Short Story Saturday – No Pain, No Gain – Part 2


I’m sorry for not posting the second installment of my story last week. I was taking a rare break and catching up with some friends I’ve known for over 40 years. What a source for some story ideas that was. Anyway, this story, No Pain, No Gain is proving to be an interesting one. It was too large for one installment and, it appears, there will be a third part as well.

If you want to catch up on the first part of the story, you can find it HERE.

Please enjoy Part 2 of No Pain, No Gain


No Pain, No Gain – Part 2

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Dr. Mitchell Haybrook felt nauseous as he sat behind his desk in the research facilities at Kongo-Fit. He had just reviewed the data again and his conclusions were still the same. He brought the results to the attention of Ray Hanson, the head of research and development and received the scientific equivalent of a pat on the head.

“It’s such a small percentage,” Hanson had said. “Even if people in this category buy a Buff Cuff, only a small percentage of them will have issues and the issues may not be noticeable.”

“The issues can also be quite serious given the right conditions,” Haybrook had countered.

“I think your being overly cautious, Dr. Haybrook,” Hanson had condluded. “I’m not going to hold up release of this technology because your being nervous at the last minute. There are billions at stake here.”

Haybrook didn’t feel any better after his conversation with Hanson. Money trumped caution and good scientific guidelines. He knew this might be the case when he joined Kongo Fit, but he hoped that it would never come to fruition. He was a scientist. Hoping that things went the right way and that rare conditions didn’t occur went against his nature. He knew from experience, if there was a chance something could happen, it likely would.

********

Joyce looked in the mirror and couldn’t believe what happened. A large clump of her long hair was no longer attached to her head, it was stuck in the plastic bristles of her hair brush. She didn’t feel pain. It just came loose as if it wasn’t attached at all. Although it was a sizable lock of hair, she didn’t see a bald patch where it had been as she still had plenty of hair to cover it up. She thought it might be just a weird occurrence. She didn’t think about it much as she continued through her weekend. She exercised, ate sensibly and actually had the energy to clean out her closets and organize things in the storage area of her apartment.

She completely forgot about what had happened until she was sitting at her desk eating a kale salad for lunch on Monday. As she bit into a crunchy bit of cucumber, she felt a strange sensation in the back of her mouth and then bit down on something hard. As she moved the hard object around with her tongue and spit it into her hand. What she saw was a tooth. After the initial disgust, her first instinct was to call the restaurant, complain and threaten to bring in the health department. Her anger, however, quickly turned to worry when she felt an unfamiliar gap in her mouth with her probing tongue. The tooth in the salad had fallen from her mouth. It had left a bloodless hole. It was her own tooth, root and all. She quickly grabbed her cell phone and put the camera in selfie mode. Sure enough, her upper left canine tooth was missing.

Joyce was mortified. She couldn’t get through her day with this happening. She quickly dialed Vivian, her supervisor, and let her know that she had an emergency and needed to get to the dentist. When she explained what happened, Vivian empathized with her immediately.

“It’s no problem, Joyce. “I totally understand Time is of the essence with teeth.”

“Thanks Viv. I’ll try to be back as soon as possible.”

In her five years with the company, Joyce had only missed work once and that was due to food poisoning from another ill-fated lunch that had struck others in the office as well.

“Be sure to wrap the tooth in a milk. I’ve heard that helps if they are going to reattach it,” Vivian said, trying to be helpful.

Joyce ran into the break room self-consciously avoiding others and keeping her mouth closed as she cradled the tooth in her hand. She found a Ziploc bag, poured some milk from the fridge into it and dropped in the tooth sealing the bag.

Joyce called her dentist from the car and was able to get an immediate appointment. She handed the bag containing the tooth to the receptionist and sat in the waiting room briefly before being called back. She sat briefly in the dentist chair before Dr. Kring came in looking harried.

“Joyce, what happened?”

“My tooth fell out while I was eating lunch. Do you think you can put it back in?”

