What the mind dreams of
Published on / 1 Chapter(s) / 0 Review(s)
A while ago, some medications made me pretty loopy, to the point of delusional, and I tried to capture some of the outright terror I felt in this short story.
Rudy Sandberg was not tall, skinny, or attractive. Nor was he exceptionally bright or talented, so there was no way he could make up for his lack of interpersonal skills. He was a short, dumpy, balding man in his mid-forties, relegated to being a constant errand-boy at a small publishing company.
It was during one of his numerous coffee runs throughout the day - an otherwise perfectly ordinary Thursday - that Rudy noticed the red tinge on his fingernails. At first, he dismissed it. He handled various inks and was constantly getting into things that washed off later with no problem. All that needed to be done was to finish up this coffee run, and he could go into the men's room and wash up.
He handed the cups of coffee (frozen mocha smoothie for Linda, triple espresso for Bob, plain jane French roast with hazelnut creamer for Susan...) to their respective orderers before he saw the red smearing onto the cup tray. Again, it was nothing to worry about. Papercuts happened, sometimes they bled, and he was often too busy to notice them until well later. The tray went into the trash, and Rudy went into the bathroom so he could wash off his hands.
The water took forever to get hot, so he just stuck his hands under and started washing, using liberal amounts of the antibacterial soap from the dispenser. No reddish tinge from the water and suds, just some dirt washing off. But when he started to dry off his hands with some paper towels, more red stains came off. Worse, it wasn't just the here-and-there of a bad papercut. The amount of red - Rudy could only assume it was blood - was more like he'd cut a vein.
He threw the paper towels into the trash, grabbing more and wiping furiously at his hands. He couldn't see where the blood was coming from, so he couldn't put pressure on the wound. Instead, the stain seemed to be seeping out from his very pores, soaking into everything he touched. Again, he threw the paper towels away and put more soap into his hands from the dispenser, but that only left a nasty smear.
More washing, except that this time he could see the blood falling in thick drops into the sink. Every scrub just made more suds tinted with red splatter over the sink, faucet, and even onto the mirror. For a brief second, Rudy thought of the white shirt he was wearing. His good one, now being ruined and splattered in his own blood.
That thought was quickly tossed aside when he started thinking of how badly he was bleeding out. Rudy needed to see a doctor, and quickly. He grabbed some more paper towels, covering his hands in them and praying that the blood wouldn't soak through too fast.
He had to hurry out, and there was no room in his head for things like punching his timecard, or even telling one of his coworkers where he was going. There was no time, no need for things like that. The hospital was only a few blocks down the road. Rudy could make it if he walked. Sooner if he ran.
The lights took much too long. Each second passing by was crucial to his health - he was dying and no one seemed to notice him walking down the streets with a white shirt covered in blood, hands covered in soaking, red paper towels, and thick streams of still more blood running down his arms and dripping off his elbows with each step he took. How could they not see that something was wrong with him?
Waiting on the corner sidewalk with the hospital just across the street, he kept nervously glancing around. A few people gave him some odd looks, but nothing concerned, more like... irritation. They were upset that he was fidgeting in their personal space. Rudy didn't care. How could he care? More blood was seeping out of his hands. Some was even starting to come out of his arms, and dripping into his eyes.
Finally, the light turned green. He ran across the street, as fast as his body would allow him. Inside, the receptionist looked up at him, blowing a gum bubble and popping it with an entirely bored look on her face. Rudy ran up, setting his hands onto the counter and trying not to smear too much blood all over the nice clean hospital.
"What's the reason for your visit today, sir?" She spoke in a practical monotone, like it was something she had to repeat all day every day. Which, of course, she did, but couldn't she see what was wrong with him?
"I'm bleeding. From my hands, my arms, it's all over my shirt, and I even have some in my eyes... Can't you see that, you blind twit?"
"..." The receptionist gave him a blank stare, looking Rudy over a couple times before typing a few quick keystrokes into the computer. "Sir, you're not bleeding at all."
Commenting is disabled for guests. Please login to post a comment.