“Do all these people need to be here?” Doctor Garcia looked up at the second tier of the operating theater. The seats were filled with medical students grouped together by scrub color. A giant clear bubble kept the lower portion of the operating room sterile.
“No, but it’s a good chance for them to study,” the patient said. “I agreed to it.” He sat in a rigid metal seat that resembled a less comfortable barber’s chair. A horseshoe covered with a thin mint green cloth, “padding”, extended from the back of the chair to wrap around the man’s neck. A large transparent bib connected to the horseshoe protected his front. The doctor walked behind the man’s chair.
“Alright. Whatever you say,” Doctor Garcia said. “Scalpel,” he said.
“Scalpel? You haven’t even opened my skull yet,” the patient chuckled. The doctor’s fingers gripped the patient’s skull, and he attempted to pull it upward.
“Oh, right, I assumed that would have been done already,” Doctor Garcia glared at the rest of the staff, but they only shrugged in return. “Sorry. Uh, rotary saw? We got one of those?” The nurse handed a small electric handsaw with a circular blade. “Ready?” The patient nodded. “Well, but don’t move.” Doctor Garcia said. He heard a chuckle run through the audience of students above him.
“I’m ready, you may begin,” the patient said. He relaxed completely against the horseshoe; the rest of the chair did an excellent job supporting his weight, despite its awkward appearance.
Doctor Garcia activated the saw and flooded the room with a high pitched whirring sound. He touched an edge to the man’s bald head, slightly above his ear, and cut a steady line around the back of his skull. He walked a circle around the man at a slow pace to cut from all sides. Finally he turned off the noise and handed the saw back to the nurse.
He placed his fingers on the man’s skull and tugged upward again. This time the top of his skull came loose and separated from the rest of his head. He placed it on a nearby tray and held his hand out.
“Scalpel,” he said again. The nurse presented him a scalpel and he peered at the patient’s brain.
“Upper left,” the patient said.
“How do you know?” Doctor Garcia asked. The patient lifted his arm to point at a giant jumbotron style screen on the second tier.
“Oh. Thanks.” Doctor Garcia said. He inserted the scalpel into the man’s head, and made a cut.
“Nope, wrong one. I’m dead.” The patient said. Doctor Garcia dropped the scalpel to the floor. He ripped off his face mask, then gestured angrily at the crowd of students.
“I can’t work with an audience!” he yelled.
“Doctors need to learn to adapt. You can re-take the final next week.” The patient grabbed the top of his skull and placed it back on his head. Immediately his skin pulled itself together and the gash around his head disappeared. “Consider yourself lucky that you get to practice with a trained professional regenerator. Back in my day we didn’t get to make a mistake more than once.”
Thank you for reading! I’m responding to prompts every day in 2018, this is #211. You can find them collected on my blog. If you’re curious about my universe (the Hugoverse) you can visit the Guidebook to see what’s what and who’s who, or the Timeline to find the stories in order.