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A Mad Scientist Approaches You With an Offer

Categories: Creative Writing Prompts Tags: creative writing exercises, creative writing prompts, writing prompt.

A mad scientist approaches you with an offer—he will heighten one of your senses, but it will make one of your other senses duller. It isn’t optional; he’s going to perform the surgery anyway, but you get to choose which two senses. Write this scene.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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131 Responses to A Mad Scientist Approaches You With an Offer

  1. DDestrukt says:

    It was the smell that hit me first, strong and acrid, it left a burning sensation behind with every shallow breath rattling through my chest like a cold wind through an open door in winter. I tried to blink the water from my eyes only to find myself staring into a bright light, if this was God I didn’t want to see him. The faint metallic buzz of the flurescant light buzzed loudly like a persistant wasp. “Well, finally that took you long enough”. The voice was unfamiliar, polite but stern. I tried to move, to sit up but it was no use I was bound. “The situation is rather simple, test subject zero. You have five senses, I will enhance one, the result however will involve removal of another. It’s entirely your choice, think fast, I’m on a schedule.” I was dumbfounded, mumbling, finally thrashing against the bed. Time passed and I realised the only option was making the choice. Sight, hearing, speech, smell, taste? Never seeing a sunrise, hearing a symphony, singing a hymn, tasting fresh cookies? Smell. I could deal with that. I would have to it was my only way free. I hoped…

  2. SchmidtHappens008 says:

    I awoke groggily, painfully. My vision was blurry and as much as I blinked and squinted, it wouldn’t clear. After a minute I realized I wasn’t wearing my glasses. Panic immediately struck me and I sprang up to search for them. Or at least I attempted to. My panic intensified ten-fold when I realized that I was strapped tightly to what felt like a metal examining table.

    “Oh, how wonderful! Our subject is finally awake,” said a voice from across the room. A fuzzy white form came into view, the source of the voice, I assumed. The man leaned over me, his foul breath threatening to make me cover myself with the contents of my stomach. Come to think of it, when was the last time I’d eaten? What time was it? Where the hell was I? Questions flew through my mind and a large part of me feared they would never be answered. I began to struggle, pulling at the restraints on my ankles and wrists, bucking at the straps across my torso and forehead. “Calm down, my pet, calm down. There’s nothing to fear.” He stroked my face with the back of a gloved hand as he said the last. “You are about to become a part of history. I am a pioneer, you see.” He began to walk slowly around the table on which I laid as he spoke. “I believe I’ve discovered a way to amplify one of the five senses while sacrificing another. You, my friend, shall be my first human test subject.”

    Great. It was bad enough that I’d been kidnapped. Now, I’ve been kidnapped by a mad scientist and made to be a guinea pig. “If the procedure works, you’ll be a harbinger of great things to come for humanity. If not, then it’s back to the drawing board for me. And for you, well…let’s not think about such things. Best to think happy thoughts before a major surgery, right?”

    At some point I had closed my eyes, squeezed them as tightly as I could, hoping to be safe in my bed when I opened them. No such luck. “So, you have a choice to make. And no, leaving isn’t an option. Nor is death. At least not on purpose,” he laughed.

    I made one more futile attempt to wake up from this nightmare before making the obvious choice. But which sense to sacrifice? I began to cry because I couldn’t do anything else. What kind of choice was this? Through my frustrated tears I said, “You choose which sense to take.” He leaned down close as he put the needle in my neck. The last thing I saw before passing out was his crooked rotten smile.

  3. MagiquePhantasy says:

    I tried to smooth the wrinkles from what had once been a pristine, white sheet of paper. It was a fruitless task, the thing had been jammed deep into my back pocket for over a week, read and reread at least seventeen times. Taken out only when I was sure all the others were asleep, unlikely to find me squeezed into the musty attic corner with its small round hole that allowed in just enough light that, when I squinted my eyes just so, I could make out the words on my contract. I liked the sound of that. My contract. I had told no one about my secret, not even dear Nelly. She’d have told me to turn it in straight away, of that I was sure. But it was mine. He had given it to me.

    It had taken me three nights just to read the whole thing, struggling through words with more letters in them than I had years. Even now I didn’t understand all of it, but I knew the important bits. The ones that promised me something different, something better than what I was. I knocked on the door once more, listening to its metallic ring bounce off the alleyway. Fearful the sound would rouse Madame I glanced towards the deserted street. It never occurred to me that it was a physical impossibility. In my world Madame knew everything. Saw everything. Unless, of course, Mr Marimont was involved.

    The door cracked open, just enough for me to see one bloodshot, darting eye glance down briefly. “Get outta here, kid.” A reckless abandon overtook me as I watched my one chance at freedom close with that door. I jammed my threadbare, filthy shoe into the opening.

    “No. Wait!” I cried. “I’ve come for the pro…proseed…the thing. See?” I held my contract high, my badge of courage. He didn’t answer, just grunted and disappeared into the darkness. With one hand I pushed away my old life and entered my shadowy future.

    The future held a lot of big needles and strange silver equipment that my imagination was more than happy to supply a use for. I took a shaky step backwards, but the door had already closed behind me. A gentle hand touched my back, sending me skittering forward in my surprise.

    “I wondered if you’d come.” It was the man who had given me my golden ticket, my Willy Wonka. I only now paused to consider which side of the line his science fell. The sublime or the mad? “Have you made your decision?”

    No words would come, so I handed him the crinkled contract. He read over it quickly, frowning. “You didn’t pick a sense to enhance, dear.”

    I thought of Mr Marimont, his stubbed fingers leaving their greasy trails down my sides. His stale, hot breath rasping against my skin when he was roused. I shrugged. “It don’t matter much, sir. Just so long as I don’t have to feel no more.”

  4. shaykwiat says:

    GEEK SQUAD

    We called him “the mad scientist” in high school.
    Now he runs a meth lab. And he really WAS a mad scientist. He was responsible for a whole slew of designer drugs. Now it seemed he had one more.
    “The Mother of all designer drugs!” he crowed, pushing his glasses back up on his nose before they slid off. His longish hair stuck out in all directions. Who could afford to worry about grooming, when there was so much fun to be had in the laboratory?
    “So listen,” he continued arbitrarily, “If you could choose to enhance one of your senses, and eliminate another — which would you choose?” He had a very disturbing glint in his eyes.
    “Um… That was random. Seriously?” I asked.
    Dude’s been drinking his own kool aid.
    “Yeah, buddy, seriously!”
    I spaced out, watching spittle spew from his lips as he went into some story about super mutant races or something. He’s been reading too many comic books.
    “Um…” I tried to rack my brain and think of something to impress him with. I wanted him to think kindly of me as he was my supplier.
    “OK, how about, um, I don’t need smell, right? And how about enhanced hearing? It’d be good for eavesdropping.”
    “Are you sure?” he asked quietly.
    “Uh, I guess, why?”
    “No reason,” was the last thing i heard…

    Until I woke up feeling nauseated. There was a hellacious buzzing in my ears that was really annoying me. I tried to sit up, but my equilibrium seemed off. I threw up.
    “Hey, hold on, buddy!” boomed The Geek.
    I put my hands up to cover my ears, and found they were stuffed with cotton. I took one out gingerly, and my head nearly exploded with the ringing of a huge ass bell. I crammed the cotton back in, remembering the grade school a few blocks away. I could tell recess was over, the buzz abated as they re-entered the school.
    He was standing there looking all proud of himself, rocking back and forth on his heels.
    “You didn’t…” I started. “You couldn’t…”
    He nodded happily. “I did! And because you are my very best customer, you had a choice! And now I’m gonna reward you — I’ll give you all the drugs you want, and in return, you’ll peddle these little assorted packages of my new designer drugs. It’ll be interesting to see the results!”
    His glee broke throw and he rang triumphant. “I AM A GOD!” he roared. Literally.
    I cringed. I snatched up the packages and weaved unsteadily to my car.
    Hey, watch out for the… dogshit,” he cautioned, a bit too late.
    I looked down at my feet, encased in a huge pile of steaming glop.
    Funny, it didn’t smell.

    –Shayla Kwiatkowski, 2013
    amazon.com/author/shaylakwiatkowski
    shaylakwiatkowski.blogspot.com

  5. FocusedGwen says:

    Dr. Oz stepped into my cell yesterday stating that he would have to conduct immediate surgery on me because my sensory perceptions were out of control.

    I knew he was lying because I knew that Jesus took away all of my infirmities and by Jesus stripes I had been healed from all sickness and disease.

    But Dr. Oz was insistent on the matter. To give you a little background on the subject, Dr. Oz has had me enslaved in a dungeon here in Zurich for two years as a test case and God is good because anything that Oz has attempted to do to keep me from God’s Word has failed, and I have faith that his evil methods will continue to fail.

    So, when he offered to heighten one of my senses, at the expense of dulling another, I got creative on him, since it was not optional, and he was determined to perform the surgery anyway.

    First I prayed and asked God to give me revelational knowledge, wisdom, and discernment regarding the matter. Then I chose to be able to hear god’s voice beyond any others, my internal intuition to be increased by 500%, that I would become clairvoyant and develop a second sight, and dull my physical hearing just a bit.

  6. bekarose says:

    Iris loved a good storm. There was something deliciously cozy and thrilling about the sky lighting up so she could see every inch of the land before her and the rolling rain that seemed to pour out of the sky like sheets off a bed. This water from heaven pounding on the house, pounding that matched her heat beat yet filling her with a feeling of gratitude towards her well-constructed home. Iris especially liked these almost daily storms, if they happened at dusk, like the current one. She could sit at the window and watch the world about to be ripped apart. When things were wrong for Father, which the always were, she longed for that.
    Tonight, dusk turned to night rather quickly and Iris felt the need to finish up her chores. Father would be home the next morning and hated to come home to a mess. She prayed to the God she doubted was listening that the rain would delay her father another night. She cherished these nights alone. She never thought of them as lonely nights because to be out of her father’s sight was anything but lonely.
    There was a knock at the door. It was not urgent, as she would have expected on a night like this, but it was insistent. It didn’t go away. Father said to never ever answer the door. Tonight was a night like no other, she could feel it.
    It was Dr. Monroe, the town’s local doctor and whacko all wrapped up in one. He scared everyone, but he was the only doctor for 100 miles, so he had to do. Turns out he was even more frightening in a storm, lightning and thunder illuminating the crazy.
    “Iris, thank you for answering the door, I know your father would not approve but I assure you, I am not here to harm you. I am here to help.” He was so straightforward with her, it took her aback. She rarely interacted with other people, except father and those were interactions she would rather forget.
    “Of course, Dr. Monroe, but I’m not sure what you can help with, I’m perfectly fine.”
    He was still standing in her door way and with the bright flashes still happening behind him she had a hard time seeing his face. But she knew he could see right through her.
    “I don’t think you are, Dear.”
    That simple sentence almost undid her. “What do you want, Dr. Monroe?”
    “What if I could offer you a life free of fear? Your father’s wrath need never touch you again. I can literally take your sense of touch away. That means you will never feel his hard hands on your belly or back again. He can beat you all he wants and you will never sense pain again. You will never be ruled by it, held captive by it. All you need to do is follow me, help me with this experiment. I must warn you, one of your other senses will fade, I can’t tell you which one. You just have to believe that it will be worth that sacrifice.”
    As he continued to talk, Iris realized he wasn’t asking anymore.

  7. Ted says:

    Sensory Perception
    by Ted K. 492 words

    NEED CASH? U.S. Medical Research is looking for males, ages 18-46, for simple medical study. Earn $1,000.00 in only 5 weeks! (785)-555-5555

    Sam Craver called.
    A snappy female voice answered, “U.S. Medical; can I help you?”

    “Yes, I was calling about your medical study?
    “Sure, I’ll need to ask you a few questions, all right?”
    “Okay.”
    “Your name?”
    “Sam Craver.”
    “How old are you?”
    “37.”
    “Taking any prescription meds?”
    “No.”
    “Are you available 1 day a week—for 5 weeks?”
    “Yes.”
    “Mr. Craver, this is a 5 week sensory deprivation study. Upon completion it pays $1,000.00. There’s a mild surgical procedure, similar to a vaccination, any questions?”
    “Is this safe?”
    “Mr. Craver, side effects accompany all medications, but understand—this is U.S. Medical. We wouldn’t be performing this study if we didn’t think it was safe. Shall I enroll you?”
    “Sure.”

    *************************************************************************************************************
    Doctor Jacobs had lied to U.S. Medical. He didn’t have a medical degree. He had 4. He had come to this dump for one reason—test subjects.
    *************************************************************************************************************

    Dr. Jacobs stroked Sarah’s arm as he passed, “Sarah, send me the next touch subject you have.”
    “Yes sir,” he’s so creepy, she thought, always wanting the “touch” subjects.
    “Next,” she said, to the myriad of down-and-outs sitting in the lobby.
    “Name.”
    “Sam Craver.”
    “Mr. Craver, in the sensory study, you simply choose a specific sense you want to heighten, and one you want to lessen.”
    “What!?”
    “Of the five senses, taste, touch, sight, hearing, and smell, choose what you want to make duller.”
    “Would lessening touch make your back feel better?”
    “I don’t know, it’s a study, it may.”
    “All right, lessen the touch,” Sam was excited.
    “And better?”
    “Looking through his glasses, Sam said, “sight.”
    “You’ll be seeing Dr. Jacobs; the last office to the right.”
    Jacobs was jubilant toward Sam, “This disc slips under your skin.”
    “No anesthetic?”
    “You’ll feel no pain.”
    “Really?”
    Jacobs’ eyes were animated, “yes, and when I perfect it, I will become the world’s god. Doesn’t everyone say, ““If there is a god, why does he allow pain?”” , someday I’ll displace god, people will worship me.”
    Sam felt anxious, “maybe we―”
    “Too late!” Jacobs barked, “how do you feel?”
    Everything had become blurred, he slipped off his glasses. His vision was perfect. He stood and twisted his torso. “Wow. I’m 18 again.”
    Jacobs picked up a scalple. “Someday you’ll pay me, everyone will bow―”
    Unsure of Jacobs, Sam bolted past him.
    “Wait! I need to warn―” But Sam didn’t turn back. He felt too good. He ran down the street. He jumped and skipped like a kid. He felt no pain.
    The following week Sam Craver was found dead on the steps leading to the U.S. Medical Research building. An autopsy revealed Mr. Craver had suffered from multiple contusions of the head, a fractured spine, dislocated shoulder and knee, and 3rd degree burns on his chest and arm. He had never received medical treatment for his injuries.

  8. Jennifer Brown says:

    I look up as the man enters the kitchen, his white shirt pristine and each strand of hair carefully tucked in place. He smiles – the same smile that drew me to him at Angie’s stupid single’s bash earlier that night; the same smile that gave me courage after three years of widowhood to dismiss the sitter and invite him in for a nightcap while little Lauren slept upstairs.

    He holds up the syringe, tapping a bubble from the serum as he tips his head to the side. “Have you made up your mind?”

    I want to scream, to fight, to flee, but I know all too well what he will do to my little girl if I give in. ‘New York’s own Dr. Jekyll’ they call him in the papers; a modern-day mad scientist.

    I struggle to hold back a sob as the knots around my wrists and ankles cut into my flesh. He steps closer then kneels on the tiles, his face inches from mine. One sense surgically heightened, one surgically dulled, both of my choosing. A simple procedure, he had explained while forcing the first bout of sedatives into my vein, pinning me against the floor and binding my limbs. Non-invasive, zero scaring, and very little pain…as long as I cooperate. And if I don’t…

    Again the scream rises in my throat and again I fight it back. Whenever I hear about victims of rape or assault or muggings giving in to their assailant’s demands, I always wondered why they didn’t do everything in their power to get away. Now I know. There are things far worse than being violated, than having free will stripped away and your life torn from your control.

    All his victims are all single mothers of young children.

    I should have known.

    If I don’t cooperate, he will take each of my daughter’s senses…one, by one…until she has nothing left with which to interact with the world around her; no way of communicating her thoughts and needs. Living the rest of her life imprisoned within her own body. Forever.

    Taste. Touch. Sight. Smell. Hearing…

    I close my eyes, angry as a tear traces a wet path down my cheek.

    It was like being asked to choose which limb you would be willing to part with, which memory you would be willing to lose. Sight…my daughter’s face, her smile, her eyes, Crayola drawings and chalky sidewalk masterpieces. Smell…her first attempts at baking, the scent of her hair after a bath, flowers and bread and strawberries. Hearing…Lauren’s laughter, voice, stories, the sound of her playing, the sound of her cries when she wakes from a nightmare. Touch…my late husband’s kiss, soft newborn skin, warm sunshine and crisp fall breezes, teddy bears and new socks. Taste…chocolate and coffee, tea and toast, marshmallows browned over an open flame, spicy cinnamon hearts, ice cream.

