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Terminal Chapter 4

Chapter 4 of my transgressive novel soon to be submitted to big 5 publishers. Check earlier posts for previous chapters. Strong graphic content and language throughout.

                                                                                         4

I don’t just kill random patients.

I thought we should get this out of the way.

It’s not like I’m some homicidal maniac patrolling the floor, looking for the next opportunity to strike. I only kill patients that are knocking on death’s door. Those who have lost a reverence for life, any semblance of appreciation and respect for it. I wake them up to the cold, cruel nature of existence, where everything can be taken from them in less than a moment, and for no real reason at all.

The answer to the first riddle is death.

If you need to flip back to earlier in the novel, I understand.

I cannot kill patients during the day shift; there is too much going on and too high a likelihood of being noticed. I must pick my moments wisely and operate under the cover of night, when very little is happening on the floor. I have to be very specific with who I kill as well, since the death of a relatively healthy patient would warrant an investigation.

It’s been three days since I took care of 406, though keeping track of time and what is real has been proving difficult. There’s a new 406, shipped in and dropped off like a package from FedEx. She’s a middle aged woman with liver trouble. Her health and amiable mood mean she’s not a candidate for enlightenment and thus will dodge the proverbial bullet.

Or pillow, I should say.

During the day shift, my day progresses in rounds. We start by feeding the patients. Food service delivers the food based upon dietary needs and general preferences. Some patients have the wherewithal and physical capabilities to feed themselves, however, many do not, and this is where I come in.

408 leans forward, trying to catch the latest spoonful in her mouth. Just as I complete the meal, 408, one of the patients who seems to like attention, let’s out a tremendous belch. This is followed by her pitching forward and vomiting, the chunks of sausage and egg I fed her still largely intact amongst the muck.

Now I have to change and bathe her.

408 is an elderly woman. I carefully remove her clothes (like her prom suitor seven decades earlier) and begin scrubbing with a soapy hand towel. I use a water basin to wet and rinse the cloth. 408’s breasts are narrow, like a pair of isosceles triangles, nipples pointing down as the tips. Varicose veins run down the sides, bright blue and standing out staunchly from behind her wrinkled, ghostly white skin. Everything on her is saggy and loose despite how skinny she is, and each bit of skin I scrub moves with my motion, clinging to the towel like drying silly-putty.

Life’s filled with unnecessary details.

You may want to skip the next paragraph.

The worst part of all is her vagina, which is literally falling out of itself, unwinding with flaps and folds spilling out of her entrance. There’s still hair abound, something we don’t like to think about when picturing the elderly. I ask her if she’s able to clean that region herself, as is protocol, and of course she responds that she is too weak. I dip the towel in the water and get the work, lightly dabbing and swabbing, practically giving this old bird a hand job.

On one occasion, a perfectly able woman requested I wash her, and asked that I spend a longer time on her genital region. To my surprise, she grinded up against my hand, let out a few moans, and proceeded to orgasm.

I didn’t know whether to be flattered or mortified.

I later learned that she was a nymphomaniac and had pulled the same stunt with other aides, including the females. I’ve also dealt with multiple men getting erections, much to their shame, as they claimed to be heterosexual. They couldn’t look at me for the rest of the duration of their stay.

We all have something we’re hiding from the world.

I move on from 408 and return to my rounds.

After feeding comes bathing. Most patients simply need help to the showers. For those who cannot walk, as aforementioned, they are bathed. The worst of these are the obese patients, whose flaps and folds must be lifted and scrubbed, with disastrous surprises lurking around every curve. Pens, change, and molding food are just some of the items I’d discovered while adventuring.

After this, the rounds consists of checking in on patients, asking if they need anything (which they always do) and responding to the pings of the call bell. I act as a personal attendant until lunch, when the feeding process repeats itself.  

Tick.

Tick.

It’s the only thing I really hear as I work. Everything else blends together, like static or background noise. I’m speaking, I’m acting, but I’m not really there. My routine is so ingrained I’m more like a robot than a person.

See: productive worker.

I just finish taking the vitals on 412 an ass-disaster strikes.

No, that’s not a clinical term.

These are also known as mudslides. They are rare but memorable, with a specific set of factors required to unleash the hell.

