A Re-imagined Classic
 Apr 28, 2016

Perhaps you've been sitting in a movie theater, munching on overpriced popcorn and watching the latest film out of Hollywood, when it suddenly occurred to you that you've seen this story before. Your brow furrows for a moment, then it hits you -- this is just the same plot as that famous story you had to read in high school. What a rip-off!

But no. Re-telling and re-setting the old classics is a time honored tradition. For example, Apocolypse Now was based on Heart of Darkness, and West Side Story was a modernization of Romeo and Juliet.

Your challenge is to take a famous tale and re-cast the main characters and/or re-set the location and time period, to make it fresh and interesting.

The story it's based on must be well known to the average reader, not something so obscure only you have read it. But it is up to you whether you make it obvious what storyline your retelling is following, or you make it hard to guess. But if you think it's so changed that some readers may not guess it, please include the title of the base story in the Author's Comments box.

Contest Rules
* Entry Fee: Free
* Prize: Trophy
* Level: Advanced (All members may enter, but judging is to advanced criteria)
* Word Limits: 1500 - 3000
* Submit period: 14 days
* Voting period: 2 days
* All regular Writing Deck Rules apply.
* Multiple entries are allowed in this contest.

Thanks to HeyDoofus and dOntEAtpOOp for the idea.
Thanks to Dutchpuh for supplying our themepost!

Good luck.

1st place

“Another night wishing I were single,” I thought as I checked out all the ladies while walking around the club, looking for someone that nobody knew. I was supposed to be keeping my eyes peeled for a master pick-up artist that left his trophies dead.

We were now sure that we were looking for a serial killer, only because the autopsies found the same DNA inside several victims. All of these appeared to have had sex before their deaths, but that did not necessarily mean they had been raped as well as murdered.

In fact, the perpetrator had not murdered all his victims, as a rape test performed on a comatose patient had also been a match. Hopefully she would come out of the coma, and be able to give a description of the man.

That was the true puzzle. Witnesses that had seen the women leave the clubs had all given different descriptions of who they thought they saw them leaving with. A girlfriend of the comatose woman said she had left with a heavyset man that must have had a smooth tongue, because in the looks department, she couldn’t see him ever getting a date. “But then Sally was more of a bookworm than a partier, so he might have been a librarian or something,” she had said.

And a witness to the latest casualty said “I would have jumped his bones right there in the club, if Mary hadn’t drug him off.” From her description though, all we knew was that he was tall, good-looking, with dark hair, and a style of dress that didn’t seem quite right. “He was well-dressed, ya know? Like goin’ to the opera or somethin’ not clubbin’,” was how one witness described his appearance.

So here I was, definitely looking out of place myself, the same as another dozen undercover cops in another dozen clubs. We figured that if nothing else, our surveillance, as well as that of an increased uniformed police presence in the district, would at least stop his activities long enough for us to gain more information to help nab him.

. . . . .

From Doctor Herbert’s diary - 12 Jan 15

I can’t believe those fools. Fire me! Me! After showing them how my work had transformed the rats in just days. And all because I wanted to start testing on humans. The results so far have shown no adverse effects, well not since the first few deaths, but that’s what lab rats were for – testing. None had shown any signs of sickness since then, and the weight loss was significant. If my formula worked in proportion to human bodies, we could expect weight loss on the average of five pounds a week, and that’s without all the rigmarole that current weight-loss programs required(as shown on tv – pfft).

I think they realize too well how my invention would work, and know that would affect the bottom dollar. The company is too invested in all the fraudulent versions going around, and if my formula works, they would lose all that juicy income. After all, who needs special diet food and exercise equipment, when just one pill before bed would melt the fat away.

Well, they have the rights to my formula, because I developed it while working for them; and they may bury it in some vault underground, but they can’t erase it from my head. No Sir!

I have recreated my formula; well at least if I remember right. I might be off in a measurement or two, but I’ll see soon enough as I’m going to take a pill myself tonight.

. . . . .

