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Torso

By Jack T. Canis

 

Image by Kichigin

 

I awaken with a start. I’m sitting in a white tiled room. My back to a wall, sitting on the floor. I don’t know how I got here. I don’t know where here is. But as I start to become aware of here, I realise I also don’t know who I am.

 

The room is oddly shaped, to my left there is a long deep alcove, a rectangle cut into the room that appears to serve no purpose. The wall that bisects the room to my left stops halfway through it allowing for a deeper section of space to exist beyond, currently out of my view. When I work out how to move I will go and investigate it. Directly in front of me the opposite wall is quite distant, suggesting the hidden section of the room is spacious, unlike the peculiar rectangular alcove that progresses away from where I sit. The room is pristine in its brilliance, yet I can see no light sources. The white tiles, each one exactly the same, are small, about three inches square and mortared to the wall, the grouting between the tiles is perfect wherever I look. The brightness of the room is hurting my eyes.

 

But it is to my right and the final side of the room that is most disquietening to my soul. The length of the wall is made of metal bars, reinforced through the centre sections by a flat bar that connects the individual round bars to one another. The round bars are securely cemented into the floor and ceiling. There appears to be no gateway in this matrix, just the spaces between the bars to let whatever can escape, slide through to beyond and vice versa. I have no wish to explore beyond this barrier as all I can see is a tenebrous void. Just gazing into its dark depths impresses upon me a sense of hopelessness. It is immeasurable in its extent. It is heavy and oppressive upon my being and my soul. I have no wish to reach through the bars and try and touch it as fear and loathing creep into my stomach at just the thought of such an action.

 

My gaze comes full circle, back to where I sit upon the tiles. The idea that I am sitting is a misconception on my part, because I look at my body, my torso, I realise that it is impossible for me to sit, in the traditional sense of the word. The horror that fills me at what I see is muted, I half remember a time when I was on heavy doses of anti-depressants and I knew I had an emotion about something, yet could not actually feel it. It was as if I was dispossessed of emotion; as if the emotion lay on the otherside of a glass tabletop and try as I might I could not push my hand through the glass to touch the emotion. Here, now as I look at myself, I have that same sense of detachment; there is horror at what I see, but it is as if I am seeing someone else experience that feeling. So what is the horror that doesn’t quite belong to me, I hear you ask? It is this. There is me from head to waist, I am but a torso, cut off just below the hairless belly, which sags slightly from an excess of luxury. I look at the rest of my remains and discover that I only have one arm, my left arm is no more, just sinews, broken ends of blood vessels and some bone protruding from the hole where my arm used to be attached. Yet I feel no pain at its severance, I feel nothing, I am detached from both physical and emotional ill. I believe this is a good thing, for otherwise I might go mad.

 

So, my original thought of, when I work out how to move, has suddenly become a much more avid consideration. How, indeed, will I move? I am but a stump of a human, no means of perambulation possible. Something to ponder and distract myself from my condition. A practical problem in an otherwise surreal situation.

 

Movement, as it transpires can be attained in a laborious fashion. Flinging my single arm out in front of me I can just get my fingertips into the cracks between the tiles for purchase and then I can pull myself along. My severed torso appears lubricated and glancing behind me I can see a thin trail of dark, arterial fluid being left in my wake. Once more I wonder should I not panic? This can only mean that I am damaged, irreparably most likely, if blood is seeping from my torso, but yet I still live and, as honestly as I can say, I feel fine. There is no pain; there is a deepseated sense of disquiet, for I know this physical existence is not how I used to be, yet no succinct memory seems apparent to me as to how I ever once was. I pause in my slow progress across the tiles, not because I am tired or out of breath, but to take a moment to think. Think about this oddity I appear to be and to try and remember a time when I was not what I am now. In the well of my soul I know I have not always been like this, at some undefined point in my past I know I was a whole physical person, but try as I might I cannot recall how I came to be here, wherever here is, nor how I came to be half the man I know I once was.

