A Tale of Body Horror
It felt like a scab, but it wasn’t. His fingernails caught it by accident that morning, when his scalp itched, turning an ordinary head scratching into a blind self-inspection with nail and finger. The patch of crusty skin was about the size of a dime, just beyond the start of his hairline, above his widow’s peak. It felt like dried blood, but when his nail scraped into it, white flakes
drifted down into his vision like snow, and larger pieces of what appeared to be dry skin stuck in the crevice under the fingernail. The spot then became damp, as if it were bleeding, but touching his finger to it only revealed a clear liquid, like tears or pus.
“What the hell is this, dandruff?”
Robert Wooden had never had issues with his skin. In fact, he had never had issues at all. He proudly referred to his own immune system as the Terminator. If he felt himself starting to get ill, he would take 4,000 mg of vitamin C, every morning until the feeling subsided. He could count on one hand the number of times he had had the flu. He couldn’t get dandruff. That was something poor people got. One of the hygienic clues, amidst their foul odor, and dirty clothes, those specks of white in their hair looking suspiciously like lice eggs, that led him to avoid touching them.
He was oddly compelled to dig at the spot, pulling away the bits of dried tissue, until in its place was only a puffy soreness. There was a small gathering of flakes on his chest like tiny leaves. Brushing them away in disgust, he stood from the bed and walked to the bathroom, to look into the mirror.
He felt like a primate, probing with his clumsy fingers at the roots of his hair, pulling swatches of it apart to see the pale lines of scalp underneath. Where he had scratched, there was a slightly raised red circle. It seemed normal enough to him. Just some kind of irritation. Surely not the start of dandruff. Still, he thought it might be a good idea to look into some different
shampoos, just in case.
It was 7:30. That left him some time to jerk off before work. Rob wasn’t the type to admit he was addicted to pornography. At one point he considered it, when for a while he developed a habit of watching it on his cell phone in the men’s room at work, where the idea of getting caught and fired made his orgasms feel like they were swarms of bees swirling from his heart down
through the tip of his penis, but when nothing bad happened, he figured there were much worse addictions in the world. Methamphetamine for one. Rob strode back to his bed and pulled out the laptop, in a series of actions that almost felt like muscle memory, opening the screen panel, clicking on the web browser, and typing in his favorite website. In a matter of minutes, he found
himself watching two attractive women fellating a man who apparently had no face. He felt the images triggering the chemicals in his brain, transplanting his sense of self with a voracious lust.
His cock was hard, and his hands went to work like mouths. When he felt like he was going to climax, he rushed to the bathroom and spilled his seed into the toilet. He washed his hands and looked at himself in the mirror.
Is this life? he thought. He could see his half-flaccid penis shriveling, dripping a string of semen like drool.
Work came and went like a pimp working over a whore. He sat at his desk, checking social network sites in between auditing sheet after sheet of numerical data, that and staring at Sylvia every time she got up to run some copies. Today she was wearing a khaki colored skirt, and a red open-throated blouse that showed off her collar bones. She had her hair up in a pony
tail. He found himself wondering what kind of panties she wore. He imagined walking up behind her at the copier, and shoving her over the machine, running his hands up her legs and under her skirt, grasping the elastic hem of her underwear and jerking it down. The other members of the office would hear the commotion, and stand from their desks, but instead of being alarmed, they would be aroused, and start touching themselves as he fucked her right there in front of them. One of her heels might fly off as she climaxed amid the plastic rattling sounds of the copier banging against the drywall. Afterwards, the normal routines of the office would continue as if
nothing had happened. Sylvia would pull up her panties and straighten her skirt, a glossy look in her eyes, as Rob rebuckled his belt and zipped his fly. He would rub some stray lipstick from her cheek with his thumb and walk back to his desk, walking a bit funny. But of course, that was a silly fantasy. Rob wondered if the porn was starting to rot his brain.
Just at that moment, Cameron Fuller walked up with a fresh stack of reports, and smacked them down on the edge of the desk with a delightful thump. Rob realized he had a bit of an erection and slid his chair back under his desk nonchalantly.
“Janice needs these done by five,” Cam said. It was annoying how much he looked like Billy Baldwin. Rob had never appreciated the actor’s films, and hated Cam by default since they looked so alike.
“They’ll be finished.”
Of all the things in his life Rob imagined himself doing, being an Assistant Financial Auditor at a retail home office was not one of them. But it paid the bills. As he flipped through the first set of reports, looking for obvious mistakes, duplicate entries, or negatives where pluses should be, he found himself scratching at his scalp again.