I know I must be mistaken, but that guy over at the end of the bar sure resembles Herb from back in my high school days. It couldn’t be him though, as Herb weighed at least fifty pounds more. “Man that would be something,” I thought. “Old lab rat Herb looking twenty years younger than the rest of the class.” At least the “Herb” at the bar was able to get a girl. Could I be looking at our suspect? “Right,” I said to myself, “just because a guy has a better-looking date than I’ve had since my youth, he is automatically suspicious.”

Continuing my walk through the club, I spotted at least another score of these “suspicious” individuals. “Remember you’re a happily married man,” my thoughts reminded me.

. . . . .

From Doctor Herbert’s diary – 13 Jan 15

Wow, I woke up this morning feeling exhausted, like I’d run a marathon or something, but also invigorated. I climbed on the scale, and sure enough, my formula works even better than I imagined. I lost five pounds last night in my sleep!

I wondered why, if I had lost all that weight through sweat, the linen showed no signs of it. I do remember parts of a weird dream I had (more of a nightmare, really), and if the activity I had there were any indication, the sheets should have been soaked. I know my metabolism must have really been working overtime though; five pounds in one night is much better than I anticipated.

After breakfast I went to a local pet shop and purchased a few rats. I remember wondering how much of a price difference there was between these and lab rats. I thought about purchasing another pair of pants on the way home, but decided I should wait to see if my weight loss remained.

This afternoon I mixed in a quarter pill of my formula in one of the rats feed. I am curious how much difference there will be compared to the version I made at the company.

. . . . .

A guy was helping a girl put on her coat near the front bar, and I assumed they were preparing to leave. “Hey Sam,” I spoke into my wristwatch, “we have what looks like another pick-up about to leave. Make sure you get a shot when they exit.” This was another idea the Chief had; take pictures of couples leaving the clubs. If anything happened to one of those ladies, we might have our perpetrator.

. . . . .

From Doctor Herbert’s Diary – 19 Jan 15

I have regained no weight in the week following my first pill, and have developed no side effects (at least none that I am aware of). The rat I tested has shown too much weight loss to be healthy though, so I know not to give this as a daily supplement.

I intend to take another pill tonight, and will give an appropriate sized version to another rat. If there is no apparent danger, I will give the rat a second dose mid-week.

. . . . .

“All right Frank,” came Sam’s voice in my earpiece, “I’ve got them. It’s getting pretty late. Reckon the pace is about to pick up?”

“I was just about to say that,” I answered him. “It looks like a few more are on their way now. Get ready.”

. . . . .

From Doctor Herbert’s Diary – 20 Jan 15

When I woke this morning, I could clearly remember most of the nightmare. I had not had a bad dream since the night of my first trial, so I have to assume this might be a side effect caused by the rapid increase in metabolism. I felt exhausted again, as if I had actually done everything that I remembered of the dream.

On weighing myself, I had lost another five pounds. I wonder if I should cut the dose by half, and see if that eliminates the dreaming at least. I will have to think about this. And see how the rat fairs. Wouldn’t it be something if I could see if rats dream?

. . . . .

As I was walking past “Herb” and his girl again, I overheard something that did startle me. The girl actually called him Herb. I stopped in my tracks, and turned toward them, thinking to ask if he was who I thought he was, when a commotion farther down the bar caught my attention.

A lady apparently was not taking kindly to a guy that seemed to be trying to lead her out, as she was trying to get him to get his hand off her arm. When the guy saw me approaching he decided it might not be a good idea to stick around, he removed his hand from the lady and made a beeline toward the exit.

“I’m after a guy coming out on his own, Sam,” I yelled into my watch, “but he’ll be out the door before I can get to him. Start shooting every guy coming out.”

“Gotcha covered Frank,” came back Sam’s voice.

. . . . .

From Doctor Herbert’s Diary – 26 Jan 15

Once again I have gone a week from taking the pill and have shown no side effects, and have not regained any weight.

