Read: Needling, a Short Story.
Today's Trivia: something that might actually get on your nerves with a twist
If you haven’t subscribed to The PPS Club yet, make sure you do!
The moment my eyes open, the rest of my body stiffens as if on cue. I can neither feel my face nor open my mouth to utter any words.
“Hey!” I shout, but it sounds more intrinsic because my voice isn’t coming out. “Where am I?” I ask, and only the beeping machines reply.
“Dr. Kirsch! Look, he’s awake!” Someone skulks inside the room. It’s a nurse.
You’re damn right I’m awake. And now I’m also scared. “What happened to me?”
Two men walk into the room. “I am calling Nora.” the one who looks like he’s straight from Wall Street says to the doctor and leaves.
What does Nora have to do with this?
“Hey man,” the doctor speaks to me in a low voice.
I’m no longer feeling drowsy as I watch him bend over my numb face. He feels my face using his right index and middle fingers; my cheek bounces like a plastic ball. He then pulls my bottom eyelids to peer into my eyes with a small flashlight.
“What is happening? Why can’t I move my body?”
“I know you’re in terrible shape right now, but don’t you worry about it. You will be back on your feet sooner than you think. I know your brother; he is a good friend of mine.”
After hearing him mention my brother, everything comes back into place. I remember the contract, the party, the shooting… and Nora. That woman… My brother would have never signed that contract if he knew what kind of people our benefactors were.
The doctor steps away from my bed and walks out the door without saying another word. This is all my fault. It’s what I get for always trying to be the hero.
“You need to lie back on the bed, sir. I can’t sedate you anymore or you’ll be paralysed,” the nurse says.
I didn’t realize I was trying so hard to come out of the covers. The guy put his hand on my arm, trying to hold me down.
“Who gave you the right to touch me?” I think I’m sounding like myself again.
The pain in my jaw is dicing all my twelve pairs of cranial nerves. Maybe I should keep my mouth shut. A few minutes later, the door opens and two men enter one of them pushing a wheelchair, and the other one holding a syringe the size of a stapler. Well, there’s a stapler on my bedside table to compare it to.
They first secure my arms against the metallic bars on both sides of the bed. One nurse then removes my drip and cups my jaw in one hand, resting the other one on my head. I’m completely immobile. The second male nurse injects me with the viscous content of the syringe, straight into my face-he definitely touched a nerve-which causes me to move briskly and almost break the needle.
The cold liquid diffuses rapidly in my tissues, and I regain some mobility. Suddenly, my face feels normal again. They show me a mirror, and my face never looked better; it’s clear of any bruises.
They bring the wheelchair closer to my bed; the nurse helps me stand up and sit on it. As soon as we leave the room, the man pushing my wheelchair speeds up after looking at his watch. I wonder where we’re headed so fast. We reach the elevators and he presses the top floor button. Why are we even going to the top floor?
The elevator doors open and I’m carelessly pushed into the corridor. This floor has nothing to do with where we came from. I feel like I’m in trouble. We pass two doors before we come to a stop in front of the only door ajar. The nurse knocks three times.
“Come in!” It’s a woman’s voice calling us in.
The door is open inward, and the doctor from earlier walks out as we get in. I’m shocked to see my boss’ wife, Nora.
“Leave us,” she tells the nurse.
“You,” I say, still getting used to my skin’s elasticity. “Why are you here, Nora?”
“I see you’ve picked up your older brother’s unpleasant habit of calling me by my first name.” she snobs and lights a cigar.
“Are those my brother’s? Is this Romney’s office?” I ask after seeing the initials on the cigar box.
“Not anymore.” She laughs and says, “Only a few people know the existence of this office anyway, and you should thank me for bringing you here and getting your little face reconstructed. You looked horrible when my minions brought you in.” She pours herself a glass of scotch.
She takes a gentle sip of the alcohol, acting all presidential. I feel my teeth grinding into each other strongly, trying to trap the volcano of bile and contempt that would have erupted otherwise. I need to know more before I do anything. The fact that I can’t remember how I was brought here makes me so angry I would blow someone’s skull to find out what really happened.
I guess it wasn’t very sharp of me to get into a fight with the only people who could give me the answers I needed. And now that I’m crippled, it will be harder to find a car to fiddle with and borrow once I’m out of here, just like old times with my brother who made sure we never got caught in the posh suburbs while playing thugs.
“Were you behind the shooting?” I snap out of my thoughts.
The woman doesn’t budge. “Well, I had a little help.”
“Does my boss know about this?”
Nora rises from my brother’s chair and puts her hands on the table, grinning. “Who do you think got me into this?” she says.
“I’ll have you arrested.”
“I know you won’t because I have your brother. You should be glad you’re not in his place right now.” She drops the cigar into an ashtray and moves away from the table, grabbing a cylindrical space-gray tube in the process.
She catwalks towards me with a devious look in her olive-green eyes. Her cappuccino skin looks so smooth you’d think she stopped aging twenty years ago.
“Where is my brother?” I ask again. I should try something else before it’s too late.
Nora’s grin spreads to the corners of her mouth, creating dimples around her nose and cheeks. She stands close to my face and tilts my head so I can look her straight in the eyes. I can’t feel my legs still.
“You want to know what I did to your brother? First, I’ll have your memories of the latest events erased, then I’ll take you to him.” She aims the little space-gray tube directly at my eyes and presses the button on it.
A blinding beam of light flashes into my eyes and a sharp buzzing pierces my ears.
Everything goes blank.
This newsletter could have been titled: “How to Get on Your Own Nerves as a Writer”, because that’s exactly how it was for me while I was writing Needling.
I had to make sure I wasn’t getting all my ideas mixed up as I’m currently writing multiple projects that are equally demanding. Honestly, they feel like children. Kudos, if you noticed the sci-fi and drama subplots in this 1100-word piece, because it’s an spinoff from an ongoing longform sci-fi project.
You’re probably glad it wasn’t romance this time (I love romance so much) and though I like to slide my happily ever afters in my stories, this one was for my science buddies. Well, I do hope I didn’t mess this up (feedback is always welcome!) since it almost went sideways…
Writing a fantasy novel that started as a short story and studying new interesting notions to help enlarge the fantasy world I’m already engrossed by, while simultaneously writing short stories—like the one you just read—can get confusing. So, the writer in me ended up taking multiple turns and long routes to arrive at a point where I could finally bring my mind-mapping car to a decent stop.
It was nerve-racking both literally and figuratively. And I’m not talking about the times when I had those really cool ideas that ended up vanishing before I could type them, huh!
That’s what happens when the research and genres overlap.
And Because of that, this newsletter could have gone three different ways too! Thankfully, the other two were simply not fitting the mood (so come next week!).
What’s to take home:
This section was trivia, however, there is something I think you may want to try in your own time, and that is...
Get on your own nerves from time to time and see how resourceful you can be in the end!
Question of the day:
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So, how much is a thousand words worth?
Feel free to reply at firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S: Stay healthy, wear a mask, and share the love and this newsletter with your friends around the world—they don’t have to be writers, just people ;)
Until next Friday,