Terminal. Short Story.

It’s almost Christmas!

My sister returned so there is now one less dog in the house. Which makes thing SO SO much easier. Particularly as our two don’t like my sisters dog. Mostly because he’s a puppy. One, (Jessie, psycho, neurotic dog) doesn’t like the puppy because puppies are unexpected. They squiggle and writhe and bound and change direction. The other, (Dougal, lazy, possibly old (he’s always looked old.), plods along and likes to sleep and maybe play for a moment and then stop) doesn’t like the puppy as the puppy is all “OMG PLAY WITH MEEEEE” while bounding around Dougal and pawing at his back, face, available areas. It’s too much for him. We expect that once the puppy is a bit older and calmer, they’ll get along better, but until then, having them all around at once can be stressful. Mostly as you have to block them from one another, we usually keep them divided by room, but it isn’t fair to leave our two alone all day so it becomes a balancing act.

In other news, I’ve made an insane amount of marshmallows the last few days, I was supposed to go to a friends house for a day of movies and such, but that fell through. So I’ve basically be passing off large amount of marshmallows to all who pass through the house. Mostly family as they visit in the lead up to Christmas.

On with the show!

____________________________________________________________

He woke slowly, drifting in and out of consciousness until finally, he decided it was time to actually get up. Groaning, he turned over and checked the time, it wasn’t too late, only eleven. He rubbed his eyes, then sat up. Ugh, he was feeling all stiff. Probably from all that work yesterday. He shook his head. The weekends were supposed to be restful and for Dennis, they were anything but. Well, he had Sunday to himself, that was something. He stood out of bed and stretched, then, he plodded towards the bathroom.

Dennis examined himself in the mirror, did he look a little pale today? Maybe. He pulled at his skin, looking at the reds of his eyes. He yawned again. He was probably just tired. He picked up his toothbrush, it felt startlingly heavy. Obviously he had worked too hard yesterday, but it had to be his done. He had spent yesterday lifting bricks, and plenty of them, his father wanted to build a path in the back garden, but as usual, that meant he wanted Dennis to do it while he watched. Dennis didn’t mind so much, he liked to help out, but sometimes his father could be difficult. Yesterday for example. He had moved all the bricks and cobbles five separate times. Then there was the digging too. Dennis was just happy they got some work done before he had to leave. He noticed a few specks of dirt on his arm, he frowned and wiped them off. Strange. He had showered when he got home. Oh well, obviously he didn’t do as good a job as he thought. He began to brush his teeth.

He sat in the kitchen, eating breakfast. He was still stiff, it seemed to be getting worse, not better. He’d have to have a long hot shower this morning. He finished eating and made a cup of tea, then Dennis went to shower.

The water was soothingly hot, and it felt like it was easing everything. He took his time showering, standing under the warm spray, letting it run down his body. He changed the shower head setting until it was a concentrated stream and carefully he aimed it at his legs and arms, hoping the power of the water would massage out the kinks. When he was done, he dried himself, doing so slowly. He felt stiffer again since the shower, his arms weren’t responding as fast as they should and the ache had become deep, almost radiating from his bones.

Dennis dressed slowly ,moving carefully so as not to cause too much pain. He started to button up his shirt, then stopped. His arms weren’t responding. He frowned, that was strange. Maybe the muscles had locked? He took a breath, then tried to relax his arms. Nothing. He flexed his fingers, they were still moving, even if it was slowly. Ok. He had to move towards the phone, if he could ring someone, this could be sorted quickly. He tried to move his legs, they didn’t respond. He had to stay calm. He couldn’t panic, panic would make his do something stupid. Ok. Think. What should he do? He could try call for help, the walls were thin, his neighbours might hear, he took a breath and opened his mouth, or at least he tried to. Ok. Ok. Something was seriously wrong. His heart started to beat faster. He closed his eyes and opened them. Ok, good. That was good, he could protect his eyes still. He was paralysed. That was the only explanation. Had he done something? Eaten something that might explain this? Dennis didn’t think he had. Not anything unusual at least. He looked at his arms as best as he could. There were more flakes of dirt on them. That must be a symptom. Good, if he had visible symptoms, they’d be able to diagnose him. He just had to stay calm. They’d notice he wasn’t in work on Monday, his parents would worry when he didn’t call them after a day or two. He’d be able to survive until then.

He was surprised at how calm he was able to stay, after all, he had been stuck like this for hours. He could just barely see the clock, but he ignored it. It was easier that way. Still, his arms weren’t even hurting. His whole body had stopped aching, though that strange dirt had continued to grow and spread. It almost looked shiny. The longer he looked at it the more and more he thought of bronze, but that was just silly. He’d be found soon and doctors would figure out what was wrong with him and he’d be back to normal in no time. There might be some after effects, after all, this was something serious, but they’d figure out what he had done to himself and everything would be fine.

Five hours later he could no longer blink, his eyes were permanently open. He panicked at first, but his vision didn’t blur, nor did his eyes hurt or water. That was something. Maybe whatever it was kept his eyes lubricated. Well, he could still see, so there was no reason to panic. Not yet. He could keep himself calm as long as nothing hurt. That was a good sign, right?

It took three days for anyone to appear. It was his landlord and his parents. His parents looked worried, his land lord looked angry. Dennis felt himself relax when he saw them. They’d come into his room, see him, and call an ambulance. He could see them, just through a crack in the door. They wandered through the kitchen and living room, he could hear them mumbling and muttering to one another. His bedroom door opened, his mother stopped.

“What the hell is that thing?”

His father stepped closer, “I have no idea. It’s creepy. It’s almost identical to Dennis. Did he have it made or something?”
“Why would he though? For who?”

“For us maybe? He knew we were doing up the garden?”
“Bit of a tasteless gift. I love him, but I don’t want a statue of him staring at me creepily every day.”

His father moved into the room and looked around, “His wallet and phone are still here. I’m telling you, something must have happened to him. He wouldn’t disappear like this.”

His mother looked worried, “You’re right. We’ll call the police.”

Dennis tried to call out to them, use his eyes to attract their attention, anything, but they didn’t notice. He needed them to know it was him. What were they on about? He wasn’t a statue. Sure he looked kind of…bronzy, but it was obvious he wasn’t a statue, he was still breathing for Christ sake. He stopped. Was he? Had he been breathing? He focused on his chest, his lungs. He felt a shallow intake of air. He was breathing, Someone had to notice.

He watched as the police searched his room, as they made snide jokes about his vain, creepy statue. Eventually they moved him, he didn’t know what was happening. The movers didn’t talk about him at all, they talked about the statue sure, but that was the only reference they made to him. The rest of the time they talked about themselves, their lives. He tried to let them know he was alive, that he wasn’t just a statue, but it wasn’t working.

He stood in a dark locker. He noticed he wasn’t hungry, in fact he hadn’t been since this all happened.

Light. His eyes burned, he wanted to blink but nothing happened. People came in and started to move him. He didn’t know how long he had been standing here in the darkness. Time had become meaningless.  They moved him into a truck, it was unpleasant, his whole body vibrating. He rocked back and forth, hoping he wouldn’t fall. What would happen if he did fall? Or he was dropped? Would he shatter? Or die? Would he dent?

The truck stopped, two men strapped him to a trolley and moved him out of the truck. He was brought to the middle of a garden, and they eased the trolley from under him. Then, they left. He stood, sun glaring in his eyes. He was alone. Completely. The wind picked up, blowing against his body, but he didn’t feel if it was cold or warm. There was no heat from the sun, no cold from the rain. Nothing. He stood, watching, hoping that someone would notice him, that someone would save him.

No one did.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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