[B] The Face
Another early morning and already James is feeling angry and resentful. Ever since the unknown virus had entered his body and more or less disabled him he’s been getting angrier and angrier by the minute… even when he was asleep his dreams were all about him angrily doing something.
The doctor’s regular visits over the past 8 weeks had also angered him. The man was an absolute buffoon. What the hell did it mean… he didn’t know what the problem was? How could they not find something out from the seemingly never ending supply of blood that was taken from his veins? Was everyone at the damned testing lab incompetent?
James had woken up eight weeks ago and found he could hardly move. His legs and arms were paralysed even though the rest of his body was working as normal. This had become a constant source of frustration for him. At twenty eight years old he had the normal urges a young man in his prime would have and as blood flowed to his penis he was thwarted in any attempt to relieve himself.
The catheter now attached to take away his strangely greenish piss had done little to interfere with what were now becoming almost constant hard-ons. This wasn’t the cause of his angry frustrations but it certainly didn’t help. The nurse had obviously been in while he was still asleep and left a cooling cup of tea on the bed side table… but of course he couldn’t reach it and knew he’d have to wait for her return so he could have the cup cradled to his lips as he sipped the lukewarm beverage. He’d tried to talk the old nurse into giving him a wank but she had retreated embarrassed and threatened to leave seven weeks ago. So now she only spent time with him when meals were to be taken, the doctor arrived or some medical exam or function had to be performed. She had taken badly against James and saw her job of bringing relief to the suffering of those patients in her charge to be only medical and not recreational.
Once he’d returned from the hospital where the array of talented doctors had to admit to being baffled by this mysterious complaint James had spent the last eight weeks lying in this bed. Unbeknown to him, a few were of the opinion that it was something that was mental and his ‘virus’ was the product of his own imaginings. He had told them that on the night when this strange condition had taken hold of his body he had dreamed of a great wasp-like thing stinging him at the base of his spine and he’d woken sweating uncontrollably, crying in fear but unable to move. He had managed to scream for help but living alone it had taken a couple of days for anyone to hear is cries for assistance. So he’d had to live in his own piss and excrement for all that time, it was a situation he wouldn’t have wished on anyone.
Now each night, and completely frustrated at having to rely on anybody else, the man who was a champion squash player… well in his works league at least… and on the front row of the local amateur rugby club… he wore the shirt with pride… fell asleep and his head spun with the weird dreams that occupied his nocturnal thoughts. It’s strange but… well… never had his dreams seemed more real. Never had such a strange and disparate selection of extraordinary, connived and utterly stupid electrons fused together in his brain to produce a panorama of madness and mayhem. Each dream seemed to outdo the last. He both feared and looked forward to his eyes closing and the dream merchants bringing on unbidden the bizarre and exotic… with the occasional erotic thrown in to seemingly mock him for what he was now unable to do.
He shouted for the nurse. The cup of tea was cooling quickly and he hated drinking cold tea. He’d learned that his requests to his nurse for anything normally fell on deaf ears until it suited her… she had her own routine and she wasn’t going to let the fact that he was paying to be cared for interfere with that. Even his catheter and nappy were only changed when it suited her. James hated the bitch but had come to rely on her.
He gazed out of the window. It faced north so never actually got much sun coming full into his room but this particular early spring morning was glorious. He could see out into the fields and the morning sun lit them up and was bringing out the new green buds on the trees awakening from their winter’s hibernation. If he wasn’t in his usual bad mood he may have quite enjoyed the view… even the pale blue sky seemed to go on for ever without so much as a single cloud to spoil the view.
Actually, as he stared out of the window he could see a small black ‘something’ on the far blue horizon. Perhaps it was a small flock of birds but he couldn’t quite make out what it was. He called for the nurse again, he really didn’t want to suffer cold tea again or a very full nappy, but she wasn’t in any rush to come to his assistance. He needed her to put the TV or radio on as well as he couldn’t control the controls.
