The Midnight Paper (Episode 2/8)
The Removal Doctor
It’s gone. The first Midnight Paper, which arrived last Friday, has somehow vanished. I put it in a drawer in my dad's study and now it’s gone. Either someone broke in and stole it or it…I don’t know. It sounds ridiculous but then again this whole thing is. Maybe it disappeared on its own.
After last time, I wanted to be prepared. Tonight, I set a chair by the front door and waited anxiously since 11 o’clock. Every time a car drove by, every time a leaf crunched on the asphalt outside, I rushed to the peephole. Nothing.
The minutes dragged, time seemed to stretch. I’ve felt this feeling before, when I ordered something I really wanted online, and I knew it was delivery day.
But this was different. Something about this paper is just…wrong. If anyone else has gotten one, you’d know. It feels like looking at something you’re not meant to be seeing. Like it somehow slipped through the cracks, past all the rigid laws of ordinary life, and made its way to you. Holding one in your hand feels like you’re touching a physical manifestation of a mistake. I imagine this is what it feels like when you touch something radioactive as if every second that it’s in your presence it’s somehow warping the very fabric of your life.
11:55. It’s close. My heart’s beating fast, the anticipation coursing through me like a drug. I stood in front of the peephole, not wanting to miss a second.
I was looking at my front porch. The street outside was dark, and the front steps were illuminated only by the light above the doorway. I’d placed the welcome mat a little further away, so I could see it clearly through the peephole.
And that’s when it happened. The light above the doorway starred to flicker slowly, then faster and faster. Suddenly, it shut off completely. The entire porch was smothered in darkness, the only light coming from the streetlights outside. Somehow, the shadows around my doorstep were darker than the rest, as if swallowing every last hint of light.
Then the light turned on again. Through the peephole, I could see that my front porch looked normal. The bulb above the doorway shone steadily as if nothing had happened.
I rushed, my fingers slamming against the lock, and pulled the front door open. The front porch was empty. The street was empty. One second passed. Two. The normal sounds of the world around me started to seep back in.
I looked down at the welcome mat and it was there, a bundle of black paper, wrapped tightly with black twine.
I hesitated for a moment before grabbing it. Should I bring it inside? Should I read it out here? Should I read it at all?
Then I grabbed it anyway. I had read one. That threshold had already been crossed.
I took the paper into my dad’s study and set it down on his desk. The knife from the kitchen was already there. All the pieces were in place. All I had to do was read it.
I grabbed the knife, cut the twine, and watched the paper unfurl itself like a strange flower.
Immediately, the white words jumped out at me, and I started reading. There were a few pages this time, including the front cover, but still only one story.
This is what was printed on those black pages:
THE REMOVAL DOCTOR: POLICE WARN OF DANGEROUS INDIVIDUAL
After a spate of reports of a so-called “Removal Doctor,” local police urge residents to stay away from strangers who approach them in public places and to avoid abandoned buildings of any kind.
It started a few months ago. The first report appeared on an online forum for reporting interactions with strange individuals. And this one certainly fit the bill.
The anonymous user stated that she was walking across a public park just before closing time when a man approached her and introduced himself as “the Removal Doctor.” The woman wrote that, at the time, the man seemed “professional,” “reliable,” and had a “strange persuasiveness” about him.
The man gave the woman a card and walked off. She has since lost it, but according to her, the card simply had an address printed on either side.
The next day, the woman decided to check the address out. She inputted it into a map application and arrived…only to discover that the building had long since been abandoned.
Undeterred, she found an open door and walked in. The rest is internet history.
Inside the building, the woman was greeted by what looked like a state-of-the-art clinic. The floors were epoxy and spotless. The walls were painted white, and there were tarps set up to cover any broken windows. There were even fluorescent lights hanging from the ceiling.
This was a far cry from the “kill room” the woman had imagined upon finding the abandoned location…but now her mind was wandering more toward an underground organ trafficking ring. She was half right.
The woman reports that she found the door to a clinic in the back of the building. She knocked and was welcomed inside.
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What was awaiting her was a consultation office straight out of a high-end hospital. There were doors to several rooms, one she could see was labeled as containing a CAT scan machine, another was labeled as a dental office.
In the center of the room was a desk, and behind that desk was the same man she had met in the public park. The woman was unable to describe him clearly in her post, only stating that the man was wearing a lab coat and that his face was hidden behind a surgical mask.
The man wasted no time getting down to business. He introduced himself again as “the Removal Doctor,” and explained to her that he was in the business of “removing things” from the human body. “Anything you can think of,” he said.
The woman was clearly unconvinced (and somewhat alarmed), but the man assured her that it was a voluntary procedure and one that had the potential to be life-saving.
The “doctor” proceeded to ask the woman to “name one thing about herself” that she was unhappy with. “A memory, a body part, an inconvenient habit.” Anything. “Even a tumor or a fatal condition such as cancer or a clogged artery.”
Online, the woman admits that she wasn’t “in her right mind.” She was, after all, ignoring a million red flags that are staples of a dozen alleged accounts. Accounts that have transcended culture, time, and location, to become old-wives tales everyone has grown up with. Like waking up in a bathtub filled with ice only to discover that your kidneys have been stolen, for example.
Luckily, this wouldn’t be the case for this woman. Nor has it been the case for anyone who has encountered this strange man. There was no bathtub filled with ice, at least.
