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Fleischer had little desire to get out of bed.  His entire body ached.  His head was throbbing, and it felt like someone had wedged broken glass under his fingernails.  His gums didn't feel much better.  Hell, his mouth hurt in general, even beyond being almost painfully dry.  The man's skin didn't feel much better.  It was dry, and itched, and felt almost painfully tight.

There was also something cool and damp and slightly sticky against the side of Fleischer's face, and he suddenly noticed the sharp copper taste and smell of blood.  He lifted his head just enough to confirm that there was a large, dark red blotch on the pillow, and he could feel more of it drying under his nose.  It was that feeling that caused Fleischer to finally muster the will to roll out of bed, wincing as he did so, to drag himself to the shower.  

He couldn't help but notice as he passed the window that it was still dark out – and that the frosted texture on the glass was unusually sharp.  He shook his head a little at that, and the resulting wave of nausea made him immediately regret it.  That ill, dizzy feeling soon passed, though, allowing Fleischer to continue to the bathroom, locking the door behind.

The Medic practically sobbed in relief when the water hit his skin.  He all but collapsed, just sitting on the shower floor, and letting the hot water run down his body.  The spray washed the blood off of his face, causing the water to run slightly red as it circled the drain.  Even when it was clear again, though, Fleischer could still detect a faded taste and smell of copper.

Fleischer tried to ignore it – tried not to think of much of anything.  It was impossible to ignore the pain, though.  His head was pounding, and the rest of his body didn't feel much better.  The sharp ache in his fingers was almost enough to make him scream.  He didn't want to scream, though, and wound up compromising and finally breaking down into tears, instead.

The water was his only comfort.  It looked, and sounded, and even smelled nice.  It was warm, and gentle, and soothing.  Fleischer distantly realized that he was more comfortable there than he had been in bed a few moments before.  He was also exhausted, and it was to the feeling of warm water running over his skin that he finally slumped forward and all but passed out.

It didn't seem to be very long, however, before Fleischer woke up.  He could still feel water flowing over his skin, though it was cooler than it had been before.  It took him a moment to notice that he was lying on his side, though, curled up a little to make his body fit in the relatively small space.  Somewhere beyond the shower curtain – beyond the bathroom door – he could smell food.  It didn't smell like breakfast food, though, and Fleischer just wound up wondering how long he'd been out.

There was no telling the passage of time.  There was no clock, and the light shining through the window was almost certainly artificial, which meant it could be dimmed or brightened on a whim.  Enough time had passed, however, that Fleischer could bear the pain his body was in enough to leave the shower and get dressed.  He wasn't surprised to see that his bloodied pillow had been taken away and replaced.

He was also slightly surprised, though the scent should have given it away, that there was another prime cut of steak on the plate that was resting on the table.  It was almost excruciating to hold a knife and fork, and almost as bad to chew.  It tasted delicious, though, and Fleischer had been so hungry.

Fleischer was nearly done with his food – was biting down on the last piece of steak – when he heard a crunch, and felt something in his mouth give out.  More than a little startled, he wound up spitting out the last bite of steak, and heard something hard strike the plate, as well.  There was a sharp taste of blood in the doctor's mouth, and he soon saw the cause lying on the plate…

…a tooth.  Or, the remains of a tooth, at least.  Fleischer's hand was more than a little shaky as he picked it up to get a better look.  It had been a canine at one point, but the tooth was hollowed out, somehow, and there was nothing to suggest that the root had broken off so much as dissolved away.  It almost looked like a life-like cap that had been meant to fit over something else.

He all but rushed to the bathroom to look in the mirror and try to see what had happened.  His upper right canine was gone.  There was something in its place – the emerging crown of another canine that would have looked completely normal were it not for the fact that it tapered to a single sharp point.  He pressed his tongue against one of his molars, and it didn't take any great deal of force to snap it free.  The Medic jumped a little at the feeling – at the brief pain, and the sudden taste of blood.  It was like the canine, though – an emerging tooth, almost identical to its original barring cusps that ended in sharp points.  They weren't as long or as pointed as the first tooth, but they were still certainly cause for alarm.

