Estimated reading time — 19 minutes
A friend of mine, Jon, had just opened his own law firm. By some miracle he managed to land a pretty big fish for a client. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t have the resources to really deal with the case. The lawsuit regarded a property management company and a strip mall occupied by several businesses some of which worked with the confidential documents of their customers.
The client claimed that the management company entered the property without permission, after hours and read or otherwise accessed sensitive information. They then used this information for various, nefarious purposes (that were never explained to me and probably never existed). My opinion of the whole thing was that some people were mad about the management company coming into their offices and thought they could get more money if the management company looked through their file cabinets.
Part of the review, aside from sifting through tens of thousands of emails and financial documents, was to review footage from surveillance cameras that the management company turned over to Jon as part of his discovery request. There was hundreds of hours of tape, and Jon could not possibly watch it all in time for trial (and still do the rest of his job).
Enter unemployed lawyer friends. Jon was fortunate to know me and four other unemployed lawyers and to have a client willing to pay them, (keep in mind, if the client could show the management company looked through one sensitive document it would be like hitting the jackpot when it came time for damages to be awarded). There were five offices with sensitive areas and the footage was broken up between the five of us (Jon did not participate in order to give us, his friends, some much needed cash infusion and to do his real job).
The period of time in which the claimed activity took place was during the night but not every office in the building closed at the same time. For example, the CPA that occupied Suite 3 kept his business open late January through April 15th to handle the excess work during tax season .
The way the cameras worked was that during normal business hours, (9 am to 7 pm), the cameras were shut off to save room on the storage device and to maintain privacy. After 7pm, they were activated only by motion sensors. The fact that some of the offices were open and the cameras were capturing potentially sensitive material was another aspect of the lawsuit.
The period of time for all video footage was approximately five years, but because it was such a limited amount of actual filming time for the cameras there was only a few hundred hours of footage. Each suite had three cameras and, in order to make it easier for me and the other reviewers to learn all the important players (and thus know who wasn’t supposed to be in the suite after hours) we were each assigned a suite.
I was assigned to Suite 5, the corner office in the strip. It was a medical office with a camera over reception, one in the examination room (which always seemed odd to me until someone told me how much the equipment there was worth) and one in the records room between the examination room and the reception area. The office was set up such that the reception was at the front of the building with a door leading out to the parking lot, behind it was a hallway with the records room and the examination room each opening to the left side. There was no camera in the hallway and, besides the front door, the only exit was a fire door at the back of the hallway.
Why was this job so terribly boring if the camera only came on when there was movement, you ask? Well, the extremely intelligent and hard working receptionist who worked in Suite 5 loved celebrating holidays. She would do so by hanging things from the drop ceiling on paperclip hooks and strings. She had one for every holiday to decorate her area in reception, hearts for valentines day, witches for halloween, etc. etc. These decorations would flutter slightly when the air conditioner or the heat turned on and activate the cameras (usually for about forty-five minutes to an hour).
Hence, I spent most of my time staring at a screen where literally nothing was happening. The worst part was I couldn’t just fast forward through the tape. On the off chance that something did happen and I missed it, it would totally screw my friend (who was essentially paying my rent by giving me this job). So I sat and watched hour after hour.
It wasn’t always boring. Stuff did happen. A fire alarm went off in the building and firemen came in to mess with something in the reception area. Another time there was a mouse, which took me five or six views to figure out what the motion was, so that was exciting. But that was pretty much the first two years of the office’s recordings.
The strange stuff didn’t start happening until October of the third year. On the face of it,what I saw wasn’t really all the strange at first. The witch decoration was up again, a black silhouette of a woman in a pointed hat riding a broom. I figured it was this that activated the camera until I noticed the doctor.
He was a middle aged man, about fifty or sixty if I had to guess, lank and tall with a bald pate that reflected the fluorescent lights and was ringed by sparse white hair. It was difficult to see his face well from the angle of the camera behind the reception desk, but I did notice he wore glasses and had a pushbroom mustache.