    “Time’s up, Clara. Have you made your choice?”

    “Yes,” I sob. “Yes.”

    “Good,” he purrs. “Close your eyes and let’s begin…”

  9. DeeDee says:

    Madness and Butterflies are Free

    Dr. Fleck stood beside the gurney, his mouth moving curiously toward the right side of his smooth angular face.
    “Well, seems those headaches of yours are located in a part of your brain that receives signals and information about your perception and vision. We’re gonna fix that though, yeah, but you’re gonna lose something else. Won’t be too bad though to lose a little caution and fear,” he said smiling crookedly. “Lost my fear decades ago,” he churped, “haven’t missed it.” He snapped on his white powdered gloves as he peered down at my strapped body.
    Screaming, no one heard me. My mouth didn’t seem to move, and the words echoed inside my head as I tried to get up, run, and reach for my cell phone….
    Where was I anyway? This is not the butterfly club meeting room in the back of our town library. Nor is it the Sip & Dip Lounge where we all gathered after gushing over the beauty of butterflies, especially the atlides halesus or Great Purple Hairstreak. Tandy, the scarf designer, was absolutely giddy over its black wings glistening with iridescent blue on top and iridescent gold designs on its tails. She drew in her designer monographic book, singing “Chanson Papillion,” and laughing like senile cherub.
    Dr. Fleck intervened. “Let’s celebrate at the Sip & Dip Lounge,” he suggested with a halting voice. The four of us agreed, and vaulted for the exit, Tandy’s singing swirling around us.
    Then the headaches began, distorting their voices and mine. I ordered another apple-tini hoping to dull the pain in the absence of my sinus meds. Tandy’s neighbor, Aaron, offered to call me a cab, and I left. At least, I think I did. Now I am here on this gurney looking up at Dr. Fleck, unable to speak or protest or move. A muscle spasm suddenly ran through my leg and back. I felt pain but nothing else.
    “Lovely atlides halesus we viewed yesterday, wasn’t it?” Dr. Fleck coldly observed as he bent over me with a syringe.
    Yesterday, I thought, yesterday? Where’s the cab? Where’s Tandy and Aaron?
    “It was the pollen from the goldenrod on the wings of the butterfly that gave you such a headache,” Fleck casually noted.
    “ I knew it right away. Remember when we drove down toward the fields to watch butterflies. You said the goldenrod gave you severe headaches. I remember that.”
    His face lowered to mine, and his goldenrod colored eyes seemed beautiful under the glare of the surgical lamps. “Perception or fear?” he asked sadistically.
    Fear crescendoed as Tandy’s voice fluttered about in my mind. Something icy-hot navigated my veins. My eyes fixated on the iridescent blue scales finely swept through the black wings of a great purple hairstreak butterfly mounted on the ceiling above the gurney while an apex spider dangled his scalpel and madness over me.

  10. nelleg says:

    “Maybe this could be the big story I’ve been looking for.” Keri sat there for a moment longer and then decided to go with the strange little man. “Ok, let’s go.” Then she felt a pain in her neck and then darkness.

    “Good morning Miss Monarch.” Keri’s eyes tried to focus as a raging headache blasted through her head. “We have a lot to discuss and you have a big decision to make.” Then Keri’s eyes focused and she noticed a handsome man speaking to her.

    “Where am I?” Keri asked as she tried to get up. She then realized she was strapped to a gurney.

    “Keri, I am Dr. James. You are in a facility that officially doesn’t exist. I don’t know how much you know of your real father but he knew of this place very well.” Keri tried to speak but Dr. James cut her off. “I need you to keep quiet and listen carefully. Because of your real father’s genetic make up he was perfect for our experiments. It turns out he passed onto you the very traits we need. We will proceed with or without your permission. But I will give you a small choice in the matter. You have the opportunity to have one of your senses heighten. The only problem is, in order to do this we must weaken another. I am willing to let you choose which ones. If you don’t want the choice I will make it for you. What sense could serve you best?”

    “Hearing could really allow me to get the scoop I need.” Keri says before she could stop herself.

    “Now Miss Monarch, what sense could you do without?”

    “Have you ever had my mom’s cooking, I choose taste.” Keri answers in attempt at humor.

    “So be it.” Dr. James says and then Keri feels that awful sting in the neck again and then darkness.

    Keri wakes with a headache. The phone is ringing loudly. “I must have bumped the volume in my sleep” Keri thought as she picked up the receiver. “Hello.” Keri manages to speak. She is surprised at how dry her mouth is and then she notices the coffee.

    “Keri? You sound horrible?” Her boss’s voice came through the phone.

    “Yeah Carl, don’t ever eat at Yvette’s Café.” Keri says as she spits out the coffee she just sipped, it’s tasteless.

    “That’s just what I want to talk to you about.” Carl’s voice echoes through the receiver.

    “Why are you shouting?” Keri asks as she bites into her bagel. Once again she has to spit it out for lack of flavor.

    “I’m speaking normal, Keri.” As Carl spoke, the day before came rushing back to her and then she hears Carl’s next few words. “You know we had to make some personnel changes and let people go. I was able to get you a position at an actual network but Keri it’s all I could manage for you. You’re now a food critic!”

    Keri faints.

  11. Chris says:

    “Well, well, young Mr. Conner, it appears that you have awakened!”
    “Mom, is that you?” murmured, Bobby.
    “Nooo, Bobby, but she’s right here,” whispered Dr. Snyder.
    The doctor turned to Mrs. Conner, “I have to say that your request, on your son’s behalf, was the most sincere of all the cases that I have handled thus far.” The doctor, looking down, sighed and ran his fingers from his wrinkled forehead, back through his long curly locks of grey hair, and back down the apparent stiffness of his neck. Looking sincerely back to the boy, he whispered, “I know that most would consider my work that of a mad scientist, but it is my desire to help, and I believe that your life is about to change for the better, Bobby.”
    It was the last day of school before summer vacation, and the 16 year old boy walked timidly into the cafeteria. He could feel the looks, as usual, but discretely he reached into his pocket and remotely increased the volume of the device implanted in his ear to moderate sound levels into is newly heightened sense of hearing.
    “Here comes fat ass,” whispered David Marks, to Jessica Williams.
    Bobby recognized the voice, although David was seated on the opposite end of the cafeteria.
    “Stop it!” said Jessica.
    “What! Like he’s gonna really hear me. Lighten up, Jessica”
    “You’re so arrogant, David”
    Jessica rose from her seat, and walked disturbedly out of the cafeteria.
    Bobby just continued forward, strangely motivated by all of his spectators.
    “Tug boat”
    “Lumpy”
    “Where has wide load been the past couple of days?”
    Bypassing the soda machine, Bobby made his way to the lunch line, picked up a tray, grabbed a skim milk, which he loathed, and slid his tray to the lunch selections.
    “Your usual, Bobby?” Mrs. Harrison voiced.
    “No….not today, I’ll have the grilled chicken breast and broccoli.”
    “Wow! I thought that you couldn’t stomach healthy food?” jested, Mrs. Harrison.
    Laughingly, Bobby responded, “I think I’ve discovered a way to tolerate it, now”
    Bobby made his way to the solitude of his table, turned down the device in his pocket to quiet the surrounding mockery, and began to eat. With a tear slipping unnoticed below the contour of his cheek, he ate with new determination. The food was tasteless, but he was alright with that.
    The students of Pinecrest High School commenced their summer break, and for most, the time slipped by quickly. The first day of the new school year was officially in session. The front doors opened, and the quietness of the empty summer hallways sprang back to life.
    “Is that Bobby Conner?”
    “No way!”
    “Who da thought beneath all that flab. Wow!”
    Jessica Williams leaned into her friend’s ear and said, “He looks great!
    Bobby heard every word, and with new hope, walked confidently down the passageways of his former pains.
    “Ahhhh! The taste of victory”

  12. Just B says:

    “Others may call you ‘mad,’ sir, but I think you’re a genius, and thank you very much for choosing me. What an astounding opportunity. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for my entire twenty-two years!” He stared up at me as I blathered. I could have hugged him or rubbed his fuzzy, white head, but he didn’t seem the squishy sort, so I got to business, “I’d like my sense of taste heightened as much as possible and my sense of touch diminished significantly.” He did nothing more than nod, turn, and nearly disappear within seconds. I ran to catch up with him but kept silent in case I might say something that would change his mind.

    We arrived at a brick apartment building. Is this where a mad scientist does his business, or was he stopping for a sandwich? We flew to the 17th floor without a word. Stepping into his apartment was blinding bright glass and chrome. A shiny chair with clear plastic straps sat before the window wall that overlooked the entire city. He gestured for me to have a seat.

    When I had come to, the doctor had all but shoved me out his door. He didn’t much matter to me anyway. All I could think about was experiencing my heightened first slice of Guido’s New York pizza covered with onions, mushrooms, green peppers, and black olives. I swiped at some drool with the back of my hand as I tripped and shuffled down the sidewalk. It would take some time to get use to this full body Novocain feeling. But this heightened sense of taste was going to be sensational.

    The first bite was orgasmic. I’ve always loved food, but this! This was beyond words! The textures, the symphony of flavors that danced on my awakened tongue! I put my face in my hands and bawled.

    I emptied my bank account and ran to the grocery store. Life would now officially be good.

    It took four weeks, but my objective was finally achieved. I literally couldn’t move. But with my diminished sense of touch, my numbed, bloated body couldn’t feel discomfort. I congratulated myself on my perfect senses selection and reached for the phone.

    “Hello, Mom?” I began. She was at my door within minutes. “Can you please fill out the welfare forms for me? I am no longer capable of working. Oh, and I’m flat broke, so could you get more bags of groceries? I seem to be out of everything.”

    The look of terror on her face when she saw what I’d become was priceless. What was the worry? I’d never have to work again, and someone would have to wait on me for the rest of my life. I was finally free! Free from the wage slavery I had been born into!

  13. silverscript says:

    I needed the money.

    The ad had offered five grand to take part in an experiment, and who was I to turn down such a deal? I’d made the agreement over the phone, signed the contract he faxed over, and agreed to meet him in the cafe down on Carlton Street.

    I was behind on rent. My girlfriend had left me for some hotshot banker on Wall Street. I needed whatever help I could get.

    I hadn’t known I’d signed my life away.

    The flaw of us cityfolk was that we don’t have an ounce of patience. Like I was going to waste my time reading dry babble about my rights or whatever. I should have spared a few minutes, but that was in the past.

    “Mr. Dubose?”

    I glanced up from my half-empty mug, peering over the rim of wire-framed glasses. “Can I help you?”

    He sat down at the chair across from me. Save for us and the cashier, the cafe was barren. He extended a hand. “I’m Dr. Caplin; we spoke over the phone a few days ago?”

    I met his palm with a firm shake. “Of course. It’s a pleasure to meet you at last.”

    “Save the pleasantries for your landlords, Mr. Dubose,” he said with a small smile, the edges of his wispy mustache curling. “I apologize for being so vague about my work. It’s not… accepted in social standings.”

    I countered with, “I’m certain it isn’t as bad as you—” He sighed, cutting me off mid-sentence.

    “No one in this modern era is fond of human testing. They’ll squander their time applying cosmetics to piglets’ flesh, but when someone suggests spreading lotion on a man’s skin, all hell breaks loose.”

    For a moment, I stayed silent. I hadn’t known the man for long, so I couldn’t tell if he thought himself comical or not. “Dr. Caplin, what exactly did you recruit me for?”

    He grinned, the expression sour enough to turn my stomach. “What sense are you most fond of, Mr. Dubose?”

    “What kind of question is that?” I bit back. My collar began to stick to my neck.

    “We are running out of time, and you made a deal.”

    I swallowed around the lump in my throat. “I suppose I rather like my hearing. Music is a remarkable expression of self.”

    “Interesting.” He mused. With no hesitation, he jabbed the silver tip of a syringe into the soft skin of my hand and pressed the plunger down. “You’ve made your choice.”

    A dull chill raced through my veins, vision growing dark and mind growing hazy. His hand closed around my wrist, and everything vanished.

    I was immersed in darkness. In the distance, a train pulled into its station, the whistle blaring. Mice raced up the walls with tiny claws, and the pipe in the room next door released a rhythmic series of droplets.

    I opened my eyes. The darkness stayed.

    From the radio, McCartney crooned of witnessing the sun’s glow.

    And I envied him.

  14. “Ain’t Nothing Free”

    “He promised me everythin’ would be fine.” I hug myself and watch the doctor hopin’ he’ll believe me.

    “Who promised you?” The doctor asks me.

    “He said he was a scientist, but now I know better. He was really the devil himself. He came into my room while I was sleepin’ three nights in a row and promised me the same thing every night. Promised to fix my ears. You see, they’ve been broken all my life; only half-work. He promised he could fix them so I wouldn’t need to use them plastic aides no more. But he had to take one of my other senses away in exchange,” I shake my head, “Ain’t nothin’ free in this life, doctor.” I look up and the doctor nods at me so I continue tellin’ him my story.
    “So on that third night he comes to visit me I tell him to take my touch sense. I thought touch would be a good sense to lose to gain my hearin’. No more touch, no more pain; and I get to get back my hearin’ without using them plastic aides. Yeah, I thought I was foolin’ that scientist devil,” I shake my head and chuckle, “So the scientist says to me that it’s a fair trade and when I wake up it’ll all be fine. I get my hearin’, and he keeps my touch sense. Whattya know, doc! When I woke up that next mornin’ it was just like he promised; good ears, bad touch!” I raise my hands to show the doctor and smile.
    “What happened that morning after the scientist changed you?” The doctor asks.
    I lay my hands in my lap and frown.
    “It wasn’t none of my fault.”
    “What happened?” He asks again.
    “Well, I wasn’t used to my hearin’ being so good, you see. I could hear everythin’ around me. A mouse squeakin’ in the kitchen, chirpin’ birds outside, even my neighbors’ shower water runnin’ next door! It was all so loud and it was really hurtin’ my head. One noise in particular was so loud in my ears. It was like a beat, beat, beatin’ sound. I roll over to see my husband lyin’ in that bed next to me and realize them beatin’ noises was comin’ from his chest! I could hear every beat of his heart. I….I didn’t mean to hurt him. I just wanted to wake him, but I didn’t know what I was doin’ because that scientist devil took my touch sense. I never felt how hard I was squeezin’ my husband’s neck. I never felt his skin grow cold. Afterwards I only knew what I’d done because the beatin’ noise finally stopped.” I look at the doc. He don’t believe me. I can tell.
    “It wasn’t my fault,” I yell and slap him. My hand don’t hurt, but his lip is all bloody.
    Two men come in the office and put me in a jacket. Straight jackets they call them. They struggle to tighten it, but it don’t make no difference. I can’t feel it.
    I stare at the doctor. “Ain’t nothing in the world free.”

  15. HuffmanHanni says:

    Einstein von Brainstorm’s coal black eyes bore into the face of his latest victim. In an almost intelligible German accent, he said, “Now, which one will it be? I must have an answer and quickly! Before the lightning storm ends!” On cue, a thunderous clap shook von Brainstorm’s laboratory, followed quickly by a blue flash of light.

    His victim, a petite blonde named Fraulein von Lichtenstein, cowered under the mad scientist’s stare. She hesitated. Should she go for her sense of taste to be eradicated? No, she enjoyed cooking too much and had aspirations of becoming a chef. Plus she was beginning to experiment with Indian cuisine. Conversely, that ruled out her sense of smell to be eliminated. That only left three to choose from: sight, hearing, and touch. As an aspiring chef, she needed to be able to control a knife (and where was her trusty knife anyway?), handle pots and pans, remove food from the oven, and fondle fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market. No, she needed her senses of touch and sight. That left only one sense she could depart with.

    “Hearing,” Fraulein von Lichtenstein said.

    “Hearing it is then, my dear. Within a few moments, after I’ve injected my patented hearing-suppression serum into you, all the sounds in the world will cease. You will never be able to hear another bird sing. Another tender word whispered from your lover. Another choo-choo from a train. Another…”

    “Another word out of your mouth? That would be delightful.”

    Muttering obscenities in German under his breath, Einstein von Brainstorm picked up the syringe full of the hearing-suppression serum and without warning, jabbed the needle into the arm of Fraulein von Lichtenstein.

    She yelped and rubbed her arm. “Your bedside manner is atrocious.”

    Von Brainstorm shrugged. “Now then, what sense do you want heightened?”

    As she opened her mouth to tell him, she was distracted by the sensation of a thousand noises crashing into her head at once. Rustling leaves. Birds singing. Roaring airplanes. The tap-tap-tap of a hammer. Screams of fear from her childhood. The baritone voice of her husband. All swept out of her mind in a matter of minutes and were replaced by the stillness one experiences after a snowstorm.

