a free horror short story by Erin Zarro
“Do you agree to the terms?” the doctor asked with an accent I couldn’t place.
The question startled me. I’d been thinking about all the things I could do if I wasn’t dying – I could live in Europe like I’ve always wanted, I could go sky-diving, I could learn how to pole dance, I could have a love affair. And other things like take the Russian class I’ve always wanted to. And crocheting….fly fishing…there were so many things I wanted to do. And I needed to be alive to do them.
“Let me make sure we understand each other,” I said. “You said you could give me new life.”
“Will it hurt?” I asked as a flash of fear went through me.
“Not any worse than dying,” he replied.
The doctor placed a sheet of paper in front of me with a flourish. “This contract states what we have discussed. You sign down here.” He pointed to a line at the bottom marked with an X. “Feel free to ask any questions you have.”
I looked it over, skimming most of what it said. I didn’t care. The only thing I cared about was not dying. Sweat dripped down my face. It was unbearably hot in here. Or was I just nervous?
I signed it and slid it back to him, the reflection of my gold-polished nails on the smooth surface of the table reminding me — if this didn’t work, and I was gonna die, I’d go out with a bang. Hence the blood-red hair and heavy makeup. And the sexy little black dress I wore.
He smiled. “Very good. Let me get the medication.”
The doctor left for a moment, then came back with an assistant in tow. He stopped in front of me. The assistant handed him a large syringe.
A hard jab to the crook of my arm made me gasp. The medication burned as it spread through my veins. “This is the paralytic,” he said.
My jaw dropped. “Paralytic?”
“Standard procedure,” the assistant said, patting my shoulder. “So you don’t feel anything.”
“Why would I – ” I gasped and flailed as they strapped me to the table. “Why are you doing this?”
The doctor appeared in front of me, gloved and masked. “Moving around while being cut into may damage the organs. In five minutes, you’ll lose the ability to speak.”
What the hell? Damaging organs? “What do you mean? You’re mistaken. You’re not touching my organs. I’m supposed to live.” I gestured with my chin downward, to my restrained state. “And why can’t I talk?”
“It is to prevent your screams from scaring the others away,” the assistant said.
My insides twisted. “Just what are you doing that would cause me to scream?”
“Our work,” the doctor said, “is unpleasant business. But you signed off on remaining conscious so…” He shrugged.
Uh oh. It must have been in the part I skimmed! Crap! “Well, can’t I rescind it? Change my mind?”
“That is not possible,” the doctor said. “Anything else? You have three minutes now.”
“What – what exactly are you going to do to me?” I wasn’t sure I even wanted to know now. It felt like being in a horror movie.
“We’re giving you new life, of course, but re-purposed,” the doctor said, picking up a bone saw. “It was all spelled out in the contract.”
I closed my eyes and let out a silent scream as the sound of the saw filled the air.