A simple dental visit goes horribly wrong.
|The Dentist Chair
The view from the dentist chair is uncluttered and sterile, soulless and utilitarian. From my back, all I can see are faded ceiling tiles in a perfect grid. They mimic massive teeth with tiny pits and cavities showing their age and wear.
There’s far too much time to think, nerves on high, phone on mute, causing reality to set in. The near-term plan calls for pain and fear.
With pleasantries aside, my medical handlers get to work. I instantly tense up. Premature rigour-mortis ensues. I balance my weight between my lower neck and my heels, body hovering over the chair like a magician’s assistant.
“Relax.” says the deeply tanned outlaw in the pale blue mask. His gloves don’t fit; they’re loose and baggy around the smaller fingers. I can’t help wondering about his educational pedigree – he graduated med-school but can’t seem to find a brand of glove to fit his hands? What if he needs that pinkie finger for something important, like stemming blood flow or stopping stray gauze from sliding down my windpipe?
The deep blue eyes of his assistant peer at me over a mask adorned with cartoon characters from my youth. They bore into my pupils and frontal lobe, initially caring and maternal, then devious and seductive. I wonder if she might be a foreign spy - sent to implant electronic monitoring devices into jaws of unsuspecting capitalist-welders.
My senses are on high alert, feeling the planet slowing, then coming to a stop along with the clock on the wall, frozen in mid tick.
The needle and the drug slip into my mouth and under my gum as an involuntary tear forms in the corner of my left eye. Conscious my femme fatal is staring at me, I blink away the tear and the clock leaps ahead five minutes.
The potion works quickly. My cheek slips off the side of my skull and on to the floor near a pedal, the one which accelerates the drilling equipment. I am surprised when nobody notices.
I don’t like it here. I want to leave, run from the office, protective bib in place, cotton wads wedged around my gums. But I stay - for reasons unclear to me, I stay. Perhaps a memory flash from the past week, a split-second reminder of the pain that brought me here in the first place.
“Are you numb?” asks the man in the mask.
Do I detect a Russian accent?
His hands reach for a tray laden with silver daggers and probes, unwrapped and gleaming under the hot lights. Sterile? I can’t be sure.
I grunt, blink my surrender, then return my stare to the ceiling tiles. Escape is no longer an option unless I’m willing to waste two lives during my violent egress. I briefly consider the option, but images of my inevitable incarceration send shivers down my elevated spine. Still, I debate the possibility with my common sense; perhaps a jury consisting of twelve Brits with poor dental hygiene might see my actions as self-defence. It’s a long shot, one which instantly vanishes as Dr. Doom pulls my mouth apart with his thumb and index finger, his other hand aiming the overhead light directly in my retinas.
Countless devices invade my overstretched mouth: clamps, metal rods, massive corded drilling machines, mirrors, fingers, sprayers, and suction. To my right, sit various pieces of firefighting equipment along with - forceps, several Go-pro cameras, and what looks to be a body bag.
Volume from the unseen FM radio increases, completing the sensory bombardment - and there she is, Celine Dion. My mind implodes into an infinitely dense singularity and prepares for a Big Bang.
Metallic noises begin, softly at first, a whirl, then a buzz, then a blunt transition to a deafening grind – the violent vibrations bouncing my eyes around in their sockets. My testicles bid retreat into my thorax.
The massive drill descends further as debris and smoke fill the room. The smell of Hell’s sulphur reaches my sinuses, burning my eyes despite the protective rose-coloured goggles.
“Almost there,” says Natasha. “Let me know if you need suction,” she whispers and winks.
Suddenly, with a hideous jolt, the drill breaks through to the molar core, jamming to a stop. I flinch. My eyes, springing wide, dart back and forth at my assailants, looking for signs of normality.
I brace in anticipation of the pain, but nothing happens. The pressure I’d been feeling for days has disappeared, but deep primordial forces begin to stir in silence. Now, with mantel removed and pathway exposed, only the drilling machine stands as gatekeeper and cork.
The masked prospector and his wide-eyed assistant stand frozen in horror. The drill is stuck, but the vibrations grow in intensity, tremors building to quakes, convulsing my entire body, shaking me like a dashboard Jesus.
My head and the clock start spinning.
Black gold breaches the surface and explodes into the air, a geyser of thick crude, unstoppable and free.
Instantly, every instrument in my mouth morphs to shrapnel, tearing apart the Russians, shredding them to ribbons and launching them into the tiles above.
The entire room transforms to glossy black, consumed in violent swirling turmoil. I can’t see a damn thing in any direction, not a single point of reference. My head refuses to swivel as backpressure pins it hard to the leather.
The roar from the gusher is deafening. I strain to cover my ears with my hands and struggle to lower my head, pointing my mouth toward the door and into the hall. Horrific noises and screams fill the air; Celine's remaining the most unpleasant of all.
The tsunami of crude churns like rapids, taking a left into the waiting room and smashing through the glass doors into the street. Relentless and unstoppable, sweeping up cars like autumn leaves while swallowing pedestrians with a Vesuvius-like vengeance.
The pain in my jaw is unbearable. My mouth, impossible to close from the force of the oil, threatens to split apart. The front of my brand new LL Bean shirt is solid black, and there’s drool on the sleeve, no thanks to the useless bib.
Somehow, I clamour to my feet, slipping and sliding to the exit. I catch glimpses of floating bodies and furniture parts, bobbing and weaving ahead of me, succumbing to the turbulence and rolling under the waves, consumed like beef chunks in a stew.
Outside, I stagger to the curb and find a place to sit, head up, elbows back on the grass. Oil rises thirty feet into the air, arcing away and splashing into a massive pool forming around the gas station across the street.
By noon, the geyser has slowed to a steady trickle. Firefighters bring me buckets to hold under my chin, then remove them when they become too heavy.
A cop stands nearby, surveying the damage. He watches the orange-clad clean-up crew wade through a black swamp pierced by an unlit Shell sign. “You’re gonna have to pay for all this you know?” he says, looking down at me.
I spit a glob of black tar between my knees and probe the hollow of my tooth with my tongue. “Ya I know – I have a dental plan,” I mumble back.
Christ, I hate going to the dentist.