    Scared and bewildered, she looked around von Brainstorm’s lab. She ran around it, picking up beakers and vials and smashing them into the ground. She heard nothing. Fraulein von Lichtenstein opened her mouth to scream. She again heard nothing but her vocal chords shredding in agony.

    Fraulein von Lichtenstein grabbed the mad scientist by the lab coat and yelled into his face. He looked at her wide-eyed. She saw her tearful face reflected back at her in his glasses.

    “Taste,” she mouthed to him.

    Frightened, Einstein von Brainstorm pointed up. She did not comprehend. He gesticulated furiously up, up, up.

    Finally, von Lichtenstein looked up and through the stained-glass domed ceiling, she saw the lightning storm had passed.

  16. DonaMaria says:

    She had found him so inviting – sitting alone while the other patrons bobbed and swirled around him to the rhythms of the club. His tailored jacket seeming to stand on it’s own as his body slumped towards the drink he nervously twirled and re-settled on the bar over and over again. Clearly he was deep in thought and troubled by something. Diana had looked him over again – mid-30’s, about 20 lbs overweight, hair neatly trimmed with not one out of place, handsome face, shirt tautly starched, pants sharply creased and what looked to be very expensive loafers. A doctor, she had guessed. As she had worked her way through the crowd towards him she tried to guess what he would smell like – earthy or a little spicy? Briefly her girlfriends’ cautions glided into her thoughts. Although they lived vicariously through her re-telling of the men she pursued and their nights of passion they were quite sure there were lunatics perched on every other bar stool. While Diana understood their concern she always assured them they underestimated her ability to sense danger. Certainly this guy, looking like he had been left at the back of the pack, had not given her any reason to break her stride towards him. When she had reached him, she had lightly placed her hand on his shoulder and he turned towards her. He had smiled ever so slightly and surprised her by saying “Hello, gorgeous. I have been waiting for you for some time now.”

    ——

    Diana felt herself lifting into consciousness, her eyelids struggling to break the sandy crust at their edges. When she was able to finally open her eyes fully she laid immobile totally spent from the effort. Her mind hovered and dipped. Where was she? Who’s bed was this? After a few minutes, able to prop herself up on the pillows, she began to recall some of the previous night. Her spotting him at the bar, having a couple of drinks with him, discovering he was a scientist and not a doctor, getting a tour of the laboratory in his apartment and then…..well, she wasn’t quite sure exactly what happened after that. She vaguely recalled moving into his bedroom, undressing to her camisole and panties and then crawling onto the bed to lean over him. But then, as she had started to slip the silky strap of the camisole off her shoulder, he had asked her a very odd question. As sexily as she could, so as not to break the mood, she had leaned into his neck and purred “Why, I should think the sense of smell as I love the scent of a man.”

    An aroma assailed her nostrils breaking her thoughts. She tried to guess what she was smelling. Rubbing alcohol? Toothpaste? Coffee? Crinkling her nose to clear stop the twitching, she noticed the door opening and he entered wearing a white lab coat with a stethoscope looped around his neck. Her worst fears materializing Diana gasped “What did you do to me?”

    He gave her that slight smile she had found so intriguing last night and said “Exactly what you said you wanted.”

    “What?” Diana asked. She could barely hear him. Diana growled. “Why are you speaking so softly? What did I say I wanted?”

    “Oh, yes. Quite so. “ He cleared his throat and in a louder voice said “My dear you said that you would trade some of your hearing to have a greater sense of smell.”

    In shock Diana roared “Why would I do that?” She paused. “Did you drug me?”

    “Well…” he started. “Yes, but only a very slight dose. Once I had you here you had no other choice but to comply. It’s part of my life’s work, you see.”

    He continued on, pacing the length of the room, explaining his scientific theories and experiments. Her hands curling and uncurling like a cat’s paw Diana’s eyes followed him as he moved. Hunched on all fours she inhaled the aromas that wafted and trailed him – bacon and maybe maple syrup too. With her mouth watering and overcome by a craving she had never before felt, the last thought Diana had as she sprung off the bed onto him was “I simply must…..consume him.”

  17. ShannonG says:

    (I changed a few things)

    The street was dark and vacant as I tried to find my way to the car. A cold wet drizzle had started to fall moments before I left my apartment. Dismissing the idea of bringing an umbrella I walked quickly down the sidewalk and turned the corner into a partially covered alley. I immediately regretted this decision.
    Standing against the wall with his face partially hidden behind a thick, dark hood was a man. Hearing my heels click across the pavement he turned his face towards me and gave me an eerie smile with an upturn of his lips. I glanced down at my shoes and tried to invisibly walk past him. Hoping he would catch my drift that I didn’t want to be bothered I also applied a signature scowl to my face.
    Either he didn’t notice my attempts to appear unfriendly or he didn’t really care because he softly touched my coat as I passed by.
    “Excuse me. Miss? Can I ask you a question?”
    As my eyes reached his I noticed a certain kind of madness brewing just beyond the surface. I knew that I was not going to be able to just ignore this man.
    Now that he had my attention I didn’t want to appear rude. Such was my natural people pleasing character.
    “Yes. Yes, of course. How can I help you?”
    “I was wondering if I may ask you about your 5 senses. Are you able to hear well? See well? How about smell, taste and touch? Are all of these senses working properly and effectively for you?”
    My senses? Why in the world would this bizarre man ask me such a strange question? He obviously had escaped from some kind of institution. I started to reach into my purse to grab my cell phone when he again reached out his hand and gently touched my arm. Looking up and into his eyes, again I saw that same glimmer of madness, but there was something else there as well. A flicker of brilliance. His eyes were now begging me not to dismiss him so quickly.
    “No. Please. Please don’t be frightened. I am not trying to upset you, but I have to have a subject. I am a scientist and am working on a particular experiment at the local university. Please just answer a few questions. I know that it will capture your attention. If I could somehow diminish one of your senses, but heighten another which ones would you choose? Which sense would you sacrifice? Which one would you choose to enhance?”
    Tears immediately pooled in my eyes. Was this for real or was someone playing a terrible prank on me? How does he know? My daughter was blind and I had always wondered what her life was like. Was this odd man really giving me an opportunity to explore my daughter’s world of darkness?

  18. ShannonG says:

    The street was dark and vacant as I tried to find my way to the car. A cold wet drizzle had started to fall moments before I left my apartment. Dismissing the idea of bringing an umbrella I walked quickly down the sidewalk and turned the corner into a partially covered alley. I immediately regretted this decision.

    Standing against the wall with his face partially hidden behind a thick, dark hood was a man. Hearing my heels click across the pavement he turned his face towards me and gave me an eerie smile with an upturn of his lips. I glanced down at my shoes and tried to invisibly walk past him. Hoping he would catch my drift that I didn’t want to be bothered I also applied my signature scowl to my face.

    Either he didn’t notice my attempts to appear unfriendly or he didn’t really care because he softly touched my coat as I passed by.

    “Excuse me. Miss? Can I ask you a question?”

    As my eyes reached his I noticed a certain kind of madness brewing just beyond the surface. I knew that I was not going to be able to just ignore this man.

    Now that he had my attention I didn’t want to appear rude. Such was my natural people pleasing character.
    “Yes. Yes, of course. How can I help you?”

    “I was wondering if I may ask you about your 5 senses. Are you able to hear well? See well? How about smell, taste and touch? Are all of these senses working properly and effectively for you?”

    My senses? Why in the world would this bizarre man ask me such a strange question? He obviously had escaped from some kind of institution. I started to reach into my purse to grab my cell phone when he again reached out his hand and gently touched my arm. Looking up and into his eyes, again I saw that same glimmer of madness, but there was something else there as well. A flicker of brilliance. His eyes were now begging me not to dismiss him so quickly.

    “No. Please. Please don’t be frightened. I am not trying to upset you, but I have to have a subject. I am a scientist and I am working on a particular experiment at the local university. I have been studying the human’s capacity to adjust their senses when one is tragically lost. Please just answer a few questions. I know that it will capture your attention. If I could somehow diminish one sense, but heighten another which ones would you choose? Which sense would you sacrifice? Which one would you choose to enhance?”

    Tears immediately pooled in my eyes. Was this for real or was someone playing a terrible prank on me? How does he know? My daughter was blind and I had always wondered what her life was like. Was this odd man really giving me an opportunity to explore my daughter’s world of darkness?

  19. ShannonG says:

    The street was dark and vacant as I tried to find my way to the car. A cold wet drizzle had started to fall moments before I left my apartment. Dismissing the idea of bringing an umbrella I walked quickly down the sidewalk and turned the corner into a partially covered alley. I immediately regretted this decision.
    Standing against the wall with his face partially hidden behind a thick, dark hood was a man. Hearing my heels click across the pavement he turned his face towards me and gave me an eerie smile with an upturn of his lips. I glanced down at my shoes and tried to invisibly walk past him. Hoping he would catch my drift that I didn’t want to be bothered I also applied my signature scowl to my face.
    Either he didn’t notice my attempts to appear unfriendly or he didn’t really care because he softly touched my coat as I passed by.
    “Excuse me. Miss? Can I ask you a question?”
    As my eyes reached his I noticed a certain kind of madness brewing just beyond the surface. I knew that I was not going to be able to just ignore this man.
    Now that he had my attention I didn’t want to appear rude. Such was my natural people pleasing character.
    “Yes. Yes, of course. How can I help you?”
    “I was wondering if I may ask you about your 5 senses. Are you able to hear well? See well? How about smell, taste and touch? Are all of these senses working properly and effectively for you?”
    My senses? Why in the world would this bizarre man ask me such a strange question? He obviously had escaped from some kind of institution. I started to reach into my purse to grab my cell phone when he again reached out his hand and gently touched my arm. Looking up and into his eyes, again I saw that same glimmer of madness, but there was something else there as well. A flicker of brilliance. His eyes were now begging me not to dismiss him so quickly.
    “No. Please. Please don’t be frightened. I am not trying to upset you, but I have to have a subject. I am a scientist and I am working on a particular experiment at the local university. I have been studying the human’s capacity to adjust their senses when one is tragically lost. Please just answer a few questions. I know that it will capture your attention. If I could somehow diminish one sense, but heighten another which ones would you choose? Which sense would you sacrifice? Which one would you choose to enhance?”
    Tears immediately pooled in my eyes. Was this for real or was someone playing a terrible prank on me? How does he know? My daughter was blind and I had always wondered what her life was like. Was this odd man really giving me an opportunity to explore my daughter’s world of darkness?

  20. ShannonG says:

    The street was dark and vacant as I tried to find my way to the car. A cold wet drizzle had started to fall moments before I left my apartment. Dismissing the idea of bringing an umbrella I walked quickly down the sidewalk and turned the corner into a partially covered alley. I immediately regretted this decision.

    Standing against the wall with his face partially hidden behind a thick, dark hood was a man. Hearing my heels click across the pavement he turned his face towards me and gave me an eerie smile with an upturn of his lips. I glanced down at my shoes and tried to invisibly walk past him. Hoping he would catch my drift that I didn’t want to be bothered I also applied my signature scowl to my face.

    Either he didn’t notice my attempts to appear unfriendly or he didn’t really care because he softly touched my coat as I passed by.

    “Excuse me. Miss? Can I ask you a question?”

    As my eyes reached his I noticed a certain kind of madness brewing just beyond the surface. I knew that I was not going to be able to just ignore this man.

    Now that he had my attention I didn’t want to appear rude. Such was my natural people pleasing character.
    “Yes. Yes, of course. How can I help you?”

    “I was wondering if I may ask you about your 5 senses. Are you able to hear well? See well? How about smell, taste and touch? Are all of these senses working properly and effectively for you?”

    My senses? Why in the world would this bizarre man ask me such a strange question? He obviously had escaped from some kind of institution. I started to reach into my purse to grab my cell phone when he again reached out his hand and gently touched my arm. Looking up and into his eyes, again I saw that same glimmer of madness, but there was something else there as well. A flicker of brilliance. His eyes were now begging me not to dismiss him so quickly.

    “No. Please. Please don’t be frightened. I am not trying to upset you, but I have to have a subject. I am a scientist and I am working on a particular experiment at the local university. I have been studying the human’s capacity to adjust their senses when one is tragically lost. Please just answer a few questions. I know that it will capture your attention. If I could somehow diminish one sense, but heighten another which ones would you choose? Which sense would you sacrifice? Which one would you choose to enhance?”

    Tears immediately pooled in my eyes. Was this for real or was someone playing a terrible prank on me? How does he know? My daughter was blind and I had always wondered what her life was like. Was this odd man really giving me an opportunity to explore my daughter’s world of darkness?

  21. ShannonG says:

    The street was dark and vacant as I tried to find my way to the car. A cold wet drizzle had started to fall moments before I left my apartment. Dismissing the idea of bringing an umbrella I walked quickly down the sidewalk and turned the corner into a partially covered alley. I immediately regretted this decision.

    Standing against the wall with his face partially hidden behind a thick, dark hood was a man. Hearing my heels click across the pavement he turned his face towards me and gave me an eerie smile with an upturn of his lips. I glanced down at my shoes and tried to invisibly walk past him. Hoping he would catch my drift that I didn’t want to be bothered I also applied my signature scowl to my face.

    Either he didn’t notice my attempts to appear unfriendly or he didn’t really care because he softly touched my coat as I passed by.

    “Excuse me. Miss? Can I ask you a question?”

    As my eyes reached his I noticed a certain kind of madness brewing just beyond the surface. I knew that I was not going to be able to just ignore this man.

    Now that he had my attention I didn’t want to appear rude. Such was my natural people pleasing character.

    “Yes. Yes, of course. How can I help you?”

    “I was wondering if I may ask you about your 5 senses. Are you able to hear well? See well? How about smell, taste and touch? Are all of these senses working properly and effectively for you?”

    My senses? Why in the world would this bizarre man ask me such a strange question? He obviously had escaped from some kind of institution. I started to reach into my purse to grab my cell phone when he again reached out his hand and gently touched my arm. Looking up and into his eyes, again I saw that same glimmer of madness, but there was something else there as well. A flicker of brilliance. His eyes were now begging me not to dismiss him so quickly.

    “No. Please. Please don’t be frightened. I am not trying to upset or frighten you. I am a scientist and I am working on a particular experiment at the local university. I have been studying the human’s capacity to adjust their senses when one is tragically lost. Please just answer one question and I promise to let you be on your way if you still wish to. If I could somehow diminish one sense, but heighten another which ones would you choose? Which sense would you sacrifice? Which sense would you choose to enhance?”

    Tears immediately pooled in my eyes. Was this for real or was someone playing a terrible prank on me? My daughter was blind and I had always wondered what her life was like. Was this odd man really giving me an opportunity to explore my daughter’s world of darkness?

  22. slayerdan says:

    A faint echo resonated over and over. Standing on a peak overlooking an expanse of plains, Steve could hear his name being called, floating on the wind as if whispered by the very sky itself. Gazing to each side of the horizon, he saw no one.

    Still the voice called.

    “Steve…oh Steven Anderson, can you hear me?” came the birdlike voice of Dr. Hector Hammond, owner of several questionable medical degrees and a quaint collection of deadly spiders. Living off a family trust, he had spent the last ten years travelling the jungles of third world countries. Places most people have never heard of.

    And never will.

    Feeling a slight slap at his face, Steve’s eyes, crusted closed from several days sleeping, opened. He was startled by the visage of Dr. Hammond inches away from his own face, smiling with his gapped and yellowed teeth. He looked around Steve’s face and backed up into full view. He was wearing a tattered lab coat that was near the same color as his teeth. His hair sporadically placed in unkempt tufts around his head.

    Hands on his hips, Dr. Hammond continued to smile ear to ear.

    Steve tried to move his mouth, to ask how the surgery went. He felt a stabbing pain throat and just a low garble of sounds came forth. Eyes widening and with a feeling of fear, he looked to Dr. Hammond for an explanation.

    “ Oh worry not, worry not Steve,” Hammond said, throwing his hands in the air as he danced a small jig,” I am sure the surgery was a success!”. He made his way to a worktable with monitors and charts. Shuffling through the charts, he pulled one out and returned bedside.

    “In exchange for keen, eagle like eyesight you agreed to have your sense of touch lessened,” Hammond screeched as he rose and opened a window directly in front of Steve, opening the shade. His mouth a silent twist of discomfort, Steve squinted as his eyes adjusted.

    Looking out the window, he could see several hundred yards away a small mouse chasing an insect for food. He could see the veins in the leaves of a tree, some half a mile away. He could see a butterfly on that same tree , its markings clear as if inches away.

    Managing a smile, he looked at Dr. Hammond and mouthed “thank you”.

    “Oh my boy, thank you,” he replied. “I am sorry about your voice though,” he said, a bit of his smile leaving his leathery skinned face,” but I will see what I can do about that,” he finished, the smile returning full force.

    Puzzled, Steve looked at him, waiting for an explanation.

