Sunday, November 29, 2009


Continued from Welcome Home

The sunlight disappeared again, and he assumed he was wheeled into a building. He felt several turns and a jolt that he thought must have been his gurney being shoved through a swinging door. He came to a halt, and another bright light painted his face sheet. Very artificial light.

The sheet was pulled away. More surgical masks this time. There was an overhead light on an articulated arm. Buzzed, muffled voices, one of the masked individuals gestured at the light to another. The latter grabbed a handle on the side of the light with a gloved hand, and aimed it directly into his face, forcing him to squeeze his eyes closed.

He felt latex-covered fingers prodding his head and neck. A shadow fell over his face, and he opened his eyes to see a masked face with plastic glasses leaning over his, looking into his face. He assumed the face belonged to a surgeon. The mask, glasses, head cover, gown, mostly blue paper said medical to him. The surgeon's head was blocking the flow of light. He could see the surgeon's jaw moving behind the mask, looking at him, talking to him, but all he could hear was the buzzing, muffled sounds. The surgeon gave up, and shook his head "no" to someone beside him.

The head withdrew and the bright light shut his eyes again. The probing fingers returned, concentrating on his neck. They pressed hard, causing him to flinch from the pressure. Down the side of his neck they poked, until they were partway down his shoulders, where the poking was replaced by a slight pressure or tugging. This was repeated multiple times on each side. Poking hard enough to get a reaction higher up on his neck, and then gentle pressure as they went further down his shoulders.

He felt fingers at his ears, pulling them in different directions from the outside. He didn't feel them extract whatever had been shoved into his ears that kept him from hearing, but they inserted something cold and hard into his right ear. His ear was still numb and the sound was muffled, when he felt a sudden stabbing pain in his ear. He instinctively tried to jerk, but the movement was truncated by the screws that still held his head in place. It didn't stop the stars of pain from lighting up his closed eyes.

While he was concentrating on stilling himself, the intensity of the light on his face abated. He opened his eyes and blinked away the tears. Looking up, he saw the light was aimed further down his body. He tried to follow with his eyes, but he was lying flat, and there were tubes at his nose and mouth partially blocking his view. He could see the surgeon's side near his face. The surgeon was bent over his body.

He watched the surgeon take several scalpels in a row, and bend low over him each time. Each time, he would place the bloody scalpel on a tray. He couldn't feel any pain. He realized that he must have been heavily drugged most of the time for days, which is why he couldn't move and was so foggy.

He didn't have any memory of his capture or injuries. He didn't know who had him, or if they were the ones who did this to him. He had eliminated the possibility that it was just medical personnel. Hospitals don't use military transports, and they don't keep you moving for days before they operate. Unless he dreamed all of that. Unless he'd already received some treatment. But he couldn't have dreamed all of it. He knew they had found him.

Next the surgeon grabbed some kind of big pliers or clamp. He saw that they opened when the handles were squeezed as the surgeon flexed them. He must have left them in place, because he stood up empty handed. He was handed what looked almost like a soldering gun, but when the surgeon pulled the trigger, he could see a small blade vibrate at the end, almost like a tiny skillsaw.

His eyes went wide when he realized that it was a sternum saw, and that his chest was being cut open. His eyes went wide, and he tried to thrash. The panic made him able to ignore the pain as he writhed and his eyes rolled in his skull. The surgeon stopped momentarily and motioned in his direction with a tilt of his head. From behind, he felt a needle insert into his neck. A slight burning spread up the blood vessel in his neck. The needle was withdrawn, and they unceremoniously dropped the sheet back over his head box.

As he sank down below consciousness, he thought "why are they keeping me alive?"

Monday, November 23, 2009

Welcome Home

I thought I might experiment with some serialized fiction on my blog. I'm trying a slightly different style. I'm going to attempt to be a little gory and disturbing so if that bothers you, fair warning. I'll have a tag for these posts later.

-- end author's note

The jolt from the helicopter landing shook him into awareness. Another stab of lightning shot through his head and made his vision go white. Water leaked from behind his eyelids, squeezed tight from the pain. He knew it was a helicopter from the vibrations of the rotors. He had spent a little time on helicopters in his 20's.

He couldn't tell if it had been days, or a week, or more. He spent much of the time unconscious from pain or drugs. Or not being able to tell the difference between real and imagined. Rarely, he could catch a blurry glimpse of the inside of an ambulance or plane when they would remove his head covering to work on him. If he didn't have an overhead light blinding him.

Every face he caught sight of during this time was covered with a mask. These ranged from baby-blue or white surgical masks, to Army green and SWAT black gas masks.

He could tell words were being spoken all around him, but was unable to understand them. Not because they weren't English. He thought they were, from the rhythms of the words. He couldn't understand because they had shoved something in his ears days ago and left it there. Words came to him as a buzzing, scratchy sound. The loudest thing in his head was a constant tone, like an old modem trying to sync. He could "hear" the helicopter blades as a vibration in his skull. His ears hurt, but the pain level barely registered above the symphony of hurt that was his head.

Frightening to him, it was only his head that hurt. He had been able to see down his body twice. Each time, covered and strapped down. The whole time he was in custody, they had him strapped down to a gurney. He thought he had moved his arms and legs a few times while strapped down. Simultaneously light and drug-deadened.

Tubes ran through his mouth and nose. A machine pumped air in and out of him. He could feel temperatures and pulses slide through the tubes. His head was caged in a scaffold of bars, forming a box. At odd angles to the box were long, spiked screws that drilled directly into his skull, immobilizing him. The entire box was draped with a sheet.

Shadows across the sheet indicated that there were men at the sides of his gurney. It started to shake, and then it felt like he was rolling. He imagined fabric straps being release from the floor and walls and his wheels being unlocked. He was rolled towards what must be the helicopter door, and hoisted by his pall bearers. He floated through the air briefly until his wheels made contact with ground again. There was a qualitative difference between rolling on the steel floor of a vehicle and the rough pavement or concrete he rolled on now.

As he rolled, the shadow line suddenly crossed his sheet, and bright light illuminated his covering. He could immediately tell the sunlight from the artificial lights he'd been under. The warmth and color were unmistakable.

It was the last time he would ever see sunlight with his own eyes.