There are four patients who are on diuretics as part of their treatment. These four patients are also four who cannot get up and use the restroom on their own. After breakfast the chaos strikes, as all four patients, as if coordinating, shit themselves in an hour’s span.

Cleaning up shit is a paramount duty of mine. In fact, I’ve probably spent months of my life rummaging through people’s assholes. I’m so “good” at wiping patients that I am the go-to guy for training new hires on the proper technique.

At least I have one work accomplishment, I suppose.

I take my wealth of knowledge to ground zero. The first patient has a puddle to go along with the mudslide. This is when an obese patient, whose fat legs mash together, has a puddle of piss festering in their thighs like a small lake. Joey Dryden, the other aide on this floor, sometimes tries to amuse himself by sailing tiny paper boats in them.

We all have our hobbies.

I clean up the piss. The next part is the most challenging. The obese get so fat that their asshole is almost lost, squashed and hidden behind nearly immovable ass cheeks. I go searching and am “lucky” to find the brown geyser after pushing aside a few flaps of skin. I begin wiping up the thick sludge. The patient yawns, appearing bored, wanting me to hurry up and finish so she can get back to watching her Price is Right reruns. As I’m finishing up, she farts, a spray of crusty shit-chunks blasting out onto the blanket.

“Oof, that was a good one,” she says, distracted, before shouting out “eight hundred and fifty dollars!” as the price of the next item.

I give her the powder treatment and get onto the next room.

I spend most of the next hour wrist deep in shit.

We all gripe about our jobs, sure, but when you have to clean the rancid shit of the dying off your arms (and on unfortunate occasions, your face) becomes common routine, you have to look in the mirror and reconsider your life.

At least what’s left of it.

After the ass-disaster, the day progresses as usual. I walk by Joey and the other aide on duty, Cullen, who are puzzling over a piece of paper Joey found in the break room refrigerator. Joey reads the paper aloud:

“What am I, what am I?

I exist only in the past

Am made in the present

And am needed for the future

What am I, what am I?”

Joey says the riddle is “fucking stupid” before they go back to chattering about their favorite reality television show. Joey crumbles up the paper and tosses it to the floor.

There goes my legacy.

Lunch offers no challenges besides 403, a cantankerous middle aged man who insults me and the hospital every chance he gets.

“The food sucks, the care sucks, and you suck,” he says.

The guy is on point, but I’m in no mood to admit it.

“I am sorry the accommodations are not up to your standards, sir. Is there any way I can make things more comfortable for you?”

“Don’t mouth off with me,” he wheezes. The man is often in and out of consciousness. Lung cancer threatens to have him transferred to the ICU (that’s intensive care unit, we’ve yet to cover that one.) “Kid, you don’t know the life I’ve lived. Bitch of an ex-wife, bitch of a daughter, and now I gotta deal with you. Life sucks.”

“Then you die.”

“Oh hardy, har,” he spits. “Do your fucking job, get me a magazine to read or something. Can’t you see I’m in pain, shit-for-brains?” He coughs at the end of his question.

“Did you smoke?” I ask.

“Get my fucking magazine,” he barks. “Or I’ll make your life a living hell.”

I get him a stack of magazines. Most of them are Teen Vogue, and for whatever reason, they don’t suit his fancy. He tosses one back into my face.

“At least I make your day exciting, huh?” he says.

I think about how I can make his day exciting. How I can boost him in front of 402 as the next person to kill. The poor guy doesn’t realize that his temperament only exacerbates his suffering.

He needs a release.

To be free of the prison of himself.

I can provide it for him.

I put him on the mental list and leave him to respond to a call from room 401, a tall, thin woman recovering from surgery. I hadn’t shared many words with her, and she had been one of the rare patients not to abuse the call button privilege.

“I’m sorry for bothering you,” she says in a soft, grandmotherly sort of way as I enter.

“It’s no bother, it’s my job,” I respond.

Her face is narrow, her eyes light green, soft, and caring. A natural sort of empathy exudes itself from her, and I’m hit with a sense of deja vu, as if I’ve been here or known her before.

“But you look so bothered, so stressed,” she notes. “A walking epitome of doom and gloom, if you don’t mind me saying.”

I look to her, showing more emotion than I intend. “Just…a rough day is all,” I say slowly.  

The empathy in her eyes appears legitimate. Most patients at the hospital looked to me as a means to an end. I was more of a service than a person, but this woman looked to me as if I was family.

