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Writer's Corner - April 2008


Rowan Morrison
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CAN YOU WRITE?

Well, come and sit in the corner with us and we'll see.

THERE ARE SOME RULES

1) You have to write it and post it here by the end of the month because, you know, it's the April contest and not the May one for Christ's sake.

2) You can't use more than 1,000 words unless your story doubles back on itself in the middle like some kind of crazy literary palindrome, in which case you can use 2,000 words but they'd better damn well be the first 1,000 words backwards and still make sense. This is an experimental new rule that, let's face it, won't survive to May. So make the most of it while it's here.

3) You get one vote so don't waste it, stupid. You can cast your vote any time up to midnight on the 5th of May. I don't know whether than actually means midnight on the 6th of May, e.g. any time on the 5th, or whether it all ends as soon as the 5th of May begins, making the 4th the actual deadline to all intents and purposes. This always happens when midnight gets used as a deadline. So you know what? Fuck it! I'm making another change in the rules. You have to cast your vote by 9am on the 5th of May. Much better.

4) If I might quote Frank Costanza, you be nice. Don't swear at people or call them names even if they use adverbs, because we were all young once, man. This is a happy corner and we like friendly criticism. I have prepared some examples:

HOSTILE CRITICISM:

What the fuck is up with the fifteenth paragraph? Donna would never betray Luke like that, you dibby twat! DO IT AGAIN!

FRIENDLY CRITICISM:

I liked your story so much that the only problem I had was in believing it was available for free on the internet! I LOVE YOU!

HOSTILE CRITICISM:

I could write a better fucking story with my arms up my arse.

FRIENDLY CRITICISM:

I think it would be even more perfect if it wasn't written completely in capital letters.

So hopefully you can see how that works.

LET'S WRITE!

This month's word is ZOMBIE.

ZOMBIE.

You can write a story about proper zombies or something about how you feel like a zombie because the girl you love was run over by a bus before you got a chance to tell her how you felt, or you can just write whatever the hell you want and call it 'Zombie' and nobody will say anything because we'll all assume it's some kind of clever symbolic reference that we don't get.

So you can't lose! Although you can in other, more conventional senses, lose. But even the biggest losers are all beautiful winners in Writer's Corner! As we shall now see:

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'Zombie'? It's a crowd-puller for sure but it's about the last thing in the world I'd want to write about, the very last, the very very last. I hereby commit to writing something entriely not about zombies and I intend to write not about zombies today.

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I have never in all my life seen so many people, i.e. two, complain about zombies. Look, just write what you like and call it Zombie and I'll be happy to write a post afterwards explaining why it's called Zombie and what you were trying to say with that title.

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Any rules against doing the same story twice. I've already done a Zombie(ish) story

<a href="http://www.rllmukforum.com/index.php?s=&am...t&p=4826659" target="_blank">http://www.rllmukforum.com/index.php?s=&am...t&p=4826659</a>

what about a sequel?

But the word for that month is Lift you crazy little donkey!

Edit: Oh, I see what you mean now. I guess not, but surely something new would be better for everyone.

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'Zombie'? It's a crowd-puller for sure but it's about the last thing in the world I'd want to write about, the very last, the very very last. I hereby commit to writing something entriely not about zombies and I intend to write not about zombies today.

That makes it exactly the perfect title for your story.

Nonetheless, when this all goes wrong and Rowan's entry is a curse that comes into effect when recited through the process of reading and we're all munching on the brains of our nearest and dearest I want the record to show that I made a stand against the oncoming evil.

If I fail to write anything this month then the above counts as my entry.

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I have never in all my life seen so many people, i.e. two, complain about zombies. Look, just write what you like and call it Zombie and I'll be happy to write a post afterwards explaining why it's called Zombie and what you were trying to say with that title.

Nah, I'm sure I'll think of something. Will do me some good to write outside of my usual comfort non-zombie zone.

