The Least Detailed Plans of a Great & Complicated Apparatus

An ancient skull gradually subsumes Dr. Jolly Frye’s time, talents—and mind.

Is it possession, madness, or something else altogether?

The Least Detailed Plans of a Great & Complicated Apparatus

A Tale of the Bloody Scalpel.

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About the Book

First published in 2016 as a part of Lenore Hart’s well edited anthology, The Night Bazaar: Eleven Haunting Tales of Forbidden Wishes and Dangerous Desires.

An ancient skull gradually subsumes Dr. Jolly Frye’s time, talents—and mind.

Is it possession, madness, or something else altogether?

The Least Detailed Plans of a Great & Complicated Apparatus

A Tale of the Bloody Scalpel.

A doctor fresh from schooling is akin to a loaded gun. Or better, a horse yet to be broken—for a new doc needs nothing if not to be broken himself. What the young Jolly knew coming out of Baltimore Med was mostly book learnt: a little pharmacy, a bit less anatomy than his butcher, and still less of the conundrum that is the body at war with itself.  He was, in fact, very much akin to an engineer who has been privy to the least detailed plans of a great and complicated apparatus, yet has seldom beheld the device for himself. He had some rudimentary inkling of how the body worked, though only in the theoretical. In plain terms, Jolly had studied disease in its many manifestations, but mostly from afar. He was book learnt and lacked practical knowledge.

His most interesting possession was an ancient skull, bronzed with a patina of age, given him by an ancient professor of surgery named Otto Chadwick. The German—he spoke English with that over-articulated ‘Veek for Week’ accent—had learned his surgical arts at the abattoirs of European masters long before Jolly was born. Born in the Neander Valley of Germany, he was a small, delicate man of impeccable appearance with an affinity for string ties. He had come to the States during the late war and a bullet to the head had stroked his dominant arm at Petersburg in 1864. He had miraculously recovered and stayed after the North’s victory. Despite the apoplexy and the coarse tremor that ensued, the otherwise useless hand and arm moved with unequaled grace during surgery. Indeed, he was the most skilled surgeon in Baltimore for the fifteen years immediately following the Civil War.

Professor Otto Chadwick was not only apoplectic, but perhaps prophetic in addition. Not a few said he was mad, being nocturnal by nature and prone to long rants if disturbed unaccountably in his office or especially while operating. He spent his days with a single-minded fervor behind the knife, often berating himself and those around him for the mildest perceived slight. He bid his nights in the seamier parts of Baltimore, where he lived alone in a large home with only a youngish widow woman—he referred to her as his housekeeper—for company. In the summer of 1881 he presented Jolly with an interesting gift at the end of his second year of study, writing in an attached note ‘I am done. This will bring out the best in you—and the worst as well I fear.’ The professor then died of a brain hemorrhage on the very day Jolly Frye graduated. The cryptic note was thus never explained.

Also unexplained—and largely unmentioned, at least in polite company—were the soul-less cretins found in the professor’s basement some weeks after his death. They numbered a half dozen, more or less for the accounts of the matter were vague and shadowy—the stuff from which legends are kindled. His housekeeper claimed no knowledge of their presence. A big-boned, intemperate woman, salacious and alcoholic, she was confronted and run out of town at the point of a pitchfork.

Details
Author:
Series: Tales of the Bloody Scalpel, Book 5
Genres: Fiction, Thriller
Tags: from the mind of Edison McDaniels, Supernatural Medical Thrillers
Format: eBook
Length: novella
ASIN: B083Q189HC
ISBN: 9781393576747
eBook Price: 0.99
Endorsements
In this dark fantasy anthology, editor Hart invites 11 authors to explore the concept of the Night Bazaar, a place where the magical intertwines with the everyday. The setting is reminiscent of The Twilight Zone in scope, and throughout the anthology there is the ever-present sense that something nasty is lurking around the corner. Jim Scheers’s wonderfully unsettling “Weekly Pass” follows a man who sees his own alternate lives unfold on an endless train line. Rich in creativity, “Whirl Away” by Carol MacAllister details the decline of a 40-something businessman as he relives the past in a series of haunted rental tuxedos. The most stunning piece is Edison McDaniels’s “The Least Detailed Plans of a Great and Complicated Apparatus,” a tale of a series of possessions convened by an ancient magical skull with the help of an overeager doctor. There are no pieces that seem out of place; all the stories contribute to a sense of otherworldly dread. Appealing to those who like their fantasy served with a side of psychological horror, this anthology is sure to entertain.
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About the Author
Edison McDaniels

A brain surgeon with 20+ years and over 8,000 cases under his belt, Edison McDaniels spends as much time as possible writing fiction these days. He is the author of the acclaimed TALES OF THE BLOODY SCALPEL series of medical thrillers, as well as the THE GETTYSBURG TRILOGY, a series of intense novels depicting the battlefield surgeons at Gettysburg.
He lives in the upper midwest, does not have a dog, but can often be found at Minnesota Twins baseball games. He is not squeamish.

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