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The Sentence

copyright 2002, by Nyx Fixx

Disclaimer:    The characters of Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Frederick Chilton were created by Thomas Harris.  They are used herein without permission, but in the spirit of admiration and respect.  No infringement of copyright is intended, and no profit, of any kind, is made by the creator, maintainer or contributors to this site.

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Caution: What follows is extremely nasty. Extremely. Be warned.




I'm not sure where I am.

I'm not sure where I am but I think I must have been here for a long
time. Long enough to begin to understand some of what is said around me,
anyway. At first, in the beginning, I heard talk, but it was all
gibberish to me. There was no sense to it, just rising and falling sound
and the soft, terribly gentle and oh-so-quiet tones of voice.

When I think about it, I suppose it's a matter of language. Different
voices have come and gone, all around me, and I suppose these voices
must have been speaking in a language unknown to me. But I think a
considerable amount of time must have passed since first I heard the
voices, because now I find I can understand a few simple words.

"Change". "Bed". "Bath". "Tube"

Things like that.

I can't answer the voices. I have no tongue, no teeth, and the hinges of
my jaw don't work. My emptied mouth hangs open all the time, and my gums
and lips and throat get very dry. Someone, one of the voices, swabs in
there periodically, with a flavored swab. Most of the time, the flavor
is strawberry. Occasionally, it's orange. I like the orange flavor
better, but I can't tell the voices that I don't like strawberry. They
don't know. I can't expect them to know, can I? Not if I don't tell them.

I don't ever eat. Never. My jaw doesn't work and neither does my neck.
By that, I mean I can't hold my head up by myself. The voices prop my
head up with something both firm and soft at the same time. A pillow, I
think. One of those curved ones maybe, a "cervical support pillow" to
fit around my limp neck, like a donut with a single bite taken out of
it.

I couldn't eat a donut. I'd choke and die. I should have starved by now,
because I can't eat. I ought to have starved a long time ago. In fact,
for what was probably a long time, I waited for that to happen, but it
never did.

It's the voices, the voices and the hands. The itching I sometimes feel
in the lower left of my belly, that deep, deep, maddening itching. I
think the voices must be feeding me through a tube. A "PEG" tube,
perhaps, a little shunt that bypasses the mouth and throat and shoots
calories and nutrients in liquid form directly into my stomach.

My digestion, at least, still works perfectly. It has become my clock
and my calendar, and I am glad of it. I have four and sometimes five
bowel movements a day. Or, to be more precise, within what I estimate to
be each twenty-four hour period. I hear the voices and I feel the hands,
cleaning and changing me, and I know that time has passed. After the
fourth or fifth repetition of this process, I know another day has
passed. I can see neither dark nor light, but my body still keeps the
time unbidden, for as long as I care to count it.

How many days have I been here, wherever here is, how many days without
number, days measured in the rhythmic progression of shit? How many days
to make a year, and how many years to make a decade, and how many
decades to make an eternity? How long has it been?

I don't know. I don't dare to hazard a guess. If I ever did that, I
might begin to ask myself how many days more I'll be here, wherever here
is.

And I couldn't bear to ask myself that.

I'd like to scratch that itch, the one in my belly. It is a real
annoyance. My hands, like my eyes and tongue, are missing, but I could
still use my stumps if only my elbows would work. But they don't. It's
not paralysis, not a function of a disrupted spine, I've decided. It's
like my neck and my knees too, the major ligaments have been severed.
The limbs flop and twitch, but purposeful movement is impossible. I'm
bound fast by my unbound sinews.

There's a certain irony in that, I think. No doubt it was meant that way.

I'm not sure where I am, and I'm not sure who I am. I doubt I would
recognize my own face in a glass, if I could see it. With my eyes gone
and my mouth a despoiled and empty cave and my useless jaw hanging to my
breastbone, I doubt I look much like I once must have.

I do have an idea who I used to be, but I have no way to inform the
voices of what I know, or think I know. I can't speak, and even if I
could, all I could convey to these voices that trill in their own soft
and lilting unknown language are the simple facts of who I am now.

"Change". "Bed". "Bath". "Tube"

Would I tell the voices, if I could, what has happened to me? How it
happened, what it was like, why it happened?

No. I'd be ashamed to confess it. The process of transformation was, I
remember, trying. The pace was steady and efficient, and no moment of my
time was wasted. Throughout the procedure, my overall health was
safeguarded and my pain was managed, I was satisfactorily medicated,
protected from infection, and anesthetized. My consciousness was
courted, my input and advice on the work in progress was courteously
encouraged. Yet still I protested, despite all the precautions and
considerations; I screamed and I wept and I pleaded and I begged
incessantly, on and on, until I no longer retained the wherewithal to do
so. I did not give a very good account of myself, I'm afraid, and this
I would never confess to anyone, even if I still could.

How many days have I been here, wherever here is? How many hours and
days have I been here, trussed by my destroyed limbs and masked by my
grotesquely distorted face and imprisoned by my utter dependency on the
voices that keep me alive whether I want them to or not?

How many days, one might ask instead, if one totaled up all the punitive
hours I myself ordered and laid them end to end, did I dare to
keep himtrussed and masked and imprisoned?

And once that tally is told, I wonder, and once I too have spent an
equal number of hours and days trapped in my own useless flesh, when the
balance of days is balanced, will he come back, paid in full at last,
and release me from this sentence?

Can I hope to count on point for point retribution?

I'm so afraid that I cannot.

One of the voices is near me now, quiet, lulling. Hands on me, gentle,
fingers on my slack cheeks, my head slightly tilted, turned. A slight
pressure, a careful entry; the soft swabbing of my dry, empty,
perennially open mouth.

Strawberry. Again.

Oh - dear God - how I wish I could tell them that I prefer the orange.


FIN

copyright 2002, by Nyx Fixx

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