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I thought I’d better send you the attached sooner rather than later! Hope this doesn’t drop in your spam again. Anyway, uh... it was from my uncle’s stuff, he had a journal my great-grandfather wrote during the war (WW1 that is!). Thought I’d better send it you now.. I mean what a coincidence that the weirdo you met the other day has the name Soughbliess...

It was in the year 1895 while studying medicine at Kings College that I first met Charles Soughbliess. His measurable astonishment at my pronunciation of his surname was the first thing I remember about him; I had an Uncle who travelled to the Leeward Isles regularly and had myself visited on a tour not two years previously which, if he had known, would have explained my exemplary handling of his unusual name. Only later did the significance handed to me by this chance meeting become utterly apparent but before then my mind had been distracted by the events that unfolded in a cold London street that very same year and ended in a dirty trench near twenty years later.

Charles Soghbliess was known as a walking doctor; perhaps more ironic that the man walked nowhere, rather than not actually being a practicing physician. He certainly took many a cab across the city and it was well known that he had visited the Leewards and Singapore – plus many others I am sure. And yet, for all his worldliness he had a certain decorum which betrayed a youthful scent. His chapped skin looked frayed and would have led me to favour him an older patronage than his mindful eyes betrayed.

One evening I was wandering the streets of Westminster looking for a place where a gent may sup a glass of tonic before heading to bed when I happened across another fellow that I knew to be an acquaintance of Charles. The man, Christopher Dougary, was in a flustered state and, while remaining calm in voice, I could see that there was a deeper trouble between his eyes and his flushed pinked face.

When I propositioned that the man looked ill at ease his eyes narrowed and he approached me with a callous look. Poking me firmly in the chest with an outstretched thumb he made it quite clear that he was in fact only exhausted from his long workings as assistant to Charles Soughbliess. I withdrew and apologised at which point he simmered down.

Recounting the incident to a friend it was pointed out that Charles Soghbliess had left his previous patronage after a corpse from the university’s morgue had disappeared and a second was found with eldritch symbols scrawled into its chest. And that perhaps the work of his assistant could be an investigation into darker arts than that we were taught at Kings.

It was therefore, several weeks later, that I was very reluctant to accompany Dougary when he seemed waiting for me after a long day’s study. With pallor face and wild eyes he kept repeating a muttered curse. I heard little of it except to say that is was not English; the guttural tones a loathsome sound. I was not able to stop myself being drawn by the sleeve and stepped after him as he hurried us along an open street to a smaller cobbled alley wherein he banged on a large, heavy door.

The door creaked open and beyond was Charles. He beckoned me into a dusty chamber beyond. The room was long and had a wooden surgeon’s table battened to the floor. I was worried but it seemed that the men just wanted to ask me something. They both looked unsure how to start but eventually Charles spoke, quickly and softly and explained of how I could be of use to their studies.

Later I realised that the two men were not so much mad as just not sane. Excuse my deliberate obtrusiveness but it is a fine distinction I think I should make. The mad know not what they do, while the ‘unsane’ have dredged their mind into insanity for their own sport. But for me to steal the key to the morgue? I could not do it. I refused to help them and felt a scurrilous danger at that point. I quickly took advantage of their somewhat addled wits and hurriedly removed myself from the darkened room.

The life of Charles Soughbliess had crossed mine and I now knew I needed to distance myself from him; luckily I had my own studies to help keep him away. And glad I was. The next time I heard the name Charles Soughbliess was when the local sheriff came looking for him in relation to the decapitation of one Christopher Dougary. I was shocked and mentioned the strange evening where I had refused the morgue key. Nothing more came of it. Charles Soughbliess had disappeared.

And so I come to today, the year is 1915 and as I returned from the front-line my mind reminded me of those events near twenty years past as I saw the face of Christopher Dougary, pulling the death cart with another man, through the trenches. My astonishment must have been audible as the other man, whose face had been previously hidden, stopped and looked up. That chapped skin, those cruel lips, the belittling young, hooded eyes that looked straight at me and bore me aghast; Charles Soughbliess!

