Monday, June 24, 2013

Shot-Short Story Contest Finalist


On the Other Side
By Travis Oltmann

The doctors called it impossible, the Christians called it a miracle and a reminder of god’s glory. I didn’t believe either of them. The doctors because, well, it happened, and the Christians because I didn’t think god would have used his powers on an insignificant loner doing temp work in the Odgen Yards.
Men and women in lab coats came to my hospital room and attached a bunch of wires to my neck, my spine, and the severed nerves that hung like cooked spaghetti from the bottom of my head. They told me that my motor neurons were somehow reacting to my brainwaves without being physically connected. Kind of like Wi-Fi. Trouble was, they couldn’t figure out what was acting as the router. Before they left, they advised against any attempt to reattach my head to my body, saying: “we believe the patient is delicately balanced at the moment, and any operation could potentially end his life.”
On the way home from the hospital I had to hold my head in front of my pelvis with both hands. I attempted to flag a cab down but the drivers thought it was some elaborate prank and kept going. Reaction was mixed as I passed people on the sidewalk, some were convinced it was a magic trick and others recoiled in horror. A young girl, face plastered with hardened chocolate ice cream, shrieked and ran into her father’s arms at the sight of me. I tried to smile, to maybe ease her fear a little. Her father called me an asshole.
The first couple of nights were difficult. It’s hard to watch yourself go to sleep from the nightstand. Eventually I placed my head beside my fish tank in the living room and let my frame find its way through the hallways. At times it would take so long to locate the door I would fall asleep to the abrupt sounds of a full grown body walking into drywall.
In the beginning, the few friends I had visited frequently, bringing foods like pies and casseroles. I’d put them in a blender and try to force them down my neckhole, another obstacle. Word spread amongst them that soup was a better idea, preferably some type of consomm√© that could be funneled through a straw. So they brought chicken and beef water. The visits became shorter, then they stopped all together. The only contact I had with them was through facebook and text messages.
I mostly sat around after that and watched television. If I was tired or lazy I would force my body go for a run. One time it came back with spit and bruises on it.
I became depressed, clinically depressed. The accident had left me a spectator in my own life.
So I locked myself in a storage cabinet. The darkness was better.
At night I can still hear my body clunking around.
Things would have been so different if I didn’t lay my head on that track.

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