Cones and Rods

A piece of flash fiction

Shain Slepian
Oct 16, 2020 · 3 min read
Photo by Brandon Holmes on Unsplash

Carlos held down the button to the nurse’s station. Maybe no one had heard him. He didn’t know what else to do. His broken neck made escape impossible.

Thoughts were forming and shattering rapidly.

Something stuck out from the mattress. It had been jabbing him in the back for days. But now it threatened to drive him off a cliff.

All he needed was quiet. Just a little. The noise from the television was now distorting his vision. He’d dropped the remote. That was 15 minutes ago, at least.

The room seemed to be shining. The cacophony assaulting his ears made the florescent lights unbearable.

The images on the screen were losing meaning. Now it was just searing noise. He saw shadows of footfalls passing beneath the door. He was waiting for a shadow to stop there.

He’d have to shout. He inhaled, shredding his throat, and:

“NURSE!”

1… 2… 3…

“BEN!”

The television drowned him out.

He couldn’t remember why he was here, now. He should just leave. Except he was in paralyzing pain. And someone named ‘Ben’ might be coming for him. The faces in his mind were grotesque and disordered.

Had he been looking under the door? For how long? A shadow was now parked there. It was indifferent, however.

Carlos wheezed as he chipped a molar down to the gum. The shard of bone clattered soundlessly on his other teeth. He screamed uselessly at the shadow.

Carlos tried to contract his abdomen enough to peel his torso forward.

The television was howling. The shadows beneath the door were invading. They dominated the room without dimming the overwhelming brightness. Color seemed to flicker. But the noise remained constant.

Carlos wailed and lurched himself off the bed, onto the floor, shattering the contraption around his head.

His mind ruminated on the crack he’d heard as he fell.

His ears filled with something wet: it trickled gently down the sides of his face. He cried in happiness as his ears became submerged. He could now easily focus on the image of the shaking door handle.

The door opened and the room appeared to him in black and white. He squinted to see the figure.

The grotesque faces had not restored themselves. Which face in his collection represented ‘Ben?’

The figure knelt down and Carlos recognized it as a repulsive face from his mind. Its limbs snaked around him.

Carlos grasped for the shards of his neck brace and shoved it, by pure luck, through the creature’s ear into its brain.

The light dimmed comfortably. The blood from his ears trickled onto the wavering face beneath him. The sound had stopped. He rolled onto his back. He didn’t want to know what damage he had done to his spine.

He could now see the high, greenish windows. Behind the glass were hundreds of normal faces. Taking notes.

He looked over at — it was Ben. As handsome as the day he married him. Blood draining from his ears.

Introspection, Exposition

Courageous, authentic, honest.

Thanks to Elan Cassandra

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Shain Slepian

Written by

Shain is a screenwriter and screenplay editor. For more content, follow their blog and check out their YouTube channel, TimeCapsule.

Introspection, Exposition

Introspection, Exposition is a publication for writers who want to use their own voices to tell their unique stories, and for readers looking for contemplative and unconventional work. We feature brave personal essays, short fiction, humor, and more.

Shain Slepian

Written by

Shain is a screenwriter and screenplay editor. For more content, follow their blog and check out their YouTube channel, TimeCapsule.

Introspection, Exposition

Introspection, Exposition is a publication for writers who want to use their own voices to tell their unique stories, and for readers looking for contemplative and unconventional work. We feature brave personal essays, short fiction, humor, and more.

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