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Chapter 16

Plague Doctor
     Chapter 16: The Black Substance Under The Skin

    Larbre Studio  Larbre Studio

    The light shone brightly in the spacious anatomy laboratory.

    Three rows and six temperature-controlled refrigerated dissection tables were placed in the middle. All were made of stainless steel. The ceiling above each dissection table had a shadowless lamp and a camera. On the back wall of the laboratory hung a banner on a blue background that said "Courage beyond fearlessness, noble love that leaves one speechless, paying tribute to the cadavers."

    On one of the dissection tables was a cadaver. His head was covered with a wet cloth soaked in formalin.

    The body was still intact, except for the left upper limb which was malformed and distorted.

    Professor Gu took six students to the side of a dissection table and conducted a silent tribute ceremony for the cadaver.

    6

    All of them were wearing a white coat, masks, and gloves.

    Prior to this, the four men had just brought the cadaver over with a trolley. Before the remains were placed on the dissection table, Xu Hai had reported the abnormal situation in the storage room to Professor Gu. Professor Gu frowned and couldn't understand what the situation was, but what left him even more confused was the left upper limb of the body.

    

    This was a type of distortion that even he could not recognise.

    After the moment of silence had passed, Professor Gu revealed a solemn expression and seriously spoke to the students, "You should have expected this already, but the competition this time is not easy. I hope you can go all out in this training and improve yourself. Don't let the hopes of the deceased down."

    Everyone nodded. Everybody was wearing an equally solemn expression on their faces. Gu Jun was the same as well. He never acted in a joking manner while inside the human anatomy room.

    "Frankly speaking," Professor Gu looked at the remains on the dissection table, "I have no clue what the general upper left limb of this cadaver is. Is this some kind of congenital malformation or some acquired malformation? You should pay close attention to the possible clinical connections. Whoever has any idea, speak up. "

    2

    Even Professor Gu does not know? Xu Hai looked at Zhang Haoran, and Zhang Haoran turned to look at He Yuhan again. The atmosphere in the laboratory became increasingly unnatural.

    These medical "slaves" were professionally trained, and the scene of rotting flesh was quite familiar to them. When they dissected a typical human body, they would not feel any fear as long as the body was covered with a cloth. Only when looking directly at the corpse's face or dissecting the face would tension suddenly seize them.

    The human fear mechanism was like this. A hand or large intestines were just dead things. but the face had a soul.

    3

    But now, the malformed left hand gave them more invisible pressure than they had ever experienced.

    He Yuhan could not help but take a deep breath. However, all that he smelt was an even more overwhelming odour. His heart trembled.

    1

    Professor Gu glanced around. Seeing his students look like this, his heart sank. Thinking about it, the training resources for this competition were already human bodies of this level. When it comes to the actual competition, who knows what worse objects were to be dissected? Whether these young people could deal with the situation then was a question in itself.

    Ruoxiang and Zixuan seemed to be calmer. What about Gu Jun?

    At this time, Professor Gu noticed that Gu Jun's expression didn't seem to change. He really didn't know if Gu Jun was calm or scared out of his wits.

    "Let's dissect the dorsal carpal area of ​​the left upper limb and the back of the hand." Professor Gu deliberately wanted to temper them and picked whatever they feared the most.

    As a doctor, you have to face a lot of unexpected situations. You cannot prepare prior to going into battle every time.

    "Ah!" Xu Hai and He Yuhan suddenly exclaimed. Even Wang Ruoxiang was stunned. Cai Zixuan finally revealed a nervous expression. "Professor, don't we need to warm up first?"

    In a usual anatomy class, some pre-reviews will be done before the hands-on operation. The teacher would talk about relevant anatomy knowledge and use the teaching screen to play related maps and operation videos. This was so that students can understand the focus, difficulties, and order of the anatomy content and mentally prepare themselves.

    Although there was no such map of the malformed left hand for them to see, it is better to dissect other parts and warm up first.

    "Let's do a set of broadcasted radio gymnastics first," Professor Gu answered coldly.

    2

    Naturally, this was a cold joke, but everyone didn't dare to say much anymore. They were afraid that they would indeed do broadcasted radio gymnastics in the dissection room.

    3

    However, Professor Gu's cold joke significantly alleviated the pressure, and they proceeded to slightly stretch their waists, twisted their necks, and relaxed their muscles. That was because the average length of an anatomy class was about three hours, and they would have to stand by the dissection table all throughout. They had to dissect the anatomy and observe the others who were doing so. Sometimes there would really be a need to do broadcasted radio gymnastics.

    The dorsal area of ​​the wrist and the back of the hand was not large. One or two people would suffice. Who would be going first?

    Professor Gu, and everyone else in the laboratory knew how their skill in anatomical dissection ranked.

    Wang Ruoxiang was sensitive and had exquisite techniques, but her weakness lies in the inherent disadvantages and weaknesses of females. Some anatomical operations required a lot of energy to complete. It takes several hours to do so and consumes a lot of energy. These are the reasons that restricted the development of female medical students in the surgical aspect.

    8

    Overall, her and Zhang Haoran were tied at first place. Zhang Haoran specialises in fundamental medicine and had more exposure to anatomy compared to clinical skills.

    Following that, the ranking was as follows: Xu Hai, Cai Zixuan, and He Yuhan. As for Gu Jun, he was just an ordinary member. They thought that he might be more reliable than the weakest one He Yuhan who was a pharmacist.

    "Ruoxiang, Haoran, you two would go first." Professor Gu made the decision. "The others assist them."

    Cai Zixuan and the other three were relieved, Wang Ruoxiang and Zhang Haoran stepped forward while Gu Jun watched at the side.