His smile rose and he motioned me forward, toward Christopher. As I neared him I heard that mumbling incantation still played across his lips, yet his skin was grey and hair matted, patches of his flesh seemed to be almost falling from him. Christopher nodded to me and pulled the strange creature onward with the cart they moved together.

My mind is now scored with that image of a shambling upright corpse and its dirty hooded owner carrying their load of bodies. Perhaps I should have seen it sooner, the man’s name, and the silent b.

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I've been thinking about this, Rob, and I really don't think zombie is the very, very last word you would want to write a story around. I think you may have been indulging in a little melodrama there, and if you can write a melodramatic post then you can write a melodramatic story.

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Fucking Tom. I’ve been sat in this toilet for 6 bloody hours now. I don’t want to fucking die here. I always pictured it outside, the sky above me. I can hear them groaning outside. That stupid fucking idiot. He’s fucked me. Fuck. And he has the fucking gun.

Fuck!

I don’t know why I’m writing this. Got to try and take my mind off it I guess. My leg, that is. That’s fucked too. Everything is fucked. Is it still fucking looking at me? Fucking hell.

I should start again. I was a fairly passive person once. Looking back, most people were. They could afford to be, before all of this. But things change. Once you’ve seen your father feasting on the intestine of your mother’s desecrated corpse your character inevitably adjusts. I would have shocked myself had I even though of something like that back then, but my frankness about it now comes from a weary acceptance of the way things are. I’ve seen much worse since. That goes without saying.

I doubt anyone will read this, not that there are many people about who could. If you’re interested, Tom is my brother. Was my brother. He’s the reason I’m in this mess, and ironically, the reason why I’m able to write this now. He was an engineer. Unbelievably gifted, in the intellectual department at least. I envied him in my youth, he had all the attention from my parents, the endless prospects, the guaranteed success. Or so we all thought. After we escaped the city we moved out to the country, scavenging for anything we could use to help protect ourselves. Tom used scraps welded together from old car chassis’ to create sheet metal doors for all the rooms of the house we decided on. He insisted on putting them everywhere. I’m glad I didn’t stop him.

God, do these things never die? There’s one in here with me. “NNNNNRRRRRGGGGHHHH”. That’s the only sound it can make. It’s so fucking annoying. I managed to slam the door on it as it was crawling through and lopped off one of its legs. It made a satisfying crunch, but it was still crawling around after me despite that. I managed to impale it with a shower curtain and dismember it. God knows how, my leg is fucked. Adrenaline, eh? Tom shot me. That’s why I was so pissed off before. I had literally just sat down. I know there isn’t much dignity in writing your final thoughts on bog roll so scratchy it makes your arse bleed, but I don’t really have much choice. I’m not sure why it was the first thing I thought of either, but I really don’t know what the hell I’m doing anymore.

They got in to the house. I don’t think I’ll ever find out how. I heard a gunshot and ran out in to the corridor. I ran straight in to one, Tom shot at it and hit my leg before I knew what had happened. I managed to get up only to see his head being ripped from his spine. Then I ran. Well, limped. I have no idea how many of them are outside. It doesn’t really matter, I couldn’t outrun any of them anyway.

It’s still lying there, looking at me and gnashing it’s teeth. It only has four of them, poor bastard. Yes, that's right. Nrgh, fucking Nrgh.

I can’t get the bullet out. I’m going to die of either blood-loss or hunger. Or I could become one of them. Wait, what the fuck am I thinking?

I used to gain comfort in the fact that Tom was socially awkward, and there was always a small part of me that wanted to know what it would be like to see him fail. As you know, he never had the chance, and I’ve felt guilty about it ever since. I think that in a small way it made me feel better. I’m not sure why I’m writing so much about Tom. There isn’t much to tell about myself. I lived, I loved. Who hasn’t? I guess it’s a shame that these things are coming to an end, that these sensations will be known by fewer and fewer. Or at least it seems that way. The one thing I’ve learned in life is that things change. Everything is temporary. Maybe one day there will be a cure. Who knows?