He strolled in the front door, quite casually, tossed his coat on the chair behind the reception desk and put on his white coat. I assumed this was a late night appointment (late night being 9 pm in this case). Sure enough, after about fifteen minutes a woman arrived. She was younger than the doctor by perhaps a decade and dressed in a pantsuit over which she wore a trenchcoat. The coat was wet at the shoulders presumably due to rain.
The doctor hung up her coat and led her into the examination room. There she sat on the examination chair and the doctor began to clean her teeth. I remember thinking there was something odd about the chair, but not really being able to put my finger on it. Two things occurred during this episode that I probably should have found odd. First, there was no hygienist (something that would change in future late night examinations). Every time I went to the dentist, no matter how small of a practice, the hygienist was the person who cleaned my teeth.
The second thing was sinister and, I must admit, I didn’t pick up on it until future viewings, when I was already keyed in to look for odd happenings. The doctor, who was seated on a low stool as he worked in the woman’s mouth, continually rubbed the crotch of his pants. Aside from being super unhygienic, this was highly inappropriate. However, because the stool was low and the woman was facing the ceiling (not to mention the fact that she had the bright examination light in her face) she didn’t seem to notice anything amiss.
After the examination and cleaning was complete he ushered the woman out of the office. It took him longer than it should have to return to the examination room. I didn’t even notice this on the first or even the second viewing, but I wonder what he did in that short time. I think, but don’t know for sure, that he let someone in through the back door. And I think, but don’t know for sure, that that person stood at the doorway to the exam room watching.
He returned to the examination room and cleaned up the implements and equipment. It was while he was doing this that I first noticed something strange about the doctor. While carefully removing his tools, he paused on the dental explorer (that hook shaped metal instrument dentist use to poke around in your teeth). He held it very close to his face, his eyes closed and seemed to be smelling it. On future viewings I would notice that he was again rubbing the crotch of his pants.
I made a note of the incident in my ledger (part of the job was making notes for my buddy to refer to) but didn’t really think much of it. I continued to watch hour after hour of video. Not much happened for the next several months other than the occasional fluttering decoration. That changed on a night in December.
It was December 6th at 10:59 pm according to the time stamp on the video and a paper snowflake hung from the ceiling. Again the dentist came in through reception, this time wearing a thick parka. After removing his coat, he retired to the examination room carrying a briefcase.
Shortly thereafter, another person entered. She too was wrapped in a thick parka and had a scarf wound around her face. At first I thought this must be the patient, but as she removed her coat I saw that she wore scrubs. She moved out of sight and only reappeared in the examination room sitting on a stool across the examination chair from the doctor. Unlike the doctor she wore both gloves and a surgical mask. They did not appeared to speak with one another.
I watched with some interest as the doctor removed from the case several familiar instruments. There was a dental explorer, one of those small mirrors on the end of a thin handle used for examining inside the mouth, and a mechanical instrument attached to a power source. I would later learn that this was both a drill and a cleaning device depending upon which head was attached to the end. His assistant never spoke during this time, instead she sat by and stared across the room motionless, as if in a daze.
He placed the instruments on a small, metal table next to the examination chair. And then nothing. For thirty minutes he just looked at the tools laid out in front of him. Although there was no sound on the tape, I could see by the rapid rise and fall of his shoulders that the doctor was breathing heavily. His hands were folded neatly on his lap, his feet were planted on the floor on either side of the small stool he sat upon.
I was as transfixed with the doctor’s trancelike state as he appeared to be with the instruments laid out before him. Seconds ticked by, turning into minutes, after thirty or so minutes had passed a patient opened the front door. It was a young woman, much younger than the last patient. She poked her head into the suite and appeared to call out.
The doctor, shaken from his daze stood and hurried to the reception area. He met the patient there. As she removed her coat I was surprised to see the timestamp now read 11:36 pm. The woman was oddly dressed. She wore a uniform that I can only describe as that of a candy striper at a hospital, a white dress with red pinstriped apron over it. She couldn’t have been older than twenty and may well have been much younger.
