"We admit the first trial had its flaws."
The words woke Gabe Utterson to face the bright lights and his throbbing headache. At first, he couldn't speak, his tongue hung limp and swollen in his mouth, like someone had covered it with a woolen sock. He was dehydrated and bewildered, uncertain of where he was and who was speaking. The voice though, it was familiar.
"There were… unanticipated side-effects, and some collateral damage, it's true. So it always is with discovery. Never can we create without bumps in the road."
Gabe knew that voice, and tried to move toward it, but could not. His hands and feet were bound. He was tied prostrate on some sort of table, and as his vision cleared, he could see the devices of medical examination around him. A length of medical tubing was fed into him intravenously, leading up to a amniotic bag on a nearby platform, filled with some unknown viscous fluid, glowing golden.
"H-Henry?" He began to stutter, and tried to sit up. He could not move his shackled hands or legs, but a shadowy figure moved quickly to his side and forced him back down onto his back. Shoving him not gently, but also not rough enough to bruise. "Wh-what is-where are we?"
"You really don't recognize this place Gabe? I'm hurt. How long have we been friends?"
The lawyer Utterson found he could turn his head and as he looked around him he found he did know this place. A basement much transformed from the last time he lounged here at one of the good doctor's parties. His one-time friend held him bound in a cellar that, once appointed for entertainment, now appeared better suited as a dungeon.
"Dr. Jekyll," Gabe tried to regain his composure, searching for his stiff upper-lip in the face of trouble and all that. Clearly his friend was quite disturbed. In the thrall of some substance he dare not try to name. "I admit, I find this a little overwhelming. What, what exactly are we doing here? In your basement?"
"Yes, I can see why this might be a little overwhelming, but your facts are out of date my good man. I am not Dr. Jekyll any more… well, I'm not just Dr. Jekyll."
As his eyes grew accustomed to the light, Gabe saw more and more of the good doctor's face. He recognized hints and pieces of the man he knew, though he had been much transformed. Some hidden ugliness had been brought to the fore of his features. A snarl etched itself on his lips; his nose was sharper and thin; his eyes, once a dark humble brown, had turned icy blue. But there was no denying it was clear from the fringe of brown hair and a birthmark the shape of a anchor above his right eye, this was, or at least at one point had been, the esteemed Henry Jekyll.
"Henry… what have you done?" Gabe Utterson gasped, unable to hide his terror.
More importantly, what will you do to me? Was his unspoken fear.
"Gabe, Gabe, it is not so much 'What have I done?' as 'What have I become?' I am my best self Mr. Utterson. I am free."
The esteemed doctor hunched in a chair by Gabe's prone side, perched in it like an animal uncomfortable in human trappings, and continued: "Each of us wears two faces. The polite face, worn towards society, born of false trappings and assumed dignity. This is the face we wear that allows us to walk through the world without judgement or shame for our baser urges."
He who was Jekyll leaned forward, his features lost again in shadow as he bent into the bright light, all obscured except for his maleficent leer.
"Then there is the other face, our truer face. A dark face looking inward, built of desires we dare not acknowledge even to ourselves in the quiet. Wearing that face, we are ugly men; and we do ugly things. We try to deny it, but every so often it manifests itself and the consequences are… dire.
"What if there were another way? What if one could make those two faces one, join these disparate selves. This is what I have endeavored to do these past few months. Not without setbacks. You met Mr. Hyde one night I believe?"
Gabe's eyes go wide at the name.
"-my shadow counterpart. At that moment I am afraid he had full control. A nasty bit of business. That poor woman… is she all right?"
"She's still alive, no thanks to you!"
"I do regret her distress and had yet to work out the kinks. But I've finally perfected it. Look at me. Am I not cured?" 'Jekyll' stepped back from the table, a whipcord figure of muscle and gristle, veins straining on his forehead. Gabe doubted that the transformation, or whatever it was Jekyll went through, was truly as perfect as he claimed, but despite his appearance, he seemed calm in a way that Hyde had not, his manner decent in a fashion of which Hyde was not capable. Suddenly, it hit him.
"Doctor, what is this you're giving me? What is flowing through my veins?"
Before Jekyll answered, the lawyer Utterson knew what the drug must be. A feeling grew within him, avarice. It was clear by the hunger that spread from his head to the tip of his toes, a burning warmth. Anger, passion, lust, they multiplied… and yet. He controlled them, could indulge as he saw fit, or not as he chose. Emotions became exponentially stronger, but also less somehow.
Jekyll smiled, this one more genteel than his previous leer.
"Why, I needed to use more than myself as test subject. And where better to look than among one's friends? Tell me Gabe, how do you feel?'
"I feel…" Smiling, Gabe had to admit he was feeling pretty fantastic. Like a whole new man, in fact. "Well Dr. Jekyll, I feel-"
"Please, it's not Jekyll anymore." And the Doctor grinned all the wider now that he saw the leer on the lawyer formerly called Utterson's face now matched his own. "Call me Hyde, Doctor Hyde."