A human heart is in the jar. The linings of the muscles all clearly visible. Where the right ventricle is a huge unnatural bulge.

In a jar, the human heart looks like a small timid animal, stuck in a place it doesn’t belong. On the long wall length shelf, the heart floats in the liquid of the sole jar. Like a misbehaving child, made to stand alone at the back wall of the classroom while all her friends watch on. Stripped naked and defenceless. A specimen human heart.

K doesn’t even look up at me, just staring into his computer screen, continuing his work. In his lab coat, he looks deadly serious. And right where he belongs.

“That you’re looking at is the heart of a dead man. That little stinker caused that poor guy to die. Just decided to stop functioning one day and down he went. The bulge appeared after death. And that’s the reason why you, right now are staring at it. I’m studying the bulge. It isn’t normal for bulges to appear just like that.”

I nod, still unable to take my eyes off it.

As I leave the lab, the image of the heart still remains etched in my eyes.

I awake in a land of greenery. Thick grass surround my feet and I smell nature all around me. A large cat comes towards me. The top fur of the cat is a complete, unstained black, while the bottom is a strange hue of green, as if obtained by touching the grass, it’s tail is a pure white.

‘follow me,” the cat says, quietly, unhurriedly.

As I follow, it’s slender white tail sways from side to side.

Before long, the cat leads me to a clearing before turning around to face me. It gives me one long final stare before indifferently walking away.

Lining the clearing are 10 chopped off tree barks, and one each of them is a beating heart. Blood spews in quick small spurts from each artery, staining the tree bark a dry crimson red. I approach the tree to my furthest right. As I walk closer, all the sounds of the forest disppear with a soft swoosh, mitigating all sounds around the bark. Only the softening beat of the human heart is heard.

With every approach of a new tree bark, the same thing happens. Silence ensues with the dying beat the only sound able to be heard.

Going clockwise, I eventually approach the 10th and final tree bark. On it is the heart from K’s lab. It’s unmistakable. The same bulge on the left ventricle. Intrigued, I approach closer and closer.

“touch it,” the tree bark beckons. “and bring it close to your chest.”

I do exactly as it says.

All of a sudden, somehow culminating energy, the heart forces it’s way into my body, penetrating my skin, lungs and ribcage.

The intruding heart finds its way to my own heart and fuses with it. My heartbeat strengthens almost immediately and I feel a double pulse. The blood in my veins seem to be running through me at a faster and faster speed. My body can’t handle the sudden spike in pressure. My veins burst and blood stains from cells and other organs. Blood escapes from my mouth and I choke. The grass below me turns into a sea of — .

When I wake up and reach K’s lab the next day, he’s wearing a very worried and perplexed look on his face. He looks at me straight in the eye and says, “The heart. It’s missing.”

And he’s right. The jar has dropped onto the flow and is cracked into half. The heart is nowhere to be found.

The glossy white flooring on the lab becomes a small sea of red.