In the back room, the examination was infinitely more bizarre than the previous one. The girl took a seat in the chair, she seemed nervous, her hands clenched into tight fists at her side, she bit her lower lip. As the assistant affixed a green paper bib around the woman’s neck, the doctor placed a hand on her bicep. It may have been meant to comfort the girl, but his touch lingered so long that it seemed somehow inappropriate.
The girl laid back in the chair and appeared to relax, though I sensed an air of anxiety about her. As I watched him work, I remembered a statistic I’d heard about dentists having a high suicide rate. It didn’t surprise me. The job seemed tedious (and this is coming from a guy who spends his days staring at paper witches floating in the A/C breeze).
He continued to work slowly and methodically, dental explorer, mirror, waterpik, mirror, waterpik, dental explorer. All the while the girl lay on the chair breathing heavily. The doctor, as he cleaned the woman’s teeth leaned closer and closer, until his face was mere inches from the girl. I noted that he was breathing heavily and would occasionally lick his lips. It was a hungry, needful expression. There was no reaction whatsoever from the assistance.
I was watching this examination especially closely. Not only was it utterly bizarre, but it was also one of the few instances of something interesting happening in the hours and hours of video I had watched. I would come back to this video several times in the coming weeks, but it would never affect me the same way again.
In that first viewing I noticed two things that caused the hair on the back of my neck to stand on end and my throat to tighten with fear. First, I saw the dentist place the palm of his left hand on the girl’s stomach. This action was so inappropriate, given the girls age, it made me shiver. Then, I noticed something else. Although she hadn’t flinched, nor tightened, nor shown any indication that she was in pain, the young woman was crying. Tears rolled down her cheeks in steady streams.
I noted too the way the assistant behaved. She was interested, her body language led me to believe there was no distaste or fear at the dentist’s action. She even joined the doctor in leaning closer. A few strands of lanky, gray hair fell loose from the bun of hair atop her head and dangled against the young woman’s cheek as she cried.
After the examination the woman briskly exited the office. The assistance was not long behind her, exiting the examination room and reappearing in reception. She was once again bundled against the cold, her scarf trailing behind her . The dentist, meanwhile, cleaned his instruments. This time he relished the cleaning, his fingers played over the tools. He rubbed the various implements across his face and even lips. It was during this odd ritual that I noticed the man rubbing himself.
The cleaning had taken him a little less than an hour but the actions with the tools took him twice as long. It was very early in the morning when the man finally left, taking with him the briefcase.
I made a detailed note of the incident in my log book. I also considered calling Jon. In fairness he had a right to know about this strange incident, however, it was his client so it didn’t really help him to know about it. Additionally, it didn’t seem that bad. Sure the dentist had put his hand on the girl’s stomach, but it wasn’t like he was ripping her clothes off. And yeah, the girl had cried, but I’m sure lots of people cry at the dentist’s. Maybe that wasn’t it, maybe I just wanted to keep it to myself because it was so interesting, if not completely disturbing.
The grind of my video review went on after that, but I always kept a sharp eye out for the dentist. He was back several times in the ensuing days. Once he cleaned the teeth of a man in his seventies. The appointment began at 8:45 pm and concluded less than an hour later. All was normal except the way he held the man’s head, running his fingers over the bald scalp. It was during this encounter that I noted the dentist did not wear gloves, something else that made me shudder. I thought I noticed a shadow near the doorway to the examination room, but it could have been my imagination.
I wondered about the assistant quite a bit during these days. What did she know about the dentist’s activities. Apart from the woman crying and the dentist’s hand on the woman’s stomach, she wasn’t present for any of the stranger things. But is it possible to work closely with someone and not know this was happening?
The next significant event occurred in June. The tape began at 2:13 am. The office was completely dark but for the light from the parking lot outside filtering between the closed blinds. I knew something was afoot because June was the one month of the year when the receptionist didn’t hang any decorations, but at first I didn’t see anything of interest on the screen.
Seconds ticked by without anything. The tape shut off. I was about to rewind when the next segment of video began, it was 2:15 am, same date. The door was just closing, but something was different in the reception area. It took me a moment to pick it up but I realized there was a small shadow near the door, as if someone had dropped something off and let the door swing shut behind them.