Annoyed and frustrated he returned to looking out over the peaceful sunny morning view… everything the same except that the black smudge on the horizon seemed to be getting bigger and he wondered if there was perhaps a fire burning off in the distance. He couldn’t make it out but shouted loudly again for the nurse to come to him.
A voice called back that she was on the phone to the doctor and that she would be up in a minute. That calmed him down a little but he knew that cup of tea would be undrinkable now and that his nemesis would not think of brewing him another cup. It wasn’t like it was rocket science for God’s sake he’d think to himself, as he wondered if anyone of his team-mates would visit him today. He knew they wouldn’t… over the past eight weeks a total of… zero… zilch… bugger all… not one of those bloody self-centred bastards had taken the trouble to come and visit or call to see how he was.
It was as if no one even missed the fact that he wasn’t around anymore. “Bastards every fucking one of them” he thought… he couldn’t wait for the chance to ignore them once he was in full health. He looked out of the window again. Hell that black cloud was getting larger by the moment. It put him in mind of a sight he’d seen on a television nature programme where a plague of locusts had swooped in on some poor foreign country and eaten the area’s entire crops leaving the locals starving. It wasn’t a nice image but he’d been enthralled by what nature could do if it wanted and there was bugger all Man could do to stop it.
As he thought these thoughts… the black cloud seemed to separate and peel away in different directions. “How amazing” James thought and was even more amazed as after a few minutes the two separate clouds changed direction again and came as two parallel lines towards his home. He still couldn’t make out what it was but saw that it wasn’t two solid black entities but a multitude of separate moving parts. It was a swarm but, he wondered, a swarm of what? Again his mind went back to the locusts and he thought he was witnessing one of natures little quirks manifest itself in his back field.
Suddenly for some reason James felt uncomfortable. Sweat had begun to form on his forehead and his body was clammy under the sheets. His bladder gave way as the green brackish liquid filled his colostomy bag and his bowel tightened as he tried to keep from messing in his thick protection. Pain stabbed at his insides as he failed to hold himself in check and a brown liquid steam oozed from his backside as he gave way to the excruciating agony that filled his belly.
He mournfully cried out through clamped shut eyes as if for some reason he knew… he just knew… that something terrible was about to happen. He was scared to open even one eye as he tried to block out what was waiting for him should he dare to even blink his eyes open for a split second. His misery got worse and he could feel his eyes, by some strange and malevolent entity, being prised open. He fought as hard as he could… crying out “No No No” to no one in particular… but suddenly his eyes were open wide.
He blankly gazed out of his window… but the field had gone, the blue sky had gone, his newly budding trees were gone but there, hovering were a mass of shapes moving around… themselves seemingly caught up in some terrifying current of air. Images of bodies being tossed around at random… darting skyward and then plummeting earthward filled the view from his window. James was scared and transfixed as this myriad of changing, dark, yet vibrant, images appeared to clamour at his window. The buzz clattered against the window and he could make out that they were giant wasps.
Terror tightly gripped his chest as he made the connection between his waking dream and his illness. There, beyond the window, was the cause of his situation but now they’d returned in their millions.
Then it happened.
The cacophonous sound in his head surprised him. His blood ran cold as he tried desperately to heave himself from the bed and hide. The noise seemed to be calling to him, this time louder and more demanding. He hoped it would be the nurse at the doorway telling him off for being such a complaining baby but there was no one around. His body temperature was dropping quickly and his breathing got more and more laboured. His cold breath creating a small cloud as he breathed out but his face was drawn once again toward the window. All those millions of ghostly images had become a solid mass.
A face that was beckoning James.
The word came again this time demanding and commanding him for the final time.
The nurse arrived in the bedroom to find her charge cold and dead. His eyes were wide open in terror and his mouth locked in an unheard scream. She couldn’t understand what had happened and rushed to telephone the doctor who only minutes earlier had told her that he thought he’d found a solution to their patient’s problem.
She didn’t see the black smudge retreating back over the blue horizon. She didn’t hear the return of birdsong that had been silenced for the last few minutes and she never saw the final tear trickle down the face of her charge. James was indeed dead but his torment was just beginning.