“What’s up there? Got a little dandruff?”
Cameron had not walked away yet.
“Who? Me? No. Just a little dry skin maybe.”
Rob looked up at Cameron and tried to hide the hatred. He felt like his eyes were shooting razor blades into Cameron’s face.
“Huh, well, that’s a nice snowdrift you got there on your desk. May want to brush off your shirt too. They make shampoos for that you know. Work wonders.”
Cameron winked at him, absurdly proud of his advice, and probably happy at the embarrassment he had just caused, and then he walked away, a spring in his step. Rob imagined hitting him in the back of the head with his Swingline stapler. crunch! He looked down at his desk and was sickened. Little bits of skin were everywhere. All over his paperwork, his computer keyboard, even his pant legs. Had he been scratching that much? Had it gotten that much worse?
Hoping no one else had noticed, he quickly brushed the bits of himself off the desk, shook the papers and his keyboard, and stood up to get at his pants and shirt. He looked around uncertainly. No one was paying attention. He ran his hand through his hair and an avalanche of white dust drifted before his face.
Fuck, he thought. He headed to the restroom to have a look.
In the almost clinical sterility of the bathroom fluorescents, his skin looked bluish and pale. He leaned over the flesh-toned sink and pulled back his hair in layers. The spot had spread at an incredible pace. Or maybe it had been larger to begin with, and he simply hadn’t noticed. Either way, it was larger than he had first thought, now starting at the base of his hairline and
going all the way to the crown of his head, like some great continent on a skull-shaped globe. He could feel the rough edges of it under his fingers, the almost tree bark like texture. Where he had been scratching, his scalp was red and raw. The redness had worked its way down about a quarter of an inch onto his forehead. Rob could feel a twinge of coldness, something like fear,
crawling under his ribs and around his heart. It was like a voice on the other end of a telephone from another dimension, whispering to him that something was wrong, but not telling him what.
Abruptly, someone opened the door to a stall behind him, a toilet flushed and Rob nearly screamed. He backed away from the mirror and turned on the faucet, as if he was just there to wash his hands. It was Andy Gerrard, a tall, pencil-thin douche from legal department. He had a look on his face that told the story of the shit he had just taken, and the toll it had exerted on him.
He smiled like acquaintances do to break the ice of silent nothings between strangers and rinsed his hands in the sink next to Rob. Rob grinned half-heartedly, hoping that Andy would not notice the red blotch creeping around his hairline, nor the white specks clinging to sporadic strands of his hair. He didn’t seem to. He dried his hands and walked out without a word. Rob ducked down to check under the remaining stalls, seeing if anymore surprises awaited him. The bathroom was empty now, except for him. He stood and leaned back over the sink and close to the mirror, pulling at his hair with his damp fingers. This was bad. He might have to see a doctor. Rob thought of doctors as criminals. Con artists. He sighed and brushed roughly at his hair, shaking the skin caught in there free. He looked at himself in the mirror.
“There’s nothing wrong with me,” he said, straightening his shirt. But he wasn’t convinced.
On the way back through the office, he stopped at the desk of his supervisor, Janice. Janice was an older woman, but a real fox for her age, if people still referred to women as foxes. Rob did. She looked like the librarian he had always fantasized about seducing him as a teenager. Dark hair. A svelte frame. Partial to cardigans. Black framed glasses. Pouty lips. The only problem was Janice was a bitch. If she caught you staring at her breasts, she would smirk, and then tell you where her eyes were. But she always seemed to wear revealing tops. Rob had a hard time making eye contact. He always felt awkward talking to her.
“Janice,” he said, tapping lightly on the edge of the “doorframe” to her cubicle.
“Yes, what is it, Rob?”
She didn’t look up, so Rob took the time to check the supple curves of her breasts, pushed up by her bra. They were lightly tanned, smooth, perfect. He wondered how much they cost.
“I need to leave. I’ve got something I need to take care of. Personal business.”
She looked up now, frowning, her glasses slid half-way down her nose. Rob made sure to divert his eyes.
“Is everything okay?”
“Oh, yes, everything is fine. I just forgot about this appointment I have at the bank,” he lied.
“All right, well that’s fine. Just remember to make it up later this week.”
Rob’s eyes unintentionally dipped for another glance at those breasts. How he ached to touch them.
She shook her head in silent contempt, grabbing at her cardigan as she waved him away.