“Well, the tooth itself is whole. It came out roots and all, which is pretty unusual. Let me have a look in your mouth and we’ll see what we’re dealing with.”

Dr. Kring used his dentist’s mirror and sickle probe to examine the gap left by the missing upper left incisor. Joyce could see his furrowed brow a he poked and prodded.

“When did you say this tooth fell out?”

“During lunch,” Joyce answered.

“Lunch today?”

“Yes.”

“Well this is very unusual. In fact, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“What, Doctor?” Joyce asked

“The spot where your tooth was looks like there hasn’t been a tooth there for quite some time. The socket has healed and the other teeth have started to move together. This typically doesn’t happen for months or even years after a tooth is displaced.”

“I don’t understand? What does that mean?”

“I don’t really know, Joyce. This is unusual. I think we need to get you to an oral surgery specialist. Even the tooth itself looks like it’s been out of your mouth much longer than an hour.

The oral surgeon’s initial examination confirmed what Joyce’s dentist had theorized. The gap left by her tooth had healed very quickly. When he reviewed the results of her x-rays, he was even more surprised by what he saw.

“Re-growing?” Joyce asked. “How is that possible, Doctor?”

“It’s really not possible. In nature, only reptiles and fish can grow new teeth. Among mammals, this is not the case except, perhaps, for you. I’ve really never seen or heard of this phenomenon before.”

“So my tooth will grow back?”

“I’m not sure, but it appears so. The structure of your jaw appears to be accommodating new growth for all of your teeth. You are like a polyphyodont”

“A poly what?” Joyce asked.

“It’s like most toothed fishes, many reptiles like crocodiles who have new, permanent teeth growing in their jaws, usually under or just behind the old tooth. That’s what I’m seeing on your x-ray.”

“What does it mean?”

“I’m just not sure. I’m going to set up an appointment with a specialist, but you should see your tooth grow in in short order.”

Joyce wasn’t sure whether to be happy that her tooth would return or concerned about her unusual medical condition. As she left the dentist office she called Vivian from her car. She thankfully was directed to her voicemail.

“Hey Viv, it’s Joyce. There was a bit of a complication at the dentist today. I’m going to take the rest of the day as a sick day.”

Joyce headed for home. She felt slightly depressed about her tooth, but still felt the need to exercise. She did a two mile loop around her apartment complex, showered and made a delicious salad for dinner. She never remembered enjoying salad before, but lately, they tasted better than the finest chocolate or cake.

Joyce caught up on some of the work she missed and then went to bed. She had been sleeping very well for the last week and she woke up feeling refreshed and ready to go. She then remembered her dental issue and probed her mouth with her tongue. She was confused. Had the tooth loss been a dream? In the spot where the gap had been, a tooth was now there. She sat up in bed feeling great, that was, until she stood up and began to make her bed.

On her pillow were several clumps of hair. As she felt her head, she felt several thin and bald patches. She ran to the mirror and confirmed her fears. She looked like she had been attacked by a razor. Random patches of hair were missing from her head. She remembered the spot where the clump had fallen out previously and, for some reason, about an inch of hair had grown in that spot. Was her body replacing hair like it was replacing teeth?

Joyce couldn’t ignore this, she quickly phoned her physician and talked the receptionist into an emergency appointment.

****

“We’ve had three reports of customers exhibiting symptoms,” Dr. Haybrook reported.

“That’s three out of the 22 million that have purchased our Buff Cuff,” Hanson said.

“Three so far and, as far as I’m concerned, that’s three too many.”

“Listen doctor, we haven’t even confirmed that these three people are exhibiting their symptoms because of our product. Besides, what’s so bad about it. They are regenerating cells. It seems like that’s a good thing.”

Dr. Haybrook wrung his hands in frustration. The adaptation and regeneration of cells was part of the picture. He knew the potential for the full extent of the effects of certain people prone to the technology of the product. He also knew that three out of 22 million was just the beginning. What he didn’t know was that the situation was much worse than even he could imagine.

41 thoughts on “Short Story Saturday – No Pain, No Gain – Part 2

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