    “I am sorry. It seems I cut a bit too high on the neck, removing your head from your body,” he stated as Steve’s eyes grew wide with horror,” but in all honesty, without your lungs to give oxygen, you couldn’t have spoken anyway,” he said and laughed a bit, as if it were some miniscule detail.

    Feeling as much fear as a lonely head could, Steve peered down and understood that loss of touch meant loss of body. Praying to wake up from a dream, he looked back to Hammond.

    He stood there.

    Smiling.

    • slayerdan says:

      Damn—in editing I took out the words “in his” before throat in the 4th paragraph. Apologies.

      • Barney R says:

        Nice one. to do this one justice, you needed a few more words. Trying to limit yourself to 500 words or less, is tough. You have to hit the point right away and there is no time for character development or background to build up to crashing ending. Well done though.

        • slayerdan says:

          I was at 645….but having over a year here, I am a stickler about trying to stay close to the 500 limit. I had the idea from the get go, just keeping it to 500 and being as descriptive as I like…well…..thanks.

          • wilson hara says:

            Truly, a mad scientist, I enjoyed this, humorous and scary at the same time. Loss of touch means loss of body, a great end.

  23. Birdee0809 says:

    The Choice

    Why can’t I move my hands?

    That’s my first thought as my mind floated up through the shadowy layers between sleep and wakefulness; those murky moments of uncertainty when it’s impossible to know whether you’re awake or dreaming.

    I opened my eyes to the realization that I, indeed, could not move my hands. Raising them to my face I see they’re tied together in a tangle of dental floss. Although the floss seems loose, I can’t free my hands no matter how much I wiggle them.

    The last thing I remember was lying on the couch having a conversation with my son.

    “Don’t move lady,” said a voice so close to my ear that I jumped.

    “Oh please don’t hurt me sir,” I plead.

    “I’m not going to hurt you, I’m going to help you,” says the voice.

    “What do you mean?” I ask, turning my head to look at my captor.

    He is short and skinny. He has swim goggles over his eyes and is wearing what looks like one of my husband’s white dress shirts over his clothes. In the shirt pocket are pens, pencils, a toothbrush and one wooden chopstick.
    “I’m a mad scientist and I’m going to make one of your senses stronger in trade for making one of them weaker. You pick,” he said.

    “I can’t possibly pick,” I say shaking my head.

    “How about I make your hearing dull but your taster better?”

    “But then I won’t be able to hear my son if he calls to me. The best taste in the world doesn’t compare to my son’s sweet voice.”

    “What if I make your toucher dull but make your eyes better?”

    “But then I wouldn’t be able to feel my son’s hugs. Even if I could see Pluto, it doesn’t compare to his loving hugs.”

    “What if I make your taster dull but your hearing better?”

    “But then I wouldn’t be able to taste the cookies my son helps me bake. Even if I could hear an ant cough, it wouldn’t compare to the taste of a cookie my son decorated himself.”

    He hesitated for a moment then said, “I have it, I’ll dull your smeller but increase your toucher.”

    “But then I wouldn’t be able to smell my son when I’m holding him in my arms. Nothing I could touch could compare to that scent.”

    “Wait a minute, a minute ago you said you wanted to feel hugs,” he said with a ‘gotcha’ smile.

    “But without the smell it just wouldn’t be the same,” I shrugged.

    The mad scientist frowned. His eyes wandered over the room as he tried to find a crack in my logic.

    “Would you rather play super hero instead? I’ve been taken captive by a mad scientist and I need to be rescued,” I said.

    “Okay Mom, but can we have some cookies first?”

    “Yes, you can have just about anything you want.” I said smiling into the beautiful face of my son.

  24. TGray says:

    The Mad Scientist peers up from his Basement of Wonders. “Don’t wait up for me, honey,” he calls out. “I’ve got things cooking.” His lens-magnified eyes blink once, then again in his round, pale face. The basement door closes and the Mad Scientist stands a moment, his foot on the bottom step, face upturned. The owl eyes blink.

    “I’ve got things cooking,” he whispers in solitary ecstasy.

    The Mad Scientist will sit for hours in a beat-up, overstuffed easy chair, only his foot showing life, constantly jouncing up and down in a rapid staccato rhythm. Then he will leap up in a frenzy of action and pace the basement floor, back and forth, back and forth, mumbling to himself.

    Occasionally the Mad Scientist approaches his workbench. He sweeps aside the clutter of past failures and begins work on a new one. He meticulously paws through his scrap bin and selects a piece of material, and saws and shapes, and does it again, and many times, and combines the parts, and wires in electronic controls built by hand. Sometimes his fanciful designs work.

    This, the Mad Scientist believes, is one of those times. He bounds up the stairs and bursts through the door. “Honey,” he yells, “I need some help.”

    And his long-suffering wife apprehensively descends to his Basement of Wonders.

    “What can I do?” she asks, her hands wrung before her. “I’ve got things cooking too, like dinner.” She attempts humor with a lop-sided grin that her eyes betray with anxiety. But she sees he is in a Mood, and although it is a Happy Mood, few of his Moods allow him to acknowledge anything she does or says or is.

    “I need you to make a choice,” he says. Her worries re-double. “What if you could have a sense enhanced, any sense, which would you choose?”

    The Mad Scientists wife is not a fast thinker, and rarely allowed any choice at all in any matter of significance. Her confusion mounts, and she stares at the Mad Scientist without a word.

    “Because I can do it,” he crows, “with this.” And he holds up the Device he has just created. “But here’s the thing, it can enhance one of your senses, but you have to choose another sense that will be dulled. I haven’t tested it yet, so I need you to choose.”

    She continues to stare at him for a long moment, trying to understand the enormous thing he wants from her. His grin begins to fade, and his round, pale face forms a scowl. “I don’t have all day,” he says, his voice the same steel the Device is sheathed in. He steps toward her, and she steps back, but she is against the wall.

    He smiles again. The owl eyes blink. “Finally, you get to contribute to my work. You should see it as an honor.”

    But she doesn’t.

  25. LloydCross says:

    The Mad Scientist peers up from his Basement of Wonders. “Don’t wait up for me, honey,” he calls out. “I’ve got things cooking.” His lens-magnified eyes blink once, then again in his round, pale face. The basement door closes and the Mad Scientist stands a moment, his foot on the bottom step, face upturned. The owl eyes blink.

    “I’ve got things cooking,” he whispers in solitary ecstasy.

    The Mad Scientist’s motto is “Haste Makes Waste”, and he proceeds with caution at all times, and to this end he sits for hours in a beat-up, overstuffed easy chair, only his foot showing life, constantly jouncing up and down in a rapid staccato rhythm. Periodically he will leap up in a frenzy of action and pace the basement floor, back and forth, back and forth, mumbling to himself.

    Occasionally the Mad Scientist approaches his workbench. He sweeps aside the clutter of past failures and begins work on a new one. He meticulously paws through his scrap bin and selects a piece of material, and saws and shapes, and does it again, and many times, and combines the parts, and wires in electronic controls built by hand. Sometimes his fanciful designs work.

    This, the Mad Scientist believes, is one of those times. He bounds up the stairs and bursts through the door. “Honey,” he yells, “I need some help.”

    And his long-suffering wife apprehensively descends to his Basement of Wonders.

    “What can I do?” she asks, her hands wrung before her. “I’ve got things cooking too, like dinner.” She attempts humor with a lop-sided grin that her eyes betray with anxiety. But she sees he is in a Mood, and although it is a Happy Mood, few of his Moods allow him to acknowledge anything she does or says or is.

    “I need you to make a choice,” he says. Her worries re-double. “What if you could have a sense enhanced, any sense, which would you choose?”

    The Mad Scientists wife is not a fast thinker, and rarely allowed any choice at all in any matter of significance. Her confusion mounts, and she stares at the Mad Scientist without a word.

    “Because I can do it,” he crows, “with this.” And he holds up the Device he has just created. “But here’s the thing, it can enhance one of your senses, but you have to choose another sense that will be dulled. I haven’t tested it yet, so I need you to choose.”

    She continues to stare at him for a long moment, trying to understand the enormous thing he wants from her. His grin begins to fade, and his round, pale face forms a scowl. “I don’t have all day,” he says, his voice the same steel the Device is sheathed in. He steps toward her, and she steps back, but she is against the wall.

    He smiles again. The owl eyes blink. “Finally, you get to contribute to my work. You should see it as an honor.”

    But she doesn’t.

  26. LloydCross says:

    The Mad Scientist peers up from his Basement of Wonders. “Don’t wait up for me, honey,” he calls out. “I’ve got things cooking.” His lens-magnified eyes blink once, then again in his round, pale face. The basement door closes and the Mad Scientist stands a moment, his foot on the bottom step, face upturned. The owl eyes blink.

    “I’ve got things cooking,” he whispers in solitary ecstasy.

    The Mad Scientist’s motto is “Haste Makes Waste”, and he proceeds with caution at all times, and to this end he sits for hours in a beat-up, overstuffed easy chair, only his foot showing life, constantly jouncing up and down in a rapid staccato rhythm. Periodically he will leap up in a frenzy of action and pace the basement floor, back and forth, back and forth, mumbling to himself.

    Occasionally the Mad Scientist approaches his workbench. He sweeps aside the clutter of past failures and begins work on a new one. He meticulously paws through his scrap bin and selects a piece of material, and saws and shapes, and does it again, and many times, and combines the parts, and wires in electronic controls built by hand. Sometimes his fanciful designs will work.

    This, the Mad Scientist believes, is one of those times. He bounds up the stairs and bursts through the door into the kitchen. “Honey,” he yells, “I need some help.”

    And his long-suffering wife apprehensively descends to his Basement of Wonders.

    “What can I do?” she asks, her hands wrung before her. “I’ve got things cooking too, like dinner.” She attempts humor with a lop-sided grin that her eyes betray with anxiety. But she sees he is in a Mood, and although it is a Happy Mood, few of his Moods allow him to acknowledge anything she does or says or is.

    “I need you to make a choice,” he says. Her worries re-double. “What if you could have a sense enhanced, any sense, which would you choose?”

    The Mad Scientists wife is not a fast thinker, and rarely allowed any choice at all in any matter of significance. Her confusion mounts, and she stares at the Mad Scientist without a word.

    “Because I can do it,” he crows, “with this.” And he holds up the Device he has just created. “But here’s the thing, it can enhance one of your senses, but you have to choose another sense that will be dulled. I haven’t tested it yet, so I need you to choose.”

    She continues to stare at him for a long moment, trying to understand the enormous thing he wants from her. His grin begins to fade, and his round, pale face forms a scowl. “I don’t have all day,” he says, his voice the same steel the Device is sheathed in. He steps toward her, and she steps back, but she is against the wall.

    He smiles again. The owl eyes blink. “Finally, you get to contribute to my work. You should see it as an honor.”

    But she doesn’t.

  27. infinity says:

    I tried to post online for this exercise but haven’t see it. When I try to do it again, it says I already did and it seems to be a duplicate? Is there anything you need to do other than log on and then post your submission under Comment which was under Leave a Reply? ‘Hope someone can help.

  28. ajbarretts says:

    “This feels like that television show where a person gets s set up to get the crap scared out of them.”

    “I wouldn’t do that to you, besides you’re the one who saw the flyer and convinced me to come along.”

    “It said it was a chance to earn extra money while helping some med student with a research paper. Nothing was said about an abandoned warehouse that was converted into a science fiction movie lab.”

    “Yeah, that part is pretty creepy. Want to bail?”

    “Totally.”

    “Ah, girls so glad you made it. You must be Summer and Bailey. I’m Doctor Mike. Shall we move into the room where we will conduct our… interview?”

    “Actually, we decided we’d like to go. Sorry for any inconvenience for you but this is a little to much to handle you know?”

    “Well, that is a problem. Let me explain what is going on while you decide if you really want to leave.” He left no room for us to maneuver past him to get to the door. There was a distinctly sinister feeling to this guy.

    “Hey, your flier said med student.” I stood toe to toe with the man, hands on my hips as Summer tried to hide behind me. “False representation and all of that.”

    “Well, I will be a full doctor as soon as I finish my project here. For all intents and purposes I already am a doctor.” His giggle was unsettling. “So while your friend waits in here,” he shoved Summer into a doorway I hadn’t noticed and locked the door, “we can talk about why you are here.”

    “Hey!” I protested at Summer began pounding on the door. “This is illegal.”

    “I’m afraid it is, yes. But you are the last two subjects I need to complete my paper.” He propelled me across the room with a vice-like grip on my arm. He forced me into a chair that he restrained me into with practiced motions. “It took a few tries for me to get this right, one subject was able to flee before I could get him strapped down properly but really this is more for your safety then mine. Operations tend to go wrong when you thrash.”

    “Operations? Oh no, I am not having anything operated on.”

    “I’m afraid you have no choice. Your response to my question of which of the five senses you would have enhanced and which you would decrease was your acceptance to have the surgery done to you. Interesting choices by the way. The affects of this surgery will be irreversible. I just want to verify that you want to enhance your hearing and compromise your sense of smell?”

    “Don’t touch me!”

    “Well, I hope you never have a gas leak or fire in your home. You’ll never be able to smell your danger, although your argument of never having to smell the cat urine that saturated the carpet of your new home might be an advantage.”

  29. ajbarretts says:

    “This feels like that television show where a person gets s set up to get the crap scared out of them.”

    “I wouldn’t do that to you, besides you’re the one who saw the flyer and convinced me to come along.”

    “It said it was a chance to earn extra money while helping some med student with a research paper. Nothing was said about an abandoned warehouse that was converted into a science fiction movie lab.”

    “Yeah, that part is pretty creepy. Want to bail?”

    “Totally.”

    “Ah, girls so glad you made it. You must be Summer and Bailey. I’m Doctor Mike. Shall we move into the room where we will conduct our… interview?”

    “Actually, we decided we’d like to go. Sorry for any inconvenience for you but this is a little to much to handle you know?”

    “Well, that is a problem. Let me explain what is going on while you decide if you really want to leave.” He left no room for us to maneuver past him to get to the door. There was a distinctly sinister feeling to this guy.

    “Hey, your flier said med student.” I stood toe to toe with the man, hands on my hips as Summer tried to hide behind me. “False representation and all of that.”

    “Well, I will be a full doctor as soon as I finish my project here. For all intents and purposes I already am a doctor.” His giggle was unsettling. “So while your friend waits in here,” he shoved Summer into a doorway I hadn’t noticed and locked the door, “we can talk about why you are here.”

    “Hey!” I protested at Summer began pounding on the door. “This is illegal.”

    “I’m afraid it is, yes. But you are the last two subjects I need to complete my paper.” He propelled me across the room with a vice-like grip on my arm. He forced me into a chair that he restrained me into with practiced motions. “It took a few tries for me to get this right, one subject was able to flee before I could get him strapped down properly but really this is more for your safety then mine. Operations tend to go wrong when you thrash.”

    “Operations? Oh no, I am not having anything operated on.”

    “I’m afraid you have no choice. Your response to my question of which of the five senses you would have enhanced and which you would decrease was your acceptance to have the surgery done to you. Interesting choices by the way. The affects of this surgery will be irreversible. I just want to verify that you want to enhance your hearing and compromise your sense of smell?”

    “Don’t touch me!”

    “Well, I hope you never have a gas leak or fire in your home. You’ll never be able to smell your danger, although your argument of never having to smell the cat urine that saturated your carpet of your new home might be an advantage.”

  30. idahohaase says:

    “Why do I have to choose? Why can’t I stay the same? I don’t want to play your little game! I like myself just the way I am. Who do you think you are telling me I need to change? Why don’t you go bother someone else? There are probably lots of people who would take you up on your offer but I’m not one of them!”
    “Stop it! Don’t touch me! Somebody help me! Please help me!”
    “Oh Lord please help me. I’m sorry for whatever I’ve done to deserve this. I promise if you help me out of this I will go to church every Sunday. I will tithe. I swear I will!”
    “Get away from me! I’m not going to choose, you can’t make me! God where are you?!”
    The room began to dim and the lights overhead became blurred. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears. My thoughts became chaotic like a stormy ocean. “Please help me,” I whispered. Then there was nothing, black empty space. Silence. No thoughts or feelings just cold dead space.
    Grey light started seeping in. I felt heavy warmth. My head and arms were tingly. The light became brighter and stronger. I heard noises, beeping and whirring. My head ached and my body felt like it had been beaten with a club.
    “Is he going to make it doctor?” a small scared voice asked.
    “He is going to live. I’m going to be honest though, its going to be rough this first year. He has lost all use of his legs from the waist down. Be prepared for the hurt and anger he is going to feel. He will probably take it out on you and everyone else he loves.”
    “The car is totaled. I can’t believe he isn’t dead. He flat lined you know, he was gone for 2 minutes. It’s a miracle he is alive! He’s lucky he’s just paralyzed. At least he can hug his wife and watch his kids grow up. At least he can hear their laughter and taste his wife’s sweet kisses. He can wake up each morning to the smell of fresh coffee and the excitement of a new day.”
    “If he allows this experience to change him, he will be a stronger person.”