Instead of going to the bank, Rob stopped off at the mega-mart, and picked up a specialized shampoo, before heading back home. Its active ingredient was salicylic acid. On the bottle, it claimed to greatly reduce dandruff and flaking, which seemed to be the same thing to Rob. He didn’t care as long as it worked.
At home, he wasted no time showering, rubbing the foamy gel into his scalp forcefully. It smelled like medicine instead of the clean, flowery scents of most shampoos. He could feel it burning like alcohol in a wound on his head, which he assumed meant it was working. The hot water and steam felt good, soothing, a stress reliever. He thought of Janice’s perfect breasts, and masturbated, washing himself down the drain, shivering despite the heat. Finished with the shower, he toweled off and put on a fresh pair of
It was only 3:00, early still. He checked himself in the bedroom mirror. It was hard to tell if the irritation had gone down or not, but his scalp tingled, so he thought that was good. At any rate, he needed something to do for the rest of the night. He thought he might call Brandi up. She was always good for a fuck. Even though he knew she secretly loved him, he could never seriously be with her. She had a kid after all, and that was too much drama. When they had sex, her vagina trapped a lot of air and made loud fart noises. Plus, she couldn’t give head worth a damn. One thing about her he did like, she would let him do whatever he wanted, including anal. She wasn’t as thin or pretty as the girls he liked to imagine himself with, but every now and then, a real woman was preferred to a fantasy. He wouldn’t even need to get dressed.
He called and she came over, just as he knew she would. This time she left her kid with a friend. Sometimes she brought him over, and they let him watch cartoons while they fucked in the other room. Rob hoped he wasn’t helping turn the kid into a serial killer. He walked in on them once, and his condom had slipped off in his rush to cover himself. He had to fish it out of her with his fingers. They always had sex two or three times, and then she would leave, although he knew she wanted to stay. He never asked her to. He could never tell if she orgasmed or not. He didn’t really care. The sex was kind of boring compared to the porn he watched. It went: missionary, cowgirl, doggy. He stared at her breasts, which ended in funny peaks, not perfectly round at all. He stared at her mouth, her thin, moist lips were not pouty. Her collar bones were almost non-existent. But her pussy was a wet, warm hole, and her body was flesh, something that responded to his touch. He felt guilty for using her like he did, but she let him do it. She let him.
After Brandi was gone, Rob lay alone in his bed. His penis kind of burned in places, and he assumed it was the friction from the condoms. He scratched at it listlessly, dug into the loose skin of his scrotum as well. It was satisfying. He had drunk four glasses of bourbon that night. In no time, he dozed.
The next morning, the room still held a faint odor of sex. There was a piece of condom wrapper stuck to his left leg. He peeled it off, grunting with annoyance as he tossed it over the side of the bed. He kicked the sheets away, they were tangled about his right foot. His head was a fog. As he moved, he noticed the burning sensation around his genitals again. He sat up and
looked at his balls, peeling his penis back from them for a closer look. There was a dampness that had them sticking together like fleshy velcro. What he saw wasn’t that alarming to him, he had had jock itch before, and it seemed he might be getting it again. His testicles were inflamed, bright red. Some skin was peeled back from where he had apparently been scratching at night.
The left side of his penis had a pink blotch on it as well, about the size of a quarter, near the base.
He hoped it was just jock itch, and not some STD. He was pretty sure he still had some anti-fungal cream in the bathroom somewhere.
Jesus, I’m falling apart.
He pushed himself from the bed and stumbled to the bathroom to take a leak. After his bladder was emptied, he paused at the mirror to see what his scalp was looking like. What he saw drove an ice pick through his heart. The redness had not receded. It had spread.
“Oh, God, you’ve got to be kidding me!”
Rob could feel tears starting to burn his eyes, as he leaned in to closer inspect the deterioration of his condition. Whereas the day before, the raised patch of irritated skin remained limited to his scalp and the area near his hairline, now it was all the way down his forehead and beginning to form around his eyes. His skin was cracking and peeling like a bad sunburn would. The tops of his eyelids were already itchy. He could see skin starting to flake around the edges of his nostrils, and the tops of his ears burned bright as if in embarrassment, but the burning in his ear canals told him a different story. What had seemed like a fluke of temporary inconvenience, had turned into a full blown outbreak of some sort of rash. This was definitely going to require a
doctor. And soon. As he was fingering sections of his scalp, noticing that the continent beneath the forest of his hair had grown to cover most of his head, he also noticed blotchy archipelagos cropping up around his elbows. He could feel a growing sense of helplessness blooming in his guts, a dread like being in an airplane in downward spin, oxygen masks deployed.
