Good morning everyone! I want to thank those who left encouraging comments yesterday regarding my brother-in-law’s accident. I really appreciate the concern and will keep you posted as to his condition.
In keeping with yesterday’s theme, the ‘What if’ scenario, I thought I’d feature the story of another of my writer’s group. Evelyn Woodward is one of the founders of the group. I met her back at World Con in 1995 shortly after I entered the writing world. I was invited to join her group and one another, at that time. At first, I joined the other group but kept in touch with Evelyn, eventually deciding to get their opinions of my writing, as well. When the other group disbanded a few years later, I remained with Off The Wall, and we have since invited some of the other members that I have already featured here and here.
I will post her interview on Sunday but, until then, all I will tell you is that she loves asking the question, ‘What if?’ Here is an excerpt from her story, The Way of the Kyma:
From the moment Elizabeth looked into the doctor’s eyes, she knew that Andy had finally managed to kill her. All she could do was question his method.
“Dr. Mankowski, I don’t understand. What are you trying to tell me?”
“It’s the results from the lab, Elizabeth. We did all the tests.”
Elizabeth’s mind jumped back to the barrage of tests Dr. Mankowski had ordered. She was poked, prodded, scanned and ultra sounded. Her arms were purple from the blood tests and she felt that if she had to pee on command one more time, she would scream.
“I’ve tried to get more information, but it all adds up to one thing. With this toxic chemical in your system, you will die.”
The young woman sitting across the desk felt like she would shrink down into the hard plastic chair.
“How?” she asked, her voice cracking on the word.
“Like your mother,” the doctor said, looking at the file in front of him. “We didn’t know what was doing it until her autopsy. Her organs just shut down. What we found was a substance only rumoured to exist. It is connected to the military. That’s all I know.”
“Andy,” Elizabeth whispered. Clearing her throat, she went on, “This substance…”
“Is in you. The level is not as high as it was in your mother, but it seems to be cumulative. Now, even if you never have it near you again, it is too late. We don’t know how to remove it from your body.”
The doctor was babbling, telling Elizabeth things she could hardly absorb. Her mind whirled. Time seemed to slow and her focus narrowed. His faded grey eyes behind his old-fashioned wire-framed glasses avoided hers. His hands played with the papers. She absently noticed he had stubby fingers. How could a doctor who performed surgery, work with such stubby fingers? Her mind was avoiding the issue at hand. The desk in front of her was softly finished walnut. She reached out to touch the warm texture, then drew back to the issue again. Death.
“Why?” she asked. “I’m just tired. People don’t die from being tired! I don’t feel poisoned.” But the reality was, she did.
“I know,” he said. His sympathetic tones told her that he really hated telling her the bad news. “I suspect that the pollution levels in the city have aggravated it, but we have no proof yet. We can’t find this substance in any samples that have been taken throughout the city. If you know anything…?”
“Six months to a year,” he sighed, finally looking at her and then quickly looking back down at the file. “Your only hope would be a miracle. I’ve never seen one of those, but I have heard of them. Look, there is a support group that can help you deal with this. Try to stay calm. I will help you with whatever palliative care you need. You can get the contact numbers from my receptionist.”
Stay calm? She thought. Calm? There he sits telling me that I will die in six months and he wants calm. I could tell him what to do with his calm and his six months!
She got up without a word, left the office and went outside, ignoring the doctor and his receptionist as they called her name. A shiver went through her as she passed through the throngs of nameless people going about their busy lives. Many of them looked as tired as she felt. Did they have a possessive spouse who would rather kill them than let them go? Naturally, it was raining and cold. She must have taken the bus home, but she didn’t remember the ride at all. Her mind was numb from the shock.
I know this may not seem like a horror story to you but, for me, I think this part is pretty scary. It’s a real-life sort-of scary. After all, wouldn’t you be terrified if you’d been told you only have six months to live? I’ve known many women who have survived their various bouts of breast cancer, but I also had a few friends who weren’t as lucky, so this part of Evelyn’s story is more than a little terrifying for me, especially if I put myself in her character’s place. If you don’t think this is ‘horror’, imagine that the toxins in Elizabeth’s body were like a serial killer, waiting for the right moment to jump out and kill her! 🙂
Hope you enjoyed this excerpt and will come back on Sunday to learn a little more about Evelyn. 🙂