The tape shut off again, this time for less than a minute. When it came back on the dentist was standing in the doorway with his brief case. He flicked on the lights and I was able to identify the shadow. It was a small, metal canister, like a scuba diver’s oxygen tank, on a wheeled cart. Attached to the top was a small hose with a triangular shaped cup on it. I recognized it as a Nitrous Oxide container, with an attachment designed to fit over the nose of the patient.
The doctor took his briefcase and NO2 to the examination room, donned his white coat and began to set out his instruments. There was no long interlude as in previous experiences, before the patient arrived. It was a woman in her mid thirties. She had a severe face and graying brown hair pulled up into a tight bun, perched precariously close to the end of her thin, blade-like nose was a pair of cat’s eyes glasses.
She didn’t wait for the dentist to come greet her but immediately disappeared behind reception only to appear a moment late in the examination room. The doctor’s greeting was met with a curt nod. She took her place on the examination chair and the work began.
I wondered what type of woman required dental work to be done at nearly 3 am. I had long since ceased wondering what type of dentist would accommodate such a strange request, this particular doctor was the definition of strange.
I noted that this visit was different than the previous ones I’d witnessed. This one started with the doctor placing the NO2 cup over the woman’s nose. The stern look on her face faded, relaxed by degrees with each rise and fall of her chest. As the woman slipped down into unconsciousness I noted the doctor’s excitement rise. He licked his lips and rubbed his hands greedily together.
There were new implements this time as well, strange metal devices whose purpose I couldn’t decipher until they were put into use. The first looked like a cross between a wire hanger and a muzzle. He inserted this into the woman’s mouth and fiddled with something on the side, effectively locking her mouth open.
Next he attached something to the electric device. I couldn’t tell what it was at first, but had I heard it, I’m sure I could have identified it immediately. It was a dental drill. He held it before his eyes, presumably watching it spin and listening to the sickening sound it made. His attention was focused on the drill so sharply, it seemed as if he was unaware anyone else was in the room.
But eventually, he leaned forward over the patient and began to apply the drill to her mouth. More so than ever before, the dentist was excited, to the brink of mania it seemed. He leaned ever closer to the woman, his hand gripping her shoulder so hard his knuckles were white. Leaning this way and that, he ground away with the drill.
After shifting his stool about, the dentist grabbed the woman’s forehead and tilted her head back into what looked like a very uncomfortable position. His head leaned so close that his face was practically touching hers. Frustrated, he slammed the woman’s head back into the chair. He placed the drill on the table. I was completely shocked when the dentist, in a state of frenzy, climbed upon the chair, straddling the woman’s chest.
Now, his legs on either side of the woman in what I would describe as a lewd position, he relished at the drilling. He leaned in close to her mouth, his breath was coming in mad hitching gasps. When he leaned back I could see that his eyes were alight with intensity. It seemed to take forever. My mind dredged up the sound of the drill and the smell of teeth being ground into powder.
An eternity later and it was finished. The time stamp read 3:42 am. I can’t even imagine how much of the woman’s tooth was devoured by the drill. It must have been quite a bit though, considering how long she lay there.
After drilling, he climbed off of the woman and took a seat in the stool again. The process of filling it was surprisingly short. The dentist seemed to have little interest in that aspect of his work and slopped the filling material in haphazardly.
I continued my review of the tapes. Time passed without much of note, but always I struggled with the essential question: When do I tell Jon? That I would have to tell him eventually was obvious. But, at the same time, I hoped that the videos would somehow reveal an explanation to all the madness.
A year’s worth of video passed; a red, white and blue star stirred on the breeze for thirty minutes, the paper witch fluttered through the air, a turkey, a christmas tree, a heart, a clover, all made their brief appearances. But no doctor, no patient, no assistant. I wondered if it had all been some mistake or maybe the dentist had been arrested for his insane drilling episode.
September 28, the timestamp read 12:01 am, in walked the doctor accompanied again by his assistant. Behind him he wheeled his NO2 container and in his hand he carried his briefcase. The assistant wore a light jacket and had a scarf once again wrapped around her face. I thought it must have been a cold night, though the doctor wore only a sports coat.