Hands shaking, he rushed back into the bedroom and grabbed his cell. After a quick Google search, he called a dermatologist.
“Hello, Doctor Graham’s office.”
“Yes, I’d like to make an appointment. It’s an emergency.”
“What seems to be the issue, sir?”
“I’ve got some sort of rash. It started yesterday, and it’s spreading rapidly. It’s
“I understand, sir. Rashes are quite common, so it’s nothing to panic about. Are you a returning patient?”
“No, I’ve never had a problem before.”
“I see, well let’s get some information. Your name and date of birth?”
“Robert Wooden. March 15th, 1979.”
Rob was starting to get frustrated. He knew where this was headed. Fucking opportunists and thieves.
“All right, sir, it looks like the soonest we can get you in is next Friday, at 10:45. How does that sound?”
It was Wednesday.
“That’s like nine days out! Did you not hear me when I said this is an emergency?!”
“I’m sorry, sir, but returning patients get priority, and skin conditions are rarely emergencies. If it seriously becomes an emergency situation, we recommend you go to the ER. Other than that, use some cortisone cream to calm down the itching and redness until you can get in to see the doctor.”
“Fine, make the fucking appointment. When my skin rots off it’s on your conscience.”
“Um, okay, sir. So, that is next Fri-”
Rob hung up. He tried three other dermatologists to the same result. How could so many people have horrible skin in one city at one time? This was so embarrassing. He had no choice but to call in sick to work. No one could see him like this, under any circumstances. Especially not Sylvia. The thought made him shudder. He was revolted by his own appearance. He looked
like someone you would ignore and quickly walk away from on the sidewalk if they spoke to you. He looked like a freak. This sort of thing just didn’t happen to him. He had worked too hard, had come too far to get even a taste of the life he wanted for himself, and now he could feel it all eroding beneath him, as if he had built his life on the banks of a river, and a flash flood threatened to sweep it all away. If you didn’t have your looks and your hygiene, what else was there?
He showered and used the shampoo again, although he already knew it was worthless. There was no anti-itch cream in the apartment, so he dressed in long sleeves and a hoodie, despite the fact that it was late August and still 90 degrees outside, and he drove to the MegaMart. In the store, he could feel eyes following him everywhere he went, as if he they suspected he might pull a machine gun and shoot up the place at any minute. He made eye contact with no one. By the time he got home, he was sweating buckets. His elbows were itching like mad.
Once he was slathered nearly head to toe with the greasy white cream he had bought, which conjured insanely grotesque images in his brain, such as the one time he accidentally clicked a link to a bestiality website and watched two nuns jerk off donkeys onto a bound Mexican woman, he sat on the sofa, which he had blanketed with a towel, and felt the night crawl forward like a drunk on a sidewalk. He opened his bottle of Woodford Reserve and started
drinking. He didn’t bother with the formality of a glass. It was just four thirty. His skin was a wildfire and he was the California hills.
Researching skin conditions on the web, he found many things that looked worse than what he had, and only a few possibilities for self-diagnosis. The most plausible were seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis. There was no cure for either, once they started, a fact that was disturbing to say the least. Rob understood that the internet was a hypochondriac’s wet dream, and that self diagnosing was dangerous, but he couldn’t wait nine days to find out what was going on with him. He was astounded to learn that both skin conditions he might have were caused from an overactive immune system. So, the friend he had come to love and trust all these years, had turned his back on him, had reverted from the friendly killing machine that he loved in Terminator 2, back to the heartless assassin of the first film, hellbent on destroying humanity. He
imagined his immune system in human form, knocking on the door.
“Robert Wooden? Has your skin eaten you alive yet?”
By six o’clock, he was drunk. The internet made its usual mating call. He watched two women double-team some stranger’s erection. He understood that some men felt awkward staring at another man’s junk in a porno, but it had never bothered him. He wasn’t the slightest bit gay. It was just easy for him to imagine that was he was seeing on screen was happening to him. It was an act of mental teleportation. The endorphins and chemicals in his brain replaced his hands with the wet orifices of the sluts he wanted to fuck, replaced the stranger’s cock with his own. He was the pornography equivalent of Sam from Quantum Leap. The women were so svelte. Their hair so long. Their breasts and asses so perfectly round and smooth. The blonde had a ponytail. As he stroked himself, he noticed some areas of stinging warmth on his shaft and around his head, but he paid it no mind. The pain was another element of his pleasure. He skipped to his favorite part of the scene, one girl being done doggy as she licked the other’s clit. The ecstasy was so intense, he couldn’t last more than twenty seconds, and he ran to the toilet, barely making it before his orgasm exploded in a rush of hot liquid, emptying that well of self-hate from inside him. The world seemed to spin. Suddenly, there was more pain than he remembered. He looked down, and felt a scream wanting to work its way from his lungs, but his body was draining of energy, so it came as a groan. The first layer of skin had pulled free from his penis and peeled outward in his hand, leaving it to look raw like an uncooked sausage. Tiny beads of blood were popping up all over it like red sweat. The freed skin crumpled and fell apart in his hand as he picked at it, dropping into the toilet with his floating seed. Rob thought he might vomit, but instead the world spun faster, out of control, and into a blur of white light.
