Prose Nocturnes: Arm And The Man

His right arm was a powerful limb:  it had served him faithfully in his strenuous construction job; had defended him undefeatedly in more bar-brawls than he could remember; and triumphed boisterously in every arm-wrestling competition he had ever entered, both formally and informally.  Women lusted after its muscular contours, assuming (however incorrectly that its brawn guaranteed his intimate performances); men admired it cautiously, or hated it secretly, or resented it as they picked up their broken teeth that had been shattered by the fist hurled forward from that arm.

   The prognosis that it must be amputated, due to a rare but rather opportunistic, infection, was difficult to accept.  A second, even a third, opinion confirmed the original recommendation.

   "The arm does not want to be amputated," he insisted, even as they were preparing for the surgery.  He had said the same exact words to many others---anyone who would listen.

    "That is your own mind," the surgeons reassured him, "recoiling in psychogenic shock from the prospect.  Either the arm must be sacrificed, or your life will be."

     They warned him of phantom pains, residual, lingering signals to the brain from the surviving nerves that neither knew nor understood why their connections had been so savagely severed.

     He was, of course, required to remain in the hospital for several days, for observation and continued medicine as a preventative of both pain and infection.  As a precaution, they had immobilized his left arm, as they---and he---were afraid he might use it to damage the wound before it had even started to heal.

     In the first hour after he had regained consciousness, in the deep hours of the night when the hospital was very still and silent around him, he was surprised to feel the arm moving.  This was not arising from the stump that had survived, and was heavily dressed and bandaged.  He could feel the arm moving over his torso, as if checking the sheet to see if he were really underneath it.  He did not think he could be dreaming:  he was sharply, accutely, conscious of himself, his surroundings, and the night that enclosed it all.  He seemed to be aware, despite the protestations of common sense, that the arm was offended, outrage, and seeking some form of recompense. 

     Then, in what he instinstively knew was the last few moments of his remaining existence, he began to feel the blows of that massive fist, pummeling him all over, especially his face, his mouth, and his forehead.  Blood flew from his gums as his teeth shattered.   In his last few seconds, his cheekbones collapsed, and his eyeballs ruptured.  The attack was so rapid; his mind, in utter shock, could not even formulate a terrified, "Why?"

     As he died, the automatic monitors summoned the nursing staff.  They were horrified, aghast, at the mess they found.  Looking at his face was very unpleasant.

    Security cameras showed no evidence of an intruder.  Even a thorough forensic examination of the room, its furnishings, and the corridor outside his door provided not one single indication of a disturbance, much less a violent and invasive attack.



Author's Notes/Comments: 

The title is a parody of the first line of Vergil's epic poem, The Aeneid.

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saiom's picture

  the poem compels one to


the poem compels one to read on... I hope it's fictional



Starward's picture

Thank you, and yes, it is.

Thank you, and yes, it is.


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