Toxic fumes began emanating from the home of the Junkyard Doctor as he replaced a heart of flesh with a heart of scrap. He detached two fingers on his patient’s left hand, and replaced them with two metal augers. He detached two toes from his patient’s right hand, and replaced them with two iron nails. He funneled out the rotten blood from his patients leg, and replaced it with oil befitting the iron leg he already wore.
The patient aptly woke, noticed his new attachments and thanked the Junkyard Doctor. There was no exchange in commodity, as the Junkyard Doctor only wanted the heart he took from the patient. He kept the heart in a jar of bodily liquids and stored it in a room far secluded from his operating station. That room held two hands, one foot, half a lung, and now, a heart. Every night before going to sleep, the Junkyard Doctor would go into the room and make sure that none of his gathered organic mechanisms rotted away.
Often, the Junkyard Doctor would wake up in the middle of night, with vivid images of explosions and orange gas and blood smeared across his hands as he dragged the limp body of his wife and child. Those images would stay with him for the rest of the day, and when he went outside of his home and work station to the junkyard he set up shop in, he would see them lying on ruble. He would gather the necessary parts for operation, the necessary steel and iron that people wanted to be a part of them, and he would see his wife and child lying with their stomachs spilled. The Junkyard Doctor was never known to associate with the living. Those who came to him had already accepted that they’ve died, and that they were ready for rebirth.
Children were often told not to visit the junkyard. Not because they had a distaste for scrapped iron or because they were worried that infectious viruses remained on scrapped iron. They knew far from the fact that anything bad could happen from scrapped iron. To them, it was a godsend that creations of iron and steel, augments of gold and silver, and blackened oxygen gave them the life they now lived. Rather, it was the Junkyard Doctor they were scared of. They heard the rumors that he had kept living humans in the back of his home. They were scared of having their children be turned into living experiments, ripped apart and shredded. But the Junkyard Doctor would do no such thing. He was not a murderer. But because he worked with the dead, mended the dead, and recast relics to be living ghosts, they feared him.
It was hard for the Junkyard Doctor to go into the city. People knew him from his strange attire and what made it worse was that he had no particular specialty when it came to keeping up with the era he lived in. He had no cell-phone, no computer, he hadn’t the slightest what commercial medicine was doing for treating cancer or aids. Those who went to the Junkyard Doctor were given the same stigma. They were eye sores and sources of pollution within what the greater populace saw as a perfect sanctuary.
The Junkyard Doctor only had one reason to go into the city, so his ventures would not last long. He would only have to endure the scornful stares for a brief moment. He would make his way to the city register, which was found within the Population Center. The Population Center was situated between a school and a hospital, and the Junkyard Doctor knew he had to hurry with his business before many people would see him. When he went inside, the lady at the front desk would instinctually nod and give him the register for people who were injured or sick beyond regular medicine.
He would then memorize the names of those who would possibly visit him and then prepare for what materials he needed from the junkyard. Before leaving the Population Center, he would ask for recent mortalities. The only ones on the list was that of his wife and child.
Sometimes the Junkyard Doctor would get news about what’s happening from the city as he worked on patients. They would not feel pain or pleasure from the detachment of their limbs or the incisions made to their body since they had already felt far greater pain to force them to the Junkyard Doctor. Some would tell him about the plans to make new buildings inside the radiation zone to retake the land that was lost in the last fallout. He would answer with a small nod.
Some would tell him about the rise in water prices due to the shortage of availability. They would preface by saying a new consumer product would replace the shortage of water, and the people wouldn’t notice that they were slowly going to rapture. The Junkyard Doctor would answer with a small nod.
Some would tell him that the governmental benefits for those still making their way back from No-Man’s Land were being sent off to barracks at the perimeter of the city. They would tell them to stay there so that they could send them anti-radiation pills and make sure they didn’t bring back foreign diseases. But those who came to the Junkyard Doctor snuck into the city with half their limbs. They told him that they hunted men at the barracks to keep them quiet. They didn’t want rumors to spread as to what was happening on the outside. They didn’t want their scarred faces and charred bodies to make headlines. So they shot them quietly and buried the dead. The Junkyard Doctor would answer with a small nod.
Despite hearing about all of these atrocities, the Junkyard Doctor never told any of it to anyone. He never recorded what they said, and many of them thought he was uninterested, and found him to be a great source of therapy. Among those who didn’t care for the Junkyard Doctor’s reputation, he was deemed a hero. The only complaint was that some had trouble navigating the junkyard.
Eventually, government officials would find their way into the office of the Junkyard Doctor, but they were not there to be operated. Some would offer him grants to set up a new office in the city. Some would offer him a place to retire, such that they could convert the junkyard into a new shopping center. Some simply came to make sure he wasn’t eating children or supporting Red Flag ideas. The Junkyard Doctor had nothing to hide. He was simply a doctor, but he did fear that they may take away the parts he stored at the back of his home. The Junkyard Doctor was ready to kill anyone who would dare infringe on the flesh he harvested. Those were the only things keeping the Junkyard Doctor from tearing himself limb from limb.
When the month ended, the Junkyard Doctor would stare out of his office, and into the grey sky. Every month, the government would burn red flags on top of the city and embers would rain across the streets. Every month, the Junkyard Doctor would watch as the flames engulfing the flags turned into the flames that engulfed his family. He would stare long into the flames of the sky with a glass of hard water mixed with whatever he could mingle in from the army’s last remaining reserves. He would dHe would drink and it would send him back into the days he used to end lives and mend the dirt with blood and inequality.
After the flames in the sky ended, the Junkyard Doctor would go to the back of his home where he stored his harvested flesh. He would make sure that all their liquids were changed, that the room’s temperature was enough to keep them from rotting, and he would add another patch to the teddy bear hanging from the door. That was how he kept time. He would add a red patch to the front of the bear, then light a candle and walk over to the shelves of organs. He grabbed a glass case labeled, “Camille”, set it to a table tucked to the side of the room, and placed his candle next to the case. He let the light bleed into the fluid, illuminating what was contained. He studied every feature of the face suspended in motion, and he traced one finger over the surface of the glass, imagining the fairness of her skin on his tips. He would end the month by sleeping next to her on the table, imagining the life that he led before the world had gone to sunder, before he became a Junkyard Doctor.