The familiar ritual was repeated. The doctor donned his white coat and disappeared into the hallway, reappearing in the examination room a moment later. The assistant vanished into the area behind reception for a much longer time, coming into the examination room only once she was garbed in scrubs, gloves and a surgical mask.
The person that came in was a man, about my age with a thick beard. On his head was a baseball cap partially obscuring my view of his face. He hesitated by the door and then called out. In the back room the dentists head whipped around toward the door and he grinned. He must have also called out because the man in reception made his way toward the exam room.
I could tell by the guy’s body language that he was nervous. Under normal circumstances this would have been perfectly normal, but given what I knew about the doctor it seemed even more appropriate. I wish I could have yelled at the guy to get out, but there was nothing I could do.
He took a seat in the chair, his feet fidgeting against the floor. The doctor exchanged some words with him but the assistant merely sat by looking out towards the door, saying nothing and seeming in a trance. The young man removed the cap and put it on the floor next to him. It was then that I realized I knew who it was.
I’d never seen Jon with a beard before, I never knew he wore facial hair at all. The tape was from a year or so before I met him, but once the cap was off I was sure it was him. He laid back in the chair and the dentist put the NO2 over his nose. I felt my stomach lurch with fear. The dentist’s eyes showed a type of lunatic glee, a mania more intense than I had ever seen. He wore on his face the grin of a madman.
He used the tool to prop Jon’s mouth open. This time, however, he did not go right about his work. Instead he seemed to savor the moment, running his fingers over Jon’s lips, resting his palm on Jon’s chest. He even stole a glance at the hygienist who continued to look on with a bored expression in her eyes. The dentist leaned his face close to Jon’s, his nose just over his mouth, and seemed to sniff Jon’s breath with some relish.
I hadn’t noticed at the time, as I was too distracted staring at the hygienist, but there was a new tool on the dentist’s table. I’m sure there exists a fancy medical term for the instrument, something efficient and scientific, but if there is I do not know it. The tool the dentist picked up can only be described as a pair of plyers.
Now the hygienist moved around to the head of the chair as the dentist stood and held the plyers up to the light, examining them carefully. She gripped Jon’s head between her gloved hands as the doctor leaned down and began to work the plyers into Jon’s mouth.
There was mania in the manner of the dentist’s work, a lewdness to the way his free hand rubbed up and down Jon’s chest. He would occasionally pause at his work to look up at the hygienist with a wanton, needful expression on his face. All the while she remained neutral.
The dentist’s work became more intense, he twisted and yanked with the plyers, at times hard enough to pull Jon’s head off the padded chair. The hygienist responded by holding him tighter, her hands curling into fists in Jon’s hair yanking him back down against the doctor’s forceful tugs.
The dentist threw his leg over Jon, straddling him as he had the previous patient. This time it was even more lewd, more grotesque as the man moved his hips ever so slightly. The hygienist’s eyes widen and she leaned over Jon’s head, until her face was close to the doctor’s. He leaned his own face towards her’s his lips puckered but then stopped short and pulled back. Instead, he pressed his lips to Jon’s forehead before giving one, final yank of the plyers.
Blood streamed down Jon’s chin to be wiped up by the hygienist. The dentist, in the meantime, held the bloody tooth up in front of his eyes, as if it were a trophy. His mouth hung open, his tongue lolling out to the side. He looked like a wild animal.
I paused the video, deciding that I could wait no longer to contact Jon. Did he have any idea what his dentist had done to him? He couldn’t have, he never would have let me review these tapes if he had even the slightest clue that this bizarre, invasive assault had taken place.
I punched his number and he picked up on the third ring. “Jon,” I began, “uh, how’s it going?”
“Fine. You?” he replied.
“Okay.” I didn’t know where to begin, how to start. “So, I’m working on this video review still,” I said.
He perked right up. “Did you see something good? Was VCH in there after hours?” VCH was the management company. I had almost forgotten about them.
“No, uh nothing yet. I have a question for you though.” I was staring at the paused video on my computer, it showed the dentist holding up the tooth to the light, a look of manic glee in his eyes as Jon bled in the background. “Did you ever go to this doctor?”