“Rough day or rough life? You’re too young to look so glum. There’s more for you out there.”

“What do you need?” I ask.

She tilts her head, looking eager to follow up but decides against it. “It’s my telephone,” she says, motioning to it. “I don’t believe it is working. Could you get a technician to look into it?”

I walk over to the side table. I pick up the phone place it to my ear.

Nothing.

I tap a few numbers; the results are the same.

“I’ll have someone come up and look at it,” I say, setting it down. “In the meantime, if any calls come to the desk for you I’ll be sure to inform you.”

Her face lights up. “Thank you so much. My granddaughter is away in college and is so worried about me. I want to ease her concerns.”

“That’s very considerate of you.”
“Thank you,” she says. “You’re so kind for helping me.”

I shake my head. “It’s just my job.”

She shakes her head in return. “No, being a decent human being is a choice, and one you’ve decided to make. This place wears on you, all the death and ungrateful patients I’m sure. Don’t let it. You’re making a difference in others’ lives every day, even if no one will acknowledge it.”

Normally my interactions with patients are framed around responding to their wants and needs. This woman is throwing me for a loop and I can’t help but stare. I’m curious about her in a way I hadn’t been over patients for years so I decide to ask her the question I hadn’t bothered asking a single patient during my time employed at Rosedale Memorial.

“My name is Trevor, I’m going to be your aide while you’re here. What’s your name, miss?”

Her smile is bright. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Trevor. My name is Molly.”

And so, for the first time, a patient has a name.

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Murderers Anonymous Chapter 3

Chapter 3 of a novel that made the rounds with and was turned down by Big 5 publishers. Refer to previous posts for earlier chapters. Let me know what you think! Warning: intense graphic scenes throughout the novel. Intense violence in this particular chapter. For fans of dark fiction only.

                                                                             3

There’s a reason there are minimum charges on credit card transactions.

You see, there’s a fee for processing credit card transactions, typically ranging anywhere from 1.8% all the way up to 3%, with various caveats including additional charges, and technical jargon that usually ends up screwing business owners out of profits.

This is no concern for corporate chains. They can afford to eat the loss on each purchase that is paid for with a credit card. The small businesses, however, are put in an awkward position.

Accepting credit cards as payment is convenient for customers, thus attracting a great amount and assuring they will come back. On the other hand, the more customers that decide to pay with these cards the more profits the business owner loses. Small businesses are already juggling with the keeping prices competitive while adjusting for overhead – throw transaction fees on top of this and making a profit becomes difficult.

Thus, many establishments prefer that if a customer is to pay with a credit card, the customer spends at least a certain amount to offset the inevitable loss of money to come.

Now, at least you’ll come away from this book having learned something.

You seriously should have stopped reading in chapter one.

I know the basic details of credit card processing because this is my life. Or should I say my job.

Is there a difference?

Royal Payments is a credit card processing company. It is an affordable alternative to business owner’s banks or current service providers. The combination of the industry’s lowest rates paired with the highest quality of service makes Royal Payments the go to company for any business’s processing needs.

Bullshit, Noun

 

  • Nonsense, lies, or exaggeration

 

Synonyms: Falsehood, Hogwash, Malarkey

 

I sit next to a homeless man on the bus. He reeks of piss and booze, and his straggly salt and pepper colored beard is mired with encrusted chunks of vomit. He’s asleep in the window seat, and as the bus lulls around a turn his head rolls around and lands on my shoulder. He remains sleeping, and I get a waft of the indescribable pungent odor emanating from his unwashed, lice-ridden hair.

I look to him with mild curiosity. There’s a small stream of drool oozing from his cracked lips and seeping into my dress shirt. A few flakes of skin join the spit, standing out staunchly against the black backdrop of my shirt.

Public transportation forces doctors, lawyers, and executives to interact with the unwashed masses, smelling their smells, observing their appearances, and overhearing their conversations. Egomaniacs, sadists, masochists, alcoholics, adulterers, addicts, convicts, serial killers, and many more come together for a unique shared experience.

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses teeming to be free.

I rise at my stop, letting the homeless man fall to his side. He gasps, sputtering incoherently before giving into his lingering drunkenness and falling back asleep.

I pass the woman who spent the duration of my twenty minute ride berating her child, barking at him in a guttural tone, reminding him of how he was a disappointment.