Fleischer quickly turned on the sink to rinse the blood out of his mouth, and when he spit he heard what he was sure was another tooth clink its way down the drain.  The thought of what was happening, and not knowing what was happening, made his heart race, and made him more than a little sick.  He retreated to the shower, and turned on the hot water as fast as he could manage.  Grabbing the lever made pain shoot through his fingers, and the feeling of a fingernail catching on the curtain as he pulled it shut finally made him scream.

It almost felt as though the nail had been bent back, or maybe torn loose entirely.  A few drops of blood – darker than they should have been – stained the water dripping from Fleischer's fingertips, and he was too afraid of what he would see to lift his hand and look.  Instead, he just sank to the floor, sobbing helplessly, and hurting all over, and trying, and failing, to remain conscious as he felt his body start to grow heavy.


Fleischer could hear and feel a familiar thrumming when he finally cracked his eyes open, again.  The light was entirely too bright, and he let out a small groan as he closed them, again.  He could hear things – people talking, and feet shuffling on the floor, and the sound of metal clanking against metal.  He forced his eyes back open and made another small, unhappy sound when he felt a sharp tug on one of his fingers.

"Did that hurt?" a voice – Davis? – asked, sounding genuinely concerned.

Fleischer tiredly shook his head in return.  It hadn't hurt, no – it had just been a little jarring.  He spent a moment looking around what little of the room he could see.  He didn't recognize any of it, other than Isaac's slightly wavering form leaning over him.  He tried to address the older man, but his tongue felt heavy in his mouth, and something was keeping him from bringing his teeth together.

"Don't try to talk," Isaac said, resting a hand gently on the younger man's shoulder.  "You'll hurt yourself.  We don't want that," he added, giving a little smile.

Fleischer shook his head at that, and groaned again when he felt another quick tug.  He gave a small sigh of relief, however, when he felt something warm, and soft, and damp being wrapped around his hand.  The rest of his body was uncomfortably cool, though, and it wasn't a moment after he shivered that another blanket was placed over him.  He tried to mumble a 'thank you', but couldn't quite manage it.

Doctor Davis just smiled faintly in return.  "Don't worry about it," he insisted.  "They were coming in rather rapidly – it's no wonder you were in so much pain.  We're just trying to make you comfortable.  You'll feel a lot better when we're done.  It's going to be awhile, though, so it might be best for you to go back to sleep while you wait."

Yes, that would probably be a good idea.  Fleischer felt tired – very tired – but, a part of him wanted to know what was going on.  His eyes followed Isaac as he turned and said – said something to someone just out of view.  He couldn't make out the words, though, and he couldn't really try to, either; he suddenly felt far too tired to care, and closed his eyes, again.

This story is actually a couple of years old. I was feeling very nostalgic and decided to pick it up and re-read it, and I wound up realizing that it had actually been very well-written. This was also my first real attempt at a horror/thriller piece. I'm posting on here, now, because along with being nostalgic, I would also appreciate any thoughts or critique on it. I wrote this not too long after I published Bedside Manner, and haven't really written up anything particularly longer than drabble, since.

Post-Modern Prometheus is a sort of alternative/hypothetical sequel to First Do No Harm… and Comorbidity…

If you want to delve into the back story, I would definitely recommend reading FDNH before Comorbidity. Both of those stories are relatively old, though, and I feel like I have improved my writing and characterization a great deal since then. As a result, if you do like Doctor Fleischer, or my writing in general (which, if you do, thank you very much - my main hope when I post my writing is that people will get some enjoyment out of it) then consider picking up my book, Bedside Manner, in paperback or on the Kindle…

Fair warning, though, this being a horror/thriller piece, expect some disturbing content, though I am not really prone to using a great deal of blood and/or gore.

As a final note, the thumbnail image is in the Public Domain, and was downloaded from Pixabay…

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Submitted on
September 21, 2014
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