Michael stood on the other side of the window, watching as the doctors in stark white worked around Venus. After they’d placed her inside a long, round tube, Frank appeared at his side. He flipped on a machine. Venus’s body appeared. He used a mouse to scroll over different highlighted areas.

“Son, this is beyond fantastic. Look at her organs,” he said, his breath stinking like cinnamon mouthwash and bourbon.

What a surprise. He still drinks like a fish and smells like a liquor store. He hasn’t changed at all.

The strange picture showed her entire body. But more than the bones were visible. All of her organs, her veins, could be seen, too. They were highlighted in red.

“What in the world?”

“That’s the point. She isn’t from this world.” He looked over at Michael and smiled. “See this?” Michael nodded. “What do you think that is?”

“It looks like a . . . a heart. Kind of.”

“Yes, and look here. What do you think that is?” he asked with unabashed excitement.

“I’d say another heart.” It was the craziest thing. Inside her ribs, which looked the same as humans, there appeared to be, what looked like a human heart, and another, larger one, which glowed.

“I think so too, Michael.” He patted Michael’s shoulder before rushing to another machine and flipping it one. “Listen.”

Michael did. He heard a quick beating. “Her heartbeat?”

“Wait, there’s more.” His dark eyes shone like a kid in a candy store on allowance day.

Michael turned away and stared at the two hearts on the x-ray. Still listening, he finally heard it, what sounded like another heartbeat. It beat much more slowly. “Is that another heart beat?” he asked.

Frank nodded. “Yes. Yes, I think so.”

Michael kept listening.

“And look at this.” He pointed at a strange-looking organ in her pelvis. “See here.”

“Uh huh.”

“What do you suppose that could be?”

Michael shrugged. “No clue.”

“Here are her female organs, which are similar to our females, but this . . . I wonder.” He scratched his head absently. Then he pressed a button and called, “Abe. Get in here.”

One of the men in the room with Venus glanced over at the window they were watching from and nodded.

“Some other type of organ to assist with their reproduction,” Michael guessed aloud. It was large and perfectly round.

“Perhaps,” Frank nodded.

The man, Abe, walked into the room. “Are you sure he should be in here?” Abe pointed a long, white finger Michael’s direction.

Michael had the same thoughts, but figured Frank was trying to be fatherly. Or show off. Most likely the latter. Regardless, he wanted to stay.

“I’m the boss, Abe. And yes, he should be in here. I have my reasons.” His father’s stance and the hard lines on his face seemed to dare Abe to disagree.

“Fine.” Abe walked over to the machine next to Frank.

“What do you make of this?” he asked Abe, pointing at her circular organ.

“I’d guess it’s a part of her species’ reproduction.” Abe scratched his chin.

There was no way to know for sure. But probably a good guess since its location resided in the same area.

“What’s most amazing is . . . look at these.” Frank traced several lines that looked like veins, but they were thicker and didn’t appear to have anything in them. Only the outline highlighted in red whereas with her normal looking veins, the whole thing showed red. The regular veins were filled with blood, like a human’s, and attached to the smaller heart. The other set linked to the larger heart, which beat slower, and looked clear.

Totally frickin cool was Michael’s first thought. The second he spoke aloud. “What’re they for?” He stared at the monitor, waiting for it to magically reveal her secrets. The odd organs appeared connected to the “empty” veins and . . . “Hey, look at this.”

“What?” Frank and Abe asked in unison.

“These organs are a lighter red than the human-looking organs.” He pointed at them and then looked from his father to Abe and back to the picture.

“Yep, you’re right. I wonder what they’re for?” His dad turned to Abe for an answer.

“My guess is not as much blood or maybe no blood is in those parts of her body. Maybe they’re back up organs.”

Michael agreed. “Huh.” 

“So what is flowing in and out of them?” Frank asked.

Abe sighed. “There’s only one way to find out.”

Frank nodded.

“How?” Michael questioned even though he knew the answer.

“We’re going to have to cut her open.” Abe rubbed his hands together. The saying, ‘evil scientist’ crossed his mind. He looked to Frank and asked, “When do we begin?”

“Wait,” Michael said, putting a hand on Abe’s fleshy arm. “Maybe I can help.”

Abe snorted, which ticked him off.

Frank looked unconvinced. “How do you plan on doing that?” 

Michael rubbed his eyes, thinking fast. “Well, what if I talked to her? Put me into a cell next to hers and let me try.”

His father put a hand in his pocket and the other on Michael’s shoulder. Once again, he had an intense desire to fight the guy. Images of his bloodied feet, the bruises on his ribs, and the cigarette burns that had covered his legs as a child, snapped through his mind like a slide show.

Why should I trust this jerk?

Frank studied Michael, and he wondered if Frank could see the hate he masked. A wide smile appeared on Frank’s face, showing all of his teeth. “That sounds like a fantastic idea.” Turning to Abe, Frank said, “Let him try.” He pushed the green button on the wall and said, “We’re done for now. Lock her up.” 

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