I knew a boy once who was reminded how much of an inconvenience he was when he pissed the bed. His mother put her hand around his throat, and that hand, which was usually so frail and boney, would become strong and empowered as it squeezed, fingernails digging into the boy’s flesh as his breath was taken away.

“Your penis has to pay for this,” she’d whisper into the child’s ear. Her other hand (always the left) reached into his batman pajama bottoms and grab his penis, jerking and twisting it, not stopping until he nearly passed out from the choking.

Despite this treatment, the boy couldn’t stop pissing the bed. He did it at least once a week. He was a bad boy. Part of him believed he deserved the treatment.

Part of him believed he wanted it.

I exit the bus and face the uninspiring office building before me. It’s squat, dwarfed by the surrounding buildings, an utterly forgettable blot amongst the cityscape.

There are four separate office complexes housed at 421 Bay Street. The second suite on the second floor houses one of Royal Payments’ three telemarketing call centers. The staircase that leads to the door smells of tobacco and disappointment, and the discarded corpses of cigarettes smoked long ago crunch beneath my feet as I ascend to hell.

I open the door and hear the buzz of idle conversation, drifting through the air like the constant hum of some type of electrical equipment. It is disinterested – merely a daily formality.

As I walk in I’m greeted by Dave.

Douchebag, Noun (Informal)

 

  • A small syringe for douching the vagina, especially as a contraceptive measure.
  • An obnoxious or contemptible person, typically a man.

 

Synonyms: Jerk, Asshole, Fuckface

 

His spray tan is a darker shade of orange than usual. This is highlighted and juxtaposed by the brightest of his bleached white teeth, which spring forth in a rehearsed smile.

“How ya doin’ today man? Eager to set some appointments? You have some catching up to do if you want to keep pace with The Davester.” He points both thumbs toward his body as he refers to himself by the title.

I stare ahead past him, losing myself in my thoughts. He notices this and continues babbling at me.

“You there, bro? You look like you’re somewhere else right now.”

I sigh and reach my hands around to my back pocket. I pull the Beretta M9 out from it and place it against his forehead. His eyes cross as he looks up at the weapon, and he lets loose a pathetic squeal just before I pull the trigger.

Due to the miracles performed by modern medicine, a person’s chances of surviving a gunshot wound have increased significantly. Recent studies show that wounds suffered by handguns have an 80-85% survival rate if proper medical attention is sought immediately. Gunshot wounds to the head are much more devastating, however, with survival rates usually hovering between 5 and 9%.

See, you learned something else.

Chunks of Dave’s brain and fragments of his skull spray backwards, coating the wall of the nearest cubicle. The “Hang in There Kitty” poster takes on a new look as Dave’s head-meat slathers it, slowly dripping down the face of the poster and running its colors.

His body collapses in a heap, blood gushing from out of his head-crater onto the freshly vacuumed carpet below.

There are a multitude of factors to consider when assessing whether a gunshot to the head will be fatal. One factor to consider is if the bullet caused damage to the carotid artery. An average male has about six liters of blood and his internal carotid artery clears about a quarter of a liter per minute to supply the brain. If blood loss is no concern, one must examine whether the wound sustained was limited to one hemisphere of the brain, significantly upping the chance of survival, or both hemispheres, a bleak and dire situation.

Dave’s eyes remain rolled up in the back of his head. He has bitten his tongue off and it lies by his cheek. I try to assess whether he’ll survive the wound.

I don’t fucking know; I’m not a doctor.

I put two more in his chest before moving on to the next victims. My original shot caught the attention of the few workers meandering around the office, but like deer caught in the sight of headlights they are paralyzed.

Cathy is staring at me with the erratic, wide eyes of an owl. She can’t believe this is happening. To her this is a dream.

I make it a reality as I put one through her heart and another through her throat. She lets out a gurgle before collapsing to the floor, dead.

The Beretta M9 is a short recoil, semi-automatic, double-action pistol which uses a fifteen round staggered box magazine with a reversible magazine release button that can be positioned for either right or left-handed shooters. It has been used extensively in the United States military since 1985. Due to its lightweight, general maneuverability, and killing potential, it is a lethal weapon that should be kept far away from the prying hands of criminals, psychopaths, and serial killers.

