Before it happened, they would always fall asleep in each other’s arms. Bright lamps in the operating room resembled alien flowers. Each one had five plastic petals and a bright LED center. She was butt naked, only wrapped in a ridiculous polka dot hospital gown and sprawled on a surgery table like a gingerbread man. Shadows in blue uniforms and masks circled around her. Earlier she’d been asked to remove her glasses which explains why their faces were a nice blur. Were they smiling at her? She couldn’t tell, but she smiled back just in case.
She woke up with her husband by her side. He sat on the edge of the bed and gently held her hand. Her other hand was in cast. Its hard white shell came up all the way to her elbow.
“Why?” she questioned in a tearful voice. Why yes, it was a bad fracture, her husband patiently explained, while the doc nodded. She had a bad fall. The bone broke in several pieces. Yes, she understood, but still. Wasn’t it only for a broken finger? Why put half an arm in cast? The doc reassured them that everything will be OK and sent them home.
— Do you think it’s, umm, expanding?
She was examining the cast, now grayish from everyday wear.
— Come on now! Don’t worry, babe. Only 3 weeks to go.
As days went by, the cast did seem to get bigger. They were busy with family visits during the weekend, but when they arrived home on Sunday night she discovered that the cast made its way to her right bicep. They weren’t able to get an appointment with the surgeon until the following Monday. In the next three days the cast crawled up to her shoulder and neck. She felt like it was alive and chocking her with some kind of ill intent.
Her voice changed too. It became throaty and hoarse.
Not only her body was changing. Some other things have changed too.
Before she fell and broke her finger they would always fall asleep in each other’s arms. Within few minutes their bodies would end up intertwined until morning.
Now laying in bed next to her, he had the weirdest feeling, like he slept next to a stranger. Someone inhuman, maybe deadly, and quite indifferent. For now.
They barely talked to each other.
By the end of the week her toes disappeared in the scruffy hard shell. The cast progressed to her scull.
Now only her eyes reminded him of how she was before the accident. Those warm hazel eyes of hers that would smile at him when he came back home from long day at work, or in the mornings.
— Damn Kaiser!
He was helplessly punching the air in front of him in the kitchen watching her send a spoonful of granola into the hole in the cast.
— Appointments backlogged all the way to May!
The night before the appointment he went to bed and saw with terror that the eyes that he loved so much were gone, too.
He had hard time falling asleep that night. He tried to peek inside the slits in the cast but there was only cold biding darkness inside.
In the morning he took her to the hospital.
“The bone should be healed by now,” assured the doctor.
His wife, silent and stiff, hidden inside the cast, was reclined in the examination chair.
The doctor pulled his surgical scissors and cut the cast open.
As soon as the edges came undone the foul odor filled up the room. Dark green water started coming out.
“The cast grew moldy. She must’ve gotten it wet when she was taking a shower,” said the doctor calmly.
They stood half-ankle in a puddle of foul water. Sticky haze filled up the room. The halves of the cast fell apart.
A tall creature with thin long limbs began crawling out of the layers of icky bandages and cotton. Its eyes were lit bright red.
“Run!” screamed the doctor, pale with terror. He dropped his instrument and nudged the nurse in the back. “What the fuck, Doc…” “Run!”
“It’s my wife out there! I can’t leave her!”
They ran through the murky hallways to where the brightly illuminated Exit signs pointed the way out. Someone collapsed in the dark foul water behind them but they did not stop.
They ran till the unnerving gurgling and squelching behind them tailed off.
They busted out of the orthopedic department in the bright hospital lobby. Only two of them. Both were covered in cold sweat. With a sigh of relief they heard police and fire trucks sirens approaching.
They waited for the husband for a good few minutes until help arrived, but he never came back.
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XOXO, Marina ❤