Mature | Horror/Mystery
” When Andrew Pottarus first wakes he has amnesia. Then he’s told who he is; a survivor, a father, an agent. They help him back to his feet and keep his family safe – a promise he’d be with them again. But little by little the pieces start to fall away.
Until all he can taste is blood. ”
Psychological Horror, Body Horror, Graphic to Intense Violence, Graphic Gore,
Somewhere in the room there is a distant beeping. A hand moves up over my eyes, rubbing away lingering sleep; the sun is up. Another hand pulls itself out from under the sheets and holds my head, slightly rubbing as the remaining four limbs push off the bed. A slight sting lingers around the area of my mouth, second left moves down, there is a wrap keeping it covered. Letting the hand move over the edges of the bandaging, a soft fabric, traces out the path around the bottom part of my face and the back of my head. I hope the surgery went well. An attempt at stretching the jaw out leaves pricks all around the lower part of my face, cradling it with the second left and a hiss of pain.
The room is still the same, the stack of activity stacked off on the left, the coloring pencils along with a new pack. There’s no note on the top of it.
I still hold the bottom part of my face, a little lighter than before as the stinging increases with the pressure. There’s no reason for me to just sit there in wait it out, I have plenty of limbs, but I do anyway, looking out the window to whatever catches my attention. A passing bird, the activity around the distant towers, and the clouds; they keep my attention the longest, with their shifting and fading. Just watching them, idly rubbing away the sore spiking around my jaw. Around the bottom of where I’d have a chin. Around where I guess my cheeks are. Rubbing at the pinching on the front of my neck which is uncovered. No scaring there. A slight sigh.
Top left reaches over and grabs a handful of activity books, bottom left grabs the older and newer box of colored pencils. That’s when I look down, readying myself to push back and sit against the head of the bed. There’s blood – not a lot, a few droplets – on the otherwise clean sheets. With the middle right two fingers rub against the spots. They’re old; the fabric is firm.
I shake any thoughts away, covering the speckles with an activity book with two hands crossed beneath on my lap and another set opening the two packs. Middle set holds open an activity book, flipping through half or filled pages. A few with doodles, a couple with fading tests, and already near the end of it. Then there’s the next page – one I’m sure I haven’t filled out yet.
Scrawls of black on fading blue, a bright burning of orange and red near the center partly broke up by the original design on the page. If anything it makes the baby animal look like part of it is on fire. I shrug and flip over to the next. More scrawls, over a simple farm puzzle. Eh.
The next couple pages are almost the same, scrawling of black pencil or another dark pencil. Picking through the boxes of colored pencils I find the dark colors missing. Well, then again I didn’t use them a whole lot, so Dr. Matthews might’ve just removed them? No idea; and I get to the final pages and start filling them out, using most of the older ones with some of the newer colors – some of the newer colors are a different shade for the most part. When that activity book done I move onto the next, and halfway through the second one I look up – it’s night. The clock across the bed reads 6:42, or 6:43? Too far away. I would’ve expected someone to come in by now.
Oh well, back to the activity book again I guess.
Somewhere around an hour later there is a tap at the door and the metal lock clicks.
It’s Ryan? “S-” pain somewhere on the left side of my face. I hold it with one hand. For a moment, I think I see Dr. Matthews on the other side of the door before it closes. I continue through grit teeth, through a tightness in my throat. “So it went well?” As one hand holds my face and another rubs at my throat, the other four start packing away the pencils and activity books.
“Yes, the procedure went well. However for the next few days you’ll need to refrain from talking.” If he’s smirking I’m slapping it off his face. “As you gathered”
“Yeah,” The middle set is busy stuffing the pencils away. “Where is the doc?”
“The doctor is busy with other things at this time. But he’ll come in when he has the time later this month. Summers will still be coming in throughout the week. Will you need anything?”
“Well,” bottom right pulls up the activity book covering the speckles of blood. “This, was here when I woke up.” His brows narrows before stepping forward, still keeping his distance for whatever reason.
“Ah, I wouldn’t worry about that for the moment, Andrew. Get yourself some sleep sometime soon, you still got a good amount of healing to go through.”
