"Open up," said the dentist. But the man in the chair was having none of it. He squirmed and turned his head, trying to bury it inside his left shoulder.
The dentist sighed and gestured with a nod; instantly, four guards from outside the room pushed in through the door and grabbed the patient by his arms and legs, holding him down. He kicked and fought mightily, but he was no match for their strength, not in his current weakened condition.
He finally gave up, and began to sob.
"It won't take long," said the dentist. "Not if you don't fight."
And indeed, the patient seemed to let the last of the fight seep from his body, going limp. The dentist's pretty assistant brought the restraint over, slipping it on top of the patient's head so that his eyes were shrouded in darkness, his ears encased in thick leather, banded in steel that bolted to the back of the chair. Almost in tandem, the four guards bolted the patient's legs and arms into steel shackles, locking him to the chair.
The dentist again gestured, and all but one of the guards backed up and left the room; the remaining one locked the door and posted himself in front of it while a second guard fastened a similar lock on the outside.
"Now then," said the dentist, "Let's see those teeth."
His assistant dutifully cranked the handle on the side of the restraint, forcing the patient's mouth open. He instinctually tried to resist, but felt his jaw giving way, and instead let the crank do its job. Tears ran down his face, pooling inside the mask around his neck.
With a few "hmmms" and "oh my"'s, the dentist did his thing, poking and prodding inside the patient's mouth, every so often a small tingle or jolt as metal touched metal. And then he stepped back to converse with his assistant and the guard. The patient struggled to hear the conversation, but within the confines of the leather mask, it was all but impossible, everything reduced to murmurs this far away.
Suddenly the dentist was in front of him again, face close enough that the patient could smell the antiseptic on his breath.
"Well," he said, "it looks like we're going to have to do some extractions."
"How many?" the patient tried to ask. His question emerged only as a groan, saliva running from the corners of his mouth. The dentist seemed to understand, however.
"Half of them," said the dentist.