  31. thegirl says:

    The chill in the musty room reached deep into my bones. Swallowing hard on the bitter taste in my mouth I shifted around in my seat trying to block out the clacking of the receptionists keyboard and the unbearably awkward silence that had grown between me and the guy in the seat next to me.

    We were the only two in the tiny waiting room. Occasionally he would cough and shift in his seat, releasing a new puff of warm piney cologne to hang in the air. Muttering a shy apology when his arm would brush mine, our equal discomfort palpable.

    I wondered what he had chosen. Had he debated as I had about what they’d take? He’d have guessed by now why I was here, leaving me at a disadvantage that stopped me from breaking the silence.

    “Laura.” the receptionist barked from the counter ending our silent stand off.

    “Yes?” I started, surprised at the volume of my own voice as it echoed off the walls, a wave of adrenaline coursing through me as I grabbed my things and stood.

    “I apologize for the wait, it should only be a couple more minutes.”

    “Oh.. um okay.. I, uh..thanks.” I could feel myself blush as I struggled back into my seat, redistributing my purse and paperwork, and to my dismay, elbowing my mystery man square in the chest. My heart sinking as it became my turn to utter the shy apology.

    “No worries, payback right?” He chuckled.

    I smiled, “You know you could have avoided all of this by sitting somewhere else.”

    He laughed again, “Where? The window sill? Have you seen how small this place is?”

    The awkward silence reared it’s head as his sentence died on the last words. Hugging my walking cane closer to my chest, the words strengthening my spirit before they burst from my lips, “No, but I will.”

  32. cheri55422 says:

    They came. In force. In determination. The black uniforms. Rows and rows of the same hideous grim expression on their faces. The chance for escape quickly evaporated. Five of us were “chosen”. Each of us to represent the five human senses. I was named taste. A tall blond woman was named sight. An old man with a cane was named hearing. A small boy with a tossel of dark hair was named smell. A young man who could play the piano was name touch. They made sure that each of us was from a different region of our world, that a different ethnicity was represented, and that none of us could speak a common language.

    All we could do was stare blankly at each other wondering what made us so special.

    Then he came. The one with the clipboard and white, rumpled coat. We were given cursory exams that measured our senses. Each of us was poked and prodded, hooked up to probes of all sorts. What was he looking for? Explanations and instructions were being given and I could not follow any of it.

    I ascertained that these creatures were mocking us when I found myself in what could only be described as a court, and told that the five us would be given an opportunity to plead for our lives. One of us would be “enhanced” and one of us would be “diminished” and we had to choose. None of this made sense. What could we possibly have done to deserve this?

    The trial began. Each of us given a turn to plead for our lives. It was maddening. All the finger pointing. The tears. The sadness. I could hear myself speak to enhance taste just because and to diminish taste just because. My hope was to confuse them enough to escape this nightmare. I could not understand the languages of the others, but knew they spoke to the sense to enhance and the one to diminish. I knew a “verdict” came down. I did not understand how the winner and loser would be chosen. I could not understand what criteria were used. I just knew that time seemed to slow to a crawl as the judge read the verdict.

    I woke in a meadow with the morning sun on my face. I pulled a sprig of grass to chew on as I cradled my head in my arms, thankful that the dream was over. I was surprised that something so simple could taste so good. As I gazed around me, the tears came. Everything was so beautiful — the flowers appeared brighter, the grass seemed softer, the birds were singing beautifully; but I could not smell a thing….

  33. I heard his evil snicker behind me. It slithered up my spine and pressed the air from my lungs. How could I choose one sense over the other? I’ve needed them all my life.
    “You must choose.” The hot, sulfuric stench stung my face.
    “I’m waffling between taste and smell,” I said.
    The Evil I’m-Gonna-Take-Away-Your-Senses Surgeon narrowed his glowing green eyes. “Perhaps that’s not the best choice.”
    “My eyes have to stay.”
    “Are you sure?”
    “Yes, it’s taken me too long to distinguish blue from green. Time wasted on this mortal earth would pain me too much.”
    “I see.” He grinned, his pallor ghoulish. He reminded me of the glow-in-the-dark Twinkie light I had when I was nine. “Not hearing might help you write.”
    “Are you trying to be helpful?” I asked.
    His nails scraped along the metal surgical table. His lack of patience grew. I considered his comment anyway. He was right. Not hearing would limit the amount of nagging from my wife. No more of the neighbor’s loud parties. No more of those annoying ice cream trucks trolling the soft streets of my neighborhood. No more audio distractions of any kind.
    “Losing the sense of touch means no more sex,” I thought aloud. His eyes grew wide. “So that’s definitely a keeper.”
    His eyes grew wide. “Too true.” He nodded fervently. It was the first time we’d ever agreed.
    I raised an eyebrow. Perhaps I could find a way out of this. “Will you use anesthesia?”
    “Of course. I’m not a barbarian.”
    Clearly, cutting into me and giving me a choice was compassionate. An act of good will—actually, a kind thing to do. “Well. Then you help me decide.”
    “You’re fat,” he offered.
    “I am. What about it? So is half of America.”
    “Let me slice away your sense of taste. Perhaps you won’t eat as much.”
    Suddenly, I admired the gooey green guy standing in front of me. I’d been to Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and Lindora. I’d tried the Atkins’ Diet, Grapefruit Diet, South Beach Diet…and my favorite, the Chocolate Diet. But none had worked.
    “You really are an evil genius.” I smiled.
    So did he. A goofy grin this time. He sat down. “I’m sorry,” he said. “This economy. It’s killing me. With nine Evil Surgeons-To-Be to feed and a wife who rains down hellfire, well… a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s got do.”
    I sat next to him with a heavy sigh. “I understand.”
    He inched closer, looked at me shyly, almost innocent. “May I make a suggestion?”
    “Sure.”
    “Perhaps I could heighten your sixth sense. It might help you to read the minds of agents and editors. You know, help you publish more.”
    I laid down on the table.
    “Go for it.”

  34. infinity says:

    It was a day like most for me. Ho hum. Put the coffee pot on, cut a slice of seven grain Harvest Loaf Bread and spread natural, chunky peanut butter with blueberry jam on it. Catch up on the news and then—off for a short walk to Kwik Trip, to get its on going special of .38 lb. bananas that drew people from all over the city. Then I remembered—I had to make a copy of last month’s bank statement for interest on taxes that had to be paid.
    I lifted up the lid of the copier, in the corner of the store, and found a piece of paper that looked like it had been in the garbage but salvaged. It was filthy and I hesitated to touch it, particularly with the height of the flu season hitting people all around. Ordinarily I don’t snoop and read what doesn’t belong to me, but I tried to find out who left this behind? That’s when I read:
    A mad scientist approaches you with an offer—he will heighten one of your senses, but it will make one of your other senses duller. It isn’t optional; he’s going to perform the surgery anyway, but you get to choose which two senses. Write this scene.
    “What the heck?” I said out loud. What a great idea for a story. But it wasn’t mine. What do I do now?
    To be continued….

  35. thegirl says:

    The chill in the musty room reached deep into my bones. Swallowing hard on the bitter taste in my mouth I shifted around in my seat trying to block out the clacking of the receptionists keyboard and the unbearably awkward silence that had grown between me and the guy in the seat next to me.

    We were the only two in the tiny waiting room. Occasionally he would cough and shift in his seat, releasing a new puff of warm piney cologne to hang in the air. Muttering a shy apology when his arm would brush mine, our equal discomfort was palpable.

    I wondered what he had chosen. Had he debated as I had about what they’d take? He’d have guessed by now why I was here, leaving me at a disadvantage that stopped me from breaking the silence.

    “Laura.” the receptionist barked from the counter ending our silent stand off.

    “Yes?” I started, surprised at the volume of my own voice as it echoed off the walls, a wave of adrenaline coursing through me as I grabbed my things and stood.

    “I apologize for the wait, it should only be a couple more minutes.”

    “Oh.. um okay.. I, uh..thanks.” I could feel myself blush as I struggled back into my seat, redistributing my purse and paperwork, and to my dismay, elbowing my mystery man square in the chest. My heart sinking as it became my turn to utter the shy apology.

    “No worries, payback right?” He chuckled.

    I smiled, “Could have avoided all of this you know by sitting somewhere else.”

    He laughed again, “Where? The window sill? Have you seen how small this place is?”

    The awkward silence reared it’s head as his sentence died on the last words. Hugging my walking cane closer to my chest, the words strengthening my spirit before they burst from my lips, “No, but I will.”

  36. saasy1 says:

    “It seemed like a good idea at the time”. That is what she told herself, just like that one time she decided to take LSD in a psychotherapy study. Except when she was high on LSD her wrists weren’t strapped to a hospital bed. She was having doubts about her latest lemming leap. Maggie was never one for working in offices and made money by participating in studies.

    As usual, Maggie always looked for unconventional ways to earn money. She was thrifty, young, and naive. True to her frugality, she clung to her Pennysaver which she picked up every week at the laundromat. While her clothes were on the spin cycle, her eyes spun through the week’s fastest money making methods. And there, among all of the advertisements, it appeared.

    “How would you like to be a part of something bigger? Be a part of the advancement in Medicine! Your contribution will be rewarded. Upon successful participation in the study you will not only walk away with a life changing experience but also a gracious endowment for your time. Call 555-1967″

    “This will only hurt a second” the doctor said. “Vision. So overrated. Millions of people suffer from poor vision, but how many times have you been told you have a listening problem? No more words falling on deaf ears”. For as long as Maggie could remember, she had always been told she was a poor listener. It’s not that she couldn’t hear; it was just that she didn’t care to listen.

    “I assure you, I’ve done two of these surgeries this week. One of the subjects lost vision completely, and the other one, well, let’s just say she doesn’t hear any better than before. Third times a charm, right?” Maggie looked away. She remembered that she signed up for heightened hearing but failed to listen to the doctor mention that her vision would be compromised or lost or how he would perform the surgery. She just hoped she would wake up from the procedure to find that she could hear better than before and to not be blinded by her impulsiveness. “This is the last time I will sign up for something like this”, she thought to herself.

    An hour later, Maggie awoke. She couldn’t tell if she was still drowsy from the anesthesia which caused her to have blurry vision or if she lost her sight. As she gained consciousness she opened her eyes and realized that hearing was not the same as listening. Her senses were unchanged. The doctor didn’t get a chance to perform the surgery as he was arrested for unethical medical experiments while she was asleep.

    Maggie left clinic with her senses intact; only her abilities to see and listen were heightened.

  37. saasy1 says:

    “It seemed like a good idea at the time”. That is what she told herself, just like that one time she decided to take LSD in a psychotherapy study. Except when she was high on LSD her wrists weren’t strapped to a hospital bed. She was having doubts about her latest lemming leap. Maggie was never one for working in offices and made money through other means.

    As usual, Maggie always looked for unconventional ways to earn money. She was thrifty, young, and naive. True to her frugality, she clung to her Pennysaver which she picked up every week at the laundromat. While her clothes were on the spin cycle, her eyes spun through the week’s fastest money making methods. And there, among all of the advertisements, it appeared.
    “How would you like to be a part of something bigger? Be a part of the advancement in Medicine! Your contribution will be rewarded. Upon successful participation in the study you will not only walk away with a life changing experience but also a gracious endowment for your time. Call 555-1967″

    “This will only hurt a second” the doctor said. “Vision. So overrated. Millions of people suffer from poor vision, but how many times have you been told you have a listening problem? No more words falling on deaf ears”. For as long as Maggie could remember, she had always been told she was a poor listener. It’s not that she couldn’t hear; it was just that she didn’t care to listen.

    “I assure you, I’ve done two of these surgeries this week. One of the subjects lost vision completely, and the other one, well, let’s just say she doesn’t hear any better than before. Third times a charm, right?” Maggie looked away. She remembered that she signed up for heightened hearing but failed to listen to the doctor mention that her vision would be compromised or lost or how he would perform the surgery. She just hoped she would wake up from the procedure to find that she could hear better than before and to not be blinded by her impulsiveness. “This is the last time I will sign up for something like this”, she thought to herself.
    An hour later, Maggie awoke. She couldn’t tell if she was still drowsy from the anesthesia which caused her to have blurry vision or if she lost her sight. As she gained consciousness she opened her eyes and realized that hearing was not the same as listening. Her senses were unchanged. The doctor didn’t get a chance to perform the surgery as he was arrested for unethical medical experiments while she was asleep.

    Maggie left clinic with her senses intact; only her abilities to see and listen were heightened.

  38. Barney R says:

    I saw a notice on the psychology department bulletin board about needing volunteers for a new study regarding the five senses. Volunteers should contact Prof. Hardesty at a phone number given on the notice. They notice that compensation would be provided to the right applicant. I could always use a few extra dollars so I called the number when I got to the student union. I was scheduled with a time to meet the professor and that was it for them. I asked what the study consisted of, but was told that I would be made aware of that, if I was chosen.
    So much for that; my scheduled time was for 3:20pm tomorrow. I would have to wait until then to learn any more, if anything at all. I was glad that my schedule for Thursday was morning classes only.
    The scheduled time finally arrived and I was waiting inside the professor’s outer office where his TA was checking off those who came in. Because of where the professor’s office was he had a private entrance around the corner from his outer office. My time came up and I was ushered into the office and allowed to sit facing the professor.
    “Mister Harold, right? Mister Patrick William Harold, junior in the BBA courses. Is that correct?”
    “Yes Professor Hardesty, that’s me.”
    “Good, now I will explain some things to you and I want you to think about it and make a decision within the next ten minutes. Are you good with that?”
    “Yes Sir.”
    “I have the ability to heighten one of your senses, taste touch, smell, sight, or hearing, but in order to do this I will have to deplete one of your other senses the same amount that the other is heightened. This operation is non-reversible. Now tell which two senses that you choose and why.”
    I sat there for about 30 seconds and just stared at the professor. Was he crazy or what? Okay, now think what would you do if this was real? Let’s take each sense and see if I could live without it or with it greatly diminished. Sight can be enhanced by other mechanical or medical means so that is a possibility. Hearing is pretty much the same, so either of those could be candidates for the loss. So of the other three senses, which would I want enhanced? Touch would be nice, but why what more could it do for me? Okay then smell, but there are detractor there too.
    “Sir I would choose taste to enhance and hearing to diminish. I can live my life with diminished hearing; deaf people do it all the time. With taste enhanced a whole new world opens up to me, for a wine taster, gourmet chef, maybe even drug sniffing person. Those are my choices, do I get the operation?”
    “You’re one of the finalists, you will know my answer in two days.”

    • onaway says:

      Good job. I like the intro with the college atmosphere. Interesting.

      • Barney R says:

        Thank you, onaway. I write a lot for an online story site and have 30 stories posted. most are erotic, but not all. I have a good fan base there too. I have tried to get published but after 125 submissions and 54 rejections I gave up. I figured if 71 agents didn’t even had the decency to let me know they rejected me I was hopeless and would forever be a hack. Thanks again for the kind words.

  39. MatthewTM says:

    ‘Don’t worry about the walls; they’re cleaner than they look,’ reassured the surgeon. The vice squeezed tight around my temples as my eyes flicked between his preparations and the ring of halogen above me. A fan churned beside the warehouse window but failed to ease the smell of bleach and cabbage. He laid out his tools with a placid smile. The man’s fastidiousness contrasted the crumbling theatre. ‘You’re a lucky man. Soon, your tongue will tingle with sweet melodies, bitter elegies and sour overtones. You’ll have the palate of Escoffier!’

    I hadn’t doubted his promise since he introduced himself in the television studio’s parking lot. He’d seen the show and understood how hard it was for a chef – an artist – like me to perform under those conditions. Those condescending judges with their Michelin Stars would never call my dishes ‘bland’ again. There was no way I’d let them vote me out of the competition. ‘When I win the final, you can be my first diner – on the house.’

    ‘Thank you. I look forward to it.’ I felt a needle slide into my arm then cold liquid meeting hot blood. ‘So, which is it to be?’

    I narrowed my eyes in confusion. ‘My tongue, of course – the taste?’

    ‘Not what you gain,’ replied the surgeon as he inspected his blades, ‘the sense you lose.’

    ‘What? I don’t…’

    ‘Didn’t you read the waiver you signed? The implant will heighten your taste but your brain won’t be able to cope. I need to route all that information somewhere else, otherwise who knows what you’ll lose? Speech? Bladder control? You really don’t want that.’

    ‘That wasn’t the deal!’

    ‘A lot of my patients pick smell,’ he shrugged.

    ‘I’m a chef! I need my sense of smell as much as my taste.’

