The lab was dark and cool. There was an island of light cast from a saucer of spotlights above the middle of the room. A cone of ghost-light fell upon a beautiful young woman, shackled to a flat steel table with metal cuffs and leather straps. Upon her head was a dome of electrodes each with a black cord that twisted across the floor like a thick snake to a bulky control counsel. The woman was pale and disoriented from drugs. Even so, her large ocean-blue eyes seemed to drink in everything around her. Her open mouth was framed with plush full lips painted red. Her perfect teeth and dimples hinted at a smile that could brighten a room like a sunrise.
Echoing through the dark room was a Frankie Laine song that had been climbing up the Billboard charts: Do not forsake me oh my darlin', on this, our wedding day. Do not forsake me oh my darlin'...
The woman's torn clothes barely allowed her any modesty. She had wavy brown hair that was moist from her cold sweat, matted to her wide cheekbones. Her swan-like neck was adorned with a knotted silk scarf, playful and elegant. An ample bosom swelled below a brassiere that strained to break through the remains of her pale green blouse. Snug brown trousers hugged her round hips, tucked into brown leather boots with dots of stippled-out hearts.
...I do not know what fate awaits me. I only know I must be brave, and I must face a man who hates me. Or lie a coward, a craven coward, or lie a coward in my grave...
The voluptuous woman moaned softly, writhing against her bonds. Her smooth skin rose with goose-flesh from the cold steel of the table beneath her. Her back arched and knees bent trying to escape the chill, the leather strapping restraints creaking like a hangman's rope.
...Oh, to be torn 'twixt love an' duty. S'posin' I lose my fair-haired beauty. Look at that big hand move along, nearing high noon...
The metal on metal sounds of door-lock tumblers cut through the deep resonance of Laine's singing followed by the scrape of the thick lab door across the polished cement floor. A sliver of light cut into the dark lab until the door was closed with a solid thud that boomed low through the room. Again the quiet sounds of the lock tumblers were heard, locking whoever came through the door in here with the beauty bound to the table. The echo of hard leather soles beat across the floor, growing louder as the shadow of a man approached the island of light through the darkness.
...He made a vow while in state prison. Vowed it would be my life for his an', I'm not afraid of death but, oh what will I do, if you leave me...
The steps stopped and the tips of the man's shoes could be seen on the island. A weasel-like voice was heard from the edge of the light. “Do you like this song, Millie?” she turned her head as much as she could towards the voice with her crown inside the electrode dome. “Its from that Cooper, Kelly movie. It's a western and a love story. We should see it together, I think you'd like it”. Only a soft groan escaped her lovely lips, her eyes still glassy from the drugs.
...Do not forsake me, oh, my darlin'. You made that promise as a bride. Do not forsake me, oh my darlin'. Although you're grievin', don't think of leavin', now that I need you by my side...
Before another song started on the radio, a bony hand reached out of the dark to press a switch on the bulky console. The music stopped and the room seemed to hold its breath. William Deeds stepped into the light, moving to the woman's side and smiling down at her, a mad fire in his dark little eyes. The skin of the too-thin man stretched tight across the bones of his face and those eyes bulged out, giving him a death-like visage. He looked far older then his 32 years.
He stroked the smooth skin of her rouged cheek with his knuckle-bones and then under her small chin with his chemical stained fingertips. “You won't be needing this anymore” Deeds said obsessively. He took her slender hand in his, roughly tugging off Millie's engagement ring. He leaned down and kissed her rich lips, prompting a sour look from the drugged woman as she tried to squirm from Deeds.
“I love you, Millie Reed. You'll see soon, we are meant for each other. Chris will understand, really he will. He will see how happy you are with me, how happy we are... together.” He stroked the side of her face, then down along the side of her bosom. “I was content to wait, really I was Millie. I knew you would come to see the truth eventually... but once Chris proposed, I couldn't let you or him make that mistake. It is better this way”.
Millie's eyes started to clear and she spoke “Where... William? What?!” a look of horror started to cross over her lovely face. “William please...” Millie started to remember, she had been walking home. She had the cabbie drop her off on the corner, she liked taking in some of the night air. He had grabbed her from behind. The ether... “William what are you doing? Let me up, please William!”
William Deeds, Dr. Daedalus, looked coolly over at his prize. “Its going to be okay Millie, really it will.” Millie Reed, Heart's Desire, started to cry. “William, what are you going to do to me, please... please no. Let me go”. Deeds ran his hands over her neck, Millie scowled in disgust. “William, NO” she said firmly, trying in vain to use her power of suggestion. She just felt a numbness, her supernatural charms were blunted.
Deeds untied her scarf, droning on clinically “it's possible the process will cause a mild seizure my love.” He kissed her cheek with anemic lips. Her face twisted away. “William, I don't love you. I will NEVER love you. I'm Chris Knight's! Nothing will change that, William. Stop this!” William pressed his hands under her jaw to force open her mouth, then stuffed her scarf in it.
Heart's Desire started to panic, her beautiful eyes pleading for compassion that would not come.
Dr. Daedalus took a syringe from his lab-coat and leaned over her form. She was twisting as much as she could, trying desperately to escape her bonds. William gave her the injection and she quickly calmed. “I am sorry for this, my love.” A flash of anger escaped through her panic at his words. “I can't have that siren's voice of yours, lovely as it is, interrupting things right now. Soon it will sing only for me. Rest now, when you wake, our life together will begin.”
Millie strained as much as her small frame could against the leather and metal that held her down. Her jaw and eyes clenched shut from her futile effort. Deeds turned his back on his Heart's Desire and went to the console. Millie could feel the drugs trying to drag her under again, and she fought them, a last stand of consciousness. She managed to spit out the scarf and cried out “William, please, I have a son... I have a SON William, please!” Deeds looked back at her in surprise “I...” he hesitated, then turned back. “It doesn't matter, we'll find him later.”