When he woke in the bathroom floor, he knew he had not dreamed it. His neck hurt and felt like a nerve was pinched from where he had been leaned against the bathtub. It was unclear how much time had passed. Rob stretched forward and felt the stinging from his ruined penis before he saw it. It looked like some kind of skinned snake, with a lion’s mane of thin skin still attached around the head and frayed out like the clothes of a ghost. Where it had bled, dark chunks of scab had formed all over it. He felt sick, disoriented, and gently poked at himself to see the extent of the damage he had done.
It was then that he noticed his hands.
A renewed sense of panic blossomed like a floor covered in gasoline met with a lit match. It flared in Rob’s stomach. His hands were now cracked, scaly things, red and inflamed, as if he had donned an invisible pair of paint thinner-lined gloves while he slept. He drew in a thin breath of disbelief as he examined them. Something was dreadfully wrong. For the first time in his life,
Rob feared that he may be dying. And at this rate, his fate seemed predetermined. He raised his arms and could see the destruction of the rash ravaging a path up his forearms, connecting to his elbows. His palms seemed fine. The same could not be said of his chest and stomach, nor his thighs and shins. Slowly, he pushed himself to his feet and stood before the mirror, the ghastly truth of his situation becoming more and more clear. Rob was becoming something less than human, a man whose very skin had turned against him. He was covered in thick, scaly ridges of white and bright pink-fringed inflammations. He looked like something out of a horror film. Something that might have survived a nuclear winter. His face looked like a Halloween mask, down to his dry, crusted and chapped lips, which were cracked and bleeding small rivulets down his pitted and faulted chin. Tears spilled from his eyes and burned his cheeks.
“Why is this happening to me?” he cried, his voice sounding foreign to his own ears, like a whimpering child’s.
Not knowing what else to do, he stumbled into his bedroom and found his cell phone. His fingers fumbled and shook, barely able to find the number he needed and dial it. When she answered, his voice nearly failed him, his throat constricting as if trying to pinch itself shut in shame.
“Hello? Rob, are you there? What the fuck?” she was getting annoyed.
“Yeah, Brandi, if you really love me, I need your help.”
“What’s wrong, babe?”
“Just come over. I need you.”
“I’ll have to bring Todd.”
“Okay, give me a few minutes.”
When he answered the door, she gasped in shock, her eyes filling with terror and a glossy instability. Her boy immediately started crying, and trying to hide behind her legs.
“Jesus, what have you got?!”
He could see the disgust in her eyes. The absolute opposite of love.
“I don’t know. Psoriasis I think. I can’t see a doctor until next week.”
“Psoriasis? It looks like leprosy. How dare you ask me to bring my kid around this! You’re an asshole, Rob!”
She snatched Todd off the ground and held him, cradling his head in her hand, pushing his face to her shoulder so he didn’t have to look. She gave Rob a look of disbelief and revulsion and turned from him to walk away.
“Wait! It’s not contagious! Don’t leave me alone! You love me!”
“Fuck you. You never loved me.”
And he knew that she was right. He knew he had used her for the human equivalent of a Fleshlight. He never had any intention of taking it further. When he had tired of her, he would have seen no reason to ever speak to her again. And yet, here he was, with no one, clinging to the last rung of a ladder dangling over infinity, and there was no one above offering a hand to help
him up. She was the closest person he had to a friend, and he had repeatedly fucked her in the ass, and pissed in her face. How could she possibly love him, or give a damn?
“You should have told me what was wrong. I would never have brought Todd here. If my baby gets sick, you’ll hear from my lawyer.”
She didn’t stop walking, was shouting the words back at him as she got further and further away. Rob fell to his knees in the doorway and watched her leave. When she was out of view he buried his face in his hands and cried.
