Everyone wants to be remembered for something they’ve done. So their name will live on in the memories of others. As a child, I always dreamed of becoming famous one day for some brilliant scientific achievement like breaking the speed of light barrier or finding a cure for cancer (someone bet me to that one).
And I did it.
I will always be remembered forever as Dr Harper – the woman who found the source of love.
If you’re interested, love originates from a small gland, called the harper gland in my honour, located near the rear of the brain on the far left side. It does not become fully functional until several months after birth, triggered by hormones in a mother’s milk. This explains the phenomenon, shown by studies, that breastfed babies maintain better relationships than bottle-fed babies. Throughout an individual’s life, this gland produces licologin, the hormone which stimulates the feelings we call familial love and friendship. However at the start of puberty, the gland starts to produce an even more powerful hormone, liogin, or the love drug as my colleagues dubbed it. That one is the source of passion.
I’m not proud of how we achieved these results. We tortured thousands of families and individuals and killed them. They just all blurred into one mess in my head and that is how I managed to survive, by not thinking about what I was doing. I went into flight mode and turned off all the little voices on my shoulders that were telling me what I was doing was wrong. But one particular experiment has stuck with me my whole life. It stalks my dreams and scorches my heart. It has become a representative for all the other torment I designed.
We took a woman and her family from some slums in Africa where their disappearance would not be noticed and brought them to our lab. We separated the woman from the rest of her family and placed her in a whitewashed room. Wiring her brain to a helmet of sensors, we told her that her family was dead and showed her, on a screen, digitally edited images of their wrecked bodies, burnt and shredded to pieces. After letting her mourn for a while, we brought her perfectly living family into an adjacent room that she could see through glass. And tortured them systematically to death before her. The screams of pain that came over the speakers mingled with her cries of anguish and the scrawling of pens. Then we killed her too and cut open her brain to try and source the places we had seen the most electrical activity.
I don’t know why this case out of thousands affected me so much, when within the hour, her corpse had been dumped and our next test subjects had arrived. Maybe it is because her family reminded me so much of my family. I try not to think, what if that was my child who had had her toenails pulled out before being forced fed them. Or my husband with his gut being pulled out of him while I watched. Instead, I try to remember I did all this for them-- to earn the money to buy them food and pay for the medication that helps make my husband’s paralysis bearable. Oh how ironic that my attempts to save them only resulted in their deaths too.
Or maybe it was the woman’s words when she turned to me, knowing somehow I was in charge and the only one left who was capable of feeling love, that wanted to feel love. “Please. You’re a mother. Save my children. Kill me instead. Please.” Love was etched into every syllable.
It doesn’t matter now, because I am about to pay for what I did.
Now it is me who lies on the surgery table, hands restrained by leather straps, even though I won‘t fight them. I can imagine all the cameras they have fixed on my small body in this vast icy chamber, broadcasting my every grimace, every wince to the millions that are all that remain of the human race. I can imagine their jeers and screams of detestation, calling for my brutal killing. And it is no less than I deserve.
By they, I mean the Love-haters. Of course, they gave themselves a more aesthetic name, but Love-haters sums up their whole objective in one word. They began as a small radical group who sought to eradicate love from the human race. It was their belief that love was mankind’s last weakness. It was the last string that attached our species to the rest of the animalkind. They wanted to destroy the last things that made us human.
And to do that they needed me.
I have never ever agreed with their beliefs. I only did it for my family. And now they are gone. I killed them. I destroyed them.
And the rest of humanity.
I never believed they would succeed. But I underestimated the simplicity in their plan. On every man and woman that agreed, they operated and removed the harper gland, removing from their brain the ability to love. Turning them into Love-haters. Those that didn’t agree, the majority, were killed. Every baby that was born also underwent the operation.
I didn’t realise to what extent this was happening until it was too late. I couldn’t save mankind, so I did the only thing I could: try and preserve love. I hid among them, pretending to be like them. It wasn’t easy. They have changed. It is as they had wished, they are no longer human. Their skin has paled to the point of translucency, so you can see the hate sloshing round inside of them. Their eyes are now fully black without mercy. Hair flies around unkempt, uncared for and nails curl under, biting back into flesh.
Like them, I had the operation and I filled myself with hate for love so I transformed like them but I held onto one small piece of love, one single image. Of my family. Dead. But not of my husband sitting slumped in his wheel chair with a knife in the gut. Or of the twins, cut open and then stitched together in some twisted Siamese arrangement. But of little Tommy smiling, as he always did, hanging from the chandelier. Smiling even though his face was purple and blotchy. Smiling to say to me, “Be brave, Mummy. Don’t give up.” I held onto it so I would not completely become like them, so that I still held onto a piece of love.
That is how I survived. I don’t think they would even notice because there is no one left who loves anyone else enough to care about how they look. I lived like that for years as I slowly watch love disappear from the world. I was so deeply submerged I even helped, killing those who resisted.
Eventually it was all completely gone. Except the little spark I kept alive in my deepest depths. Yet they still smelt that small piece and kept on hunting knowing the job was not finished. I came to realise they would never stop until I was destroyed too.
But I had been thinking. In all those years I realised something, that I was wrong. The Love-haters should not have hired me, a scientist. They should have hired a psychologist. Because what they don’t know is once you have felt love, you don’t need some stupid gland to feel it. Removing the glands of infants who have never felt love, sure that works for them, but not for adults. The only way to destroy it is to bury it and smother it out using the only emotion that can equal it in strength. Hate.
So subconsciously, completely unaware, they have been destroying love within themselves because their hate for those who love is so great.
But unlike love which was made to last to persist despite all odds, hate is short term and instant. To keep it alive, they had to keep on torturing and keep on killing.
Under all that hate, I think they still have the potential to love, but so long as I keep love alive the hate will still remain.
Which is why I gave myself up. I know my death won’t be easy. They’ll draw it out to produce as much hate for themselves as they can. But I deserve this.
This is my penance.
Soon I will be going to such a place where love still exists. It is them I pity. They who in seeking to be more than human have only lowered themselves to filth.
And I hope that maybe as I fade, the hate may fade also. I don’t know if it will happen. Maybe they will turn their hate on some other species. Or maybe on themselves. But I still hope.
So this is how I will always be remembered. Dr Harper- the woman who destroyed love.
But also perhaps as Dr Harper – the woman who rekindled it