Here I am, sat pondering the future of things, when death is literally at my door. Is it human nature that attempts to stop me from facing my own mortality, or is it fear? Or is it something else? I am frightened. Trembling, even. That might be the fact that I‘m lying in a pool of my own blood. I don’t know. I know death is near. It’s hard to think clearly. Why am I asking so many questions? Everything is fucked.

I‘m tired. Have I slept? I don’t know. I should sleep.

NNNNNNNNRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHH. Why can’t they shut-up?

It just died. It looked sad. I don’t think it had any answers.

It’s quiet now.

We shouldn’t have stopped running.

Things are slipping. My name was Sam. Is Sam. It’s not important. I take back what I first wrote. About Tom. He would have been worthy of remembering.

The sun just came out.

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Somehow, the Creative Design folder has completely passed me by until a few days ago.

Anyway, I don't write nearly as much as I want to, so I've made an effort to submit something, despite the difficult (imo) subject:

Dean slouched in a pool of his own blood, crumpled into a corner of the dingy little hovel. Though his spine and most of his ribcage was now completely shattered, and the shrapnel of his own skeleton was scattered around him, he felt no pain. He’d stopped feeling pain days ago… or feeling anything else for that matter. Well, that wasn’t entirely accurate; he did feel a pang of hunger, incessant and unrelenting.

He chuckled at the stupidity of the notion. Here he was laying in blood, shit and piss and yet his biggest desire was to chomp into a juicy burger, or a steak, or a meatball, or a brain, or whatever – it didn’t matter – the point being that it was fucking ridiculous.

What was it that prick had said? Right before unloading a fistful of lead into Dean’s carcass… “Take this, you zombie bastard!”

He chuckled again; a gargling groan that sounded idiotic, even to his own ears. The understanding had smashed into him with sudden clarity (like a shotgun blast… oh the irony!).

In retrospect, he supposed he had been completely naïve. Or maybe it had been some kind of self-preservation mechanism – denial to retain sanity. Yes. Surely the realisation would have driven him to madness - that he had been slowly slipping, sliding, receding into a… well, into frigging animated corpse!

There had been signs. Looking back, they were big, bright, neon signs really. His diet for the last two days had consisted entirely of saveloy. His scalp had peeled and curled back from his crown and that didn’t leave many options, even with the male pattern baldness in his family. He has lost about half of his motor functions and his senses of taste, smell and touch (perhaps a mercy considering his current situation), despite being spry as a monkey with ADD, under a week ago.

He realised he had been naïve. He should have known something like this would happen. Though he had only been working at the Parasol Corporation for six months, he had already had access to highly dangerous biological research materials. He should have bit the bullet and submitted to quarantine officers as soon as he had inhaled some of that pink mist.

Screw it. It didn’t matter any more. That floppy-haired arrogant all-American “hero” had busted into Dean’s office like some kind of one-man army… bloody yanks. Dean had tried to call out “Don’t shoot!” as soon as he saw the gleam of the steel, but what had spewed out of his lungs had been more along the lines of “braaaaaaaaaaaaiiin”.

Still, he considered that this was a mercy of sorts. After all, a zombie is not really a living thing. Perhaps it’s better to just be plain dead than half-way there. There was nothing left to do but wait for old Grim to come and take the rest of him…

He just hoped that zombies could bleed to death.

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This is possibly the filthiest thing I've ever written, and I feel embarassed about it for at least six reasons. Copy-pasting it has removed all the italics, which will make the whole story somewhat unreadable. Because it was totally brilliant before.

HOWEVER:

“You’re fucking not!”

“She’s beautiful, Dan.”

“She bloody well must be, given what she is. Really massive tits. Do they even have tits?”

”Yes, Dan. Well. Most of them. Jess does.”

“Most of them? You’re telling me some of them don’t have tits? The female ones? I’ll be fucked.”

“Shut up. They’re very sensitive about the not having breasts. One of Jess’ friends at the Co-op doesn’t have any, or her right leg, and she’s really fucking down about it all the time. She doesn’t think she’ll ever find a boyfriend.”

”Shouldn’t be difficult. Get a male stiff. I’ll bet lots of them don’t even have eyes.”

