A WEIRD TALES Contest Entry
|I wasn’t in bad shape, but the hockey body with toned muscles and strength from skating and checking was a memory. The long blond hair was intact along with a full set of teeth. Only the professionals lost chicklets, because all amateurs wear full face masks. Being tall without lanky put me on defense playing with all females, but speed allowed me to play on the front line in a mixed league. That was where the fun really was… scoring goals, fighting for pucks in the corners, and screening hapless goalies. I missed it.
The sigh was loud enough that when the doctor tapped and entered he caught the last of it. I just shrugged, and he let it go. I met Doc Nox when I was twenty-eight. He was an older man with thinning white hair and a closely cropped beard, and had done orthopedic work on many athletes. The rumor was he’d played with several famous athletes, and even though he was maybe only six feet, hockey wasn’t about height. I’d heard he never discussed it, so I didn’t even try. After all, I didn’t need sports advice.
“So,” He began. “I’ve looked at your film, but let me just do a quick physical exam.”
He moved my arm around and I mumbled, “I’ve played hockey all my life.”
“Well, this probably isn’t a hockey injury,” He stuck an MRI under a fluorescent lamp.
“No, I fell over my dog. He’s sneaky and got behind me.”
“And you landed on your shoulder,” He finished. “It’s a SLAP tear.”
I gave him a puzzled look. “Basically, you partially tore the biceps tendon in the shoulder joint.”
“Will it heal?”
“Yes,” He replied. “But not without surgery.”
So two weeks later, I was prepped and ready, and they had me count backward until the anesthesia took me away. The nurses had explained how groggy I would be coming awake afterward. It was certainly the truth. Nothing seemed to focus quite right, as if I were in a dark fog, and my limbs were like unmoving wet noodles. The shoulder ached even worse than before, and my throat was dry as a dessert and also hurt, but I couldn’t muster a call for a nurse. I decided to just close my eyes and rest, but they were frozen open. It felt like time was being measured by a calendar, but finally, there was noise, and people entered my room. Blinding light hit me like a knife in the face. It was two men, and by the voice, one was my doctor.
“I need to look at leg slides first.” Nox said.
“Why?” It sounded like a younger man.
“Well, I have a professional skier who took a bad spill and tore up a knee. She wants to ski again.”
“Will she?” The younger voice asked.
“No idea, Stan. But since living tissue is so much better than the cadaver stuff, she has a chance.”
“And the rest?”
“Very healthy... kidneys, heart, almost all of it. Should sell for a mint.” They both chuckled.
“I do appreciate the wealthy people black market!” Stan exclaimed.
I couldn’t believe it, they were discussing me as if I were a vehicle to be dismantled! There was a slipping sensation and it felt like the room had chilled. My covering, probably a sheet, had been removed. Please, I willed, let them be gentlemen. Just being stark naked in front of two strangers was almost too much to bear!
“My, she has quite a body.”
“Oh, I quit looking a long time ago. I like mine moving.” Nox chided.
“I was… nevermind,” He stammered. Then continued, “I hate when they look at us.”
“The eyes are good, so I put them under irrigation.”
It was true! Every few moments I would be blinded from some liquid. There wasn’t much to see anyway. With my eyes fixed in place, the white ceiling tiles weren’t an attractive view. When they began to discuss their operation and with each word the terror inside me rose. I realized exactly what was going to happen to me.
“Think they feel anything?” Stan asked.
“So if you aren’t sure, why not administer anesthetic?
“It’s difficult enough to get that paralytic from overseas. Orders from here… no way.”
“I suppose it might raise eyebrows if we’re only supposed to have corpses.” Stan mused.
“Besides, I can’t hear them scream….”
“Damn, Nox, that’s brutal… Think she can hear you?”
“I doubt it, but just in case, “ His face suddenly came into view blocking the lights. “We’ll be as quick as possible, dear... I promise.” He winked at me.
They began to prep my leg to remove ligaments, and I wondered how I would endure the pain. Quietly, I thought to myself, quieter than any church mouse had ever been. I didn’t know if it was the fluid or tears that rivered down my face. Just when all felt lost, there was a loud pounding on metal, followed by a command to open the door. It was quiet for a moment, as a morgue should be, and all I could hear was the snake-like hiss of the ventilator. Stan, on the left, went to open the door, even as Nox yelled for him to stop. A clatter of metal like dropped silverware erupted to my right.
“Well, at least they’ll find you dead!” Nox exclaimed.
“Stop!” The voice at the door yelled. “Police!”
There was more noise to my right, and it sounded like a bar fight I’d once witnessed. It didn’t last long, and for the second time in a minute, I heard the clicking of what must have been handcuffs. I’d never heard anyone Mirandized, but I doubt I’ll ever hear sweeter words ever spoken. The heavy breathing next to me subsided, and the light was blocked again.
“Don’t worry ma’am,” A ruddy-faced man said to me. “You’re going to be just fine.”