They rattled. As he labored to breathe, his lungs rattled and sputtered like an old engine. By now, the venom had seeped into his sympathetic nervous system, stewing his intestines, scalding his arteries. His blood was churning to pudding. The lights overhead glinted on black mucus as it poured from his every orifice. The man was no longer something human; he was skin and mucus, congealed on the metal floor.

Standing near the body were two men. One, dressed in a white coat, polished a syringe of purple serum with his handkerchief. On the pocket of his lab coat, it read Dr. Magonov.

The other man said, “I’m taking a 10-1 Doctor.”

“Alright. We’ll circle back in 15 everybody,” said Magonov.

People began to flood the scene, re-adjusting the lighting. A woman sat apart, clicking away at her keyboard, filling out a profile of the man still writhing on the floor:

Name: James Abagnale Jr.

Born in Newshire, Kentucky -

        "I don’t think I’ve seen you here before," said Dr. Magonov. A bulky man, with broad shoulders and a gruff voice, he loomed over her. His white hair was stiff with hair gel. She noticed his face was healthy and smooth, but his neck was pale and wrinkled.

“Oh hello! My name’s Maria. I’m here to enter James’ information,” she said.

        “Don’t call him by name. You should refer to him as the patient. And please, don’t make this read

like a tax form—try to make the info pop more.”

        “My bad! I’ll get on that right away,” she said as he walked away.

        Under the label of the profile, Judiciary Sciences, she added to James’ bio:

                                Charge: Conspiracy Against the State

                                Next Dosage: #3, 99 milliliters of zootoxin A-21B

“Alright men,” shouted Magonov to the crew, “Lock it up! Let’s get this show on the road.”

        Everyone scattered, save Magonov with the purple serum. The cameramen readjusted their lenses, and the room became deathly quiet.

        The cameraman said, “In three, two, one…”

        Magonov recapped: what the patient had done, what the dosage was, everything the audience needed to know. As the procedure continued, Maria heard whispering behind her.

        “This one’s a biggie, don’t you think?” said a man.

        “I know! Usually they don’t get past stage two! Bet he’ll get to the fourth dose,” another replied.

        “No way in hell, that would be insane.”

        “I know.”

        “Would get us up in the ratings though, I bet.”

        “That would get us a primetime spot, no doubt.”

By now, the purple serum had reached its target. The patient jerked a few more times, and wailed. Then the crew clapped.

        “Dammit,” said one of crew, smacking his call sheet.

        “Told you—no one takes three doses and gets away with it.”

        “I guess so. I really could have used the pay raise, though.”

        Before the director said cut, Maria typed ‘Time of Death: 4:36 PM’, cutting it a little too close before commercials.

“Do I need to find someone else to do this?” Dr. Magonov asked Maria, his face pinched in a scowl.

“No! No, I’m fine,” she said, “It’s just my first day, that’s all.”

“First day,” he repeated.

“Maria sat up straighter. “It’s—it’s really an honor, Dr. Magonov. I remember watching you when I was growing up, Doctor.”

"Of course, of course, you've seen my work."

"Yes, everyone has, Doctor. Your television programs kept us from doing many bad things."

        “Good. That’s what it’s for.”

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