Steph is visiting her partner, Adam, who’s in an induced coma in an Intensive Treatment Unit. She stands at the foot of Adam’s bed, staring at the array of apparatus that’s keeping him alive. She had expected silence but the room is filled with the incessant bleeping of the many life-support machines and monitors surrounding the beds.
Can he hear all that dreadful bleeping? she asks the doctor standing beside her. It’s so discordant; he’ll hate it.
Can’t be helped, and, frankly, we don’t know what he hears.
Adam can’t hear their voices but finds the high-pitched irregular bleeping unbearable, to escape he lets his injured mind wander.
The vast rotunda he enters is made of highly polished white Carrera marble. For a moment, Adam wonders if he is already dead and this is heaven; this idea soon evaporates as the bleeping continues.
Sunlight, from an oculus at the apex of the high dome, forms a huge spotlight, illuminating a gigantic, naked, hairless, white man sitting on a marble throne. The pores of his pockmarked skin leak vast quantities of liquid over the voluminous folds of his flesh.
Is this hell? Adam wonders.
Men and women, anxious faced, dressed in rags, emerge from the shadows and, as they pass the colossus, they bow and he pisses on them.
Seeing the giant’s continuously moving lips, Adam goes nearer and strains to hear the giant’s words, only to discover there’s no sound. He recoils from the stink of the mephitic sweat that oozes from the monster only to find himself engulfed in a megaphonic caustic belch.
The giant’s flesh undulates in waves as he scratches his dull, chalky skin; his fingernails leave trails of bright red blood. He throws back his head and laughs, his cackle echoing around the rotunda. As he stands, a wave of sweat flows over the flesh that hangs dripping onto his thighs while the cheeks of his colossal arse overhang the back of his knees. He farts and the stench is abominable.
Oh God, is that me stinking? Adam wonders. Did I shit myself?
The bleeping continues.
The sky above darkens and heavy rain pours in through the oculus and, to Adam’s astonishment, vast clouds of steam rise from the giant on his throne. A sudden flash of lightening illuminates the rotunda as the giant, now in the form of a vast jellyfish, slithers threateningly towards Adam.
Screaming, Adam thrashes in his bed. Tubes rip from cannulas. Conscious patients stir in alarm. The bleeping is deafening – Adam’s vital signs diminishing, he’s ashen white. Nurses spring into action: injections are given and his sedation is reversed. Finally the emergency passes. Adam is conscious, but afraid.
Steph holds his hand. Do you want to tell me what happened?
He shakes his head. Tears run down his cheeks. I can’t go back in there. Never!
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© Phil Cosker 2021
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.