Let us go then, you and I, When the evening is spread out against the sky Like a patient etherised upon a table…

She was old. Ancient, in fact. Her crepe-paper skin was barely clinging to her spindly frame. She reminded me of the wicked witch from Snow White. I feared that animated nightmare as a child, convinced it was waiting in my closet until I fell asleep when it wasn’t rapping at the window with its long claws, looking for a way in. I still cannot bring myself to trust the elderly, especially the apparently frail. I know I shouldn’t judge based on appearance, but I can’t help entertaining the thought that their delicate bodies are just a clever ruse, behind which lies an evil potency. Like a perfectly fresh banana hiding inside a blackened spotty skin. Even this old bird, heavily sedated as she was, gave me the creeps. I couldn’t help thinking that she knew exactly what was going on, and was waiting for me to let my guard down before she would strike; probably digging those bony fingers into my eyes, whilst chewing my nose with her toothless mouth. When I opened her up to peak inside the abdominal cavity, I was surprised to discover that she looked pretty much normal. It didn’t resemble mummified remains or the inside of a vacuum cleaner bag, as I had expected.

As I sunk my right hand past her bowel, I noticed that there was something preventing any further penetration or retreat, as if my hand was clamped in place. My face must have betrayed the shock I experienced, as I noticed the others look upon me with concern. At first I tried to gently pull the hand out. Then, with a little more urgency, I attempted to twist it slightly, hoping to free it from whatever was attached, but as I did so I felt a stronger pull and a sudden sharp pain like a needle prick. At this I screamed for help, but was only greeted by confused expressions. The pain increased further, as if something was biting down. Desperate, I picked up a scalpel with my free hand and hacked my way through the viscera, stabbing whatever was underneath the bowel with all my might, and filleting my fingers in the process. In the moments before my right hand was freed, I fancied I saw a flicker of a smile from the old crone.

I never found out what had attacked me. I thought I had grabbed the thing, but on further inspection it turned out to be a fragment of yellowed liver. Could the woman’s very innards have mounted an assault? Could a territorial lizard have made its home in her small intestine? A forgotten foetus suddenly sprung to life? Perhaps an interdimensional portal with an angry Rottweiler waiting on the other side materialised behind the curtain of internal organs? It was hard to tell because I had cut the area so badly myself, but there seemed to be a tiny row of punctures along the injured hand that ran deep. Apparently the old lady didn’t make it.



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