Trigger warning: This story contains graphic descriptions of violence and it could trigger some people.
Erica was lying on her side, her back towards the door. It was warm and the nurses had taken the blanket off her body. I walked around Erica’s bed and sat in the chair right next to her head. I had been warned that her voice was still very weak. Her eyes moved towards me, skimmed over my body and finally landed on my face. I reciprocated her gaze.
“Hey”, I said. Erica’s lips opened slightly and the corners of her mouth twitched as if she was trying to smile. “Hey”, she whispered.
I made sure to look at her face. It was hard to avoid staring at the two large wounds, one right in the middle of her chest and one from the end of her ribcage through her abdomen. The way they were stitched with black threat the wounds nearly looked like zippers; as if someone had opened Erica’s body and then decided, after all, that it was better to keep it closed. I had to suppress a smirk while thinking about the mental image – “Hey, her organs are getting cold, let’s close her up again.” But in the end that was, in one way or the other, what happened.
I scolded myself for the insulting thoughts. But Erica seemingly hadn’t noticed. So I asked her to tell me everything that she remembered.
“I don’t know”, she said. “I was totally normal until I went home. It must have been a week ago, or maybe two.” I glanced at her sheet. The emergency call had been nearly a month ago.
“It all really blurs together. It’s all the same now. Everything is the same now. And just because of this asshole, this guy called Matt! I only met him through a friend. It was Jane. We weren’t even real friends; that pig was just always there, literally every class I ever had – she was in it. At some point we really hated each other’s guts. But I guess that faded away, at least for me. I’m not sure about her, at least not anymore.”
“Jane called me up a few weeks back and told me that she had met a great guy that I should meet. She knew that I hadn’t had a boyfriend in a while, and whenever we met, which was far too often, she would tease me about it. But on the phone she sounded sincere, nearly concerned. She described him in perfect terms. Chivalrous, handsome, smart, loves children. The way she described him sounded just too perfect. I was going to say No, but Jane kept piling up the good stuff – likes children, gives good massages, apparently this guy was Adonis himself! And at some point I just gave in and said Yes.”
“I should have known it back then”, Erica was staring against the wall. “It just all sounded far too good, especially for that bear-hairy beast Jane. She was never up to any good. And if he was so great, why wasn’t she with him instead?”
“Anyway, I had said yes. And somehow I felt obliged to meet this guy. I even dressed up, shaved every corner that needed shaving, it took me two hours to get ready. But when I saw him it all seemed worth it. He really was as handsome and sweet as Jane had described. He knew what I liked, he led the way; he even held the door open. We talked about so many things, about books that we both loved, and how we were both crazy about going to Peru someday. I have never laughed so much in my life. And I have to admit before we even got the main I felt the butterflies in my stomach.”
Suddenly Erica groaned. “My arm, my arm is hurting!” I called the nurse and jointly we rolled Erica so that she was lying on her back. The nurse massaged Erica’s pale right arm, reminding her that the pain was a good thing. “The pain indicates that your feeling is coming back”, said the nurse, “maybe you can someday move your hand again.”
A tear ran down Erica’s face after the nurse had left. “I don’t know what he gave me. I just don’t know what he gave me. He offered to walk me home after dinner. We even took a walk through the park. And – usually I don’t do that, but I asked him to come inside. I got us two glasses of red wine while Matt was admiring my small library. We drank together and then I went to the bathroom to, well, whether I was ‘ready’ for it. I remember how I nervously giggled at myself in the mirror. It all seemed as if I had finally found Prince Charming, the perfect guy, the one that maybe someday I could raise children with. When I came back he toasted and emptied his glass – and so did I.”
More tears streamed out of Erica’s eyes. I gently dabbed them off her face with a tissue.
“That’s the last thing I remember – and then the cold, this horrible cold! It was as if every part of my body was freezing off. I tried to get away, to move, but I couldn’t move any part of my body. It was all just hard and stiff and it felt so strange, I wasn’t even sure whether I had arms and legs anymore. And my eyes were closed, but even through the eyelids I realized that everything was dark around me, everything!”
