Written between the 17 – 19 January 2010. Attempt to un-block.
“Oh! Stars and clouds and winds, ye are all about to mock me; if ye really pity me, crush sensation and memory; let me become as nought; but if not, depart, depart, and leave me in darkness.”
— Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.
He was stuck to the concrete. Everytime he tried to shift, he squelched. He tried to blink the blood from his eyes but it kept running down his forehead, his cheeks, his neck. He could taste it on his lips as he gasped.Fear. “Oh my god. Oh my god.” His lips moved but the sound came out in phonemes. Oh. Oh. Oh. G. G. G… With each breath, he felt the stabbing pain in his heart. Sharp – and then everything became white. And then darkness.
Crispin opened his eyes. The room was dim. Was it night time? His lizard tongue shot out his mouth and moistened his lips. He could taste something chemical, something like medicine.“Don’t sit up,” he heard through the rushing in his ears, as if he was in the womb, listening to white noise, his ear to the ocean. It was only then did he realise the steady beep, the hum of machines surrounding him, the tubes… Panicked, Crispin tried to do the exact opposite, but he felt hands holding him down, a warm sensation run through his body and then the dark again.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.He cracked an eye open. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. He squinted as the bright light hit his eyes and he groaned, closing them again. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. With his eyes still closed, Crispin felt around. Tubes attached to an arm, plastic clustered around his chest. Catheter. He wiggled his toes. Something seemed very strange. He moved his fingers. Again, he experienced that distant feeling of something gone horribly wrong. And when his eyes opened, Crispin felt like he couldn’t breathe. The wires, the tubes, the confusion – he started to stress, sending the heart monitor into a frenzy. “Son, son, it’s okay.” A man had just entered the room and was rushing to his side. He pressed a few buttons on the monitor and the frantic beeping stopped, only to be replaced with something a more constant. The man checked his fluids, fingering pieces of plastic and insulation tape and finally, he looked into Crispin’s face. “Where am I?” His voice came as a croak. The man’s eyes softened and he replied.
“You’re in my house. There weren’t many survivors. I couldn’t just leave you there. So I brought you here. You’re okay now. My name is Joe.”“Joe,” Crispin repeated. “Are you a doctor?” A look passed over Joe’s face. “Well…of sorts…” This didn’t bode well. “I don’t understand.” Joe sighed. “I’ll explain everything later.” He typed a code into a machine nearby and Crispin felt like he was sinking deeper into the bed he was in. “I don’t want to sleep anymore,” he mumbled.
“I’m sorry but you have to. This is the last time I promise.”
The next time Crispin came to, the room was dark. The curtains had been left open and he could see the bloated moon hanging just above the tree line. Turning his head to the side, he saw Joe in an armchair beside the bed.Joe was asleep, his body sighing slowly with every inhalation and exhalation. He heard the sounds of pots and pans and his stomach grumbled. “Oh! You’re awake!” A woman stepped into the room, turning the light on and spotting his curious face. ”I’m Gina. Joe’s daughter.” Crispin nodded. He didn’t know what to say to her. He had too many questions and they weren’t settling enough for him to ask anything.
Crispin screamed. Where there should have been an arm, there was nothing but a continuous curve from shoulder to trunk. And when he looked down, he thought his heart had stopped. He couldn’t breathe. His left leg was completely gone. Not even a stump.“What have you done to me?!” Agony. Nothing made sense. He didn’t want anything to make sense. He began patting himself down, checking to see what else was missing. He wanted to climb out of bed and hit Joe. He has to get out of this place. What had they done to him? In an effort to move, he began grabbing at tubes and wires, trying to find their source. And then his fingers found their path. His chest. His heart. And then he passed out. Joe stood beside the bed, sweating slightly. “Christ,” he muttered to his daughter. “I seriously thought he was going to rip them out for a second,” Gina said, patting the wires reassuringly against Crispin’s chest, checking that none had come loose or tangled. Joe nodded, still holding the syringe between his fingers. “I need a drink,” Gina sighed, closing her eyes and shaking her head. “How long will he be down for?” “A few hours at least,” Joe said, following his daughter to the door. “I think I’ll join you. I expected something, but god, he looked like he would have done anything to get up off that bed and strangle me.” Gina clicked the light off as they exited the room, Joe swinging the door shut.
Gina heard him first. Her father had fallen asleep in his chair on the stoep. It was a muggy night and the mosquitos buzzed around Joe’s protruding flesh. Everytime he shifted, the rocking chair groaned. Squealing wood, silence, repeat.But then a mew came from inside. It started slow, a sort of strangled whining, but then it turned to sobs.