The Benevolent Monster

39

The hospital is where burgeoning doctors first master their craft.

Despite his relative youth, Derek Hanson was both an old soul and a saint. The kid seemed born to service. His capacity to articulate that altruistic spirit got him into medical school. His superhuman work ethic, combined with a simply breathtaking intellect, kept him there.

During medical school, everyone eventually finds their unique study groove. For some, it is black coffee or Monster drinks with YouTube videos humming autonomously in the background. Others might squirrel away in some closet as quiet as a tomb and still use earplugs. Derek’s study haunt was the med school library. He did his best work late at night.

Derek was often the only living creature in the library in the wee hours of the morning. The security guards grew fond of him. He ultimately graduated third in his class. The top two were intolerable supercilious turds. Derek, by contrast, got along swimmingly with everybody.

As a med student, Derek thrived on chaos. He seemed magnetically drawn toward carnage in the emergency department and found a proper home in the trauma bays. He seemed addicted to blood.

You always remember your first. This young man was in his early twenties, heavily muscled, and adorned with gang tats — a typical gladiator. Thugs always seemed to use the cheapest ammo they could steal. This 9mm ball round had entered the right side of the man’s chest. The unremarkable copper-jacketed bullet then tracked across the mediastinum, creased the posterior pericardium, and came to rest underneath the left scapula. Along the way, it had done some of the most diabolical things to the poor guy’s pulmonary vasculature.

The external stigmata were minimal. The entrance wound was a small black hole roughly two centimeters medial to the right nipple. There was very little visible blood and no exit wound. The patient was already tachycardic, hypotensive and tachypneic — his heart was racing, his blood pressure was low, and he was struggling to breathe — on presentation to the ER.

Médecins Sans Frontières or Doctors Without Borders goes to
the worst places in the world and tries to make a difference.

The ER resident walked Derek through his first chest tube. It was a desperate, bloody, gory mess, but he connected on his first try. Despite their best efforts, the thug nonetheless died on the table. Derek left the experience fairly breathless himself. He was clearly hooked.

Come Match Day, Derek matched general surgery. Six years after graduation, he was a board-certified, fellowship-trained trauma surgeon. The transition from med student to resident to real-live doctor was always a really big deal. It was here that Derek’s exceptional technical skill and extraordinary heart synergistically combined into something greater than the component parts.

Derek had a gift with a knife that was obvious to both attendings and fellow residents alike. Had he opted for plastics and specialized in boobs, he’d have owned his own jet airplane in five years. As it was, however, Derek followed a different path.

While his comrades were being courted by big hospitals with deep pockets, Derek did a volunteer rotation with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in the Sudan. Doctors Without Borders fit Derek like a second skin. With no close familial attachments, inhuman stamina, no student loans, and lust for chaos, he relentlessly pursued the action.

Half a dozen years later, Derek’s passport was ragged. He had seen multiple continents along with warzones uncounted. He didn’t have a reliable mailing address. When his medical school alumni department inevitably called for donations, they came up dry. Neither his classmates nor Google had any idea where he was at any given time.

Derek cared little for money and even less for politics. MSF was his dream job. However, he also pathologically shunned attention. Dr. Hanson made himself scarce when National Geographic came poking around the refugee camp in Southern Syria where he worked. The hot French nurse who secretly felt Derek was the sexiest man who had ever lived thought it sweet beyond measure that he did what he did for the patients and not for the glory.

Extreme human suffering is repugnant to most normal folk.
Dr. Derek Hanson thrived amidst it.

As of 2021, there were 89.3 million displaced persons around the globe. War, famine, climate change, and generally poor governance drove most of them to refugee camps like the one where Derek served in Syria. In these sorts of places, people often just vanished into the overarching, suffocating sea of misery.

Most normal humans were repelled by such sordid places. The squalor, disease, and depravity would grind any normal man down over time. By contrast, Dr. Derek Hanson thrived there. Part of this was indeed due to his natural servant’s heart. However, it was mostly because, as an 873-year-old vampire, there was no better place on the planet to feed.

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