Hideaway Fall Writing Challenge Day 13 – Harrowing

I’m still playing catch up, but here is my offering for day 13. Somewhat disturbingly, I really enjoyed creating this short story!

***

“Micah Andrews! Come in please.” The doctor called, his head and torso appearing through the open door. No sooner had he appeared, he was gone again. Micah Andrews, deep, dark circles around his eyes, a grizzled salt and pepper stubble covered his face, hair unkempt, trudged into the doctor’s office. The kindly-faced doctor indicated he should take a seat. He didn’t need to be asked twice, slumping down into the chair.

“How can we help you today, Mister Andrews?” The doctor had a warm, soothing voice. Relaxing almost.

“I’m not sleeping.”

“I see. Poor sleep can be the result of any number of factors. Exercise. Diet. Caffeine intake. Stress. Your sleep environment. Some easy changes that will aid you greatly would be to take more exercise if you can. Drink water later in the day. Try to limit caffeine or alcohol heavy drinks later. Don’t eat a heavy meal before bed. And, of course, there’s blue light. Turn off the TV and phone a few hours before bed. Read a book. It will help tire your brain before you try to sleep.”

“Sorry Doctor, you misunderstand me. I’ve tried all of those. And believe me, I am so tired by the time I go to bed it is a chore to open my eyes, harder still to climb the stairs. I lay down and nothing. It’s not so much a case of poor sleep, or only a few hours. I am not sleeping at all.”

The doctor frowned. This sounded a little more serious. He sat back and considered his options carefully.

“There is one option. I’d rather not prescribe it, but in your case I am not certain I have many options left open to me.”

“At this point, I’m willing to try just about anything. I’m loath to admit it, but I am getting desperate.”

“I understand. Firstly, we need to cover some very important points. Do you drive, or operate heavy machinery?”

“I’m a writer, I work from home. Occasionally the coffee shop in town. I haven’t driven since the sleeplessness started, not worth the risk.”

“Very well. Now, there can be side effects, much like any medication. This particular medication can present a somewhat troubling side effect. It can manifest incredibly lucid hallucinations or dreams. We are hearing from some patients they are far more intense than anything previously seen. If you experience anything of this sort, and I must stress there is no guarantee you will, they will feel more real than anything else.”

“I understand, Doctor. But right now, I really need to try something. I need some sleep. Right now, a couple of hours will be huge for me.”

The doctor sighed heavily. He weighed the pros and cons, arriving at his decision. He pulled out his prescription pad. “Okay. I will prescribe you a one week course. Come back after that and we can review. I want to make sure it is right for you before I consider making it a longer term solution.” He scrawled out the details in an untidy script, handing it to Micah.

“I wish you all the best with this Mister Andrews. And do call if you experience any problems.”

“Thank you Doctor, I will.”

Micah headed out to get his prescription with more hope than he had felt in sometime.

~ ~ ~ ~

Micah had come to dread the late evening, anticipating laying in his bed, staring up at the ceiling until the alarm on his phone went off. Tonight was different. He took the pills as prescribed. Though he did wash it down with a shot of bourbon, hoping for the added, though ill advised, sleep boost. Dragging himself off to bed, he was asleep almost immediately.

~ ~ ~ ~

A bright light, not unlike a camera flash, caught his attention. He was in a nondescript room. Bland white walls, almost sterile. A stainless steel trolley occupied one corner of the room. A table stood next to it littered with all manner of unpleasant-looking implements. Scalpels, forceps, grips, bonesaws, butchery knives. They were tarnished and rusted. They looked as if they were caked in dried blood. Something on the trolley was covered in a once-white sheet, now stained a deep red. He walked over to the trolley, reached out his hand to remove the sheet. He stopped dead. His hands were slick with warm, sticky blood. He didn’t think it was his own. Another flash and he sat bolt upright in his bed. Drenched in sweat, he frantically checked his hands. Though there was no blood, he bolted for the shower. Micah scrubbed himself raw under scalding hot water.

~ ~ ~ ~

The bourbon. That must have been where he went wrong last night. But he slept. No, more than that. He had the best night’s sleep he could remember. The dream terrified him though. He could do without that. Forgoing anything alcoholic this time, he drank only water from mid-afternoon. That night, he took the pills and headed to bed with renewed hope. The bright flash visited him once again. This time the metal trolley was uncovered. Unidentifiable human remains and viscera covered the surface. Metal bowls held what looked like organs. He scrambled backwards knocking over the table of tools in his haste to get away. It was only now he noticed the translucent plastic sheet colouring the walls, floor and ceiling. It seemed as though blood had managed to get everywhere in a violent display. The second flash came, waking him from the gory scene.

~ ~ ~ ~

Gruesome dreams aside, Micah definitely noticed that he was sleeping more. He woke up feeling fresher, happier and more invigorated than he ever had. He was able to really focus on his writing. He was more productive than he had been for some months. He was ready for bed by the end of a long day. Once again, no sooner had his head touched the pillow than he was deeply asleep. The ominous flash came. He walked through a gap in the plastic sheet covering the room. A joyous tune caught his ear. Whistling. He was whistling. Looking down he wore a surgeon’s smock, apron and boots. His sleeves were rolled up. His right hand held a sharp, glistening scalpel. The trolley was empty this time. In the centre of the room was a large operating bed, with bright lamps positioned immediately above it.

Upon the bed was a body. He could not seem to make out who it was, the head covered with a coarse hessian sack. The figure, male, was bound ankle and wrist to the bed. He made no sound, but Micah could see the slow, shallow rise and fall of his chest. On the small table beside the bed stood a radio. He turned it on, as it started blaring out rock music. He felt buoyant, happy. He set to work. Two incisions – from shoulder to mid chest, then a straight cut from there down to just above the groin, a neat, precise Y. The figure suddenly shrieked and wailed in agony, even though it sounded as though he was gagged. 

Frowning deeply at the rude interruption, Micah turned the radio up louder. He flayed the flesh apart, clamping it back and exposing the ribcage. For a moment he could not help but marvel at the wonder of the human body. The rapid beating of the dark read heart. The frantic expansion and contraction of the pinkish lungs. So many delicate components, with so little protection. He continued in a methodical fashion, cracking open the ribs and exposing the organs. He hummed along with the music as he set about slowly removing every organ in turn. The agonised screams subsided the more Micah worked, until they fell silent. And then, another flash.

~ ~ ~ ~

Micah sat bolt upright, bathed in sweat again. He ran a hand through his messy hair. Something felt odd. Looking down at his hand, he saw it was covered in blood. Both his hands were. He leapt from the bed, sheets stained with blood. Stripping himself, he frantically searched for where the blood had come from. It became apparent it wasn’t his. A shower. He needed a shower. As he entered the bathroom, he caught sight of himself in the mirror. His face was coated in blood, still tacky. He showered, washing himself over and over and over. He felt as if he would never rid himself of the blood on his skin.

The doctor. He needed to speak to the doctor. Nothing was worth these dreams. Micah barely dried himself before he bolted for the phone, dialling the Doctor’s office.

“I am sorry, Mister Andrews. Doctor Michaels hasn’t been in for two days.”

“Can you try him at home? It really is critical I speak with him. It’s a matter of urgency.”

“We have, Mister Anderews. His wife hasn’t seen him in two days. He made a house call three nights ago and hasn’t been seen since.”

A cold dread filled his veins. He looked at the towel he had dropped on the floor, stained with the faintest tinge of blood. He dropped the phone with a clatter to the floor.

3 thoughts on “Hideaway Fall Writing Challenge Day 13 – Harrowing

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