The whine of machinery was heard in the room, she felt the electrodes just above her head starting to heat up. Millie pleaded in her thoughts... no, no. This can't happen. Please Chris, my love, my All American Knight! Please come. Don't let this monster take me! Millie began to sob, hot tears flowing over her chilled skin.
The hot electrodes bit down onto her skull and the crackling of electricity joined the hum and whine of the lab equipment. Fireworks exploded in her eyes, and she felt something searing into her brain. Millie felt her memories falling away chunks at a time, leaving behind a patch of oblivion.
Chris, Chris, Chris... she pleaded desperately in her mind, her last thoughts looming. I love you... forever I love you... find me, please find me my love! Find my dear boy, my poor boy... Somewhere in the far distance she heard Dr. Daedalus cry out. As her brain melted away she did not feel the desperate hands free her head from the electrode dome, she did not feel her murderer trying to slap her back awake. It was too late, far too late. There was a bright light, collapsing, collapsing down to a fine point, dimming to a flickering spark that flared before it burned out, leaving only darkness unobserved.
William Deeds collapsed to the ground, sobbing. The room was filled with the sickening smoke of burning wires, smoldering hair and seared flesh. “No, no, no, no, no NO!” Deeds clenched his hands, rising back to his feet and grasping the still warm corpse of Millie Reed. He shook it and shook it, pleading in despair for her to return to him. He dropped his face onto her bosom, holding her small body to him, sobbing into her. His mind rebelled in shock. This could not be happening, he could never have done this. He raised his head and gazed at her beautiful, beautiful face. The top of her head was covered with smoking, charred hair and scalp. He put his forehead against hers, willing his tears to put out the blaze that took her from him. Damn you Chris Knight Deeds thought angrily if you had not tried to steal her... to steal my beautiful love, this never would have happened! William Deeds stood up, shaky on his feet. His numb mind struggling to hang on to sanity. He gazed through his tears at his dead love for long minutes, feeling ever more nauseous as the finality of her death weighed him down.
“Oh Millie, what have I done to you, my poor wilted flower, my Heart's Desire”. He wiped his eyes clear. Her lips were open, as if to kiss the air, but no breath escaped them. The ocean of her eyes would be forever still, drawing all she was down into its dark depths.
Dr. Daedalus of The All Stars, America's elite team of champions, a decorated hero of World War II. He had murdered the sweetheart of America, Millie Reed, the Heart's Desire.
William stepped to his console, switching off the lights above him, hoping the dark would hide his grief, would hide his horrid deed. It was a sharp-talon darkness that would rend his soul, stretching his own death from this moment until he would join her in cold oblivion, many long empty years from now.
With a gasp, drenched with his own cold sweat, William Deeds woke in the ICU of Heart's Desire. When Chris Knight built something, he never did it half-way. The resort even had its own fully staffed hospital. He coughed loudly, and some dark brown phlegm came up. He heard footsteps coming closer and the privacy curtain was pulled back to reveal a dark skinned man in a white lab-coat. 'They always wear stupid lab-coats', the old man thought bitterly. “Hello, Mr. Deeds, I am Dr. Kales”. William came out of his musing. He replied, his voice very hoarse “Hey, doc” speaking was like scratching his throat with nails “You should'a let me die, the cancer's gonna do me in anyhow, soon enough”. Dr. Kales offered a thin smile of reassurance. “Your cancer is still in remission Mr. Deeds, you should have at least a few years left to be grumpy”. Deeds sorted.
“Can you tell me what happened William? When security responded to the automatic medical alert, they found you unresponsive, your face was covered with water...?”. A haunted look crossed William's face “Nah, last thing I remembered was having a coughing fit and trying to drink some water right from the pitcher”. In his mind he relieved the moment, Victor's hand on his mouth... the terror. He thought that was the end of him for sure. He shuddered. The Doctor nodded, unsure about the answer, but had to accept it. “All-right then Mr. Deeds. We are going to keep you here a day or two and make sure your okay. Next time try and sit up, and use a cup, okay sir?”
William nodded and waved him off. Dr. Daedalus closed his eyes and started to cry. 'Oh Millie, my poor Millie' he thought. William knew that Millie had a bastard son before she became famous, a secret she took to the grave. Her last words were a plea for her son. All those years ago. William had kept an eye on the boy for years. Helping out from the shadows. He let him be when he got to old for the game. Last he heard he got married, had a little girl. Deed's wiped his eyes with a brown-spotted shaking hand. “I'll make it right, Millie. Somehow I'll make it right” he whispered hoarsely.
The next day, The All American, Chris Knight himself came to see him. Surprisingly fit and handsome for a man his age, he even still had some blonde hair left. “William, hey” Chris came to his bedside “Gave me quite a scare old man. If you leave it will just be me and Francis left of the old All Stars. Please don't do that to me, you know how he is”. William gave a snort. “Were old news, pal”. Leave it to Chris to pull him out of a dark mood.
William held out a shaking hand and Chris gripped it with his own. “Chris”. Deeds said dryly. He cleared his throat. “Chris, I think I need to keep busy. I've been rotting away in my dank old rooms for years now. Set me up a lab and some cash will ya?”. The All American smiled and grasped his old friends shoulder. “You got it Bill. No problem. I am glad to see you taking an interest in anything old chum”. William Deeds nodded weakly. “Thanks Chris, now git. I wanna sleep”. Chris did. After many empty minutes passed William whispered “I'll make it right Millie, you'll see”. Dr. Daedalus slept.