“A trauma so great that it can’t be absorbed. At least not all at once. So it gets cast out of time, cast out of consciousness. It’s still happening, though, and that’s where things get tricky.”
When I was eighteen years old, slinging coffee in San Francisco’s Embarcadero and surviving on double-shot espressos and filched cheese pastries, I (perhaps not surprisingly) got very sick and almost died. An infection took over my throat like a starving, steel-armed octopus determined to squeeze the life out of me one raw, throbbing gland at a time.
Pain like that is so enormous, so complete, that one doesn’t feel it so much as become it.
If you’ve ever felt pain like that, you never, ever forget it.
Enter the miracles of modern anesthesia, whereby the body still experiences pain, but we’ve tricked the mind into not feeling it…
Makes you wonder, though–where does it go, all of that unfelt pain?
In my short story “The Suffering Other,” from my new collection The Knife and the Wound It Deals
, a woman undergoes a routine operation that reveals a rather un
routine parallel world of pain and suffering just out of reach of our consciousness—that is, until something goes terribly, terribly wrong…
“Start counting backwards from ten and by the time you hit five, you won’t feel a thing. By the time you hit one, you won’t even remember how to count.”
Doctor Holborn had probably used that same joke a thousand times without ever realizing it wasn’t funny. But having no desire to displease the person about ready to remove a part of her anatomy, Jane laughed anyway.
“Okay, ready? Next thing you know, you’ll be waking up tonsil-free.Ten… nine… eight… seven… six…
By the time Jane hit five, she wasn’t feeling a thing. By the time she hit one, what happened next made her wish she could forget more than just how to count…
To read “The Suffering Other” and twelve other gothic tales of strange and fantastic happenings, click here
to purchase The Knife and the Wound It Deals
in paperback or e-book version.