Welcome to another Friday Freewrite. Some days I just need to sit down and write. Some Fridays I share what I’ve written with you.
It’s not arachnophobia, Gallon repeated as the doorknob turned and a deeply tanned man stepped gently into the room on the soles of soft leather loafers.
“Good morning, Mr. Caverty.” Dr. Gupta wore a warm smile that softened the edges of his starched, white lab coat. Gallon nodded in response to the doctor’s greeting and beat his heels against the base of the paper-covered bed. It was finally time to get some answers.
For years the doctors had said Gallon’s condition was a mental phobia. But Gallon wasn’t afraid of bugs.
He felt them.
All over his skin. They’d dance on his arm and scuttle away just in time to hide in the center of a freckle. Then they’d emerge, drumming a tender wave of a million legs across his flesh, only to slip out of sight just before he could prove their presence.
But he always felt them.
The bugs were there and they were trying to get inside him through any orifice possible. An open smile, an unprotected nostril, an ear momentarily devoid of headphones.
It had become so strong, this belief of his that invisible insects were slowly colonizing his flesh, that Gallon had been to dozens of doctors, sought out thousands of therapists. And he had been laughed out of every single office.
Desperate now, he’d decided to explore the more unconventional routes of medicine in order to find his cure. The sign outside this office had read: Dr. Fahar Gupta, tropical herbalist. Sanctuary from all your illusive aliments awaits within.
It was worth a shot.
“So, Doc,” Gallon said lightly now, trying to mask the gnawing horror festering in the space behind his belly button. No. Not the belly button. He shivered, regretting the thought instantly as a sudden rush of frames from The Matrix flooded into his mind. The belly button was another access point. Gallon shifted, covering the space with his flattened palm.
He gulped down a pool of saliva and tried to refocus. Dr. Gupta was passing jars through his hands, reading the labels of the various glass bottles that lined the rickety bookcase to his left. But as the paper shreds passed by him, Gallon realized he couldn’t make out any of the words.
“Are those written in English?” he managed to choke out. The fear deepened in his gut as he noticed the contents of one jar was still moving even though the doctor had set it down minutes ago. No one had said anything about live specimens.
“Tibetan, Mr. Caverty,” Dr. Gupta said, selecting one brown bottle and giving it a little shake in the air. “And I think I’ve found the cure you’ve been searching for.” As he spoke, the doctor pulled out a stool draped in a thin fur hide and took a seat.
Gallon took one look at the contents of the jar and his mouth flooded with pennies. He was going to puke. The horror continued as Dr. Gupta reached his hand into the jar of murky water and pulled out what looked like a pickled Slim Jim with legs.
“Awh, whoa wait a minute. Hold up there man,” he said, scooting back on the bed, scrunching the paper as he moved. “What is that thing?”
There was a slight glimmer in Dr. Gupta’s eyes as he leaned forward, pinching the slimy Slim Jim and letting it curl up in on itself.
“This, Mr. Caverty, is your cure.” A slow smile stretched across his face, revealing a set of brown-rimmed teeth and one golden incisor that had dulled from years of inadequate care. Gallon was already reconsidering his decision to come here. Who the hell was this freak? And what exactly was he planning on doing with that…that… that tentacled thing?
Dr. Gupta only leaned in closer and dangled the specimen in front of Gallon’s nose.
“First we meet our cure, Mr. Caverty,” he said, letting the bug craw around in his now opened palm. “And then we become one with it.” Dr. Gupta curled his fingers into a fist slowly around the bug. Gallon choked down a gulp of oxygen he hadn’t realized he’d been holding in.
Then the doctor opened his fist, and the bug was gone.