What’s going on here then?
Good question… I’m afraid I’ve never been altogether sure! Broadly speaking, I’m not one for standing still and change isn’t something that particularly bothers me – consequently I feel that my blog should reflect that and be capable of accommodating a degree of diversity and change.
This page is an attempt to capture that feeling. It’s very much experimental and isn’t terribly structured or formulaic I’m afraid – think of it as a sort of scrapbook. You will find it a little grubby and unwashed behind the ears at times.
What goes here? – Stuff that doesn’t fit so easily within the main bloggage… writing that’s unrelated to sl or, for that matter, rl – perhaps a touch of rampant fiction. Short stories, maybe even just random notes intended to provoke the imagination – often a little more edgy or darker than what you might be used to from the everyday sweet and innocent me.
The truth is, this is an unstructured and evolving space that will change on a whim, and if you like it, hate it or want to add your own critique, thoughts or observations, please feel free.
Only the most recent addition will feature on this page. To see previous works, please visit the Alt. life: Archive page.
20th April 2017
It was the uncontrollable shivering that brought her back to consciousness. She came around, unbearably cold, wet and utterly confused. What the hell had happened to her, where was she, and why was it so dark and cold?
Confused thoughts raced around her head, none of them helpful, and nothing making any sense. Why couldn’t she see? Horrified, she briefly thought she’d gone blind… The terrified thrashing that ensued did little to help, and a moment later, she sank back into the freezing water, exhausted and terrified. Now calmer, the realisation struck that she could see, after all – red light filtered by her eyelids told her as much, but there was something holding her eyes shut. Her fingers scrabbled at her face… Tape – some kind of sticky tape had been stretched across her eyes, keeping them shut fast. She pulled at the tape over each eyelid, peeling off whatever it was holding her eyes closed.
She blinked as light, and sight, returned to reveal a scene that she struggled to process. She was lying, naked, in a bath filled with ice, in what appeared to be a dirty, rather ugly and utilitarian bathroom. Her eyes had been sealed with some sort of medical tape, the remnants of which now clung to her cold and numb fingers. More worrying was the cannula emerging from the pallid flesh of the back of her hand – she traced the line of the plastic tubing snaking away from her hand to the drip bag, suspended at the side of the bath.
Shocked into insensibility by a combination of blind fear and the chill water, a small part of her brain nevertheless nagged her towards self-preservation. Gingerly, she attempted to pull herself upright, gasping at first at the freezing water, followed by the sudden stabbing pain in her lower back and side. Gritting her teeth, she persevered, dragging herself over the bath edge, until with a final lunge, she pitched over the side to collapse in an ungainly heap on the bathroom floor. Her eyes swam, the world started to spin, and she slipped once more into unconsciousness.
Coming round the second time was little better than the first – the cold, unyielding floor pressed against her flesh, her hand throbbed where the drip feed entered and a dull ache permeated her back and stomach. Slowly, ever so slowly, she eased her way on to her knees, and somehow dragged herself to her feet, to lean painfully and unsteadily against the cracked sink. What she saw staring back at her from the mirror was not a pretty sight: Eyes, hollowed and bloodshot; skin, grey; she looked, as well as felt like some sort of horror flick zombie. With distaste, she felt around the needle in the back of her hand, still completely at a loss as to what it all meant, then started to shiver violently once more.
That was a mistake! Pain radiated from her side making her gasp. Gingerly, she looked down, exploring the source of the pain with her numb fingers. To her horror, she found a six inch gash, edges neatly stitched back together, extending from her right side and towards her lower back. Nausea flooded through her, and she fought against collapsing… Everything about this situation was wrong, so very wrong.
Still shivering, her most pressing need right now was warmth. She inched painfully towards the bathroom door, turned the handle, and dragged the door open. The room beyond was disappointingly average: A vague smell of boiled cabbage, cheap perfume and stale sweat permeated the air, in the corner a beat up TV quietly churned out hits from the eighties and a solitary electric fire did its best to warm what was clearly a cut rate motel room. Dragging the drip stand with her, she struggled to the fire and sank down gratefully in front of it, hugging her knees tight to her chest in an effort to warm up. Over the next hour or so, she found herself drifting in and out of coherent thought, whilst waves of pain and fear assailed her in equal measure. Eventually, she achieved a state of equilibrium and felt as ready as she ever would to start making some decisions.
By now, her hand was throbbing, and the point at which the needle was inserted was red and inflamed. Mentally, she braced herself, gritted her teeth and started to pull the cannula from beneath her skin. It was every bit as painful as she’d imagined, and the needle seemed to go on forever. It bled, but not badly, and the inflammation seemed to her to ease almost immediately. Freed from the drip’s tether, she peered around at her surroundings: Not a great deal to talk about – but she recognised a pile of clothes thrown on the bed as her own and wasted no time getting dressed, although somewhat awkwardly, thanks to the unexplained wound in her side, something that she now turned her full attention to, sitting on the edge of the bed, trying to make sense of her situation.