Though I was thinking of cutting the dosage, the rat has showed no signs of distress even after giving him another dose mid-week. In fact his weight loss has increased with no apparent detriment to his health.

I bought some new pants today, and am now wondering if I should have gotten an even smaller size, since I will be taking another pill tonight. Ha. If this continues, and I try upping my dosage to twice a week, I could go broke buying new clothes.

. . . . .

Sam had done more than just take pictures. He had also alerted a uniformed officer that was nearby, and that officer was able to apprehend the guy running out of the club. “Why’d you run fella?” I asked as I got to where the officer was holding him. “I, I, I thought you might have been the broad’s boyfriend or somethin’ the way ya looked at me,” answered the guy. “And I didn’t want to be gettin’ no beatin’.”

We had a car pick up the guy to take to the station for questioning, just to be on the safe side, then I returned to the club.

. . . . .

From Doctor Herbert’s Diary – 27 Jan 15

Another nightmare! They seem so real. I think I must decrease the dose, rather than going to bi-weekly. My mind might not be able to handle it. I will definitely have to document this phenomenon though, as it could possibly lead to other breakthroughs.

At least it is consistent with another five pound decrease. I think I will try another mid-week, if the rat still shows no ill effects, but I will cut my dosage in half. Maybe that will stop the nightmares.

. . . . .

A lot of people were looking at me as I re-entered the club. “Of course, that’s to be expected,” I thought, “when they see me chase a guy outta here.” Two people did not seem interest though: “Herb” and his girl, who were occupied with themselves.
I decided it was time to see if he was the guy I remembered from high school. Even if he was a lot slimmer. “Excuse me,” I said by way of introduction, “but you look familiar. Did you go to Proviso High School in the late ‘80s?”
“Are you kidding me, man?” He answered, giving a nasty sneer. “Do I look that old to you?” His girl giggled while I excused myself. Something didn’t seem right though. Something about his voice, maybe?

. . . . .

From Doctor Herbert’s Diary – 26 Feb 15

I don’t know how I remain sane. Even after cutting my dose to half, the nightmares continue. Tonight will be it though, after this I should be down to the recommended weight for my height, and I certainly look and feel younger.
I made the mistake of putting the second test rat in with the third after the last supplement though, and in the morning I found only one alive. So did the test rat have a nightmare and kill the other rat in it’s sleep? I will have to pick up some more rats, to continue experimenting. This might lead to a way to eliminate the dreams. Maybe just slight variations of the ingredients.

I know I can’t market my formula if it would give everyone nightmares, after all.

. . . . .

“Sam. Make sure you get some good shots of the couple now leaving,” I spoke into my watch. “I don’t know what it is, but I just have a bad feeling…”

. . . . .

That couple was “Herb” and his girl. And my gut had been right. Something had been wrong. The girl was found murdered, and contained the same DNA as the serial killer we were looking for.

It didn’t take long to find the address for “Herb”, if he was the same guy I remembered from school, and we were on our way to see.

When we got to the address, it was “Herb” that answered the door, but he looked at me like he had not even seen me the night before. “Can I help you?” he asked.

“We’re here about the girl you left “Cliff’s Club” with last night,” I answered, showing him one of Sam’s pictures.

“I’m sorry, but I have no idea what you are talking about. I have been here at home all night,” he replied. “I have to admit this does look a lot like me, but I have never had any luck with the ladies, either.”

“The act won’t fly,” I told him. “I talked to you myself at the bar. Asked if you had attended Proviso High School.”

“Well. I did attend that high school, but I did not talk to you last night,” he responded. “Like I said, I was here all night. I took a pill and was in bed by ten o’clock. Of course if I need an alibi, I can not provide one, since I sleep alone.”

He said that, while looking at the photo, and his face seemed to change. “This young lady… she… she looks like the girl that was in my dream last night…”

. . . . .