“Yeah,” I groan, looking to the top arms and the slightly newer skin grafts crossing from shoulder to the top of my hand. When I look back up Ryan already started leaving the room. If my guess is right then he shouldn’t be here, if he is sick. Looking to the clock, it’s almost 8. It wouldn’t really hurt to stay up a little longer, it’s not like I know if I’ve taken the sleep medication or anything. If I had I would be sleepy, right?
Probably, and I put away the activity books and pencils to replace them with the clipboard and a sheet of paper. Until it’s 8 or a little after I can just do little doodles, or write things or whichever. Making random shapes fills up the time nicely, making fades here and there. The next time I look at the clock it’s somewhere around 8:40. Still not tired. The lights go out a few seconds later, moonlight being the only light. Could probably go to bed now.
Nah. Even if there was only the light from the moon I could still see fairly well – that might be from the dots above my regular ones. Night vision is pretty sweet. Finished with one side I flip it over, letting top right do any random doodle that comes to mind. Top left lays across my stomach, middle two cross beneath the clipboard and hold it up, the bottom two keep me propped up.
At some point I fall asleep.
When I wake up there’s a pounding ache coming from the jaw area. An arm wiggles free from a tangle of limbs beneath my chest and holds the lower part of my bandaged jaw – another arm pushes me off the bed. The sunlight and the ceiling light keeps my eyes only partly open, the hand from my neck shields my eyes from the glare. Deep in my throat there’s a scratching, leading into a harsh coughing fit. There’s tearing along the inner part of my neck – inside and out, and one of the free arms presses against the bandaging. Another arm covers the bandaging over my mouth. The remaining arms – Bottom pair, Middle Left, and Top Right are still numb from being laid on, but holding me up through the shuttering and wheezes.
Middle left hand thumps against my chest; once then twice, followed by another two until the wheezes and choking coughs slow. The other three hold me through another rattle of heavy coughs, one tugging on the crumpled sheet. Eventually they stop, and the hands that were at my throat and mouth pull away stained with blood.
The bottom pair peels away the remaining sheets over my legs, the two other ones not stained with blood keep me steady as one leg lowers down to the floor. Only way to clean off the blood is to get to the bathroom, on the other end of the room. Static shoots up the first leg from the slightest pressure, retracting before I know what has happened.
A sigh. The other leg sits folded on the bed, the first dangling off the side.
With already stained hands I feel around my neck, poking around the bandaging below my chin. It’s damp in some locations with what could be a trickle leading down the front. On the bed there was no droplets of blood, so it’s not something that’s been happening while I was asleep – so caused by the coughing? I’ll probably be fine for now, I guess.
Laying back on the bed, legs dangling off the side, I look out the window; it was the same as always. Blue skies, white clouds, distant towers, a bird every so often. On that side of the bed was the clipboard, a piece of paper sticking out of the latch to one side, a crumbled paper ball, and pencil. Top left grabs the crumbled paper ball and leaves a faint smudge of blood on the tile – I can clean it up later. Top right picks up the clipboard and pencil, dropping both onto the bed as I sat back up – bottom pair pulls at the skin of my thighs. Still static. I wait a little longer, eventually unfolding the crumpled paper. Just doodles from the night before minus an edge. I crumple it back up, look to the trash can by the door, line up a shot, and throw. It lands just short of the trash. With careful steps I get myself standing, actually throw it away, and enter the bathroom – the door ajar.
“Good evening.” Bloodied hands pull away from the rushing faucet. Trent’s at the door, through the crack I see an empty hallway. The top left and middle right return to the sink. I give him a slight wave with the top right, bottom set folded at the lip of the sink. There’s a thump near the door and two hands at the sides of my face, holding my chin up and exposing my throat.
“Did anything go wrong?”
“Don’t think so,” there’s scratching in my throat. I cough. “Happened earlier. Coughing.” Suppressing another cough, there’s scratching in my throat again, a series of coughs follow.
“Shit.” Another set of hands prod around the underside and around my cheeks. “Was it just tearing? Anything feel odd?” I only manage to faintly shake my head, his grip is tight. I finish up the wash and dry them off on the hospital gown.
“Just tearing,” more itching in my throat.
Trent sighs, letting go of my face and picking his bag up. “When you’re done washing up we’ll start.” He took out his phone as he started walking away. I stay standing in the bathroom. “Hey, it’s me. There’s been an issue.” I peek out of the bathroom; his back is to me and he’s staring out the window. “Yes, with the surgery. I’m sure you know why.” Turning on the sink each hand slowly runs after it. Trent doesn’t talk quietly. “Yeah, I’ll tell the team after I’m done. Just rest up.” Nothing after that.