 

It has taken me a long time to crawl, slide, whatever you wish to call my movement, from by the wall to the second gap in the room. Although as I consider that statement I know I have no way of determining time here, I see no clocks and there is no watch upon my remaining wrist. I look at my arm for a long while, but try as I might I cannot recall ever having a watch on that wrist. Logic dictates, for some reason, that if this is my dominant arm, and it certainly is now, that if I had ever worn a watch it would have been upon my other wrist. Convention, I believe, would have it no other way. Unless I was a contrary fellow, which may explain why I was where I am and in such a condition. Am I a contrary fellow? Peering more closely at my wrist I see no evidence to suggest a watch to ever having been worn there. No permanent indentations caused by having a strap too tightly pulled upon the skin. No sign of a whiter shade of skin juxtaposed with the rest of my arm. I turn from the investigation of my only wrist and look about myself in the location of the room I am now in. The dividing wall is still to my left, it stops almost central, it would seem, in the room as a whole. The odd rectangular alcove now to the left of it, still appears to serve no purpose. To the right of it I can see a processional of white tiles that lead to cubicles sealed to the end wall. On the right of the processional there are three pristinely white sinks, with mirrors above them. Not that I am able to see myself in them directly as my head only comes to the level of the basin of each sink. Before the sealed cubicles the processional turns sharply to the left and I conceive that it continues behind the end of the rectangular alcove. I pause, the thinking is to catch my breath, but I do not appear to be tired, nor in need of, catching my breath. So, as there is no need to wait I continue down passed the sinks towards the cubicles to view where the corridor goes beyond them.

 

Upon reaching the cubicles I can look round the corner to my left and see that the corridor goes into and ends with some showers. The shower heads are blisteringly silver, dazzling my eyes so that I am forced to shade them against the light’s reflection. Closer inspection of the showers, shows them to be similar to a wet room. The floor sloping imperceptibly into the centre where a small grate is set into the tiles, to allow the egress of water. Looking into the darkness of the grate, about half a foot square, I am suddenly overwhelmed by a sense of vertigo. Dizzy and faint, I fall to the floor, banging my face upon the coolness of the tiles and for a moment I feel something, a numbly sharp pain as my teeth pierce my bottom lip. It is like I would imagine biting into a pillow might feel, with a needle hidden in the final moment. There is the metallic taste of blood in my mouth. Oddly, it tastes of the colour blue. I find it both profoundly shocking and pleasing. It is my first sense of reality since I have awoken in this peculiar place.

 

With extreme effort I push myself back onto my stump, so that I may turn around and go back to the cubicles to investigate them. I wonder if there was a point to setting myself upright, perhaps it would be easier to progress just by dragging my half self across the floor, with the added benefit of not having so far to fall. But I am upright now, so continue as I have previously, slowly gliding my way to the cubicles. Like the sinks, there are three of them. I open the first door, nearest the wet room and I am not surprised when I see a toilet cemented into the floor and wall. There is water in the bowl and a silver button set into the wall to the right of the cistern. It is at this point that it occurs to me that there is no smell here. Toilets, be they clean or not, should smell. I have a fleeting indistinct memory of a powerful odour, one suitable for the location that I am in. A pungent egginess, almost sulphourous in nature, clags the back of my throat and makes me gag. I cough and spit into the bowl; a pinky discolouration to the foamy lump. There is a faint splat as my phlegm impacts and then slithers into the water, causing a tiny ripple to wash across the clear pond. Other than the sound of my torso slithering across the tiles, this is the first notable sound to pound upon my hearing. The room is utterly silent. Not even a buzz from the unseen light source. None of this, however, brings any other thoughts to mind though and then it is gone, as is any consideration for what the remembered smell might have meant. All the cubicles are empty and nothing in all my travels through this strange room has given me any clue as to where I am, why I am here, or, indeed, who the hell I am?

 

*

 

I awaken with a start. I’m sitting in a white tiled room. My back to a wall, sitting on the floor. I don’t know how I got here. I don’t know where here is. But, as I start to become aware of here, I realise I also don’t know who I am.