Doctor Herbert Stantion was found guilty of multiple murders. The defense tried to claim insanity, as he had not been aware of the crimes, except in his dreams. His diaries, records and equipment (including the remaining amount of physical formula) were all turned over to a State research institute, where a special study is now being conducted. It is likely his execution will take place long before the results of that study are complete.
2nd place

It was Dr. Stone's day off so he was able to stay with his son in the hospital examination room while they waited for the test results to come back from the lab. He did his best to remain calm so as not to alarm his son, but he was familiar with the symptoms and knew already the tests would show his son had cancer.

Dr. Stone was in his early sixties and was the chief transplant surgeon for Wotan General Hospital. He had served here for most of his career, and thus knew and was known by everyone of importance in the community. He lost his wife to cancer ten years ago, and so was willing to do whatever it might take to keep from losing his son as well.

Roland was in his mid thirties. He had not followed in his father's medical footsteps. Instead he had pursued a musical passion and was the drummer for a small band which played in the local nightclubs and hotels.

Roland had come to his father a day prior since the pain in his abdomen which he'd tried to brush off for several weeks had suddenly become more acute. But it took only a brief look and a couple of quick questions for Dr. Stone to declare they needed tests and to call the hospital lab for their availability. So now they were waiting together, and Roland could read his father well enough to know it was serious.

A short time later Dr. Scott Smaland the hospital administrator came in and addressed Dr. Stone.

“Frank, I heard you were here with Roland so I came to express my concern. I want you to know that we'll do everything we can to help.”

“Thanks, Scott. But we don't have the tests back yet, so... Wait, how did you hear about it?”

“Ah. Well, the lab manager called me and thought that, given the results, perhaps I'd like to be the one to break the news. I'm afraid the tests were positive. It's --”

“Yes, I know. Thank you. Do you have the results with you?”

Dr. Smaland tried to make small talk with Roland while Dr. Stone scrutinized the lab results and X-ray slides. After asking how the music business was going and if Roland had any marriage prospects yet, Dr. Smaland was relieved to see Dr. Stone was ready to talk.

“It appears it's contained to the kidneys, so I'd like to remove them before it can metastasize. But that means we'll need to put Roland at the top of the recipient list for the next kidneys that come in.”

“Ehh. We can do the removal as soon as you'd like. But as for replacement kidneys, I'm afraid it won't be possible to move ahead of the patients already waiting. But Roland should be ok with dialysis until his turn comes up.”

“After all I've done for you and this hospital I can't get even a small consideration?!”

“I see you're upset at the moment, so we can talk about it later, hmm. Oh, bye Roland. Don't worry about a thing.”

A few days later Dr. Stone was preparing Roland for surgery and giving some last minute instructions. Only they weren't in the hospital operating room. Roland was sitting on a makeshift surgery table in the basement of his father's house.

“Alright son, this'll be over before you know it. I think you know Susan over there at the sink. She'll be assisting me during the operation. And that's Derek getting the anesthesia equipment set up. So we're about ready to go.”

“But dad, I don't understand why we're not doing this in the hospital. What's going on?”

“I can't wait for Dr. Smaland's schedule and risk losing you. This has to be done quickly to have the best chance of success. Susan and Derek are able to keep quiet about it. And we'll get the equipment back before it's missed. So we'll be fine.”

“But how did you get the kidneys? Don't they keep records on things like that? They'll notice if a couple of them turn up missing.”

“Nobody will notice anything, because these didn't come from the regular donor system.”

“Then where did they come from?”

“I have a friend in the hospital's morgue.”


“Shh. It's okay. They came from a motorcycle accident victim we couldn't save. Now just lay back and when you wake up you'll be well again.”

The operation went without complication. Dr. Stone's extensive experience enabled him to complete the transplants rapidly. Thus Susan and Derek had been able to clean up and leave long before Roland reawakened. Dr. Stone smiled as he saw Roland's eyes open and focus on him.

“Good morning. Glad to have you back. You'll be pleased to know this first part went well. In a couple of weeks, we can plan the next step.”

“Huh? What do... wait. Say all that again.”

“The kidney transplant went pretty well. So that part's good. We'll have to start you on anti-rejection medication, and you'll need to stay on that from now on. But that shouldn't be too difficult for you.”