    ‘That leaves three choices, then, doesn’t it?’ He pulled a plastic visor over his face.

    I rebelled against the vice but it held firm. ‘The deal’s off! Let me out of this thing!’

    ‘I do not do refunds,’ he snarled through the visor, ‘and this chip is going in your head. Now, before you pass out, choose or I will choose for you.’

    ‘Keep the money!’

    ‘Choose.’

    The strength drained from my muscles. My will, once strong, sank with my body into the torn PVC of the operating chair. I smiled as the swaying light reminded me of my first time in that bright television studio, whites on and the passion to cook a symphony. That was the only thing I wanted. Before I succumbed to delirium, I made a decision.

    ‘My hearing,’ I whispered. ‘Take that.’

    As consciousness left me, the last thing I heard – and was to ever hear again – was the shrill buzz of the surgeon’s saw.

  40. Amy says:

    Touch Me

    “Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.” The words swirled around on the edge of my consciousness as I struggled to wake. I opened one eye and saw the world with stunning clarity. Memory flooded back.

    It would be a trade-off, he’d said, this man I hardly knew but naively trusted. We’ll heighten one sense at the expense of another. I’d squinted at his blurred visage. It was a no brainer…to have clear vision, I would trade most anything.

    I reached up to touch my eyes, wondering at the lack of bandages. I felt a slight pressure as my fingers pressed against the sockets. But my fingertips felt nothing. My heart skipped a beat as I realized the pressure was only imagined, anticipated as I watched my fingers descend to touch the lids. I’d never seen such detail before; the whorls of my fingertips, the snow-white tips of my nails, the downy blonde hairs on my knuckles. I was amazed.

    Elated, I slung the covers aside, not caring if I disturbed my slumbering husband, not even feeling the room’s chill. I stood up unsteadily, wondering why the tiles didn’t feel cold against my bare soles. I couldn’t get my balance, and staggered forward a few steps, reaching for the doorframe.

    Falling against the rough wood, my hands grasped for something to hold onto. I felt nothing as I slid to the floor, amazed that my palms did not discern the splinters impaling them.

    Splinters I could see so well as to notice every nuance of color in the tiny shards of wood. Drops of crimson blood welled up around each impalement. I swear I could see the red and white cells that composed each droplet.

    I crawled to the bathroom and, leaning on the vanity to support myself, splashed some water on my face, not noticing I’d reached for the handle marked with a big red H. With horror, I watched as blisters bubbled through the now reddened flesh. Backing away from the sight, I upended the hamper, which tipped to the floor with a crash, scaring me. My now bruised shins hadn’t felt a thing as they’d made contact.

    In the mirror, I saw a man behind me, a man who grabbed both of my arms and pulled me to him in an awkward embrace. His lips crushed mine and, as they descended, I noticed their every attribute; plump and pink and slightly chapped. Tiny follicles sprang from the unshaven flesh above and beneath, a roughness that thrilled and tantalized. But as my husband kissed me, I felt nothing. My flesh was as dead as the skin surrounding my three cesarean scars, my battlewounds of childbirth.

    “Why are you crying?” he asked me, running the back of his hand gently down my cheek. It came away wet with tears I didn’t know I’d cried.

    I slipped back into what should have been the comfort of his arms.

    “Be careful what you wish for,” I replied.

  41. aknoll6 says:

    I have been living on the streets for a few years now, but this is the first time someone has ever offered to give me some place to sleep for the night. Of course this wasn’t just a simple gesture of kindness, the man wanted something from me. He offered me food and a place to sleep as long as I helped him with his work. What kind of work he did I was not too sure since he seemed rather ragged and smelled funny, but I was desperate and work sounded like a nice change of pace. Although if he tried to pull anything, I figured I could take him. He looked like he was almost eighty and I had just turned twenty so I think the odds were in my favor.
    “Come over here and lay down on the that table ” he said motioning toward an old metal table in the middle of the dark room. “I need to strap you down so you don’t squirm too much while I perform the operation.”
    I stopped dead in my tracks, “I thought you had work for me to do?” I asked him casually not trying to show how freaked out I was at this point. “I never agreed to be operated on, so if you don’t mind I’ll just stay on the streets tonight.”
    I turned to leave and before I got to the door someone grabbed me. They felt a lot stronger then an eighty year old man but I never saw anyone else in the room with us. Before I had a chance to react I was being slammed down onto the table and held down by heavy leather straps. I fought back as much as I could but whoever was holding me down was a lot stronger then I was. I looked up at him for the first time and saw nothing but a shadowy figure. Maybe it was just too dark to see down there or I was still a little stunned from being slammed onto a metal table, but if I didn’t know any better I would have said that it wasn’t a person at all.
    “Thank you, you may leave us.” The old man told the shadowy figure and he came over to the table with his supplies. Looking down at me he began to explain himself. “Well, that’s not how I wanted all this to go but here we are so lets get on with it, eh? I can give you an extraordinary gift but it’ll cost you, well actually I can give you the choice of what gift you want and at what price. Sound fair? I mean I’m going to do it anyway so I figured you can at least choose.”
    “What do you mean, what am I choosing.” I replied nervously while struggling with the bindings.
    “I can enhance any one of your senses but in order to do this I have to take away from one of your other senses. It’s a simple procedure really and you can be back to your life on the streets tomorrow and if you choose well enough you might have an advantage out there that could help you get off the streets,” he replied as he checked all his supplies.
    The thought of having an advantage on the streets made me feel as if this wouldn’t be so bad after all. It is tough out there no matter who you are so an advantage would be able to help put me one step ahead of anyone else. So I thought on it for a moment and then gave him my answer. “I want to have my hearing enhanced and my taste taken away.”
    I figured that combination would give me a decent amount of advantages without losing a whole lot, considering food from the garbage was hardly gourmet and being able to hear more would definitely be useful. Well at least that’s what I thought until I was woke up by a sound louder than I had ever heard. My head began to pound violently and I felt a trickle of blood coming from my ears. I looked up and saw the old man standing, grinning as he tapped his mug on the table across the room.

  42. Isibi says:

    Jaxen rolled out of bed bright at early at 5am. He pulled on his pt gear and laced up his sneakers and headed out the door. He walked quickly, pt was at 5:30 and he lived 15 minutes away. He yawned, “if you’re not 10 minutes early you’re late” he mumbled to himself.
    He felt a quick stab and slapped his neck. He expected to feel a squished bug, not an embedded needle. The world went black.
    It was the pain racing throughout his whole body that woke him up. He groaned and tried to itch his neck, only to feel the bite of rough rope around his wrists.
    “The fuck?” He pulled at the restraints until he heard the laughter. Jaxen looked up and around. It was a surgical room, perfectly clean and organized, like what he saw on TV. A man, with a clown mask and doctors coat stood in the corner, laughter muffled behind plastic.
    “Don’t worry son, this will be over soon. I just have a question for you.” The man walked closer and knelt down in front of him. Jaxen could see ice blue in the eye slits of the mask. “I am going to give you a gift, but at a price. One of your senses will be heightened to super human abilities, but another sense will be dimmed to near uselessness. If you will not chose…I’ll just shoot you here and now.” The gun gleamed in the pale, fluorescent light.
    Jaxen looked from the gun to the ice blue eyes. The answer was easy. “Heighten my eyes, take my ears” The eyes looked surprised at his quick decision. “Very well.” There was a needle prick and he was gone.
    Hours later, he woke up in his bunk, and looked around. Jaxen smiled, got out of bed and opened his wall locked. Inside was a sniper rifle.

  43. kapman33 says:

    It was just another typical Friday afternoon in the neighborhood. I was out running errands, and had just gotten into my car to head home, when there was a tapping at my window. An odd looking fellow wearing glasses and sporting a bushy gray mustache was standing outside my car smiling. I opened the window slowly and acknowledged him.
    “Ahhh, hello…can I help you?” I queried.
    “No young man, but I can surely help you I believe” he answered.
    “Okay, how can you help me” was my response.
    “Today is your lucky day, your very lucky day. If you would just listen up for one second I will tell you about something that will change your life forever. You see I have the ability to give you a great gift. A magical gift so powerful it will blow your mind” he followed.
    “Okay, you have my attention. What is this great gift” I asked.
    “I have the power to enhance one of your senses to incredible lengths. To make it so powerful you will be an amazing being. The only down side is that one of your other senses will be dulled because of this” he said.
    “Okay…So do I get to pick what sense is enhanced?” I wondered.
    “Yes you do” he replied.
    “Okay, I want super eye-sight, and you can dull my sense iof taste”

  44. catbr says:

    Just wondering why there aren’t as many people here anymore. Last year there were quite a few.

  45. penney says:

    Try #2

    “One Grande Mocha Frappacino no whipped crème, a Macchiato with an extra shot, and a triple shot non-fat vanilla latte with extra foam,” called the waitress over the loud grounding of fresh beans.

    “God! I can’t believe we have to do this assignment,” said Jen.

    “Yah, gosh it’s so elementary,” chimed Gale. “We did this in my first year Philosophy class.” They headed for their regular spot by the window.

    Todd carefully placed his cup on the table. The cup and saucer rattled from his shaky hands as he determinedly tried not to spill. Both girls handed him a pile of napkins.

    “Is it bad today?” Jen asked empathetically.

    “Nah. I’m just clumsy as always.” Todd feigned a smile dropping his backpack and nesting into the big sofa. “What about the assignment?”

    Gale read the description again. “If you could dull a sense in trade for heightening another, what would they be?”

    They went through Aristotle’s five senses. Logically they played with the affects of one verses another.

    “Yah, but really can you live without your sense of Touch? Wouldn’t you give up all sorts of things that are related to feelings?” They sat respectfully listening. “I mean, we’re not talking about emotions. We’re talking about nerve endings, pain, cold, etc. Without Touch you can’t have emotions. You can’t walk. There is too much locked into this sense. Think of it as someone being numb all over.” Gale was on the edge of her seat, arms in motion to help make her point.

    “Listen, I’ve been working on something for a while now.” Todd looked at both girls and took a gulp of coffee. “Yes, there are your basic five. Now-a-days scientist are arguing deeper. Not just affects but actual cerebral senses. There have been experiments too.” Todd’s head swayed back and forth. The early set of Parkinson’s taking its toll.

    “So what would you do?” Jen asked.

    “I’ve been looking into a sense called Equilibrioception.” He paused for their disbelief. “It’s connected to the sense of Touch. If we could heighten this, I think we could have something for Parkinson’s patients.” He was excited.

    “And what would you dull?” They were listening intently.

    “Well, hearing plain, and simple. Since I only have to dull it, not get rid of it, hearing,” he said. He looked up at the clock. It was time for him to go.

    Later that evening, Todd lay on the operating table. “Okay Doc, lets do this.” He laid there trembling with his disease. “Let’s cure this thing!” He faded into darkness.

    • DMelde says:

      Good story penney! I liked the characters and how connected they were to each other. Great job.

      • wilson hara says:

        I liked this and where it led : yes, one of his senses would be dulled but in return he’d restore his sense of equilibrioception, and then you push it one step further : a possible cure for his disease. Very well done.

  46. wilson hara says:

    Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan.
    March 22. 2011
    CONFIDENTIAL : Initial Autopsy Report 14:56
    Sir,
    As requested, I have kept this report simple.
    Subject is Japanese, Male.
    Weight : 48.9kg
    Height : 154cm
    Approximate Date of Birth : 1912
    Approximate Date of Death : 1945
    Subject has been embalmed, preservation is excellent.
    Cause of Death : cranial gunshot.

    Other :
    All extremities (hands and feet) have been amputated. This was done almost immediately after the subject’s birth, which accounts for the lack of any visible scarring.
    I now refer you to the attached photographs :
    As you can see the body shows extensive deformities, none of which are ‘natural’ or congenital. In short, they have been induced.
    The subject’s head has been rotated 90 degrees to the left of the natural position, and his whole upper torso, rotated, from the hips, 45 degrees to the right.
    This deformation process would have started shortly after the subject’s birth, and ended roughly 18 years later, after puberty, using a relatively simple system of restraints. (Basically, the child was tied down in the desired position and kept that way.) This would have rendered the subject almost completely immobile for those years.
    I believe he was freed after puberty, as evidenced by the presence of callousing on the sides of the subject’s forearms, having used them to drag the rest of his body behind him, as indeed some babies do before graduating to the proper crawling stage.

    The subject’s tongue has been removed.
    The eardrums have been repeatedly pierced resulting in scarring and loss of hearing.
    The eyes have been sewn shut.
    All of these alterations were performed on the subject in infancy.

    Internal organs are intact and there is no sign of damage through trauma or disease. This man was NOT used by the military as a test subject for those purposes, as I had initially feared.

    Finally, the subject’s back is covered in a tattoo of a Japanese crane with a paulownia leaf motif in the background. The tattoo is an exact copy of the ancestral seal of Prince Akihiro, the renowned spiritual leader and scholar. (I would also like to add that the Prince’s first and only son, born on September 21, 1911 supposedly died shortly after birth. However witnesses at the time, namely, his wife and her servants, said that the child was perfectly healthy). In 1939 Prince Akihiro wrote and published a 70 page pamphlet (Meiji press, 1939) entitled : A treatise on the Nature of Pain and Deprivation on the Spirit. I have highlighted one particular passage for your attention :
    “True innocence is to know nothing of this world, so that the mind can concentrate, unimpeded, on the Next; it is to have no experience of the sights and sounds that form us, neither of the pain and joy that bind us, tethered and enslaved. Only in this way can the soul of a man be said to be truly pure, and only through him can we, already broken, be made whole again.”

    • penney says:

      This was very well written. At first I thought, “yuck”, this poor human being. Slowly from a medical aspect and slightly an outsiders, this person is an observer of this “thing” that seems to be still alive. The closing statement makes it all logical for whoever that did this to the baby. It slightly pulls him away from being a mad scientist to a desperate philosophical boob trying to find the meaning of life or some connection with god. Where the hell did this come from?Awesome! I entered what I thought would be keywords to see if something would pop up, nothing. You put my two little ditties to shame. Bravo.

    • DMelde says:

      Jeepers wilson. Great story! Remind me never to cross you. :)

    • onaway says:

      Good job. Technical and mysterious, with a great ending.

  47. DMelde says:

    “There are only five senses, Dr. Jones. Unless you want to dimensionalize yourself; add a dimension or two? It helps to dust the cobwebs off your mind, believe me.”
    “Well, I don’t think so, the normal dimensions will do. I still don’t understand why just five? You admit to being a mad scientist, correct?”
    “I do.”
    “And you admit to being from my past?”
    “No, I’m not from your past. I admit to being from the past, but remember I use dimensions, Dr. Jones. There are many pasts, and no two pasts are naturally connected.”
    “So you arrived here, unnaturally, and what, just decided to tempt me with this wild offer to jumble my senses?”
    “The offer is to strengthen one sense and diminish another.”
    “But why?”
    “Because I’m old, Dr. Jones. I’m also mad, don’t forget. When you get to a certain age, past, present, and future are all the same. What happens today happened yesterday, and it will happen again tomorrow. The boredom is long and never ending. So one does what one can to amuse oneself.”
    “So I’m an amusement?”
    “No, you help me fight my boredom, and in exchange, you benefit. So what senses do you wish “jumbled”?”
    “I’ve already told you. I want to diminish my sense of loss, my sense of longing, my sense of betrayal. I want to feel joy again. I want to feel a sense of wonder whenever I catch a glimpse of beauty.”
    “There are only five senses, Dr. Jones.”
    “Stop saying that. Answer my question, why just five?”
    “Sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch; they all belong to the present. Your sense of loss, and absence of joy, belongs to the past. I can change the present, but like pulling a tiny thread out from a tapestry, if I change the past it might all unravel.”
    “Then my sense of well-being; I can never regain?”
    “This is turning out to be a good day! I enjoy a challenge. Everyone chooses sight and hearing, although I did help a leper once who picked touch and taste. Yes, I can give you back your sense of well-being, but like I said earlier, we need to add a dimension or two.”
    “And I’ll feel whole again? My well-being will be restored?”
    “Yes. I can free you from your past.”
    “Then I want to do it. What dimensions will you add?”
    “There are no words to describe them. Suffice to say they are sideways, and slightly to the front and back of you. After we’re done I’ll have you stay with me as my student. I’ll mentor you until you’ve regained what it is you’re about to lose.”
    “Which is?”
    “Your sense of belonging.”

  48. Icabu says:

    From the shadows, he saw that the monitors displayed wild readings for the woman in the recuperation cube. He’d felt an overpowering need to help her, was mad with it. Now that the evil deed was done, he was convinced that she’d used her strong empathetic powers to force him to do her bidding. This allowed him to curb the guilt of what he had to do now to correct his grievous error.

