Wednesday, September 28, 2011

157/365 -- Playlist Story -- inspired by "Shape of My Heart" by Noah and the Whale

Richard Smith stared up at the blue-dotted letters that floated above him:

PLEASE WAIT. A DOCTOR WILL BE WITH YOU SHORTLY TO CURE YOUR ILLNESS. IN THE MEANTIME, PLEASE ENJOY OUR COURTESY PROGRAMMING.

Once again the audio-visual projection loop started up inside his goggles--five hours of shots of babbling brooks, snow blowing off mountain tops, lambs cavorting in a meadow full of flowers, an eagle hunting over a lake, and campers singing around a campfire with animated forest animals. Richard sighed.

A flavorless wad of food pushed its way into his esophagus. Richard owned only half a tongue so a machine swallowed the food for him. The oxygen machine blew air into his remaining lung and sucked it back out again. Richard closed his eyes and calmed his thoughts, and entered a hypnotic half-dreaming state. The audio-visual projection faded then shut off entirely.

Richard listened to the liquid that surrounded him. It was silent, but occasionally he could hear movements from outside his tank. He hoped it was day and that enough light could make it through the tank walls, the antibacterial fluid, and the lenses of his googles. He opened eyes. There was some light, but blurred. Richard kept his thoughts calm so the audio-visual wouldn't kick back on.

He twisted his head as much as he could move it, and tried to look down at his body. He saw the roiling tubes he had seen so often before, pouring out of his hollowed chest, but now there was something else. He tried not to panic. There was a growth. He was growing around the tubes, fleshing them out with thick blood engorged umbilicals reaching upward, their ends curling and...reaching.

PLEASE WAIT. A DOCTOR WILL BE WITH YOU SHORTLY TO CURE YOUR ILLNESS. IN THE MEANTIME, PLEASE ENJOY OUR COURTESY PROGRAMMING.

Lambs cavorted to Beethoven. Richard tried to relax again, but didn't try to put himself back in the dream state.

It had been eight years since he was crushed (or at least that's what he was informed of from periodic updates to the blue-lettered feed), then rushed by ambulance to the facility. He didn't really remember his life before the tank, other than the heavy weight pressing down on his body and that he once had legs. Richard cried.

Richard woke with a start from a dream about drowning. Nine years.

PLEASE WAIT. A DOCTOR WILL BE WITH YOU SHORTLY TO CURE YOUR ILLNESS. IN THE MEANTIME, PLEASE ENJOY OUR COURTESY PROGRAMMING.

He calmed his thoughts. The audio-visual faded and ended. He waited for his eyes to adjust, then he looked up. The umbilicals had reached the top of the tank. He smiled with the remaining half of his face. Richard pushed out, pressing, pressing...the seal of the tank popped. The pressurized liquid fizzed out of the tank. Richard felt himself rising, getting lighter. Suddenly the oxygen from the machine wasn't enough and he started gasping. He spilt out over the top, using the umbilicals to pull himself out. He landed on the floor in a slippery thud. The tubes slithered out of his body, spraying blood. His breathing stopped. The last ventricle of his heart stopped.

An alarm sounded--it hurt his tender, cosseted ears, as it hurtled directly through the air instead of solid and liquid. Footsteps. Voices. Other humans were near. He retracted an umbilical towards his face, and awkwardly pushed off the goggles. The light burned his eyes. Figures moved above him, blurred. Someone slipped and fell and hollered out in pain. Richard tried to speak out but could only move his upper lip. A face hovered over him.

"Don't worry, sir! We'll save you!" said the voice.

There were spots over his vision, then blackness.

Richard Smith's eyes opened.

PLEASE WAIT. A DOCTOR WILL BE WITH YOU SHORTLY TO CURE YOUR ILLNESS. IN THE MEANTIME, PLEASE ENJOY OUR COURTESY PROGRAMMING.

2 comments:

victoria pearson said...

I have a feeling that little offering will be with me for a long time. Well done :~)

KaOs said...

Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it.