The rest of the session went as normally as it would’ve. Except Trent’s been … oddly fixated with the torn wound. Near the end of the session he has me wait as he gets something from another room. I’m sat on the second bed with my back to the door when he comes back with fresh bandaging, and another person. “Andrew, can you scoot back a little bit?” I do. “Thank you. Hold still for a few minutes, please?”
“Sure.” I put my hands flat in my lap. There’s two hands at my shoulders, another holds my head still as a pair of scissors sneak beneath the bandaging and snips away near the back of my head. Some other arms are carefully removing the bandaging, what I am guessing it’s Trent removing them. With the bloodied bandaging removed and set off to the side another pair of hands move along the edge of the wound. A twitch stops the hands for a moment, and guides my head up. The person leans over from the side, out of my vision, prodding at the tear. Then the hands are gone, and the person is on the other side of the door – Trent stands by the open door.
Less than a minute later the person comes back – an older doctor, a needle in one hand. Trent comes over to the front part of the bed and holds my face upwards with his top set, the rest holding my hands down. “It won’t take long, Andrew.” There’s a pinch to the underside of my jaws, to one side and then another. For a few short seconds I feel a finger tapping at the skin, eventually it dulls, and something dabs against the sides of the wound. Trent’s hands keep my head still, firmly. There’s more pinching below my chin, somehow I haven’t coughed yet. Out of the corner of my eye I see a head of hair and that’s it. More pinching below my line of sight, I struggle. “Ssh, you’re okay Andrew. Just hold still for a little while longer.” It’s Trent. What follows is a series of pinching and tugs, from near the bottom of my neck to chin. It gets harder to hold still.
Thankfully the other person finishes up what they were doing. “Is it done?” Trent asks; I don’t see the answer. “Okay,” he turns back to me, “we’re going to put on a fresh wrap. Please try to refrain from talking, Andrew.” He and the other person pull a wrap around my face, tightly binding my jaw in position and around my neck.
“Thanks for the assistance.”
“It wasn’t a problem. Can you handle it from here?” Haven’t I heard that voice before?
“Yes, I can. Thanks again.” The heavy door closes and Trent lets go of my face and hands. “Sorry about that. We can’t risk an infection at this time.”
The best I can manage is a ‘hm?’
“You heard that Dr. Matthews is out, right?” I nod.
“Well… hold on.” Trent pulls out his phone and taps at it for a second. There’s a chime and he stuffs it back into his pocket. “Okay, listen. The doctor is currently out for now, not because he just got busy – that would be lying. He was … in an accident.” A part of his face twitches. “He’ll be out for a couple weeks at most, but he may come in sooner than that. It wasn’t a severe one. He’s fine for now.”
I just nod, brows crossed.
“Until then, either I or Ryan will keep checking in on you. A few others might come in as well if neither of us can. We’ll need you on your best behavior; don’t ask them anything. Got it?” A slow nod. “Good,” he releases a heavy sigh. “Dr. Matthews didn’t tell you any of the details of the surgery, correct?” Another nod. He gets up and walks to his bag, cleaning up. “What the surgical team did was reconstruct more of your lower jaw – as you know it was heavily damaged during the incident. The primary mend is the underside of your lower jaw – that’s what me and the other person stitched up.” He finds the clipboard and pulls off the piece of paper. “Did you do this?” He only flashes the piece of paper for a moment.
I only manage a muffled ‘mhm’. He tucks the piece of paper in his pocket. “Where’s the rest of it?” Middle left points at the trash can; he crosses over to it and pulls out the crumpled ball. Must’ve been the only thing in there. With his back to me he unfolds it, stands quiet, then folds and stuffs it in his pocket. Then he’s back to putting the last things away. “Can I put these somewhere else?” He’s motioning to the stack of activity books. I nod. Carefully he stacks them on the desk opposite of the bed.
Standing up from the bed I pick up a piece of paper and a pencil. I write on it, ‘is there anything wrong?’ and hold it up to Trent. He looks at it for a moment and shakes his head.
