"The Endless O.R."

By Rob Morris

Prologue - War Is Worse Than Hell

In the mid-1940's, as a group of young men fought their way through medical school and their first residencies, a group of men barely older than them saved the world from evil. It was an unashamed evil, but a deceptive one. To this day advocates of this evil will tell you it was not evil at all. Millions of young men would tell you differently. In German-held lands, at least 20 million would never speak again, all for lack of blond hair and blue eyes. It was a pervasive evil, and the steps taken to defeat it were, by definition, quite harsh.

Some were misguided. Many thousands of Japanese-Americans who couldn't even understand Tojo Hideki's Hitleresque message in their ancestors' language were told they were merely Japanese, not Americans. Hostile foreigners, to be treated as such.

Some were born of cruel neccesity. The wartime alliance with Joseph Stalin would have its price in the building of an Iron Curtain only recently pulled away.

Some choices had the elements of all human endeavor: Fear, desperation, neccesity, boldness, achievement and the striving to go further. Such a choice was the creation of weapons powered by the splitting of the atom. They would end the hot war, and start a cold one.

Oblivious to the young men emerging from medical school, the Doctors Henry Blake and Sherman Potter served in the Second World War, though field surgery would have drawbacks that would lead to a new innovation later on. Oblivious to them, a young woman shuffled from military base to military base, in the company of her parents, while she and other young women thought about helping to end human suffering as nurses-it was a different time.

Oblivious to anything human, an anachronism, a creature well out of its time, shook off wounds on an island called Lagos, and slumbered in an under-island grotto. It was an herbivore, a peaceful creature content to feed off the algae that grew so well in this part of the South Pacific. It was called Gojirasauronus Gigantis, or plainly, Godzillasaurus. Long ago, its kind had been forced to flee the ancient game reserve known as Skull Island, where one of its ancestors had slain the parents of the Mighty Kong. It didn't know this, or care. It was healing, it was cool, and it was well-fed.

In 1950, war came. It was a limited war, but not to the people of Korea. It was not limited in scope in the eyes of the soldiers who gave their youth and lives to fight it. Ironically, some of the worst of it was seen by those who cleaned up after battles were done. The new innovation n medical treatment during wartime was the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. One such hospital unit was the 4077th.

The times at the 4077th MASH are well-documented. Well-known are the showers that may as well have been transparent. Well known was the clownish surgeon, butt of a billion practical jokes he seemed at times to be begging for.

The first CO, so confused when he was there, and so mourned when he was gone. The Second CO, straightforward son of the Show-Me State, with a library's worth of colorful remarks. There was the naive Corporal who was that place's glue. There was the streetwise Corporal who surrendered his dignity in a parade of efforts that never did net him a Section 8.

Lastly, there were the Nurses, and the Doctors. Their loves, their hates, their minds, their souls-in the charge of one very tough Priest-are romantic, compelling visions of an age that at times only feigned innocence. Most important, and not to be neglected, was this simple fact - Better than 9 out of 10 wounded people entering the 4077th lived to tell about it. They were healers, one and all. Their Chief Surgeon even regarded Death as his personal enemy, a vendetta so fierce, most feel it played a role in his eventual mental breakdown, right before war's end.

But Hawkeye Pierce and his friends left that place in 1953, having helped innumerable lives to continue. But there was one wounded being they didn't know about, and couldn't have helped if they did. This was a damned pity.

In 1951, while Major Houlihan fumed over innuendo that Captain McIntyre had used in surgery, while Frank Burns typed another report, while Henry Blake explained Pierce's actions to yet another General, and while Max Klinger strung together a cot to put underneath a helicopter, the dinosaur on Lagos Island was under brutal assault.

The first Hydrogen Bomb Test on nearby Bikini was a success, another step up in the Cold War. Life for miles around was simply blanked out. To many, it seemed the ultimate destroyer. This was wrong on its face.

In its grotto, the Dinosaur's flesh was sizzled off, its bones powdered, and its internal organs pulped. Only its cartilage remained, tougher than a hundred tanks. The cartilage mutated, absorbing the radiation, sparing Lagos a future of complete lifelessness. But the reborn creature was in agony. It wanted two things only: To lash out, at anything and everything, and to find more of what had changed it. It was now a radiovore, and it hungered. Being unstoppable, it would be fed no matter what the cost.

In June of 1954, an early reunion was planned by the staff of the 4077th. Eventually, top military brass, seeking publicity, would contact their old friend Sherman Potter and persuade him to have his people delay this reunion til December, where the men and women would be relocated at Army expense to Tokyo. In Tokyo, newsreel cameras would be running. So would everyone be. Despite reluctance on the part of some, the plans were made, and Tokyo awaited the healers with open arms. They would arrive, but they wouldn't do so alone. Further, they would never be the same.

End Prologue

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