out of his forehead, but with cancer this advanced and a pallor that white, he’s got maybe twelve hours. Twenty-four if he’s lucky.”
“Did you say he’d grow a horn?” Mrs. Watkins asked.
“That was a joke.”
“What’s the worst case scenario?”
“His body rejects it and he dies.”
“What’s the best case?”
“He wakes up tomorrow.”
Mrs. Watkins sat down on the chair behind her. She reached over and touched the hand of her brother in the hospital bed.
Wilbur was well past middle-aged and had the paunch and hair loss to prove it. He’d done construction in his early years, but settled down as a postal worker in his thirties. Despite the whine and whizz in his ears from the hospital monitors, he had heard every word of the conversation.
“And this is safe?” Mrs. Watkins asked.
“Tomorrow is no guarantee either way. But the preliminary results are promising. It might just give your brother a new life.”
“He might die from it, though?”
“Mrs. Watkins, this is your brother’s last chance. He’s too far gone for any other treatment. We have done all that modern medicine can. This is his last hope.”
Wilbur raised his hand. Mrs. Watkins and Dr. Smite stopped. “Do it,” he said in a harsh whisper.
“But, Wilbur, you might die,” Mrs. Watkins said.
“That happened a long time ago,” he said in the same hard tones.
His sister tried to protest further, but Wilbur’s eyes rolled back in his head. His heart stopped beating. Alarms sounded.
“What have you done?” Mrs. Watkins shouted. She stood up and smacked at her brother’s chest in a futile and rather violent attempt to wake him.
“I haven’t yet begun,” Dr. Smite said. He pulled a syringe of purple, shimmering liquid from the case in his hand. With practiced skill he sunk the needle into Wilbur’s veins. He placed the syringe back in the case just as nurses flooded the room attending to the whining heart monitor. A doctor followed.
The doctor took one look at Dr. Smite and said, “Who is this guy? Gloria, you bring in a consult?”
“No clue,” a nurse responded. Her real name was Bridget, but the doctor had forgotten that long ago.
“Gloria, Get him out of here,” the Doctor said.
Another nurse (also not named Gloria) moved to usher him out as Mrs. Watkins turned in horror to Dr. Smite, but neither found their quarry. He had already left. Mrs. Watkins sat down in the chair and wept.
The doctor, Dr. Pompous as the nurses called him, did his best to save Wilbur’s life, but his body gave out. Dr. Pompous pronounced Wilbur Cranford Dibbs dead thirty minutes later.