“I thought I was dead. I thought this was some horrible purgatory, and I would remain forever like that. It was so damn freezing cold, and there was nothing I could feel except the cold air around me and some freezing, metallic surface below me. Oh god, in that moment I just prayed to every god I could think of to free me, to save me, to please forgive me for whatever crime I had done.”
“It was like that for a really long time. I desperately tried to move and prayed and with every passing moment I got more scared, more panicked. I only noticed that I hadn’t been breathing when my lungs finally made a small movement, when I felt freezing air move through my nose, in my throat and finally in my lungs. But when I noticed that I didn’t breathe out I panicked even more. It felt so long, like an eternity, while my thoughts were running wild, while I was waiting that my life would run past in front of my eyes – and finally I felt my lungs moving again, slowly, incredibly slowly and painfully, but at least they were moving. At least I knew that I was still alive.”
“But then the fear returned even stronger. I was trying to find out where I was, what was holding my body, why I was freezing. First I thought that maybe I had been buried and was now locked in a coffin until the air ran out. I was terrified by that, until I slowly convinced myself that that couldn’t be true, that they would never bury someone without making sure they were dead. I was trying to open my eyes, to finally see where I was, but they seemed frozen in place. I could move my eyeballs, slowly, but I could move them. But my eyelids were like dark curtains draped over my eyes, as if someone had glued them in place.”
Erica slowly closed her eyelids, held her eyes shut for a second and then opened them again. “I tried moving my eyeballs quickly, and to press them against my eyelid. I thought that maybe they were somehow frozen in place, that I would just need to rub them to open them again. I tried for hours, and I was already close to giving up when I finally felt them again.”
“I never felt my eyelids before. I never even noticed that I could feel them. But in that moment, when the feeling returned first in my right and then in my left eyelid – it was incredible. I’ve never been so happy. I kept rubbing, even faster than before, my eyeballs were already starting to hurt and I was seeing strange colors. But finally, with pain I could open them again. But around me everything was still black. Totally black!”
“I thought I could try and move more of my body. But it just didn’t work. I tried everything to move my hands and my arms, or at least my mouth, but all was for nothing. I even closed my eyes again, I didn’t know if it would damage them to be in the cold for so long. And by the minute it felt as if I was getting colder. All I could feel was the cold, and all I could hear was my heartbeat, incredibly slowly and weak, and a steady humming. It sounded like a fan or a small motor. I figured I was in a machine of some sort.”
Erica grimaced, which I took as a sign that she wanted water. The syringe was lying right on the bedside table. The nurse had told me that drinking was still too difficult, that Erica could suffocate from water in her lungs. I would have to press water in her mouth with the syringe, so that Erica could slowly swallow it. The procedure was slow. It took more than ten minutes to at least empty a quarter of the small cup. Erica smiled. “Thank you”, she said.
“I figured I was in a machine of some sort. But I still couldn’t move. I still couldn’t open my mouth. I still couldn’t make any noise. There was just no sense of time t felt like days. It was what felt like days. I had already lost all my hope. I was already trying to imagine a chess board in my head. I had read that about some Russian prisoner, that he had spent years isolated in prison, and that the only thing that kept him sane was to play chess against himself, in his mind.”
“But then I heard the loud clonking sound and finally footsteps and voices. It was like a dream come true, I thought I could finally escape. But they didn’t come to me. They said things I couldn’t understand, then there were more metallic sounds, it seemed like the sounds were all around me, as if they were doing something with the machine I was in – but then, after a long screeching sound and a loud bang the voices disappeared again. I heard them walking out of the room, and then I heard the metal door fall shut again.”
“Again I thought I was lost. I was sure that I must be there on purpose, that maybe Matt was some insane perverse guy that kept me locked up to do with me whatever he wanted. That was actually the only moment I thought of him again. Only then I realized that his face, how he was raising his glass towards me, that that was my last memory. I hate that man for what he has done to me. I hate him so much.”
“I was ages in there. At some point I just wanted to die. I tried to hold my own breathing, or to stop my already weak heartbeat, but my muscles were too weak. I tried to hold my breath, but my body kept on breathing. I cursed my body then too, for betraying me.”