“If it went well, why am I still in pain? It seems even worse than before.”

“I had hoped to remove the diseased kidneys before the cancer had time to spread. Unfortunately, even though nothing was showing on the scans yet, once I had you open I could see that it's already moved to the liver as well. So once you've healed up a bit, we'll transplant that too. And with any luck, that'll be the last of the cancer, and the end of the pain.”

“Okay. But can't you give me something for it now?”

“I can give you a little morphine to help you rest. We'll talk more tomorrow.”

A week later Roland had recovered enough to pay a visit to one of his father's friends. Willie Ingar had been the hospital's morgue attendant for nearly twenty years. He enjoyed the solitude and the relatively slow pace compared to the excitement of the upper floors.

Willie began working right out of high school, starting as an orderly pushing supply carts, laundry carts and the occasional gurney. But after only a few months Dr. Stone had taken notice of him and began encouraging him to consider higher education. Before long Willie had been induced to enroll in the nursing program offered by the community college.

It was hard. Very hard. Especially as he had to continue working at the same time in order to support himself. But Dr. Stone's frequent pep talks kept him at it for two full years. Unfortunately he couldn't keep his grades high enough and he was dismissed from the program. After that Dr. Stone helped him get this current position and he'd been here ever since. Thus it was that when Dr. Stone came to him with a special request, Willie was only too glad to help.

Willie smiled brightly as Roland entered the room. He'd known Roland for as long as he'd known his father. Besides, it wasn't often that he received visitors down here.

“Roland! Good to see ya, man.”

“Hey, Willie. Good to be here. In fact that's why... Is it safe to talk?”

“Sure. Nobody's gonna bother us. None of 'em even wanna come down here.”

“I just wanted to thank you for what you did, you know, to help me.”

“Oh, I was glad to be able to do it. I owe your father a lot. Besides, he made it easy.”

“How's that?”

“He's the one who found the donor with the right blood and tissue type. All I had to do was wait until the Coroner finished the autopsy. Then it was just grab the parts and close up the body. The best part is the family ordered a cremation. So as soon as he went to the funeral home, no more evidence.”

“Yeah. That's pretty sweet, alright. Say, did my dad mention we also need a --”

“Yeah, he did. And we've already been watching for one. But so far the right person hasn't died.”

“Bummer. Oh, sorry. I didn't mean that how it sounded.”

“No problem, man. I get you.”

“But you have access to the hospital computer. Isn't there anyone in this whole place that matches?”

“Not that's anywhere near dying. The only one who could be a match was that girl. That guy's sister.”

“Who? What guy's sister?”

“The one who gave us your kidneys. While they were still trying to save him, his kid sister came in and donated blood. So she's a match. But she's not likely to give up her liver anytime soon.”

“Do you have her name?”

“What for?”

“Oh, just curious. Maybe I'll need a blood donation someday and it seems I'm hard to match.”

“I dunno. This isn't the same thing as before.”

“Nothing's gonna happen. I just want to know.”

“Fine. But I'm not giving you anything else. Not unless it's your father asking for it.”

“OK. Say, you don't happen to have any pain meds down here, do you?”

“Nah. By the time someone gets here, they don't need it anymore.”

“Never mind. I know a guy who does.”

About the same time that Roland and Willie were talking Dr. Stone received a message to report to Dr. Smaland's office as soon as possible. Dr. Stone grimaced and wondered if some part of his exploits had been discovered. He braced himself and put on a flat demeanor.

“Hello, Scott. You wanted to see me?”

“Yes. Come in, Frank. Good to finally see you. Somehow we've managed to miss each other for almost two weeks now. Oh, have a seat. I wanted to tell you I haven't forgotten about Roland. We appreciate you here and I want you to know I meant it when I said we'd do what we could.”

“Thank you.”

“Well, by pulling a few strings and calling in some favors I've managed to find a pair of kidneys for him. They should become available within a couple of days.”

