Runs in the Family – A short story

Posted on 2014/11/10

I wrote this on 15 August 2013. My Dad died 2 October 2014.


It’s pitch-black.

“I’m confused. I can’t see”.

“Yes, it will take awhile to adjust. Just relax.”

“I can’t relax. I can’t move. I can’t see. Where am I? What is going on?

“Just relax. You’re safe. Do you have any pain?”

“No, no pain – nothing actually. I can’t even feel my legs. Or arms. I can’t even move my head.”

“This is not unusual. You’ve been through a lot. All will be explained in due course. For now, please don’t fight us. We’re acting in your best interests”.

“Can’t stay awake…. are you drugging me?”

“Yes. Sleep. Your body can repair a great deal of damage when you’re asleep.”

“It’s still dark. Why? Why isn’t there any light? I’m confused and scared”.

“There is light Neil. Your eyes are currently taped closed. We’ve worked hard to ensure all of your sense will be returned..”

“What the fuck are you on about? What the fuck are you doing to me? Let me up. What is going on”?

“Have you noticed that even though you would like to struggle, you can’t? We have administered nerve blocks that eliminate pain and sensation. We do not wish to hurt you. We are trying to help.

“Help WHAT? What happened? Who are you?

“Neil. It’s important we reveal your situation gently as the shock could be fatal. You are already in a precarious state. What do you remember?”

“I remember Breakfast at the Hospital. I know I had Orange Marmalade as I love it. I remember talking to the Oncologist about the spread of my cancer and I can remember his expression. It was ashen. He told me that I was likely to die today…. Is that it? Am I dead?”

“No Neil, you are not dead”. The conversation you had with your Doctor took place 3 days ago. You’ve been with us ever since.”

“You keep saying “us”. Who is us and why am I here and why can’t I see or move?”

“Neil, what did you do for a living?”

“What? What does that matter? Are you going to answer my questions?”

“In due course. As I mentioned, you need to come to this gradually.”

“Come ON! This is not a Murder Mystery Party, tell me what the hell is going on!”

“Neil, you spent your working life helping those around you. You were selfless and had a reputation for giving. You touched the hearts of many, many people. Which is why the Institute agreed to assist with your recovery”.

“What recovery? What happened to me? Was anyone else hurt?”

“No, no one else was hurt. Neil, your Father passed away 3 days ago. We think that was the catalyst for your situation”.

“Oh My God! My Father? What is GOING ON? Why did my Dad die? WHY AM I HERE?”

“Your Dad had a stroke Neil. He went quickly. It was unexpected. He was an incredibly fit man but he had a haemorrhage in his brain. There was nothing that could be done for him. Such a waste. You on the other hand… you were not fit. You were riddled with Cancer. That’s what killed you.”

“Killed me? What sort of fucked up place is this? If I’m dead, how are you even talking to me?”

“Neil, as you know the Institute has been doing research into nerve damage and repair for many years. Your Doctor, Mr. Canavero has had a great deal of success in recent times. The demise of your body was a happy coincidence.”

“Happy? Happy coincidence? What. The. Fuck? I died of cancer and you say you’re happy? And how are you talking to me if I’m dead? This is bullshit,”

“Neil, we clearly need to bring you into the loop. We’re administering a drug to cancel out the paralysis and a Nurse will remove your eye tape. Please don’t make any sudden moves and be sure to open your eyes gradually. This is likely to be very painful”.

“I can see! It’s blurry but I can see! I can move my fingers! And toes!”

“Yes, Mr. Canavero is an exceptionally talented surgeon. Are you experiencing any pain?”

“No, no pain. Some discomfort pretty much all over but no pain. My skin itches. My heart feels slower than normal. I can smell antiseptic.”

“That’s all very good Neil. We expect that you need to know how it is that you are still alive even though you died 3 days ago.”

“Well, yes. The thought did cross my mind. What happened? What have you done to me?”

“The Nurse is bringing you a mirror. Please relax before you look into it. We are unsure as to your response to this, however we believe it to have been in your best interests.”

The Nurse approaches Neil and points the mirror towards his face.

“Dad?”


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