    The scalpel, dissecting forceps, dissecting scissors, and other surgical instruments had been prepared and placed on the dissection table.

    The shadowless lamp above and the camera were switched on and aimed at the corpse on the table.

    Wang Ruoxiang took out a scalpel from the surgical tray. It was standard grade, made from stainless steel and the blade appeared to be bright silver. Feeling the scalpel made the nerves in her fingers twitch slightly, and she recalled the theory of anatomy which she studied in books. She remembered the sensation of making an incision.

    Next to the tray, Zhang Haoran picked up the pair of forceps and used the tip of the forceps to make a horizontal incision mark on the back of the malformed cadaver's wrist, and then an incision mark beneath the thumb. The hand had been twisted into an indescribable appearance, and he made the incision based on his gut feeling.

    At this moment, everyone's heart, including Professor Gu's, rate was accelerating.

    Wang Ruoxiang gathered all her concentration, holding the scalpel firmly with her wrist twisted into a bow-like gesture. She followed the incision markings along the back of the wrist and proceeded to pierce the skin at a right angle using the scalpel.

    As soon as the blade was inserted, astonishment and doubts instantly overcame her. The skin on the back of a human hand was extremely fine. Usually, the resistance of the blade would suddenly decrease after slightly piercing the skin. That meant that the blade had reached the superficial fascia. At this time, one should immediately tilt the blade to 45 degrees and then proceed with the incision.

    However, even though the tip of the blade had been inserted significantly, there was strangely no such sensation of decreasing resistance.

    Wang Ruoxiang immediately paused and frowned. She then said to everyone around. "I don't feel that there is a shallow fascia here."

    Uh, what? Xu Hai and the rest were unable to react instantly because the basic structure of the human body they knew of was skin, shallow fascia, then deep fascia.

    "Just gauge the ordinary depth and continue with the incision," Professor Gu flatly ordered.

    Wang Ruoxiang nodded, steadied her grip on the scalpel, and carefully cut along the line at an angle of 45 degrees. With this incision, there was a sudden squelch, and a dark strange liquid spewed out, almost splashing on her and Zhang Haoran's faces.

    "Watch out!" Gu Jun had been paying close attention to every stage of the operation, and he could not help but loudly exclaim and stretch his hand to pull Wang Ruoxiang away.

    Nothing happened afterwards. Instead, everyone was startled by his sudden cry. Professor Gu rebuked in a resigned manner, "Don't be surprised by everything! That's very amateurish."

    "I'm sorry..." Gu Jun continued to observe silently. Some dangers would descend before one even expected them, and he sincerely prayed that these black liquids were not those.

    Since this was arranged by the state, the authorities should have determined that the substance was not dangerous.

    The effusion was still flowing out from the incision, and everyone was waiting to hear Professor Gu's judgment. Normal corpses would not have so much subcutaneous effusion.

    "This could possibly be a subcutaneous cyst." Professor Gu's face looked particularly old and haggard at the moment. This left hand was subverting his knowledge a little bit. "Go ahead, there is effusion underneath the skin so the skin will move a lot more. Pay attention when making your incisions."

    2

    Wang Ruoxiang gathered her spirits, along with Zhang Haoran, they continued to slice and peel the skin on the back of the hand and the back of the finger. As for whether the depth of the incision had damaged the subcutaneous tissue such as the superficial fascia, it was impossible to know. However, the subcutaneous effusion still continued to flow out.

    Their eyes were sore and hurting due to the prickling stench of formalin, and tears would not stop flowing out.

    1

    Perhaps due to doubts, unfamiliarity, or fear of the unknown, their hearts grew increasingly tense.

    Zhang Haoran could distinctly feel the heat originating from his exhalations inside his mask. This left him feeling very uncomfortable. He was almost out of breath, and his hands trembled slightly because of that.

    1

    Wang Ruoxiang still had not reached the point that her hands were trembling. Still, her forehead was matted with fine sweat, and she was similarly on the verge of making an error.

    How could Cai Zixuan and Xu Hai, who were watching beside them, dare to make fun of them? They themselves felt their hands trembling as they observed. If their positions were switched and they were the ones who went up to take the knife, no doubt they would fare worse.

    After what felt like an eternity, the two finally completed the task of peeling the skin from the back of the hand.

    "Ruoxiang, Haoran, you guys are done." Professor Gu noticed that both of them were at the end of their wits and encouraged, "Your performance is not bad." When faced with this kind of abnormal situation, the performance of the two was still satisfactory. Professor Gu then said, "Gu Jun, you can continue to operate. Whether or not there is a superficial fascia, verify it for me."

    In fact, Professor Gu was not harbouring much expectation towards Gu Jun this time. If it was an average human corpse, that was still alright. However, when dissecting a malformed body, even Ruoxiang and Haoran could only exhibit this level of performance. How better could Gu Jun perform? Professor Gu's main goal this time was to let the boy understand the gap between himself and the elites, hoping that he would be humbled and strive harder in the future.

    3

    Let Gu Jun do it? Everyone suddenly looked at Gu Jun as they sensed Professor Gu's malice.

    Cai Zixuan was genuinely feeling sympathetic. Tycoon Jun had been out of school for a few months. When was the last time he even performed a dissection? Isn't this putting his head on the chopping board?

    Wang Ruoxiang heaved a sigh of relief, and the mask on his face was undulating unceasingly as though she had just fought in war. She handed the scalpel in her hand over to Gu Jun. "The substances are very slippery. Pay attention. Good luck."

    Gu Jun accepted the scalpel and nodded. "Leave it to me."

    The air suddenly went quiet, and question marks seemed to fill everyone's faces.

    Leave it to you? To you?