Skylined – PART 7

ITEM: I recorded a video of my short story “BRB” for Horrorgasm 2020, a virtual horror-themed event that features art exhibitions, short stories, an online art gallery, and wide area of horror art merchandise. Registration is free and the show runs from October 2 through October 4, so DROP BY and check it out:

ITEM: With October officially here, you’ll want to check out the EXHUMED, book trailer for the book and pick up a copy of the book to complete your Halloween experience. Click on the TV below to view the trailer (will open YouTube):

ITEM: Gravelight Press is still accepting submissions for our 2021 horror anthology. If you write short horror fiction, be sure to check out the details and submission guidelines here. While you’re there, check out our Author page, which has just been added to the site. We hope to see more writers (maybe even you) on that page in the near future.

Skylined – PART 7

“Welcome back. You had us all worried,” the nurse said.

“Mr. Ellis,” a second voice, masculine and with a slight Hispanic accent, added, “please nod if you can hear me.”

Treat nodded. His vision was blurry. The smell of ammonia hung heavy in the air, causing both eyes to tear. Even through the fuzzy haze, the sterility of the room was unmistakable. Squinting, he noted three words stretched across the top of the physician’s identification badge: Combustible General Hospital.

“You were in an accident, Mr. Ellis. A bad accident,” the doctor added. “It’s a miracle you survived.” Both clinicians wore looks of grim resolve; the nurse looked ashamed. Treat, his vision clearing, then noticed the IV and the catheter. He grimaced, wishing to lose focus. Treat’s cerebrum sent a command to vocalize a question, but no sound emerged from his mouth.

“I must be blunt, Mr. Ellis. You’ve suffered an impairment of a permanent nature,” the doctor continued, arms crossed at the chest. “Specifically, there is severe, irreparable damage to your lower spine and to your pelvis. Your thorax was also…compromised. Unfortunately, surgery cannot repair these injuries. I’m sorry to say that you will likely live out the remainder of your life as a quadripelegic and that you will be unable to speak.”

Treat’s eyes widened as his mind slowly processed this news. He attempted to move his arm and legs. The command was issued from his frontal lobe. He was certain he could do this. The tears came after several long, unsuccessful minutes.

“Fortunately, Mr. Ellis,” the nurse interjected, a distressed smile stretched across her face like a worn rubber band, “our care facility is fully equipped to provide you with the best long-term care available, Many patients like you continue to have productive lives despite their…physical limitations.” She began a diatribe about technology and the handicapped. She described computers that functioned by eye contact and a myriad of other technical advancements that would aid Treat in his new reality. Treat wasn’t listening. He continued to concentrate in an attempt to force his limbs into action, his throat to resonate sound, any sound. But these previously autonomic tasks were no longer possible.

He thought about the countless changes facing him. Gone was the office job and calls from authors. Gone was the ability to speak aloud, to voice an opinion, to scratch an itch. His mind raced. There were dozens–thousands–of experiences now denied him. The saving grace, he reckoned, was the realization that he’d no longer be a pawn of the city. No more walks atop sidewalks shadowed by intimidating architecture. No more painfully long commutes to and from the city. No more glimpses at Combustible’s hostile skyline. These were, he realized, marginal, threadbare victories, but they were the only things separating him from utter despair.

NEXT: Skylined concludes

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