Sharon’s Note: The thrilling conclusion of Nightmare: Redacted! Warning: Well, at the bare minimum, it’s icky.
I had never been strapped to a table before. I really hated it. The men from the van had snatched both Ruben and me and restrained us. They had even black bagged us. They had sedated me and when I woke up, I was strapped down wearing a hospital gown and some kind of hair net thingy, in a room that looked like it was intended for surgery.
There was no one else in the room and very little in the way of things. One thing that figured very prominently in my vision was a stainless steel cart to my right with a selection of forceps and a large glass jar full of viscous black liquid. Something swam in there, causing the surface to gently roil. I turned my head away and whimpered.
Somewhere behind me a door opened and I whipped my head back and forth trying to see who it was. “Who’s there?”
“Careful. You’ll hurt your neck.” The voice was mild and full of sympathy. A man in full surgical gear stepped up beside me. Another two figures, one male, one female, wheeled in a second cart with a computer and other equipment and began quietly conferring over something on its screen.
“Who . . .” I began, having trouble forcing words past a shudder.
“Who, what, where, why?” The man interrupted, giving a wry chuckle. “Yes, those are the normal questions. Who I am isn’t important, other than I am a doctor here to help you. What you are doing here, is getting treatment for a nasty little infection that has gotten inside your head. Where wouldn’t do you any good at all and I believe the why is covered by the what.”
Fruitlessly, I struggled against my bonds. “That doesn’t explain anything! Let me go!”
“I’m sorry, but that isn’t in your best interest.” The doctor tisked. ‘Now, I’m going to have to ask you to calm down, or we are going to have to sedate you.”
Not wanting to be unconscious again, I forced myself to breath deep. “What kind of infection? Do you mean that nose leech thing?”
“Ah, the dream eaters.” He sighed lamentfully. “No. I am sorry for the trama you have suffered from our last treatment. It was my fault it failed. You see, you only had a day’s worth of memory to remove and I miscalculated the size of larva to use. They can only live a short time inside the human body. The bigger they are, the longer they survive. The one I put in was too young, too small, and died before getting the entirety of the infection.”
“Wha . . .” I started to scream, but checked myself as I saw the male orderly readying needles. “What infection?”
“Think of it as a verbally spread bacteria. Once you are told about it, it gets in your head, in your dreams. You’ve seen it when you sleep. We can tell it’s already hunting you. Eventually, it grows so strong it will kill you in your sleep. The dream eaters remove the memories, thus remove the infection. Think of it like putting maggots in the wound, where they eat the bad flesh.” The doctor turned to the orderlies. “Are we ready?”
“Yes, doctor.” Said the woman, holding up a pair of tongs. “We just need to know how much memory we are going to remove so we can select the specimen size.”
“Oh, it will all have to go.” The doctor said, regretful. When he turned, the light caught his eyes giving them a funny red gleam.
“Wait, what!?” I fought my bonds again. The male orderly was moving around behind me and I couldn’t keep an eye on him and the doctor at the same time. “What do you mean, all of it?”
“I’m afraid since the infection wasn’t fully eradicated the first time, it has spread too far for less drastic measures. In order to save your life, we are going to have to remove your memory in entirety.” The doctor spoke as he crossed the room. The woman orderly stuck the tongs into the black liquid, pulling out another leech, this one as long as my palm. It thrashed wildly, and I wailed, as the orderly behind me stuck a needle into the back of my neck. Within seconds, my body started to go limp and numb. I couldn’t even scream, but my eyes were open and I was awake.
“Think of this as a second chance.” The doctor urged, walking towards me with the leech still lashing in his tongs. The woman orderly strode towards me with a cotton swab in her gloved fingers, dipped in some of the black liquid from the jar. She swabbed it in a thick, cold line from my cheek to my right nostril. “You are a lot younger than Mr. Watts. You should learn faster. It will be a new start. Now, just relax, and it will be over soon.”
He placed the leech on my cheek. It was heavy, and cold. Slowly, it began squirming up my face, following the line of the black liquid, towards my nose. I couldn’t even scream.