The woman decided against asking to have anything physical removed, perhaps fearing that there were other parties listening in who were ready to act on her words right away. She did, however, state that she wouldn’t mind parting with her “crippling procrastination.’
The “doctor” nodded, as if he were expecting this answer, then explained to her that this was “an exchange.” He would take something she didn’t want about herself, but he could pick anything of her’s that he wanted in return. The woman was hesitant but ultimately agreed, allowing the man to lead her to a private examination room.
The woman claims that, a few hours later, she woke up in the same building…but everything around her was different. The floor was filthy concrete, the walls were covered in chipped paint, and there were no examination rooms or medical equipment of any kind.
She stated that she immediately chastised herself mentally, for falling for a trick a child could see through. After quickly checking herself for stitches or wounds, she was unable to find any mark on her skin. “Not even a bruise,” she wrote.
It was only a few days later that she realized that something actually had happened in that building. She’s a writer, and she was unable to start working before hours upon hours of watching YouTube videos and playing mobile games. But now, she could sit and get to work immediately. It really did seem like the Removal Doctor had “surgically removed” her procrastination. She was elated…but only at first.
Soon, she realized that something was wrong. First, it happened when she was in a video chat with her sister and her newborn. Then, it happened when her girlfriend arrived at their apartment. Finally, she confirmed her fears in front of their bathroom mirror…no matter how hard she tried, or for how long, she was unable to smile.
Dozens of doctor’s appointments later, the cause is still unknown. “Some of them have said that it may be a mild facial paralysis caused by stress. But I know better,” the woman wrote.
She’s convinced it was the Removal Doctor. “I hate him,” she wrote in her post, “everyone used to say I had the nicest smile. Now it’s gone.”
But, why take her smile? The woman described her last moments of consciousness. Just as the Removal Doctor administered an IV filled with anesthetic, she spotted a room off to one side. The door was half-open, and she could see a gurney with a blanket over it. It was obvious that, given the size and the shape of what was underneath it, that it was a person. But the shape was wrong.
“Parts were missing,” she wrote, “the shape was off. But it had a head and two legs.” There were jars along the far wall…jars with all manner of body parts.
There are nights, the woman wrote, where she dreams she’s back in that strange clinic. Nights where she’s convinced she remembers part of what happened when she was under. She spots grotesque and bizarre surgical tools through blurry eyes, hears the doctor muttering to himself. Hears him say that something, or someone, is “almost complete.”
Other stories about the Removal Doctor’s “patients” have surfaced. One man who claimed to have asked the Doctor to remove his addiction to cigarettes had his tongue removed as well. Another man who asked to have his fear of heights removed had his ability to drive taken. A man with a brain tumor asked for it to be removed, only to wake up without one of his legs. A woman asked for her depression to be removed, and lost one of her eyes in the process…
One of the accounts spreading the rumor even claimed that a missing person who was found without his head was one of the Doctor’s victims. Still, when asked what, if anything, this person may have asked to have removed, this anonymous poster couldn’t say. “Whatever it was, it had to be huge. Maybe something that he and a large group of people shared, like a fear or a financial condition.” Speculation abounds in most of these reports, but this headless corpse shares something in common with all other alleged reports.
In all cases, there were no stitches, no wounds, no scars of any kind. Whatever the Doctor took, it was as if it had never existed. This fact has baffled both law enforcement and medical professionals looking into these reports.
This publication would like to remind you of the police department’s request. If a man approaches you with a business card and introduces himself as “the Removal Doctor,” remove yourself from the situation immediately and call 911 when at a safe distance to report your sighting. Do not, under any circumstances, go to the address on the card. Do not, under any circumstances, ask for something to be removed from your body or your personality…you will lose something in return.
I put the paper down, confusion growing through my brain like a strange kind of infection. I could feel my heart beating faster again. I knew something was wrong, not just because of what was written on the pages or how the paper was delivered.
A few internet searches later and I found out I was right. There were no reports online of a “Removal Doctor,” or a “Ledge Game” either. So why were the articles mentioning their presence on the internet and the media? Was the writer of these articles just making these reports up? I still down know, but doesn’t feel like it. The stories don’t “feel” fake. They feel real. Like they’re happening close by.
I decided to take a few photos of the paper with my phone and soon realized that this wasn’t an easy process. It was like there was something on the page that reacted badly with the camera lens. I tried taking a photo with the flash on and off, but it made no difference. The picture was ruined either way.
I’ve linked the photo along with this new article. I hope it serves as a way to both prove my story and also to document each paper if they also go missing. You can find it here if you’d like to see it: https://imgur.com/a/v0XSDTt
If what my dad said was true, I’ve made a grave mistake. “Never read one,” he told me once. I asked him why, but he wouldn’t say. He just changed the subject or blurted out “just don’t” or “because.” Eventually, I thought he was just trying to scare me, and forgot all about it. Now I wish I had asked him more about the Midnight Paper. About why I should never read it, about whether or not I should even touch it or bring it inside.
All I know is that my dad said the paper arrived on Wednesdays and Fridays at our home. So there’ll be another one coming Friday night. It seems like it’s too soon. Too overwhelming. But I’m going to keep going, to keep documenting it. And next time, I want to try to have the door open when the shadow shows up once again.
Written by u/MidnightPaper