I’m going to have to go to the emergency room, he thought as he rubbed his hands through his hair. Chunks of hair came off in his hands like feathery lifeless snakes. Another shock to his system.
Oh, God, oh, God, oh, fucking Christ.
Again he probed at his scalp with his fingers, watching swatches of his hair fall away and float to the ground like brown strokes of paint through the air. What he felt now made him queasy. Where his scalp had been brittle and tough before, it felt damp and kind of spongy. The flesh seemed to squish under pressure from his fingertips, and ooze some clear liquid. Needing to see this, he stood, closed his apartment door, and walked back through the place to the bathroom.
He was already forgetting about Brandi’s betrayal in his time of need.
In the mirror, and under the light of the vanity bulbs, his appearance was more gruesome than he thought. His once thick head of hair, was thinning, patches of baldness already apparent. The bald patches had grown bulbous tumor-like clouds of pink that reminded him of brain tissue. He leaned in close to the mirror and pushed on one such spot with his fingers. Where he pressed, he left dents in the skin, which was coated with a slime of pus. He grimaced and pressed harder, expecting to feel resistance beneath because of the bone of his skull. Instead, his finger penetrated the fleshy tissue, up to the first knuckle. Blood escaped around his finger and dripped down his forehead, splashing into the sink.
“Fuck me,” he breathed, unable to move.
This can’t be happening. This has to be a dream.
Almost too afraid to even twitch, because of an insane fear of injuring his own brain, Rob wriggled his finger a bit. It was warm and wet, more blood spilling from the hole, but the flesh around it easily tearing, and widening the opening. But when he moved his finger in there, he felt it brush against something. Something that didn’t feel right. There was a sick sense of dread
opening in his guts like a black hole, sucking him in. In a trance-like state of investigatory curiosity, his other hand reached up and prodded at the flesh exposed by the bald spot. More fingers sunk into the tissue, and he pressed them deeper, up to the second knuckle now.
Holy fuck, I should be dead. At least wiping memories or killing emotions at this point.
But he wasn’t. A massive amount of blood spilled out of his head, but then the bleeding slowed and seemed to stop, much to the opposite of logic. At this point though, logic seemed to be in another dimension. Rob now had six of his fingers fishing around inside his own head. As if watching someone else perform a surgical procedure, he pushed the fingers all the way inside,
feeling the source of the alien object he first felt, some kind of fleshy body that seemed to have multiple sections. One section seemed larger than the rest, a round orb-like part. He worked his fingers, turning the object in his head until they seemed to get a good grip on it, and then he tried to pull it out. There was an unbelievable amount of pain. But he couldn’t stop. He had to see it.
He had to know what was inside him. The pain threatened to overtake him, clouding his eyes with stars, his stomach with a churning nausea, but he forced it down, kept his eyes fixed on the mirror, pulling his fingers forward with the object from his skull. Perhaps it was his own brain. Perhaps he was killing himself. If so, it would be better than living out existence as a deformed
monster, shunning all light. The hole in his head widened further as he pulled the object out, its girth pressing against the sides of it. It looked like a blood-covered ball of skin. But the pain was so intense, Rob was forced to close his eyes and, screaming, he tore it the rest of the way free, feeling it drop from his hands to the sink, while he momentarily collapsed to his knees, struggling to maintain consciousness. Whatever it was, he had excised it, and was still alive.
He remained there for several moments, breathing heavily, feeling like he might vomit.
Then, slowly, the sickness subsided and he regained his composure. He opened his eyes and pushed himself to his feet unsteadily. The first thing he noticed was the gaping hole in his head, about three inches in diameter. It stared out at the mirror like the pupil of a dead eyeball, red, bloody skin flapping at its edges. Then he looked in the sink.
Rob couldn’t process what he was seeing. He backed away from it. This couldn’t be real. His breath hung in his chest as if his lungs were being cinched tight by a rope tied to a piano dangling over a cliff. His throat was full of screams that would not come out. His body and his mind were in a state of shock. He tripped over his own feet and went down hard, still scrambling
to get away from what he had seen. But the image would not leave his mind.
Tiny head. Tiny hands. Covered in blood. Breathless.
Unable to stand, he crawled his way across the floor of his apartment, to where he had dropped the phone by his bed. He picked it up, dialed 9–1–1. He didn’t know what else to do.
The operator answered.
“911, what is your emergency?”
“Hello, yes, um, my name is Robert Wooden, and there is a dead baby in my bathroom sink.”
And it was just then, at that moment, that the stillborn fetus in the sink, began to scream.