Leah glances anxiously around the waiting room. Everyone looks so calm. How the hell can that be? The waiting room is dim, perhaps a dozen men and women of all ages sit, staring ahead as though unseeing. The door opens and a bright light behind him silhouettes the towering figure of Dr. Chansette, a huge cockroach, six feet high. His antennae wave. “Miss Leah Hope?”
Leah looks around. No one seems interested. She gets up, her guts knotting, but knowing she has no choice. Following Dr. Chansette, she proceeds along a shiny white corridor. He turns and waves a leg. “Please, come through to the dissection room.”
Feeling fearful, Leah follows him into an operating theatre. The room is full of strange, throbbing machinery and lights flicker on wall panels. In the centre of the room, under blazing spotlights, is an operating table, surrounded by banks of electronic equipment.
“Greetings, Miss Hope. I am Mr. Cuttemup, I’ll be doing your procedure today.”
Leah turns to face an enormous butterfly. She sees shimmering emerald and ruby tones in his wings. Trying to stay calm, she says, “Is … is this really necessary. Can’t I … can’t I just go home?”
Mr. Cuttemup flutters his wings and laughs, holding up a long scalpel blade which scatters light from the iridescent lamps above. “No, I’m sorry, we have to see … what you’re made of!”
Two giant earwigs, dressed in green theatre gowns, take Leah’s elbows and lead her towards the operating table. “Don’t worry, it’ll be painless,” says one, smiling and waving her glistening antennae.
Leah finds herself fastened down to the operating table and looks up at the brilliant spotlights above her, giving white spots before her eyes. Suddenly she has a frightening thought. “Wait a minute, what about the anaesthetic, where’s the anaesthetist?”
“Ah, that won’t be necessary.” Mr. Cuttemup unbuttons Leah’s blouse, then pulls out the scalpel. “Nurse, prepare the patient please.”
The earwig-nurses exchange glances, then one leans forward and yanks Leah’s bra up, exposing her large pale breasts.
Leah suddenly becomes calm. Of course, this is a nightmare. She’ll wake up in a minute!
Dr. Cuttemup’s scalpel stabs into her chest, right between her breasts, and carves a two-foot wound down to her groin, as she realises that the earwigs were lying – the pain is beyond belief – and yes, this is a nightmare, but it’s no dream.
Featured in the book, Flash Friction: To Cut a Short Story Short, vol. III: 72 Little Stories
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