    He had approached her as she’d slumped over the stone cold body that she’d failed to Bridge Over to Salvation. He knew that her soul would be tortured – a strong Sixth was a sharp and recreant power. He knew it was forbidden to enhance the Sixth, yet he’d done it for her. It would be easier to face the Panel of Elders with her death. Death was acceptable.

    The Rules were simple and he’d had no problem obeying them until this woman. Enhance any Sense, except for the Sixth, and repress another. He’d enhanced Taste for a chef, repressing Hearing; enhanced Balance – a tricky one, for a dancer and repressed Smell. And now he’d enhanced the Sixth, ten-fold, thinking it would help this woman Bridge even the weakest spark of life Over, sparing her soul the torture of failure.

    Stepping out of the shadows, he approached the recovery receptacle. He needed to do this quickly; it had to be done. His arm raised, his finger arrowing toward the Suppression button. Like a bolt of lightning, the woman’s hand shot out and grasped his wrist, her vise-like grip preventing him from his mission.

    Instantly, he knew that he’d created more than a monster; he’d created The Monster. In her grip, his thudding heartbeat began to weaken, and sputter. As his awareness dimmed, he saw the Bridge. Her payment to him for the Gift he’d given her. Without a second thought to what he’d released on this world, he dove Over.

  49. seliz says:

    His office–reeks of formaldehyde and cleaning products, squeaky white floors, and fluorescent lights humming loudly. The second I walk in, I’m reminded why I haven’t been to a doctor in ten years. As all of my childhood fears come flooding back, a receptionist comes to the cold white counter and smiles at me.

    “Your name?” she asks.

    “Dan Hu–”

    “Perfect,” she says with a smile. “We’ve been waiting for you.”

    As I’m led to the back office, my sense of dread grows. I really do hate doctors and this one seems a bit…odd. I’m led into a small cold room, told to strip into a gown, and the door is closed behind me with a the clang of a bolt.

    “Wait! Did you just lock the door? What is going on here?” I bellow.

    “Daniel, please be seated,” a male voice says from over the intercom. “I am doing you a great favor, which you will thank me for one day.”

    “What are you talking about?”

    “You have been selected for my experiment–a great honor. Today, you will leave with one of your senses heightened–it will be like having a superpower,” he continues.

    “No, I’m not. Let me out,” I say, as I tug on the door.

    “None of that. Now which will it be?”

    “I don’t understand!”

    “It’s a give and take. You gain one heightened sense; get another sense diminished. Now choose or I will.”

    I sit down on the bed for the first time. It doesn’t look like I’m getting out of this room anytime soon. And this man sounds crazy. I don’t know what he’ll do if I refuse him. And so, with a trembling voice I answer.

    It’s not until a few days later that I can fully appreciate what has happened to me. It’s that moment, when I’m biting into my favorite croissant (which looks delicious) that I notice.

    “This tastes weird today,” I tell a co-worker. “Does it taste weird to you?”

    “No, same as usual,” he grunts as he takes another bite.

    It’s then I realize the effect smell has on the foods we eat. Ever since I left the doctor, who insisted he was more of a “scientist”, I enjoyed not having the sense of smell plaque me. Office that smells like formaldehyde? No big deal. But this, this affect it has on my food–it could be a problem.

    As I let this information digest, I see a pretty little thing in a tight skirt walk past the bakery window. My co-worker grins as she passes and turns to watch her go. I continue to stare steadily taking in every detail.

    “Umm…what are you still staring at? You can’t even see her anymore!” he laughs.

    “Oh you can’t?” I ask nonchalantly, still watching her walk.

    Have I ever mentioned, I love science?

  50. AllegraBo says:

    James sat down on the couch. His muscles tightened. He had dreamed of this day since he was seven, the age he lost his sight. He had seen a hundred optimologists now without any promise of hope. Who would have believed all he had to do was stay home one fatefull day, and respond to a knock at his door.
    “James Carroway?” inquired the high uneven voice.
    ‘Yes.. tha..that is me.” He stammered, unnerved by the cackle in the man’s voice. James wasn’t accustomed to visitors.
    “My name is Dr. Frankenfritter. I am a friend of Dr. Stewards. He has told me of your situation, and the fire that took your sight….I am here to give it back!”
    With only moments before his surgery he didn’t believe it. James raised his hands and slapped his cheeks to make sure. His fingers traced the scars over his face.
    What would he look like? He could only imagine the small boy he once was.
    “Eileen!” he gasped allowed. “What will she say when she sees my scars…” Oh …of course. She has already seen me…and Loved me!
    Eileen was James’s girlfriend of 3 years. Finally, he would see the beautiful face he had traced a thousand times over, and see the color and spring in her soft curls. He knew he would love her all the more. Forever and always.
    “Carroway?” Inquired the nurse with her raspy voice. “Carroway?”
    “Yes, that’s me!” He cried leaping forward.
    Minutes later he was lying on gurney with an IV in his arm being prepped for surgery.
    “Now the Doctor has told you about the possible complications correct?”
    “Yes yes.” James said dismisivelly.
    “The chemicals used in the procedure will cause you to lose your sense of touch, but you are ok with that?”
    “Yes yes!” He said impatiently. Eileen! Was all he could think about.
    “Now, I have administered your anesthesia you should …..” She trailed off, and James fell into a deep sleep.
    6 hours later James awoke from surgery. “Eileen!” He moaned.
    “Shhh I’m here,” came the sweet voice of Eileen.
    James reached up to remove his bandages.
    “No! don’t do that!” She cried.
    “But I have to see your face!”
    “In time,” she said soothingly, “Doc said the operation was a success.”
    “Hold my hand Eileen”
    Silence. “But James, I am holding your hand…”
    Every muscle in his body tightened just as it had in the waiting room.
    “Can’t you feel that James?” She said stroking his arm.
    James jumped from the bed knocking tins and pans crashed loudly to the floor as he grabbed hold of Eileen and grasped her face.
    “I cant feel your face…Eileen I cant see you!”
    “You will see me once the bandages come off James!” She stammered frightened.
    “No you don’t understand! I cant see your face! How do I know it is you without the soft warmth of your skin, or the feel of your sharp chin. Is this you ! Is this really you!?!”

  51. AllegraBo says:

    James sat down on the couch. His muscles tightened. He had dreamed of this day since he was seven, the age he lost his sight. He had seen a hundred optimologists now without any promise of hope. Who would have believed all he had to do was stay home one fatefull day, and respond to a knock at his door.

    “James Carroway?” inquired the high uneven voice.

    ‘Yes.. tha..that is me.” He stammered, unnerved by the cackle in the man’s voice. James wasn’t accustomed to visitors.

    “My name is Dr. Frankenfritter. I am a friend of Dr. Stewards. He has told me of your situation, and the fire that took your sight….I am here to give it back!”

    With only moments before his surgery he didn’t believe it. James raised his hands and slapped his cheeks to make sure. His fingers traced the scars over his face.

    What would he look like? He could only imagine the small boy he once was.

    “Eileen!” he gasped allowed. “What will she say when she sees my scars…” Oh …of course. She has already seen me…and Loved me!

    Eileen was James’s girlfriend of 3 years. Finally, he would see the beautiful face he had traced a thousand times over, and see the color and spring in her soft curls. He knew he would love her all the more. Forever and always.

    “Carroway?” Inquired the nurse with her raspy voice. “Carroway?”

    “Yes, that’s me!” He cried leaping forward.

    Minutes later he was lying on gurney with an IV in his arm being prepped for surgery.

    “Now the Doctor has told you about the possible complications correct?”

    “Yes yes.” James said dismisivelly.

    “The chemicals used in the procedure will cause you to lose your sense of touch, but you are ok with that?”

    “Yes yes!” He said impatiently. Eileen! Was all he could think about.

    “Now, I have administered your anesthesia you should …..” She trailed off, and James fell into a deep sleep.

    6 hours later James awoke from surgery. “Eileen!” He moaned.

    “Shhh I’m here,” came the sweet voice of Eileen.

    James reached up to remove his bandages.

    “No! don’t do that!” She cried.

    “But I have to see your face!”

    “In time,” she said soothingly, “Doc said the operation was a success.”

    “Hold my hand Eileen”

    Silence. “But James, I am holding your hand…”

    Every muscle in his body tightened just as it had in the waiting room.

    “Can’t you feel that James?” She said stroking his arm.

    James jumped from the bed knocking tins and pans crashed loudly to the floor as he grabbed hold of Eileen and grasped her face.

    “I cant feel your face…Eileen I cant see you!”

    “You will see me once the bandages come off James!” She stammered frightened.

    “No you don’t understand! I cant see your face! How do I know it is you without the soft warmth of your skin, or the feel of your sharp chin. Is this you ! Is this really you!?!”

  52. douglangille says:

    It was a dark and stormy night. Sure, it’s cliché but that how I remember how it all started. How I was forced in to making this decision. How I ended up alone.

    I also remember that the handcuffs were too tight. In fact, when I first woke up, the pain was all I could think of for a time. I felt drugged, pliable and not in control. As I started to get my bearings,  I looked around. I was seated in a vehicle. A van. It was moving. The driver didn’t speak or even look at me. He just delivered me to my destination in silence.

    When the door opened, I got out (what else was I to do) and stretched as best I could with my hands bound in back. Two large guards with just as large side-arms guided me inside the nondescript building. It was one of those quick assemble warehouse buildings, like many in the industrial park. That oriented me a bit as to where I was. Good.

    As soon as I crossed the entrance, I laid my eye on an attractive-looking woman in a lab coat. She smiled and said that the doctor was ready for me. Confused, I asked her what she was talking about. She just smiled and led me and my escort deeper in to the building and into a darkened room.

    I was mostly blinded by the bright overhead lights. It created perfect pools of white against the dark. The floor was tiled. It smelled clean. Actually, it didn’t smell of anything. The sweat of the guards. The spicy scent of perfume. That’s it.

    No one spoke. The only sound was my quickening breathing and my heart pounding in my head.

    The guards picked me up and dropped me in to what looked like a leather dentist chair. It resembled a well-worn recliner that some cat had licked and chewed upon. It felt strang
    ely comfortable. Except for the straps. They pinned my shoulders and legs as I tried to struggle and panic, but it was useless. The still smiling nurse fixed the straps to my legs, arms and across my thighs and chest.

    The guards retreated to the dark. I could tell she was somewhere near as I could smell her mild scent, but she remained out of sight.

    Well, this is it then, I thought.

    As the doctor entered the light, he started singing to himself.

    “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes! Eyes, Ears, Mouth and Nose!”

    That’s not right.

    It was “Eyes, Ears, Mouth or Nose”. That’s what he sang. Weird.

    I never saw the doctor’s face. He wore a surgical mask and some weird set of goggles with a magnifying lens over one eye. He sported a sleeved apron over what looked like a three-piece suit.

    “Eyes, Ears, Mouth or Nose?”

    He was still singing but it was apparent he was asking me a question.

    “One to enhance. One to diminish. Choose now. Choose wisely. I’d hate to have to terminate this experiment. Disposal is, well, complicated.”

  53. Lanium says:

    “What?” I say.

    I see the doctor’s mouth move, but his words get smothered on the way through my eighty-two year old ear drums. I wish I had my hearing aids in. I never have my hearing aids in. They make my ears hurt.

    “Your going to have to speak up,” I say to the doctor. “I worked as a maintenance foreman at the steel plant for 38 years. I can’t hear so good anymore.”

    The doctor leans closer. He says, “We ban despair your sears… let acquires damaging brother cents. He procedure is paramedical. Lin Volvo’s a drain synapse operation garble old factory perv gone to the room squirrel fence shingle. Wednesday?”

    At least I think that’s what he says. I nod and smile. “Uh huh.”

    The doctor’s gaze makes me feel stupid. I wish he’d speak up. I can only read lips about as well as I can hear.

    “Ernest,” he says.

    “Call me Ernie,” I reply, eager to show my understanding.

    “Ernie,” he starts again. “Wood… you lye… to… under-grow… a… rest boar live pro lure… to mix nor earring? In your ants bill lover boss of posse lure, but… the rare side effects.”

    “Side effects?”

    “Yes. We may half a dam jar there scents. Pour ramble old factory or tick swerve. The range urban pea dim in lies by bruising the brew fist bleachers under grow dead cow by door brick to a way. Piss jay tie you?”

    Piss jay tie me? Sure. I nod my head. “Uh huh.”

    The doctor looks annoyed. He sighs. “Door runner stan?”

    “Huh?”

    “Do… you… UNDERSTAND?”

    “Sure, I hear you now, but you gotta remember. I’m an old man. Been working down at the steel plant all my life. Should a worn my hearing aids today. I think they need new batteries though.”

    “You… won’t… need… earring days if we… adorn pro see lure.”

    “What?”

  54. douglangille says:

    It was a dark and stormy night. Sure, it’s cliché but that how I remember how it all started. How I was forced in to making this decision. How I ended up alone.

    I also remember that the handcuffs were too tight. In fact, when I first woke up, the pain was all I could think of for a time. I felt drugged, pliable and not in control. As I started to get my bearings, I looked around. I was seated in a vehicle. A van. It was moving. The driver didn’t speak or even look at me. He just delivered me to my destination in silence.

    When the door opened, I got out (what else was I to do) and stretched as best I could with my hands bound in back. Two large guards with just as large side-arms guided me inside the nondescript building. It was one of those quick assemble warehouse buildings, like many in the industrial park. That oriented me a bit as to where I was. Good.

    As soon as I crossed the entrance, I laid my eye on an attractive-looking woman in a lab coat. She smiled and said that the doctor was ready for me. Confused, I asked her what she was talking about. She just smiled and led me and my escort deeper in to the building and into a darkened room.

    I was mostly blinded by the bright overhead lights. It created perfect pools of white against the dark. The floor was tiled. It smelled clean. Actually, it didn’t smell of anything. The sweat of the guards. The spicy scent of perfume. That’s it.

    No one spoke. The only sound was my quickening breathing and my heart pounding in my head.
    The guards picked me up and dropped me in to what looked like a leather dentist chair. It resembled a well-worn recliner that some cat had licked and chewed upon. It felt strangely comfortable. Except for the straps. They pinned my shoulders and legs as I tried to struggle and panic, but it was useless. The still smiling nurse fixed the straps to my legs, arms and across my thighs and chest.

    The guards retreated to the dark. I could tell she was somewhere near as I could smell her mild scent, but she remained out of sight.

    Well, this is it then, I thought.

    As the doctor entered the light, he started singing to himself.

    “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes! Eyes, Ears, Mouth and Nose!”

    That’s not right.

    It was “Eyes, Ears, Mouth or Nose”. That’s what he sang. Weird.

    I never saw the doctor’s face. He wore a surgical mask and some weird set of goggles with a magnifying lens over one eye. He sported a sleeved apron over what looked like a three-piece suit.

    “Eyes, Ears, Mouth or Nose?”

    He was still singing but it was apparent he was asking me a question.

    “One to enhance. One to diminish. Choose now. Choose wisely. I’d hate to have to terminate this experiment. Disposal is, well, complicated.”

  55. handyman43127 says:

    MISUNDERSTOOD TREASURES

    The face that stares back from the mirror shows the hurt I suffer. Although the place is crowded Jimmy quickly steps up and asks.

    “Whats your pleasure Al”?

    “Beer and a shot, make it a double of the cheep stuff.” I answer back.

    Three rounds into my pity-party a women, while climbing onto the stool next to me bumps me.

    “Sorry.”

    Without answering I take another swallow.

    “Women troubles?” she asks me.

    Hesitating only slightly I turn to face her holding my shoot glass to my lips. “What are you some kinda fucking Einstein or something?” I smartly reply before chugging down my shot.

    Turning to my former position I hold my glass high and call out “Jimmy hit me again.”

    “Some say I am!” she responds.

    “What, I fire back.”

    “Einstein, some say, I think I can help you.”

    “Listen lady” I snap while spreading the once neatly stacked pile of bills in front of me across the bar. “What is this about sixty or eighty dollars?” looking in her eyes I say “This is all the cash I have and I’m gonna drink it away, the last thing I need is the company of a working girl, Understand?”

    With a half ass-ed clinical laugh she responds by saying “no I am a doctor, really a scientist but I have perfected a surgical procedure that can remove any one of the five senses and the only side effect is one of the other four will be heightened, I can remove your pain by removing your sense of feeling.”

    “What does the sense of touch have to do with emotion?” I ask

    “They are connected through a chemical process in the body, believe me the emotional pain will be gone, It’s an out-patient process you will be good as new in a few hours, we can do it tonight wanna give it a try?”

    Halfway shit-faced I say “what the hell let’s do it, but I want my eyesight to be the sense that is increased.”

    Procedure complete a few hours of recovery and a short conversation with doctor Vivian to schedule a follow-up appointment and I was out the door.

    Pulling up a stool Jimmy meets me with a smile. “Back for seconds are ya?”