Erica sniffed her nose, moving her lips towards the pale center of her face. I scratched it for her. She forced a smile onto her face.
“The itching was so horrible. I don’t even know when it started, but it was like an additional torture. The pain of the cold, the fear and panic, and then the itching that seemed to get worse by the second. And it kept spreading, first my nose was itching, then my lips, then my whole face. It was horrible. And then, just then, I finally heard the clonk again.”
“I heard the footsteps and male voices. I was terrified of them, but at the same time I thought nothing could be worse than where I was at. I thought nothing they could do could be worse than what I was already feeling.”
“I heard a man say ‘This one’, and then suddenly there was a loud clonk, right near my feet. I ripped my eyes open, and the light was blinding me, but I still saw that I was in a small metal box, not much larger than my body. And it suddenly started to move, they were pulling me out, on some sort of rolling mechanism. I was still lying on the cold metal, but at least the air outside the box was warmer.”
“I could barely see anything because of the bright white light; but I still saw the shadows of these three large guys standing around me. They looked menacing, with strange tools in their hands and masks covering their faces. ‘Transfer her’ said one of them, and suddenly the metal below me began to shake and the lights above me started to move, and with a loud thud it finally stopped. They had moved my body to some other surface. My arm was hanging down, and one of the guys bent it painfully back onto the metal.”
Erica pressed her lips together. “They stepped away and joked that I was ‘hot’ and that it was a shame. When they came back I saw their instruments. One of them was holding a camera. And another one, a larger one, was something that looked like a knife or saw. The third, a thin but tall figure, was pressing down on my arms.”
“I wanted to scream. I wanted to scream so badly, but the only thing I could do was move my eyes, and they just didn’t look at my eyes. The hands with the saw disappeared out of my sight, and then I felt the pain, oh god, the pain. It was right in my stomach, right in the middle, and I could feel how my body was shaking while he was pressing the cold metal into my body again and again. I felt the saw clawing through my skin and pushing inside my body. And the thin man pressed painfully strong on my arms. But I couldn’t do anything, my body was still stiff and hard and my arms and legs just didn’t want to react. There was just nothing I could do! And all I felt was this horrible pain, this incredible pain of the saw ripping through my flesh.”
“Then they stopped. The large guy pulled the saw carefully back out. ‘Strange’, he said, ‘she looks really fresh. Can you check when she came in?’ The thin guy let go of my arms and went out of my sight, while the one with the camera came closer, filming something on my lower body. I kept frantically moving my eyes from side to side, but they weren’t looking at my face, they were just staring somewhere at my lower body. Then the thin one came back. ‘More than a week’, he said. And the other one just nodded and raised the saw again.”
“The thin one was pressing on my arms again, and from the other side the large one pushed the saw against my chest. I felt it resting there for a moment, the cold metal on my skin. And then he pushed. I felt his push right against my bone; how it pierced the skin. And then he began sawing right at my chest. I nearly fainted from the pain, I kept trying to move something, anything, to scream, and a weak noise came from my chest, but they didn’t hear it, I was making a sound, but they didn’t even hear it! And then finally the guy with the camera walked around, just when I felt my bone breaking he screamed ‘Stop! Stop! Stop! She’s alive! Stop, she’s alive!’ and I saw that he was looking at my eyes. He had seen my eyes moving!”
“I felt the saw moving away, and the camera coming close to my face. I must have passed out then. I just woke up here. But even now, in my dreams, I keep feeling it, the saw pushing against my bone.”
I looked at Erica’s file. It said “Deceased” at the top, in large, bold letters. The second page was a death certificate. A short note was scribbled into the pre-printed lines. “Found on the street, 4:12am, no pulse; likely cardiac arrest.” The third page was an autopsy report, dated eleven days later. The handwriting was neat at the top, but hasty, barely readable at the end of the page. “Patient woke up during autopsy.”
“I don’t know what Matt gave me”, whispered Erica while a single tear ran down her face. “I want to see him go to prison and hell. But that doesn’t even matter that much. I just hope I can someday move my arms and legs again.”
This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.