“Are these the ones you’re finished with?” Talking about the stacks he moved. I write ‘yes’ on the piece of paper. He keeps stacking them on the desk. “Someone will come in later to pick them up. If someone comes in and says nothing, they’re here to pick them up.” I just nod, sitting myself back onto the main bed. Trent leaves. I pick up one of the newer activity books and lean back on the bed. Bottom set crossed over lap, middles holding it flush against the clipboard, top right scribbles along the back of the first page, and top left runs across the bandaging covering the underside of my chin.
An hour or so later someone does come in, a woman dressed in plain clothing. She says nothing and packs the activity books into a rolling luggage bag. I try to wave at her with middle right – she doesn’t respond, but looks at me for a moment before getting back to what she was doing. Then she’s gone. The sun has yet to set, and there’s no change in the weather outside.
What the hell is going on?
Ryan comes in the next day for a minute, dropping a pair of new activity books on the small stack by the bed and leaves. No one comes in the next day. Ryan comes in the day after that to tell me Trent will be with me shortly. And he’s gone again. Anytime after that when Trent comes in he’s more or less the same, more or less happy with my progression. He says something about the apartment being ready after my next checkup with Dr. Matthews. The doctor doesn’t come in for another week.
The day is May 27th. It takes me a moment to recognize him.
There is a massive cut across the left side of his face. From his ear to his chin. It was still a bit bloody, staples running it’s whole length. “Good evening, Andrew.” He pulls the chair up to the bed; I put down the pencil and book I was working on. “Trent told me that there was an issue with your incision.” I nod. “May I see it?” I nod again, it looks painful but it’s like it’s not there. He unwraps the bandaging from a couple days ago. I stretch my jaw when he goes to throw them into the bin.
“How does it look?” My voice is hoarse.
He holds up my chin, a finger running along the length of the stitches. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it’s just a minor annoyance. “It’s looking good. Can you open your mouth?”
“Why?” A coil wraps around my guts.
“I need to make sure the inner incision is healing well.” He pulls out something from his coat pocket, a small flashlight. I open my mouth, reluctantly. He holds down what I am guessing is my lower lip with his thumb; pressure applied somewhere. “A little wider?” I do. “Hold up your tongue.” I do. “Thank you.” A few seconds pass before he lets go of my mouth. “Looks like it’s healing perfectly. When you go back to eating food you’ll need to be careful for a few weeks.” He puts the light away. “As for the external one, it looks like it’s healing nicely as well. Keep talking to a minimum for now.”
I nod. “Are you alright?” I don’t motion to the long cut.
“Mh?” It takes a few seconds, his hand touches the stitches and cut. “Oh, this. It’s nothing serious. There was an incident and it’s been taken care of. I’ll see you tomorrow, Andrew.”
And he’s gone.
I don’t do anything for a little while. Staring at the opposite wall or out the window.
A hand crawls up the side of my face, followed by another. There is scaring across my cheeks, on both sides. The wound that starts at the base of my neck ends just below dry lips. I put away the book and pencils, again, slowly.
What does it look like?
His heart thumps in his chest; he can barely get on his feet.
Each step he takes is small, heavy. A hand covers his mouth – breathing too fast – nauseous.
It takes forever to get to the bathroom.
He sits on the toilet, his top hands holding his head; middles and bottoms at his stomach.
Still breathing too fast.
Focus on the tiles – blue and white. Slowing down.
Eventually, everything feels normal again.
I stand up in front of the sink, in front of the mirror.
In shadows I can barely see anything, turning on the light helps.
Since the last time I looked I grew hair. Short and brown – middle left runs across it. Bottom set leans on the sink, top pair holds against the wall. There is still the band of white that runs from the side of my nose and vanishes in my hair. My eyes – and the two dots on the side of each of them – are a deep blue, the whites are barely visible straight on. Turned to the side I see the edge of the blue – seen through the small ‘eyes’ on the right side. As I felt there was scars on my cheeks, Z-shaped and going from ear to mouth. The skin around my chin – and around the scars and on the lower lip – are darker than my base skin tone.
The wound on my neck looks better than it feels. The darker tone around my chin extends down to it, coming to an end on my chest. Turning to the side there is a stripe of white that trails off from the side of the darkened area and leads to my back. The white loops into a U shape across the top of my back.
I don’t look that bad.