Dr. Death

They call me Dr. Death.

I offer a service, as discreetly and humanely and as painlessly as possible, to shuffle those off this mortal coil who cannot do the shuffling on their own. Those who are broken. Those who are beaten. Those who are so tired but cannot bring themselves fall asleep.

Do no harm, the oath says; but who’s to say that if someone is suffering, really, truly suffering, that the act of putting them out of their misery is doing more harm than good? That ending a life cannot be a benevolent act? An act of healing? An act of righteousness?

I am bound to a chair. There is blood everywhere on the floor beneath me. I’d never have thought a person could bleed so much and still be alive.

“I’m not afraid to die,” I say once more to my captor. The words come out slowly and quietly, choked whispers. I’m gasping for air again and I don’t recognize my own voice. “I’ve seen hundreds of others do it. I’m not afraid…”

“You killed her!” he screams, for what seems like the thousandth time. The bloody straight razor hangs from his hand at his side. He is covered in my blood. My vision is blurring and I can’t see his face anymore. His voice sounds garbled and distorted. “You took her away from me!”

“She wanted to die…” I gasp weakly. “She asked me to do it…”

My vision is fading. This is it. I feel myself slipping away. And then, far off, a pin prick in my arm, again. He’s stabbed another needle into me and is pushing the plunger.

He draws his face close to mine and I see it clearly now. He is grinning wickedly.

“Not yet,” he says. “Not yet.”

They call me Dr. Death. What I’d give now for my own medicine.

The Artist

Great artists are never appreciated in their time.

Van Gogh was the very portrait of the troubled, starving artist. Would he ever have become famous had he not gone insane, cut off his own ear, and eventually brought about his own demise? Monet was never accepted during his life but is now the father of Impressionism. Poe was an itinerant alcoholic who died, broke and alone, in a deserted alley, never appreciated for the master he was. Kafka was a tortured soul who never succeeded as a writer, his genius only appreciated many years after his death.

Great artists are never appreciated in their time. But I am different. I will be.

The others – the hacks, the copycats, the imitators – they try. But they do not understand art. They don’t appreciate it for the ineffable thing that it is. They don’t elevate it, don’t revere it, don’t worship it with the awe I do.

It’s not about the individual pieces, but about how they come together to form the whole. It’s about balance. How all the small touches, the little flourishes and dashes of colour, come together to comprise one glorious work.

My strokes are gentle; curving, loving even. My precision, bordering on fastidiousness, unmatched. I see it all coming together beautifully. It’s at that crucial point now, that beautiful point between being a blank canvas and becoming the immortal creation of my hand: uplifted, exalted, perfect.

Just a few more days. Hours and hours of love and care and labour and my latest masterpiece will be complete. I never tire in my quest to become the greatest artist that has ever lived. I will be appreciated. Respected. Lauded with the praise I deserve.

I set down the blade for a moment to examine my work.

“Please,” she sobs, tears running down her face and mixing with the congealing blood. “Stop. Please….”

Taking It Slow

I awoke into blackness. I was blindfolded and my mouth taped shut. My legs and arms ached and felt numb they were bound and I was immobile. I tried to call out but my cries only came as muffled noise and pulled the tape against the skin of my mouth.

Then there was a burning as the tape was ripped from my mouth and the blindfold lifted. My vision returned. I was in someone’s condo, bound to a chair in the living room. The space was devoid of furniture save for a small television and VCR atop a table placed in front of me, and another table to my side, whatever was on it covered beneath the folds of a blue bedsheet.

I turned to face my captor. It was her.

“Oh my god,” I said. “You!”

“Hello Francis,” she giggled psychotically. Her curly blond locks shook. “I was wondering when you’d wake up.”

“What are you doing? What… what is this? Release me!” I cried.

“Oh Francis, silly, silly Francis,” she giggled some more. “It was just one date Frankie, but one date was enough! Did you think you’d never see me again, like all your other whores? That I wouldn’t find out about her?”

She flicked the knob on the television and the screen showed the tape running.

“Elizabeth!” I cried. She sat bound, gagged and blindfolded in a chair just like myself, and my captor entered the picture. She had a long kitchen knife and circled my fiance and then…

“Oh god!”

“Yes, I took care of her, Frankie, I took care of her good,” she said over Elizabeth’s screams coming from the TV set. “Now it’s just you and I, and we’ve got all the time in the world.” She smiled, and somehow at that moment that was more terrifying than anything.

She walked over to the table next to me and pulled the bedsheet away dramatically. Beneath it lay a fearsome array of tools and household objects: boxcutters, kitchen knives, pairs of pliers, a claw hammer, screwdrivers, a rusty old electric drill, a portable belt sander, a clothes iron, a meat cleaver, a corkscrew, a potato peeler…

She saw me look with terror at the meat cleaver.

“Oh don’t worry, baby, we’ll get there. But we still hardly know each other. And now we’ve got all the time in the world.”

She picked up one of the boxcutters. “I just wanna take things slow…”

The Invisible War

Nothing helps, and it’s only getting worse.

The dirt, the dirt and the germs, they’re everywhere. Hiding in every little nook and cranny of the house. I’ve scrubbed and I’ve mopped and vacuumed and disinfected everything but they’re just too strong. It’s an infestation. I can’t get rid of them. I can’t live in this cesspool. They have me surrounded and I can’t escape.