”Jesus, Dan! That’s not a word…that’s the kind of word you hear people who vote for the BNP using about people like Jess.”

“What, ‘stiff’?”

“Yes…that. Don’t say that.”

”What does the Politically Correct Brigade say we should call them now, then?”

“Them? There’s no term. You talk about it like they’re some sort of ethnicity. They’re just a huge different group of people, like people in wheelchairs or who have cancer or something.”

“Fairly advanced cancer, I’d have thought.”

“Piss off. Isn’t there someone in your work, anyway? Like Jess?”

“What, Gary?”

”Possibly. He does that thing. With the spreadsheets.”

“Gary’s the only one I can think of. Could be others. You never know, do you? I mean, someone might look normal on the job, then as soon as they get home they’re pumping themselves full of formaldehyde and taking worms out of their lungs. Geoff probably does. I bet Geoff’s a zombie.”

“Dan!”

“What, I can’t say zombie? ‘S what they are, isn’t it? I mean, if I’d said to you two years ago ‘Tim, in twenty months you’ll be shagging a girl who was dead for six months, but it’s actually completely acceptable because she came back to life in this really exciting and implausible event’, you’d say ‘What, so I’ll be doing it with a zombie’?”

“I’d have told you to fuck off.”

“You’d have told me to fuck off using the word zombie.”

“Well, that was before there was anyone around to tell us not to! Nobody was around to be offended! I mean, if I’d known Aunt Sylvia would be coming back then yes, I’d have been a little more careful with the inheritance, and if I’d known that git from school would miraculously return from the dead I’d have praised him a little less in our yearbook, but that doesn’t mean…”

“Lance? Lance isn’t a git.”

”He makes me play catch with his heart, Dan. He thinks it’s hilarious. I’ve no idea how he manages to breathe!”

“He’s cool about it, see, Lance. Not like the others. I don’t think of him as dead.”

“What, you don’t see him as green?”

“Yeah. He’s just a guy, y’know. A regular guy.”

”And Jess is just a regular girl. They’re all just people, Dan. I don’t see why you have such a problem accepting that.”

“I dunno. I always thought you stopped being a person after you died. Just became a lot of rotting stuff.”

“Mmm.”

”I mean, it’s like a movie, you know? You grow up in a world that seems to make sense and think you understand it, and then something like that happens and there’s all these people you had no idea existed and…fuck.”

“She’s lovely, though. Jess.”

”I just don’t know how to cope with it, Tim. The world’s gone fucking mad. I thought it all finally made sense and it suddenly doesn’t so I’m mad at the fucking living dead. And surely even you must realise how fucking insane that sounds.”

”But it’s not their fault. The formerly dead.”

”Piss off. I know that. Hang on.”

”Yes?”

”Jess works at the Co-op, right? Which one?”

”What? Oh, the one on Monroe Street.”

”The scaffy one or the posh one?”

”The posh one. The scaffy one sells camping tools now.”

”The posh one! Jesus! Jess…is she tall, blonde?”

”That’s her, yeah.”

”Shit. She’s never dead!”

”Well, not any more, no.”

”I’d have thought she’d have been more…”

”Decomposed? No, she was well preserved. She wrote a letter to the firm that embalmed her, actually. They’re pretty popular now. You wouldn’t know Jess was dead, had been dead. It’s like I’ve been saying. They’re people.”

”Fucking hot people, at that. How’s the sex?”

”Well, you know when everything blacks out just for a second, just before you come, and it’s like you’re on the boundary between life and death, and you think that this could last forever if you could just do something very slightly differently, but it never does?”

”I…I think so.”

“Well, it’s pretty much like that.”

“Fuck.”

“Yeah. I know.”

”Tim, you know your tolerance in the community group? With the leaflets?”

”Yeah?”

”You should just tell them about the sex. Everyone would be a fucking liberal then!”

”Well. Quite.”

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With the utter lack of inspiration that the word 'zombie' personally brought to me this month (twist, twist), I fell back onto a firm favourite subject of mine to help get me moving. And here it is.

