Here is the first chapter of my novella, Zombie Reflux (Meandi Books, 2014), a satirical poke at contemporary UK society, with elements of horror. If you like it, you can buy the paperback for £3.99 from Amazon UK.
Eric sat in the waiting room of A&E, clutching his stomach. What in the hell was wrong with him?
“Mr. Von Pfeffer?” called the nurse. “The doctor will see you now.”
Eric followed her into a room and sat on the doctor’s bed. He caught sight of his reflection in the mirror. Sallow.
“Hello, you must be Mr. Von Pfeffer? How are you feeling?”
“Not good. It’s my belly. I’ve had a lot of stomach problems lately.”
The doctor produced a stethoscope. “I’m just going to listen to your abdomen, if you’ll take off your shoes and lie down. It could be gastritis. Have you been having acid reflux?”
“Not that I was aware of.” Eric slipped off his sandals and stretched out. The doctor placed the metal disc on his belly. He didn’t even feel the coldness he had expected. His body was numb, detached.
The doctor paled. He lifted the stethoscope away.
“We have a problem, Eric,” said the doctor hurriedly. He looked across to paperwork on his desk and whispered to the nurse, who lingered near the door. She looked at Eric, and he could see confusion on her face.
“What is it, doctor?” said Eric.
“Er… I’m not sure. It could be my stethoscope is broken.”
“Just tell it to me straight, please.”
“Alright then. You have no heartbeat.”
Eric stared at him. “What?”
The nurse pointed to his exposed stomach. Her words came out too hushed to hear. And then she fainted. The doctor’s head turned a fraction towards her, but Eric noticed he couldn’t take his eyes off him.
Eric’s eyes travelled down his own body. A piece of brown leather rope was stuck to his midriff. He grasped it and pulled. It stretched, but didn’t detach from his stomach.
And then he saw a hairline fracture, running across his midriff. Eric’s jaw fell open. The object wasn’t a leathery rope. It was his intestines poking out of his torso, like freeze-dried tripe.
“Oh God, oh my God! But, but how? It’s not possible!”
The doctor stood, eyes fixed to Eric’s protruding intestines. “You’re a walking miracle. This must be a new kind of superimmunity, perhaps to an illness – perhaps even to-”
Eric flapped his hands. “Well do something about it. Fix me! At the very least put my bowels back in, please!”
“I can’t. Not until we run some tests,” said the doctor, matter-of-factly.
Guinea pig. Eric jumped up, dislodging a tray of nasty-looking utensils from a medical trolley. No way were they going to lock him up in a cage and stick pins in him, or cut bits off him. No tests, no way.
“Give me a colostemy bag and let me go, please!”
“Don’t you see, this is going to advance medical science by decades. Imagine, if I can find out what happened, the recognition I could get-”
Eric ran behind the medical bed, pushing it towards the tyrant doctor. He threw a pair of forceps, but the crafty medic deflected them with a practised parry.
“Now, let’s not get hasty, Mr. Von Pfeffer. We could work this out together. You might have the answers to life after death, and if you’re smart, we could both benefit. If you’ll just let me-”
“Forget it! I might be, well, in my current predicament, but I’m still human and humans have rights. I won’t have any of this, you amoral fiend. I should’ve known better than to trust you medical types.”
Eric hopped over the unconscious nurse on the floor and made for the exit. But he felt himself snag and with a jerk, pulled back. Looking around, he saw the doctor yank on his dried-out intestines.
“Let me go, please. This isn’t fair. Ask yourself if you’re being ethical!”
The doctor flashed a patronising smile. “Ethics don’t come into play. This is medicine. And what’s more, you signed away your life.”
He gave a nod towards his desk. Amidst the paperwork, Eric saw a donor card with his own signature, clear on the front. “Or should I add, signed away your life, if you had a life to forfeit,” the doctor continued. He tugged on Eric’s intestines, and Eric felt himself pulled like a lassoed beast.
There was nothing for it; he had to do self-surgery. He snatched a scalpel off the medical trolley and hacked at his own innards. The leathery intestines broke free. Free! He raced out of the room, down the corridor and out of the hospital.
Freedom of sorts. A strange sensation had overcome his body; actions without feelings. It was liberating, in a sense. He was dead. He didn’t have to think about life. He could rethink all the morals that binded him before – good versus bad. Besides, nothing binded him now; he’d been cut free from his own guts. A gutless man could do anything.