“Stay awake. Everything will be okay if I can just stay awake.” David urged himself, eyes bloodshot sipping the remnants of a quickly disappearing pot of coffee. He would do anything to stay awake, his life depended on it. His tongue favored the empty sockets in his mouth. A casualty from the first time he resigned himself to sleep.
Seconds after closing his eyes, he found himself in a makeshift dentist’s office: No anesthetics, primitive tools, strapped to a chair. He couldn’t see the dentist, but he could trace every movement. Someone prying his mouth open. The clumsy exploration with sub par tools. The feel of knives and pliers. The sickening crunch of relenting tooth, the stab of shards unharvested. Pure agony as tooth and knife and hard metal danced with blood and spit.
Desperately screaming for help, but nothing comes out. Just gushing blood and the taste of pure fear. The dentist said nothing, merely laughing at David’s distress while extracting the teeth. Three teeth stolen, overwhelming pain radiating from the freshly made holes. Nearly choking on his own blood David heard the dentist say one thing. “The clues to immortality lie hidden within you, we have come to harvest them.” then he unstrapped David and vanished with the teeth.
The moment David stood up his eyes flashed open and he was on his now bloodstained couch. He ran to the mirror and his greatest fear had been realized. Whatever he’d experienced was reality, the three teeth were missing and there was blood all over him. David vowed never to sleep again, he didn’t care if it drove him mad. Anything was better than being some sort of human treasure map to immortality. He would die before that happened, though he feared death would come either way.
After that terrifying incident David started brewing coffee: pot after pot after pot. Draining each in quick succession. If he could’ve injected the coffee straight into his veins, he would have. Though there was a good chance he might bleed coffee if he somehow drifted to his perilous slumber and got hurt.
Dave was beyond exhausted, but the caffeine kept his eyelids at attention. He jumped at every sound, and expected the worst around every corner. His trips to the bathroom were frequent. The sight of the shower gave him hope. Not the full-fledged, everything will be okay kind of hope. More like the decaying shell of hope that might stay together just long enough to tease, then deteriorate beyond recognition.
He shed his coffee-stained clothing and stepped into the shower. A cold shower killed erections, maybe the same could be said about fear. His shaking hands clasped the knob and he turned it all the way to the left. For a moment frigid water rained down followed by scalding hot water. Steam went up in billows, fogging his glass shower doors. He tried to adjust the water, getting it no cooler than a very hot shower. The shower door caught his eye, in the fogged glass there was a message.
If you Leave, You Will Die
Was he dreaming? Did he somehow fall asleep? He didn’t feel asleep. Obeying the ominous message, he remained in the shower. He couldn’t adjust the temperature and the water slowly but surely lulled him to sleep.
The demons retreated, but still he was bleeding. A distant voice, approving his blood. “The key to immortality lies hidden within you.” his eyes flashed and his shower was red with his blood mixed with water. Carnage all over. He knew he was going to die.
Helpless, he let the water rush over him. Poison receding, all that remained were four small gouges and lethargy started to set in. The fight was draining him, as was his energy. He didn’t yet resign himself to death, but he did the next worst thing. He resigned himself to sleep.
Unintelligible whispers enveloped him, planting the seeds of paranoia within. You will die…but in good time. They will harvest what they need, first. Only then will they discard your bloody corpse like the garbage it is. He tried to drive the voices from his head, but they found a home there. High levels of sleep deprivation coupled with intense fear and pain were the perfect breeding ground for the voices to live and flourish.
Dave, consumed by the voices, completely unaware of the cloaked figure approaching. The figure scanned David’s naked, bloody body for the perfect patch of skin. It would know it when it saw it. For the briefest moment, a portion of his skin glowed red. Drawing the knife, the figure began to carve the swatch of skin away.
David’s screams of agony waned as the voices grew louder. You will die…there is no reason to fight it. Physical pain is just temporary. Soon you will be nothing. The voices assured him. The figure had the dripping, flaccid flesh in its hand. Before leaving, it said one thing. “The key to immortality lies hidden within you.” The figure disappeared and the voices quelled.
David woke up in the shower shaking, covered in his own blood. Intense pain spanned his entire leg and stomach. The thought of food repulsed him, and he couldn’t get up. The skinless area of his thigh was large enough to surround his hand with at least an inch on each side. The water still ran hot, which was strange because his hot water heater was never this kind.
Generally after a twenty minute hot shower it would take ages to conjure more. The stray drops of water stung his leg, keeping him just conscious enough to keep himself awake. The bathroom lights went out, and the message on the shower door glowed red. David wasn’t sure if the pain had caused him to grow delirious, or if the message he saw was real.
Mustering every ounce of energy and will power, he crawled to the shower doors. Trying his damnedest to pry the doors open, they would not open. The metal sides of the shower door were gouging deep under the nails on his nails on his trembling fingers. Pounding on the shower doors, he could not get out. Trapped. He was trapped.
Fist clenched, bloodied nails digging into the flesh of his hand he pounded on the glass. It wouldn’t give. He pounded and pounded and pounded. The pounding stopped only when Dave collapsed. Upon collapsing he passed over to the land of sleep.
Dave came to in a grimy operating room. The cold metallic table froze his fevered flesh. A surgeon approached the gurney in jet black scrubs, he had lowing red eyes. The hellish surgeon began hastily sawing limbs off, binding them about the amputation site. Both arms and both legs had been removed.
The voices settled around Dave once more, calming his earsplitting scrams. David wasn’t going anywhere, so the surgeon took the opportunity to search through the limbs with reckless abandon. He harvested the left femur, the right ulna, and all ten fingers. The bones had been secured. The surgeon left, replaced by a surgeon in red scrubs, with black piercing eyes. He used his scalpel to perform a living autopsy on Dave. The surgeon was after one thing--his heart. He harvested it and said one thing to David’s lifeless body.
“The key to immortality has been found because of you.”
Dave didn’t wake up, but his shell of a body remained in his shower, water still running.