Zombie

The patient sat bound to the chair, his bonds creaking from the constant struggling likely inspired by the wound he'd just sustained. He was a fighter, the ideal subject. His stone-blue postal uniform betrayed his profession, and enough of how he came to be in my possession, in case you need to know that kind of thing. Mail lay scattered about the room's entrance, on the mat and against the skirting. In my hand was the knife, the hilt warmed by the patient's blood. The blinds had been lowered in preparation and the door was now locked. As I stood there, head cocked in bird-like thought, I observed in him the queerest of behaviours; not once had he looked at me as he struggled to free himself – whether from the bonds or the pain - despite all real hopes of freedom lying with me. I wondered that it was perhaps his instinct tackling one thing at a time, and that he had grim plans for me. Denying the full fact of his predicament to preserve his sanity, or perhaps it was that he believed he was going to die regardless, and if that be the case he'd go out fighting. Maybe he needed something to achieve, some small gesture of defiance. For whatever reason, he struggled. I didn't need to understand.

It wasn't my intention to kill this one but I don't think he'd have been much relieved to hear it with what I had planned for him instead. I would put his mind at rest shortly, in more ways than one. Pacing toward him I dealt a deft blow to his temple with the hilt and held his head strongly by the hair and slapped his face again, again. He submitted, frozen with fear, pupils quaking within their green cages, cheeks fitting behind the gag. I pulled up his eyelids, explored around them, probing gently behind with a fingertip, him protesting to all of this as if he were sitting nowhere more concerning than the dentist's chair. He seemed to realise that whatever was to happen would involve some sinister process and I watched as the nightmares multiplied in his mind and played out into his expressions. I wanted to ungag him and ask him his fears but I didn't dare risk him shouting. His eyes began to roll more fearfully, as if attempting to writhe free from their very sockets. I'd seen it before and I wondered what he thought of me now, and wondered if it mattered. When he was here, in my control, and not out there, I knew that it didn't.

“Do you have any blood diseases?"

He froze in opportunity, childish calculations arrayed clearly on his face. He nodded, rigourously, pleedingly.

"I don't believe you."

From the corner of the room I wheeled over the trolley I had prepared with a few items on the lower shelf. With the top surface cleared I set down the drill and a slender chisel, neatly side by side. Then I spoke, without the need for a reply, though he was predictably attentive with the tactic of appeasing me.

"Have you heard of a man called Howard Dully? No, I expect not. He's a relatively minor celebrity, I suppose - got himself onto an album cover at one time though - and he is a man who as a young boy was a constant misbehaver, as most young boys are. He lived with an evil stepmother and when he was twelve she decided she'd had enough of his troublesome nature and sent him to have a surgical procedure that promised to remove his inconvenient behaviour via grotesque mutilation; the procedure of lobotomy. (Aha! Look how it dawns upon him!) Yes. He forewent this operation without any knowledge of it, yet for many years afterward he was aware that something didn't lie quite right in his mind and he was left with lasting... scars that affected him in many ways. Throughout his life he's been institutionalised and imprisoned and has flirted with alcoholism and homelessness too. After finally gaining control in later life and gaining media attention for writing about it, he was quoted as saying that he's always felt different and had wondered throughout life if something was missing from his soul."

I set down the hammer upon the surface.

"When I first came upon his case I was struck by an immediate sense of kinship with the man, and reading further about his thoughts and feelings they seemed to put into words much of what I'd found gnawing away at myself. Although it wasn't lobotomy that killed off certain parts of me I feel we share a certain experience of mind, he and I. When I was younger I too was sent to be 'fixed' by some body, some 'professional'. Psychiatrist. Her conclusion was that I was not ill; I had a disorder. Two different things. She asked me what I thought of when I heard the word 'psychopath'. I told her chainsaws and serial killers, she told me it wasn't that at all; that it was just that I had some things missing, that it made me think and do things a little different. She asked me whether I'd ever read Pinocchio, I told her I'd watched the movie. She said I was a bit like that - that I'd forever be someone who wasn't entirely real, and that I had no Jiminy Cricket. During it all she wasn't kind, or close, or warm. She was careful but you could tell it was just her doing her job. I was written off and afterward she left the room and told my mother too. I was 15."