How it had got there defeated her. It was clear that someone had tended to her, the stitches and drip hadn’t magically brought themselves into being, but as for how she’d sustained the injury, who her mystery medic was, and what the circumstances were leading to her being there in the first place, she had absolutely no idea. Frowning, she tried to remember… It was her birthday – no, today was her birthday! Last night, she’d arranged to meet up with her brother for some pre-birthday drinks. There was going to be a party today, but he was working away and wouldn’t be able to make it. She remembered paying the taxi driver and walking through the pub car park, but then she hit a complete blank… Nothing, not until the horror of regaining consciousness in the bath in this dump of a place. And where exactly was she, how did she get here, and how was she going to get home?
The TV seemed to mock her from the corner, The Eagles lyrics seeming very apt in her current circumstances: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”. Irritated, she painfully stood up and walked over to turn off the TV.
There was an envelope with her name neatly printed on the front, resting on top of the television.
Fingers trembling involuntarily, she reached for the envelope, and carefully eased open the flap, sliding out the single sheet of notepaper it contained. The note was brief and to the point, but no less chilling in its content:
‘You are probably confused right now, that is understandable. However, I don’t suggest you delay in seeking medical attention.
I have harvested one of your kidneys.
Although I have attempted to leave you in a stable condition, I cannot guarantee your survival. Seek help immediately!
Raw terror coursed through her: She was horrified, nauseated and disgusted; frozen to the spot in fear… And then came the tears in great wracking sobs of abject misery from the very core of her being. How could this have happened, and why her? Her whole world had suddenly turned upside down, as Don McLean serenaded her from the TV set, “Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die, this’ll be the day that I die!”
That broke the spell. She screamed and kicked out viciously at the TV, immediately wishing she hadn’t as her stitches screamed back at her. Finding new energy, as adrenalin flooded her body, she stuffed the note and envelope in her pocket – the police would be very interested in seeing those – and stormed towards the door, only one thought in her mind now: To get to a hospital, and get there fast. Her fresh resolve lasted as far as the cold November air outside, as she realised she still had no idea where she was, and her purse and phone were missing. ‘OK’, she thought, ‘Reception – they’ll have a phone’, before heading across the beaten-up car park towards a nondescript shack, above which a broken neon sign sputtered fitfully, declaring to the world that this was the ‘Para ise Gardens M tel’ – the sign over the door confirmed this was indeed the reception office – and to her relief, not only did the door open, but there was also a receptionist – of sorts – in attendance.
The guy behind the desk, was of indeterminate old age, thin as a rake and dressed in faded denim dungarees. Any other time she’d have had no trouble imagining him with a straw in his mouth, dancing manically like an escaped extra from ‘Deliverance’ – right now though, she only had one thing on her mind.
“Howdy ma’am. Didya sleep okay? No need to worry about the bill, you’re friend settled up before he left. Said you might be along later…”
“I need to use your phone. Right now! It’s a medical emergency!”
The old man looked at her quizzically. “A phone is it? Why yes ma’am, there’s a phone around the back here. Why doncha come on through?”
He shuffled away, beckoning her to follow. She hesitated, but the pain in her side, pushed her on. The old man led her into a musty, dark office…
“The phone’s right in here, lemme just give you some light, ma’am”
She heard the click of a switch, and then all hell broke loose.
A crowd of people jumped out into the light, all wearing party hats, throwing streamers and making a hell of a racket. She saw her parents, sister, friends from work, aunts and uncles, and there stood right in front of all of them, was her brother!
“Hey sis, bet you didn’t expect to see me today, or any of these guys here, did you?”
He waved her to a seat at a table bearing a huge birthday cake, handed her a large glass of something alcoholic and beamed at her. Unable to process the complex feelings and emotions flooding her mind, she just stared at him, before demanding to know what the hell was going on?
“It’s a new thing, sis – they call them ‘Freaky Fun Days’! For a price – and it’s a pretty steep price, at that – they can put together any scenario you want; make it so realistic you think it is real, and then just let the whole thing unfold. I wanted to make this a really special birthday for you, and I know how much you like horror films, so…”
He smiled disarmingly at her.
“It was bloody expensive though!”
Still, unnerved and completely at a loss, but not completely out of it, just yet – although the alcohol would soon sort that – she laughed at him.
“You jerk! So how did you afford it anyway? I’ve never known you have enough cash to look after yourself, let alone buy expensive treats for your favourite sister!”
He smiled, then looked sheepish, gazing down at the drink in his hand, and swishing the piece of lime around in the glass.
“Well, erm… It’s like this… I had to sell one of your kidneys!”