    “Give me a double Jimmy, make it the good stuff.”

    Sitting the glass in front of me Jimmy says “top shelf What’s the occasion today a marriage or funeral?”

    Staring at my reflection in the whiskey with my super-human eyesight I say “I don’t know.”

    • penney says:

      The premise of the story is good. I stumbled a lot on the tenses, quotation marks mishaps, and “he said/she said” usage. I believe Dr. or Doctor So & So is fully capitalized. Your character seems a bit dark and mopey. Even a smell window into what caused his mood might have been interesting. Thanks for contributing.

    • onaway says:

      Good story. I got where you were going with it but it was work. I agree about the punctuation and grammar work, and smell windows.

      • handyman43127 says:

        Thank you penny and onaway for reading my story. I wish you would have been more specific on the punctuation and grammar mishaps you refer to, I could then not repeat them if I agree. Also I wonder what is a “Smell window” both of you refer to it and I have never heard of that phrase before? I must say I have read and reread my story and cannot understand what is the trouble with understanding “where I am going with it?” I admit I allow the reader to use there own imagination to come to certain conclusions like what the man was angry or so upset about. The question by the Doctor and the response the man gives answers that question. The exact conflict with women that causes his mood is not necessary to the story and uses up precious words in a 500 word limit. I do this by design when I write, I want the reader to fill the gap with what may have been their own experience. In this way the story and the reader have a sort of connection.

        • penney says:

          “Smell window”is a typo on my part, I think onaway is giving me my own medicine. As for anything I have quest. If I am wrong then it is a learnig experience for me, I thought this was part of the purpose of this? In begining,does a woman sitdown or women? In the start of the conversation you give who is saying what or the quation marks are surrounding the entire line.
          “….I fired back” and her comment structurally is at least two seperate sentences no commas. Although it would seem obvious that thetwo are talking back and forth I want to say you should folllow each w/a he said shesaid claim, you are missing a few. Toward the end a few quotes are void of commas or gramer lead ins and capitalizations or transition flow. Please mind I am far from expert but it makes for speedbumps when someone notce a possible quest. The story is good my keyboard on new tablet is putting me to shame while trying to answer ur quest. I am sorry

          • handyman43127 says:

            It is good to see that the participation has begun to increase again. Also thank you Penny for your help in pointing out some punctuation errors that I have overlooked in my story. I must admit I struggle in this area.

  56. flyecia says:

    I fumbled through my purse searching for the car keys.
    “Finally!” I pulled out the keys as I arrived at my car. Just as I hit the remote start button, something hard made contact with my skull.
    My world went black.

    I blinked hard upon waking. Instinctively I tried to touch my hand to my head, but the restraints prevented me. Panic filled me as I realized my legs were strapped down as well. The sound of footsteps drew closer. An old man now stood over me, his clothes crumpled like paper in a wastebasket, his beady eyes fixed on me.

    “Good evening,” he sneered. “My dear, I will not hold you in suspense. How delighted I was to find you this evening. You, my dear, were in the right place at the right time to become my latest guinea pig – I mean test subject.” He caressed my face with his withered hand, long nails curved slightly over each finger. I winced when he touched the place where he’d struck me.

    “Oh, that must still hurt,” he said. “Not to worry. The pain will go away after I enter your brain. That is of course unless you’d like me to dull something else. You see, tonight it I will heighten one of your senses and dull a second. Which do you choose.?”

    I swallowed hard. I had been unable to speak thus far. I stared back at him.

    “Oh my dear, you must choose.”. He ran that same withered hand through his wiry, frenzied hair. “there is no other option. I must complete my experiment. After the surgery you will stay here with me, so I can run tests on your new brain, of course.” His hand found a new home on my abdomen, and slowly ran down my body, a pool of spit forming in the corner of his mouth. He squeezed my thigh.

    My mind raced. My senses? Which don’t I need? Which one will help me get out of here? I spotted his diagrams of the human body and brain just over his shoulder. I squinted. I caught my breath. My newly purchased glasses were not on my face.

    “My taste,” I said, finally taking a breath. Dull my taste and increase my vision.”
    “Very well.” He leaned closer. “You will die before you see your way out of here.”

    Where there is no vision, the people perish.

    “No,” I replied. “with vision, I can see my way out of anything.”
    “We shall see.” He retreated to his desk.
    Slap!
    I jumped, startled as he slapped on his gloves.

  57. Jammersam says:

    I head down to the testing station on my lunch break. No other chance through the day, and lunch is usually a bore, anyhow: rotten egg salad in the cafeteria. I wave to Jenkins on the way out before he can blast me with his breath, hustling down the fire stairs so I won’t be seen
    .
    The walk takes me only fifty yards down the street; another good reason to put in the time for a quick fifty. I’ll take Liza to that gourmet burger joint later. It’s next to that laundromat – can’t stand their freshener – but the burgers can’t be beat.

    A lady in red brushes past me as I cross the street. I turn and stare, not meaning to. Her hips are nice but perfume is too loud. Liza’s is nicer. Should ask her to change soap soon, though.

    Rain begins to pour just as I reach the building – SANDOS CORP HQ. Liza loves the rain. I put a hand out and catch some drops. Soon the street is running with water, carrying the putrid stench of fetid garbage.

    Inside, a man at the desk ushers me inside to the seventy-fourth floor. The air there smells disgusting and stale. Men in white lab coats strip me, rub me down with oil and apply those sticky things you always see on astronauts in movies. They lay me down on a chair, strap me in. I’m starting to worry about what it is I signed up for when a man comes in – head shaved, small smile, round spectacles. He checks off unseen boxes on a clipboard.

    “How are we feeling today?”

    “Good.”

    “Good, or… very good?”

    “Uhm. Fine.”

    Check.

    “So, which one will it be?”

    “I’m sorry?”

    He lowers the clipboard, frowns.

    “You read the ad?”

    “Sure. Fifty bucks.”

    “Hmm?”

    “Aren’t you paying me?”

    He leaves, returns in five minutes.

    “We’re prepared to pay you.”

    “Are you sure I’m in the right place? This… doesn’t seem like allergy testing.”

    “Yes,-yes-yes. You’re fine.” A not-so-reassuring smile. “So – sight, smell, taste, or hearing?”

    “To what?”

    “Remove, of course.”

    I feel surprisingly less anxious than I should. I’m already strapped in the chair, locked inside. I suppose worse things have happened.

    “Do I get a say in it?”

    “Not really.”

    “I see.”

    “But we can improve one other. Your choice.”

    “Lovely.”

    Five minutes later I have an answer for him.

    “You can take smell.”

    “Very well – ”

    “But leave taste.”

    “Can’t be done.”

    “ You said smell, or taste. So I can keep one.”

    He frowns. Leaves. Returns in ten minutes.

    “Very well. And to improve?”

    I can’t help but shrug. “Nothing, thanks.”

    “I’m sorry?”

    “Why change a good thing? Thanks, though.”

    He drops his clipboard and adjusts his glasses. “That isn’t part of the experiment.”

    “Hey, listen buddy. I’m not even supposed to be here. So just do what you need to and let me get over to my allergy testing so I can get back to work. Trust me, you’re doing me a favour.”

    When I get home, I don’t even need to get Liza to change her soap.

  58. onaway says:

    I can see clearly now…

    I can see the worlds around me, the stars the heaven the beauty in everything and everyone. I see the lookers and the watching. I see the love people share for each other, the faith in one another, the faith and hope we all seek. I finally see innocence in the life of the young and wisdom in the old and dying. I see where and what I have been and my eyes reveal all that touches around me. I see many things for the first time but remember them always being there. I remember hiding from my eyes. I remember blackness in light; a smothering choking darkness. Smoke and fog fades into crystal visions now. I see your beautiful smile.
    I have seen everything about you. I’m looking through you right now… I see where we will be and what it means to me and how it should be. I know now what you are. I’ve seen all these things! I see them with out even looking. I see inside and around and before and after. I have seen behind the dark shadows that you hide in.

    She smiled. “And how does all that make you feel?” she asked.

    “Feel? I feel nothing,” he said calmly.

    • DMelde says:

      Beautiful. Poetic. I liked everything except the exclamation point. For me, if he exclaims something then he’s also feeling something. I like combining the two sentences to read – “I’ve seen all these things without even looking.” Very well done! :)

    • flyecia says:

      this was pretty cool. two thumbs up

    • AletaGoin says:

      Beautifully and powerfully written. I agree with DMelde, that the exclamation point breaks the tone of the writing and the two sentences may have more impact being combined. The only other suggestion that I would make is to remove “calmly” from the last sentence for the same reason. It evokes a feeling, and he truly feels nothing, there is not even calmness. Nice job!

  59. C.J. Evershade says:

    Slightly over 500 words, yet I hope you do enjoy it!
    ___________________________________________________
    Fresh apples! Pears, jackfruits, dragonfruits – plenty for all and penny a piece! The shouts of market traders cascaded through the narrow courtyards like waves, crashing against brick walls as they turned.

    “Only a penny for this blueberry bundle?” a thin man said with cowardice.
    “A supper of blueberry stew if two pennies from you!” the marketer responded.

    Two pennies then stacked as handsomely as two pennies could; they shined against the fruiter’s wet wooden wheelcart.

    “A bundle of bruiseless blueberries for your stew – now off wit’ ya!” The fruiter snatached at the pennies and dragged them into a saddle about his belly.

    As the thin man clipped the fruity bundle to his breeches, they drooped to its weight. He grazed the many tabletops in search of fantastic fruits to build his supper stew.

    Two more pennies stacked atop a high counter while a grisly, gross grocer tossed a fur peach into the thin man’s pocket; the ground pulled at his legs. He could feel the peach skin against his flesh – it warmed his body.

    The thin man continued his supper’s hunt into a narrow avenue.

    Squish! The fur peach burst against a steel frame and dripped down his leg like honey. The berries dribbled and danced away, deceasing under the feet of other buyers.

    “Curses, my stew is spoiled!” He gathered four or five remaining blueberries from the dirt and raised to meet a man dressed in black.

    “Name.” darted the man in black.
    “My name, sir? Well my name is Ert, of course.”

    “Do you wish to trade, Ert?” said the man in black. “I have much to give.”
    “Why yes, I would much like my peach and blueberries for my supper stew, do you have peach and blueberries? I have a penny or two, I do.”

    “I do not have a peach or berry, but will you trade for a new tongue? One that will better your taste for stew or anything new – for even the grass, bark or moldy moss will be as sweet as pastries or salty as pork.” The man in black insisted with a divine confidence.
    “No, kind sir, it is not the taste the excites my stew, but rather the strength of its aroma! Can you give of a nose – not to be nosey – that will better the fragrance. I have longed for the chance to sit above my stew and savor its smell!

    The man in black gave a tilted smile, “What are you to trade?”
    “Two pennies.” said Ert.

    The man in black slammed his fist on the steel pushwagon, “You insult with coinage! Perhaps your tongue will do?”
    “But without a tongue, how am I to taste my stew?” responded Ert.

    “Then it is your eyes. Must you have eyes to taste and smell the beauty of stew?” quipped the trader.

    Suddenly, Ert embraced a delicate, yet strong savory sensation. He could smell freshly seasoned duck soup around the alleyway bend. The scent entered his body and hugged his exterior until his mind fell into a gloom.
    “Yes, needn’t eyes to seize the beauty of a stew,” Ert said in a senseless tone.

    The steel cart returned to darkness and revealed an open sore with a painful stench. The decaying peach at the foot of Ert’s breeches simmered from below and an awful, earthen perfume pierced his head.

    Ert raised to his feet bewildered, disoriented and naked. He raced to find the empty air. He collided with the burly belly of a man and the smell of sweat was sharp and acidic as it drained onto his tongue.

    Ert screamed as the horrible odor of the world entered his body and stung like an insect.

    It was abrupt.

    Ert became numb to the sickness,. His body was cleansed with a light misting of lilac. He followed the bouquet without delay.
    “The perfect spice for my stew.” He riddled his thoughts.

    He ran. Subtle hints of the flavor became powerful until he lost his ground. The clover of a lilac breezed against his face as he lost the weight of his body.

    A lone lilac bush fluttered in the wind.
    It rested at the edge of a steep cliff that overlooked a deep and unending ocean.

    • wilson hara says:

      Thoroughly enjoyed it, beautiful.

      • C.J. Evershade says:

        Thanks, glad you enjoyed it! I believe you responded to my contribution last month about the author who writes in a neighboring murderer, as well. It’s my goal to introduce a certain aspect of weird fiction to the boards; I hope that I’ve achieved that! I love how strange stories can bring the reader to wonderment and even confusion…allows for a much more elegant, personal and inrense interpretation.

    • DMelde says:

      Wonderful story. You play with words gracefully. I enjoyed your “weird fiction” as you put it because it did have a certain strangeness about it.

      • C.J. Evershade says:

        Thanks for your input! The word limit has left me with an empty feeling for Ert. I wish we had a little more to understand his story, but that is the beauty of a short story…it allows for the reader to fill in the gaps. I believe “The Tragedy of Ert” makes for a nice title!

        • penney says:

          You lead me through the alleys of the market and straight over the cliff. This was a good story telling. I was dragged even to the outcome of the fruit stew. I enjoyed this very much. The transition after the trade caught me a little but after that stumble it was okay again. Thank you.

    • onaway says:

      Interesting style- glad I ‘stuck it out’ to the end, it paid off. Good work.

  60. penney says:

    Slowly something came into view. She blinked a few times, then licked and bit her lower lip as she tried to figure out where she was. There was something very tight around her stomach. She tried to wiggle, but realized she was held tightly to something flat and cold. Breathing a little heavier, she tried opening her eyes again, she had been drugged.

    There was a speckled bluish color surrounding her. Suddenly there was a clanking sound like metal to metal. She tried to move her head toward the sound, but it was somehow restrained from movement. Panic set in.

    “Help me! Someone Help!” She yelled.

    “Ah, you’re awake. That is good. Very, very good.” A robotic monotone voice made her shiver. When his feet were the first thing to come into view, the realization hit her like a two-by-four. She was upside down!

    “No! No, no, no! Why am I here? Wha?” Before she could finish, he flipped her like an omelet. The operating table she was on spun facing upward. The glare of the overhead lamp made her squint. She struggled some more.

    “I am Dr. Tao. I am making a breathtaking new super sensing human. You are my prototype.” A deformed, one eyed man looked down at her. He held her chin with two cold fingers and an Electro-larynx to his throat with the other hand.

    “Pay attention. I am going to do this. You can’t get away,” he said. She started to laugh uncontrollably.

    She asked him between spurts of giggles. “Have you ever seen the movie, “War Games”? You sound like the computer. Could you say; “Would you like to play a game?” She giggled harder while testing her wrist straps.

    The mechanical larynx made a high pitched screech like a blow horn with the volume too loud. Within seconds her cheek stung from the impact of his hand connecting with her face.

    “You have a choice. I will remove one of you five senses while heightening another. I am not a cruel man. You may pick.” He was absolutely serious. “I will be back in thirty minutes.”

    She flailed and screamed as she listened to him leave the area. This was a nightmare. In the silence, a ticking sound came from somewhere. She listened intently to the second hand of a clock and thought of her five senses. She rationalized each sense. Chocolate, she will never give up the taste of chocolate. Touch? An orgasm, oh to give up such ecstasy, never! What about smell? Beyond giving up the smell of a fart, there are too many things connected to smell, no. She thought about the Bionic Man and the Bionic Woman. The ticking of the clock echoed painfully in her ear. She had made up her mind.

  61. bsidechels says:

    I’m not really fond of hospitals. I dislike taking advice from people in white uniforms. I feel the truth is always inside you. You’re are born with your truth, naked and covered in blood. And you’re soon spanked, clipped, cuddled and wrapped real tight, and thrown into a room full of the same confused and crying blobs, ready to be picked up by the world. But since I’m to be taken by my will, and dragged into surgery, I guess I’d choose to be deaf. My ears trick me more than my eyes, because at least if I don’t want to see something, I can at least close my eyes if I see something I dislike. With ears, I’m constantly in need of plugs, muffs, and other contraptions to block out the noise. Some times, even closing my eyes is hard to do, because the world is always knocking at your door, trying to pry your lids open to see their truth. If I was clipped of my hearing, and my sense of sight was strengthened, then maybe it would be too intense. Maybe the lights would be too bright, and I could see a little too well in the dark. It would be very upsetting then if this surgery was forced on me to choose. At least I would hear the music that’s been beating in my head all along, and no one would scream nonsense in my ears. Beethoven was deaf too, and he was an amazing troubadour. But he still had pain,like all of us do, and it was probably his intense sight and insight to the world around him, that drove him to make such masterpieces. I’m not sure, you’d have to ask him. I would then hope the anesthesia would have a negative reaction on me, so I could leave the hospital the same way I came in.

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