On Introductions, and Ash and Dust Part 1
May 19, 2011 § Leave a comment
I have been told, by men and women far wiser than me, that writing is good. Writing is so good, so noble and so pure, that all writers everywhere have untold success both with members of their chosen gender(s) and in financial questions of all sorts. But it is whispered around fires late at night of something that is even more pure and good and noble: to have people read what you’ve written.
So in order to partake of the sweet, sweet nectar that is people reading my blog, a regular feature (and you better hold me to it) of this blog will be serial fiction. It will be short and hopefully sweet, but at the very least it’s something free you can read every week (or more if I can get around to it).
The first story is tentatively titled “A Crown of Ash and Dust”. As you can probably guess, it’s a fun and exciting romp through fields filled with gumdrop unicorns. Spoilers: the unicorns are also made of ash and dust. In actuality, it’s a dark fantasy story about the horrible things that we do to ourselves. There’s some swearing and some blood, but it’s all in good fun. I hope you all (*crickets chirping*) enjoy reading it, and let me know what you think of it in the comments, good or bad.
Without further ado, chapter one.
Chapter One: Why Hospital Security Is A Must In These Troubled Times
“You killed your children, did you know that?”
I woke up. White sheets, firmly tucked in, held me down tightly. My lungs ached and I coughed, tasting vomit and phlegm. The room was bright white, medicinal and cold as ice.
“Well, technically, the high-speed impact which collapsed her cranium and obliterated her brain is what killed Melissa. And whiplash took Sam. Quick, jerky motions are bad for the necks of toddlers. It made for a wonderful funeral, what with the two coffins, one open one closed. He looked so peaceful, and I imagine she did too, but you know how it is. Morticians can only do so much, mores the pity.”
I began to gag, and vomit threatened to cross the tip of my larynx. My head pounded and my guts felt like they weighed a thousand pounds. I rolled over as best I could and had a putrid green vomit tray thrust in my face.
“Actually, that’s a very interesting question because in normal death the heart stops. Tissue doesn’t get the proper oxygen, cells die, that sort of thing. Now, because her head burst first, technically she was brain dead minutes before hypoxia could even begin to set in. So was it that that killed her? Because the person of Melissa Kazlauskas “died” before her heart stopped pumping and therefore long before her body could! What a perplexing question!” There was a pause. “Of course, it’s all rendered moot by the fact her body crumpled like a wet accordion and thrust broken pieces of the vertebrosternal ribs through her heart less than a second later. But still, one wonders.”
I vomited in the tray, heaving what felt like pounds of junk into the tray. My mouth was scraped raw by the warm (metal?) that I coughed out. I had shut my eyes with the force of my sick, but opened them to see a pile of rusting metal in the tray in front of me. They looked like car parts, the rust coating them with blood-red patina. My eyes widened in shock as the metal instantly rusted away to nothing and blew away in a cloud of dust.
The voice paused for only a second, and I could hear the shaking of the doctor’s head through my shock. “Ah, yes, you’ll have to bring that all up in time. Yes, I know it hurts, but it ought to. It ought to tear you up inside as it comes up, bigger and bigger, until the end. Eventually, you’ll probably just cough yourself to death with a steering column stuck in your throat. It’s not the cleanest death, in my estimation, but it is your fault, after all. I’m just here to watch.”
I looked at the man standing at the foot of the bed. He was tall and thin, with a scraggly beard and unremarkable face. The only outstanding features about him was his white jacket and his mismatched eyes. One was large and struck through with red veins, while the other was small and crooked, and looked an icy shade of blue. He held a clipboard that looked as old as Adam, and was idly flipping through pages. I couldn’t be sure, but it looked like they were covered with crayon drawings like a child would do.
Still partially in shock, I pointed at the tray. “Doctor, what the hell just happened? And what are you talking about, a steering column? What fucking meds do you have me on?”
The doctor cocked his head to his left shoulder, his large right eye sitting on top reminded me of a red stoplight. All the mention of cars kept tugging at my memory like a dog digging for something, but I didn’t know what it was looking for. I looked around at the room, and my blood went a little cold.
There was no medical equipment in the room except for the tray full of red dust, and the bed I lay in. It was a completely empty room that softly beeped and hummed like a hospital room ought to, but there was nothing but bare linoleum and walls. A huge set of lights glared down at me, forcing me to put up my hand in front of my face. There wasn’t even a window on the wall or a clock to give me an idea of the time. The doctor drawled on.