It’s only gotten worse. I could feel them spreading, their microscopic forms slowly crawling toward me in my sleep. They’d been getting stronger every day, and I knew it. All my disinfectants, all my arsenal was starting to become obsolete. They were evolving and now I’m losing the arms race. Last night they broke through my final line of defense, my last antiseptic perimeter, my ring of salt around my bed to keep away the little virulent demons. They are winning this war.

I’m infected. I could feel it when I woke up this morning. And I knew I had to do something.

The hot water pours from the faucet, boiling hot, too hot too touch but I know I must. The steam rises in my face and I put my hands under the scalding stream. The pain is excruciating, like nothing I’ve ever felt. I scream in agony but smile wickedly: die you little fuckers, die. I laugh as the liquid scorches my skin. Die, die, die.

No. No, it’s not working. They’re spreading too fast. I have to do something.

I run to the bathroom and turn on the shower. Hot. No hotter. Come on, faster. Hotter. Hotter. I can feel their little microscopic forms spreading all over me, multiplying in tiny little colonies. They’re raising their armies. They’re still on the offensive.

HOTTER. HOTTER. COME YOU MOTHERFUCKING HYDRO COMPANY WHAT DO I EVEN PAY YOU FOR! FUCK, HOTTER! HOTTER!

I step into the burning water and it is glorious in its destruction. I scream over and over as it burns my skin but I know I’m going to win now – I’ve mounted the offensive. Die you little fuckers, die. You picked the wrong man to fuck with. I scream and scream and in my screams of agony I can hear myself laughing but then I’m not sure whether I’m laughing or crying. But it doesn’t matter.

It’s still not enough. No matter how hot the water it’s not enough. I am torching the theatre of war to take the enemy with me but it’s not enough. I scrub and scrub and scrub, but it’s not getting them off. They are multiplying too fast. I just want them to die. I just want to feel clean. It’s not enough. It’s not enough.

My sobbing slows. With a shaking red hand I turn the shower off. The stream of inferno recedes to a dribble, tiny drips of lava dropping to the porcelain below. I stand in the steam. My skin is on fire but I don’t care.

It’s already too late.

They’re laughing at me. I can feel them. They’ve already breached the last beachhead. They’ve broken through the castle walls and are inside the city. They’ve osmosed through my skin. They are inside me.

Naked and red, I run to the kitchen. Again I turn on the scalding stream from the faucet. I grab a glass from the cupboard and set it down on the counter. Come on, hotter, hotter. HOTTER. Daddy’s thirsty. Come on. COME ON.

No. No, that wasn’t enough, remember? Stupid. So stupid. It didn’t work before, it won’t work now.

More. More firepower. I need more firepower to win the war. Complete and utter destruction. Total annihilation of the germ race. Genocide. Nuclear holocaust. Wipe them all out: little germ soldiers; little germ civilians; little germ men, women and children and crying germ babies.

In my head I see the image of the tall white jug, and I run to the laundry room.

I Am Carnage

I am carnage.

Jenni Struthers looks up at me, her cute little face pink and cheeks soaked with hot tears. I see the fear in her eyes, and she’s begging for her life: Please, no, please God no! Stop, please stop! I’ll do anything!

No need to call me God, I chuckle, as I swing the claw hammer down toward her face. It connects with her front tooth and shatters it. She screams. Oh god, oh god, please stop! I beg you! More weeping.

I laugh and bring the hammer down again. She tries to move her head, but she can’t – I’ve strapped her down too tightly. All she can do is close her eyes as my vengeance rains down. Her other tooth shatters in an explosion of blood and enamel and she screams again, so, so loud.

I am carnage.

I grab the drill from the bench. I pull the trigger and the bit whirrs in the rotating chuck. She is begging for mercy. I push the rotating bit into her sternum. She arches her back and thrashes in pain and screams and screams and screams as the rotating metal pierces and grinds her flesh.

I feel something give and her scream is cut short. Blood spills from the corners of her mouth and she lies still against the hard metal of the table again. She chokes, and coughs blood.

I am carnage.

“Suzy,” Mrs. Jefferson says pleasantly, “Time to hand in your paper. The test is over.”

I hand her my finished algebra quiz. I stare across the room at beautiful, blond Jenni Struthers sitting at her desk.

I am carnage.

Join the Line

All was black. I could feel the cobbled stone of the square beneath my bare feet with each step, and hear the jeers and catcalls of the mob from beneath the black hood covering my head.

My captor lead me up a wooden stairwell. I heard the boards creak and felt the coarse grain of the wood on my soles. We came to a stop upon a platform.

I felt him put the key in my neck shackle turn it. The iron ring fell with a loud clank when it hit the boards beneath us. The hood was pulled roughly from my head and daylight blinded me.

Slowly the world came into focus and I saw another man, naked save for a filthy loincloth, hung upside down from a wooden frame, his legs parted in a wide V. Two cruel cords suspended him, bound tightly around his ankles, biting into the flesh and making him bleed.

“No! No!” I screamed. “Anything but The Saw!”

“Join the line and enjoy the show,” said the executioner, gesturing to the row of other prisoners behind me. “You’re fifth.”

Worse Than Death

“Please, please,” the girl wept. “Don’t do this! I don’t want to die!”

Her captor tightened the leather straps around her wrists, then laid out a plastic roll of surgical tools on the table next to the dentist’s chair.

“Then don’t worry!” he said cheerfully, picking up a scalpel. A wicked smile spread across his face. “I assure you I’m going to keep you very much alive…”

The scalpel glinted evilly in the harsh fluorescent light.