Passing through to the refrigerator in the kitchen I scooped up my earlier purchase of Atracurium - look it up, if you need to know that kind of thing. Provides paraylsis for just under thirty minutes. I got it off a seventeen year old boy. What a world. Truly we live in the age of convenience. I stooped to administer the drug then began to pace to let it take its effect on the patient, my patient.

“And have you heard of Jeffrey Dahmer? Yes, there's a name people know. He was a serial killer, a twisted necrophiliac who experimented in turning his victims into zombies. I sometimes think he was looking for a friend. In the skull of one victim he drilled a hole and poured acid into their brain, they lived in a zombie state for several days. The Undead. The soulless. The parasitic flesh-eaters, the devious, quick-tongued Dracula with the childmind. A common pattern is for killers to target those who remind themselves of someone who dwelt the strongest in their mind, apparently. Patterns and make believe. I guess if I were to psychoanalyse myself it'd be in there somewhere. No-one reminds me of myself, no-one I can connect to, and one needs other people to remain sane. I know the madness that drives me to this, but we're never really any more above the rule of instinct just because we understand it, are we? We recognise the thoughtlessness of sexual urges and the destruction they can lead one towards but we still act upon them through selfishness and the desire for satisfaction, with little regard for the mind...”

I realised I'd been talking more to myself and felt a sudden wave of impatience and though I had reveled in the capture of my patient it was time to accomplish what I'd intended to do. Now it came to it I was unsure of which method to use. I had prepared the drill to bore through the skull at particular points but the method of entering through the utmost of the eye socket now seemed more appealing simply for it's lack of guesswork. I examined the head before me, musing blankly on the best place to drill but no point seemed more promising than another. My reading and research had become in an instant vague and unmemorable and I cursed my lack of foresight in not having copied the many diagrams I had studied over the weeks. Frustrated now I made the decision and grasped the chisel.

“I'm not going to lie to you: this may hurt. Well no, that is a lie. It will hurt, and it will hurt a lot.”

I gave the chisel a lustful lick to make him think I was crazy and his reaction bolstered my confidence somewhat. Then I began.

“...The patient would normally be unconscious for this but we simply don't have time..."

I jerked his head back and caught a whiff of his breath as his jaw lolled open - his obedience showed the drugs had done their work. Only his eyes could protest, squirming in their sockets, which merely served to further fan the flames within me. In the absence of shame there is still little pride in saying that I fed off the fear off all my patients. But to have such utter control and inspire such strong feelings was an awesome power to possess where previously there had been none...

“I will be severing your prefrontal cortex, in a rather unromantic way, with this chisel... Here... here I shall insert it in the corner of your left eye, and having driven it in will work on destroying the part of your brain which orchestrates your emotions...”

I tapped the frayed end of the chisel tentatively. There was a surprising resistance to the tool and it pleased me that I would be able to put some force into the procedure. I hit again, harder. The patient snorted and I hit again, harder. Again, harder. His eye withdrew into the socket, mishapen against the metal as I continued to drive it in. His breathing became rough and stertorous, like the sound of deep agony far away and a small pool of blood began to well up in the corner of his eye.

The passage felt suddenly softer which told me I was through the bone. I rotated the chisel carefully which made a noise like wheezing leather as I twisted it around, deeper each time. His nose began to bleed and I didn't know if it was normal but the sight of it made me dig harder. His eyes spasmed and the eye touching the metal had rubbed itself into awful shapes and had turned grey-red, oozing some indistinguishable muck that smelt sharply of rotting vegetation. A terror buzzed quietly in his throat and it all felt lost and I hit again, and again, and again, just as hard as I'd done before, driving it further still. There was the slightest of movements from somewhere in his body and the breathing stopped abruptly.

He was dead. My ears rang and I stood there quite blankly, waiting for some feeling to come as it might have done before. But of course it never will.

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