 

As I look about the room I am filled with a sense of disquiet, there is familiarity to it. I refrain from looking to my right as I know instinctively that whatever lies over there is not right. I take a moment to glance at myself, knowing that what I will see will shock me, and it does. Yet I have no recollection of why I should know these things. I do not know where I am and yet instinctively I know some things about this odd and peculiar room. I close my eyes, the light in this room is making them hurt, they feel dry and strained, I am getting a headache. With my eyes closed I have a sudden recollection of the sun. I miss the sun. I wish I could see it again. Just once more. I can imagine the sun, it’s yellow white brilliance dazzling me, blinding me. .It’s warmth caressing my body, washing over my skin like a lover’s delicate touch. The burn of it when exposed to it for too long, as with the rejoindered hate of that same hurt lover’s bile.

 

I awaken with a start; had I been dreaming?

 

I am not sitting in a white tiled room. My back is not to a wall. I am lying upon the floor and I was awoken by the sense of searing fire burning through and around the edges of my face. I open my eyes and I am blinded by the light that shines directly into them, but it is not the sun, which I remember I was dreaming of. Craving for. The light is blocked for a moment as a blurred square shaped dark block moves between it and my vision. I can determine nothing of the features of this block, but I do espy a glinting just below my chin, as something long and silvery comes more clearly into view. I remember little to nothing of my past and yet I know sickeningly well that this instrument is a scalpel. It descends towards my face and once more I feel the burning searing fire as it slices away, peeling my face from my skull. I try to raise my arm to protect me, to fend off my attacker, but my arm is a dead weight, immobile, unable to move. Is it restrained or am I drugged? My vision blurs once more, tears welling and pouring over the corners of my sockets, to run stingingly down across the exposed underflesh of my face. Fingers insert themselves under the flap that was once my face, gripping the membrane of skin and starts to peel, a professional steady hand ensures it doesn’t tear. There is a tug near my cheek, the skin has not been cut free properly and I feel my flesh pinnacling upwards with my skin, threatening to rip; but a deft flick with the silvery blade severs the obstruction and my blooded flesh flops back to meet the bones of my mouth. I welcome the abyss of unconsciousness.

 

I awaken with a start; had I been having a nightmare?

 

I lie here with my eyes closed, knowing the light will hurt them. Slowly I bring my right hand up to my face, fearing what its quest may find, but all it touches is stubble on my chin. I let it drop away again. It lands heavily upon the cool smooth face of the tiles upon which I lie. I have a memory, a recollection. I am in a box. There is a curtain next to me. My nasal passages are gagging under the oppressive cloying nature of the incense that burns outside. The curtain is pulled back by an unseen hand and I hear a voice. It is deep of timber and solicitous. But I cannot hear what the voice is saying. I have a discomfort below my waist and a burning sensation in my belly. Try as I might the recollection fades rapidly, it is like trying to hold onto quicksilver. The memory is gone, but the burning in my belly remains, distracting me from my efforts to remember.

 

I believe I know where I am. But it makes no sense. It is inconceivable, because this place doesn’t exist. It is a fable, a myth projected upon the faithless to control them in their masses. If it really is where I am that would mean everything I was and everything that I believed would have been a lie. It is not arrogance when I believe that I was not wrong. I believe that I was right. Then that means I am at an impass. If I am really where I believe I am and I know that this place does not exist, where can I possibly go from here? I open my eyes and turn my head. My skull grates uncomfortably against the tiles as my head moves, but the coolness of the tiles upon my cheek are welcome after the half remembered torture that my face has recently received. I look at the oppressive tenebrous void and start to wonder.

 

*

 

I awaken with a start. I’m sitting in a white tiled room. My back to a wall, sitting on the floor. I don’t know how I got here. I don’t know where here is. But, as I start to become aware of here, I realise I also don’t know who I am.

 

About the Author: My name is Jack T. Canis and I have been writing professionally for just under a year. I have been published in Blood Moon Rising, Potato Soup Journal and included in an anthology of works called ‘Through death’s door’ published by Monnath Books (UK).

Facebook page: @jacktcanis

 

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My name is Jack L. Bryson and I'm the editor of Teleport. I studied literature at University of Montana. I live in Mountain View Ca, and my email is coffeeant1@gmail.com

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