“As far as I know, you’re on propofol and a slew of others, but you were drifting in and out of consciousness, so that’s the only one I could catch. I figure that’s the one meant to knock you out, but what do I know?”
I could feel my heart pound, hard enough to rattle my stomach. It sounded metallic. “Aren’t you the doctor?”
The man smiled at me, and I was afraid for the first time since my daughter was born.
“Do you know they just sell lab coats? Really? You can just walk into a store, and walk into another one to get some scrubs, and hey presto! You’re just like a real doctor! Wouldn’t it be fun to walk into a hospital and see how long it would take them to notice? Just think of what you could do! I know that I’d go cheer up the cancer kids, maybe rub one of their heads for luck. Actually, scratch that. They probably aren’t very lucky.”
I looked at him with as much disbelief as I could muster. I began talking to myself, just to keep it all straight in my head. It wasn’t making sense, but I just couldn’t remember what had happened before this. I wracked my memory, but nothing was making sense.
Okay Ryan, let’s ignore the crazy man. Why am I here?
I looked down and was surprised again. I was wearing my regular clothes, and they looked as clean and straight as though I just put them on. It was my favourite red tie, and just a simple grey shirt and black slacks. Hell, I was even wearing my shoes. What kind of hospital put would leave me in my clothes? Although, from what I had seen of this place, I wasn’t even sure it was a hospital. I patted myself down, and couldn’t feel anything out of place. Aside from a weight in my stomach which was apparently car parts, I felt fine. A little groggy from just waking up sick, but even my mouth didn’t hurt. My head throbbed a little, waves of unpleasantness emanating from a spot just behind my left ear.
My heart stopped and my stomach rattled again. There was something stuck in my head.
The other man cocked his head the other way, and squinted his red eye, which made him look like a hairy snake. “I wouldn’t look too hard if I were you. It’s on your head, but even I’m not sure about what you’ll find if you look in there. Well, maybe a bolt or two, but I thought they got all of them out.”
I squinted at the man. I didn’t like him at all, but he just laughed at my glower. I had to hand it to him that although my practised scowl worked perfectly well on four-year olds, it did have a tendency to bounce off adults. Nonetheless, I reached up with my left hand and touched a half-inch deep, quarter-inch wide hole in my head.
I jerked forward and tried to pull my hand away, but it was stuck to the hole. I pulled frantically, feeling my chest tighten and my heart race. What the fuck was going on? Was the only thing going through my head. I managed to pull my finger out with a wet pop, and looked in horror at the black sludge that covered my left ring finger.
The man chewed his lip as he rummaged in his pocket. Smiling widely, he pulled out a small, black, plastic peg, and lay it on the bed in front of me. I looked at it with disgust, but it was just a piece of the plastic mount for a GPS system like the one on the dashboard of my car.
“What the fuck is wrong with my head?” I yelled at him.
“Well, I don’t know how well the surgery is going, but there was a, uh, foreign objectinserted in your head. But that doesn’t make sense. It was made in Japan, after all, but you’ve had that car for what, five years now? They should have called it a “permanent resident” object.”
He bounced his head back and forth like a jack-in-the-box, albeit one with bad teeth and a horrifying grin. He kept talking as his head, looking like his neck didn’t have a spine, kept bouncing.
“You were thrown around a bit, and you just managed to clip your head on it. The good news for you is that it didn’t come clean off, which is what saved your life, I think. The fire started to melt it, so that might be bad for you, but it kept you from bleeding out, so that’s a plus.” He stopped bouncing and looked around the room with a strange melancholic look on his face. “Hmm, that all this might just be brain damage. That would be strange, no?”
I had begun hyper-ventilating, and tried fruitlessly to wipe the gunk off my finger. It stained anything it touched but wouldn’t come off. The plastic bit, even though it was thinner than a pen and a quarter as long, began to press down on the bed like it was made out of lead. I jumped to my feet and yelled at the doctor again, desperately trying to make sense of what was going on.
“Sir, whoever you are, can you help me, at all? Can you get a doctor? I think I woke up during the operation, and I shouldn’t have touched something, and oh God, why are you just standing there?”
I screamed the last words at him. I’ve never been a forceful man, and if I hadn’t just maybe smeared a piece of brain on my hand I might have been ashamed that I squealed them aloud. He laughed for a second, but then went completely serious. He actually looked angry, in an ugly, sullen way. It looked like he was planning to kill my dog while he answered. He screwed up his face and spat:
“Ryan Kazlauskas, I am Guilt. I am not here to help you. I am here to watch you die.”