“Oh. That's great. Thank you, Scott. But I don't need them any--, at this time. But can that source send us the liver instead?”

“What? But I thought...”

“It's that since the last time we talked I've reviewed the test results more closely, and consulted with a few other doctors, and I think it would be better to replace the liver now, and then go from there.”

“I see. I suppose I could ask for the liver too. I'll try. In the meantime tell Roland to stay available.”

Dr. Stone quickly left the administrator's office and headed toward home. He needed to plan how to do the next operation in the hospital without the previous work being discovered. Perhaps he could get Susan and Derek to assist again. That way there wouldn't be anyone new involved.

Dr. Stone was just fitting his key in the lock when his front door flew open. Roland reached out, grabbed his wrist and pulled him inside. Roland then poked his head out, glanced quickly up and down the street, then slammed and locked the front door again.

“Roland! What are you doing?”

“Nothing. Just checking. I gotta talk to you.”

“Stop! Look at me. Mm, hmm. Are you high?”

“No. Just a little something for the pain.”

“Roland, I've told you a hundred times about street drugs.”

“I know, but it was so bad I had to.”

“You should have come to me, and I'd have given you something safer.”

“We won't have to deal with it much longer. Come to the basement. I have a surprise for you.”

Dr. Stone froze as he entered the downstairs room. A girl in her late teens was gagged and tied to a chair. Her eyes were filled with panic and her breath was gasping as she struggled against the bonds.

Dr. Stone's voice was only a hoarse whisper. “What have you done?!”

“It's our liver donor, dad.”

The conversation was cut short by the sound of sirens approaching.

“Damn it!” Roland shouted. “That lady saw me after all.”

Roland rushed upstairs. As soon as he was gone Dr. Stone crossed the room and untied the girl.

“It's ok, I won't hurt you. Hold still a minute. Now, stay close behind me and I'll get you out of here.”

When Dr. Stone reached the foyer with the girl in tow he saw Roland peering between the front drapes. Roland spoke without turning. “It looks like there's more than twenty of them out there.”

Dr. Stone reached the front door and unlocked it before Roland noticed what he was doing. So by the time Roland shouted “NO”, it was too late.

Two police led the girl to an ambulance, while two other pushed Dr. Stone against a police car and frisked him. Once he was straightened up again the police sergeant in charge was there facing him.

“It's my son Roland. He didn't know what he was doing. He's on medication. But he's not dangerous. He's not armed. Please don't hurt him!”

The police sergeant didn't say anything. He just made a jerk with his head and the two officers led Dr. Stone to one of their cars and sat him in the back. Dr. Stone then watched as the drama played out.

The police shot a canister of tear gas through the front window of the house. But a minute later the cloud of smoke billowing out the broken window was joined by flames. Apparently the canister had caught in the draperies.

Dr. Stone called out, “Roland! Get out! Hurry!” But his cries were too muffled to be heard. He pulled on the door handle, but it wouldn't open. He pressed his forehead against the glass hoping to see Roland exit the burning house.

Even with the car window fogged up from his breath he could see the entire first floor was almost fully engulfed in flames. The firemen were being held back by the police until they knew whether or not the kidnapper was still a threat to them.

At last the front door of the house opened and a figure wrapped in a heavy blanket emerged. He flipped the blanket off his head and shouted loudly. “You should have helped me!” Then to everyone's surprise, most of all Dr. Stone, he turned and went back into the burning house.

The police sergeant signaled to the firemen and they rushed forward with their hoses to battle the blaze. But everyone already realized there was little chance of saving anyone now. Dr. Stone was soon released and disappeared into the crowd.

The investigation later showed that he hadn't had any part in the kidnapping. He retired from the hospital and moved away without telling anyone where he'd be going. He wasn't heard from again.

Some of the hospital staff say that late at night, when all the patients are asleep and the nurse station is quiet, if you listen closely you can sometimes hear a soft whispering going up and down the corridors. “Dr. Frank Stone, you're needed for surgery please.”