“Why would I?” he asked confused.
“Well, maybe you needed dental work,” I suggested.
“What are you talking about?” he asked. “There’s no dental office in the building. That’s an OB/GYN.”
I froze. The chair. I remember thinking that there was something weird about it. And when Jon told me it was an OB/GYN I realized just what that weirdness was. At the foot of the chair were two metal pieces. I noticed them right away but never really thought to question what they were for. Now it seemed obvious. They were stirrups.
I mumbled something to Jon about being confused and thanked him for his time. Turning back to the video I pressed play. The dentist lurched back into motion. He took several deep breaths his chest rising and falling. The hygienist too was panting, causing her mask to puff out and draw in against her face over and over again.
The dentist ran the bloody tooth over his lips, and the crimson blood made it look as though the man were wearing lipstick. He even ran his tongue over the tooth, cleaning the last bit of red from its surface. The hygienist was staring at the tooth, looking hungry and eager. The doctor smiled at her and nodded.
She dropped Jon’s head, which fell with a bounce against the chair. Reaching up to her face she slipped her fingers under the edges of the surgical mask and pulled it down. What it revealed was an unspeakable horror. Her mouth, if it had ever been something which could accurately describe as a mouth, was a ruined abomination. A mockery of the very core concept of a mouth. There were no lips, only a rotting hole of blackened, diseased flesh riddled with sores that weeped pus. This thing, this monster had no teeth, only black gums and bits of exposed, jagged jaw. Her tongue was a round, searching thing in the cavernous, unclosing mouth.
The dentist smiled at her, lovingly and held the tooth in the pliers next to the ghastly hole of this thing’s mouth. She looked eager, as a puppy looks when offered a treat. Her tongue shot out reaching for the tooth. After a moment of teasing the doctor dropped the tooth into the monster’s mouth where it disappeared forever.
What the dentist and hygienist did next was indescribably perverse, a horror that haunts me to this day. It took them the better part of an hour to complete. They straighten themselves up once their disgusting act was concluded. The hygienist monster thankfully put the mask back on and removed the NO2 from Jon’s nose. He got up, groggy but seeming to be of his right mind, and left. The dentist and hygienist followed soon after.
I was so disturbed by this, so frightened that I spent the rest of the day sitting in my chair in front of my computer staring blankly into space. I still had another six hours of video to watch but I was too anxious to continue. I decided I should learn some more about this place and the other people in the video before I watched any more.
I discovered that the office actually belonged to a woman named Dr. Svetlana Yagnenok, M.D. She’d been working there for more than a decade and never had a partner, nor did she ever rent the office out to any other doctors (especially not dentists). It was impossible to figure out who the dentist was as I had no idea what his name was, but it occurred to me that perhaps the patients worked in the same strip mall.
I decided to contact the other document reviewers. The first person I reached out to was a friend of Jon’s who was a homemaker with a law degree. I asked if she could meet up with me for coffee so I could ask her about the review. She agreed to meet me the next day. I printed out the best pictures I could of the patients and brought one of the dentist too just in case.
It was pointless. My heart nearly stopped when I walked in the cafe, the woman I was there to meet was all too familiar. She was the first patient. I asked if she’d ever frequented any of the businesses at the strip mall and she assured me she hadn’t.
That wasn’t all. The candy striper, the old man, the librarian, they were the other reviewers. From what they told me, none of them had ever been to the strip mall before. None of them knew anything about a dentist, nor had anything strange been on the tapes they were reviewing.
I was even more horrified by what I found on the last six hours of tape. December of last year, timestamped at 1:15 am. The doctor and hygienist arrived and repeated their normal routine (if anything the horrorshow duo did could be called routine). The hygienist seemed different this time, more hungry, more eager. After a time the door opened and a young man walked in.
I poked my tongue around and confirm what the video had just revealed. I was missing two molars, the same two the dentist ripped from my mouth to feed the horrid woman. The worst part is, I could almost still taste the slimy flavor of her mouth as I watched the video of her kissing me.
Credit To – Louis Nattick