Irony, Noun

  1. The expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.

Synonyms: Sarcasm, Cynicism, Mockery, Satire, Sardonicism

 

Ramon is sitting at his station, headphones on still listening to his music, his rotund body bouncing left and right as he continues digging the beat. I unload four into his back, enough to make sure the elephant is put down, and he slumps forward without a sound, face buried in his keyboard.

John goes next, his coffee launching up and scalding his face as two rounds slam into his gut. He lets out a mortified scream as the hot liquid melts his flesh and a pitiful whimper as he slides down the wall behind him.

I walk into the break room and see Christa hunkering down beneath the coffee table, as if it was adequate enough to conceal her girth. “No! Please, you don’t have to!” she wails.

I dispatch of her with a shot to the temple, her body crumpling into a heap, a steady stream of blood pooling around her head.  

Charlene is sniveling in the corner and I fire a shot her way, the bullet striking her forearm. She spits profanities at me and grabs a ladle from the sink, preparing to fight me off. I then hear the sound of approaching police sirens, signifying the end to my rampage. I sigh, give Charlene a wave, and return to the main room.

I walk over to my work station and stand on my chair, surveying the beautiful scene around me. Never again would I be constrained by the petty rules and protocols of such a backwards, fucked up establishment. Never again would I have to answer to this place to earn a meager living, and never again would I have to put up with Dave and his insufferable self-gratification.

Freedom, Noun

 

  • The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

 

Synonyms: Liberation, Release, Deliverance, Discharge

 

Are you sick of these definitions yet?

I hear the lawmen storming the building, charging up the stairs to apprehend me. I put the gun in my mouth, somehow enjoying the strange metallic taste of the barrel.

They open the door.

“Freeze!”

I pull the trigger.

I am no more.

 

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Terminal Prologue

Sample of a work in progress. Will be posting updates to this and other works shortly. Hope you enjoy.

Prologue

There’s something about holding a gun to your head that puts life into perspective. Call it a moment of clarity. You don’t hear all the noise when there’s only immediacy. There’s a weird zen type of calmness that comes with a binary situation.

Two options, nothing else.

Live or die.

I know, it’s supposed to terrify me, but it has the opposite effect. I feel relaxed.

I feel in control.

I’ve hedged my bet. I suppose that makes this slightly inauthentic. I’m going to pull the trigger, make no mistake, and if the .357 magnum fires the stain left on the wall will put even Pollock’s most frenzied works to shame. Despite this, the odds of me dying are fairly low.

16.6% to be exact.

Well not exact, the 6 repeats, but you get the idea.

I’d put one bullet in the six shooter’s chamber, spun it, clicked it into place, and pressed the cool barrel of the gun against the side of my temple.

Like I said, it’s calming.

The reassuring touch of a dear friend.

Supportive. Caring. Nonjudgemental.

And what’s there to fear, really? If the gun goes off and I’m erased, it’s just a proactive measure, isn’t it?

An expedited process.

Express shipping at no extra cost.

I’m at a crossroads. If I live through this there is something more. Something that will make my life meaningful. It’s the grand plan I dedicated myself to. It’s my only chance, really. The only way to make my life into something more than the wasted twenty four years it’s been.

If your life was a book, would anyone read it?

I find myself asking this often.

Okay, that’s enough stalling. You know, the type of self-distracting talk you do in order to avoid going through with something you know you have to? I’m wasting the precious little time I might have.

Spoiler Alert: I’m going to die.

More specifically, I’m going to be dead by the end of this book. So if you’re not into that sort of thing, the whole “brooding anti-hero with an assortment of complexes bringing on his own demise,” you should probably pick up something else. Something more worthwhile or uplifting, you know? One of those harrowing tales where the main character overcomes adversity, meets his potential, and ends up with the love of his life. These type of books give you the payoff you’ve been waiting for all along.

Spoiler Alert: This isn’t one of those.

Oh shit, I’m stalling again.

I sigh, pulling myself from my thoughts, and look out my bedroom window. It’s cold outside. Not the bone chilling type of cold, but the soothing type that makes your skin tingle and reminds you that you’re alive. The slight gust of wind through my window is almost what does it. Not the memories of family or friends, no, a random breeze is what almost halts my finger from doing what it knows it must.

What does that say about me?

I stare at the moon, looking back with an apathetic glow, and I wonder if there’s more.

I pull the trigger.

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