26.2

26.2

Status: Finished

Genre: Horror

Houses:

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Horror

Houses:

Summary

The novel tells the story of Lisa Monroe, whose life is upended when she takes up distance running in her spare time. What begins innocently enough turns out to be more than it seems: her running pastime begins to serve as a metaphor for addiction, something that loved ones in her life are curiously beginning to struggle with as well. It is revealed that Lisa's husband (Kyle), the founder of a start-up medical device company, is responsible for letting shoddy products hit the market. One of the patients injured due to his negligence has decided to take revenge on Kyle and all those he cares for; the supernatural methods he unleashes to do so are unveiled to be the addictions that Kyle, Lisa, and their close orbit are hit with. 26.2 explores the many facets and faces of addiction and weaves together an exciting narrative that leaves readers guessing until the conclusion. It serves as a fresh way of analyzing everyday issues through an unconventional perspective.
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Summary

The novel tells the story of Lisa Monroe, whose life is upended when she takes up distance running in her spare time. What begins innocently enough turns out to be more than it seems: her running pastime begins to serve as a metaphor for addiction, something that loved ones in her life are curiously beginning to struggle with as well. It is revealed that Lisa's husband (Kyle), the founder of a start-up medical device company, is responsible for letting shoddy products hit the market. One of the patients injured due to his negligence has decided to take revenge on Kyle and all those he cares for; the supernatural methods he unleashes to do so are unveiled to be the addictions that Kyle, Lisa, and their close orbit are hit with. 26.2 explores the many facets and faces of addiction and weaves together an exciting narrative that leaves readers guessing until the conclusion. It serves as a fresh way of analyzing everyday issues through an unconventional perspective.

Chapter1 (v.1) - Mile One

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: May 31, 2017

Reads: 175

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: May 31, 2017

A A A

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He pulled the hospital sheets over his shivering body, wishing for the hundredth time someone was there to provide solace. But no loved one was standing sentry near his hospital bed; not during visiting hours, and certainly not now, in the dark just before dawn. His trustiest companionship during these disconcerting hours is the incessant chirping from the machines that keep him alive, noises from devices standing between him and reunification with his wife and son. He shudders, and though the room is indeed cold—a simple buzz of the nurse would suffice to adjust the thermostat—this is not the primary reason he seeks protection from the covers.

He hates the darkness with as much fervor as he did while a toddler. No, his disdain for it only metastasized as the mess of his life unfolded. The fear expanded in the days of near paralysis following the erroneous surgery, the procedure he was promised would set his aching knees right once and for all. The doctor and surgeon assured him he would be up and walking again before he knew it, that the recovery time would fly by in a wink.

But that had been the company line posited before the post-surgery follow up—the debriefing which only compounded his nightmarish week. The news that his surgery had not been successful was delivered matter-of-factly, the word that his legs were infected passed along with an unnerving calmness. Stated with all the drama of a weatherman unveiling the upcoming week’s high temperatures and precipitation chances.

He thought such things were only fodder for TV documentaries and magazines: surely stories of doctor malfeasance and botched surgeries were one-in-a-million chance occurrences. Never did he think it would happen to him, a recently laid off and societally unconnected auto mechanic with no family or friends to call on during his hour of need. The unforgiving blows of fate had already been felt on more than one occasion during his years on the Earth; he was sure that his lifetime quota of misfortune had been met.

He’d been in the hospital for what was supposed to be a quick knee surgery, an in-and-outer that would finally solve the riddle of pain.

‘Just routine’, that smiling monster of a surgeon informed him.

The pain advanced from annoying to searing ember status over the preceding year, but it was a malady he assumed would be taken care of by the knife of the surgeon in whom he placed full faith and trust. In the hands of a doctor and hospital he gauged more than competent to heal his knee.

Not so much as a second thought was granted to the prospect of a foul-up occurring during surgery.

Though he was no more than a few days over forty-five years old, every ounce of the man in the bed looked vouched for sixty; not yet old enough to experience a full blown mid-life crisis.

But he nonetheless found himself within shouting distance of one, and his current predicament more than passed the crisis smell test.

In these predawn hours his thoughts drifted back to his loneliness. The spigot of devastating news would not have cut as deep had a wife been present to squeeze his hand, a son or daughter-in-law stopping by to drop off flowers and to offer a pep talk. Such gestures would have at least made his circumstances bearable.

Infuriating, but not without accompanying light at the end of the tunnel.

But such things were not to be—the sixth anniversary of his wife’s death was approaching, preceded one week by the anniversary of his son’s passing. He tried to stop these memories from invading; Lord knew there was already enough misery bearing down on him. But they rolled into his mind’s forefront as he stared into the abyss, only the outlines of the hospital room’s minimal furniture visible.

His son’s bright, smiling face never faded. A son, whose very existence had meant more than life itself, on his way to a collegiate athletic scholarship thanks to his distance running prowess before the scythe of misfortune swung. All that taken away, all those dreams cut short by a poor decision behind the wheel of his car. A foolhardy decision, trying to drive back home and sneak into his house after dowsing his system with alcohol.

Thinking he could impress fellow high school seniors with his drinking prowess (as if his exploits on the track were insufficient to earn their praise) and pull off a safe trip back to the house. Thinking he could make the four mile drive back home, park the car in the driveway, and climb in through the downstairs window. His son learned the hard way that the hubris of a drunk driver is always staggering in hindsight.

His drunken, post-party journey home ended in a wrong turn down a one way street at fifty-five miles an hour. The head-on collision took his son’s life, leaving the shocked driver of the truck with sixteen stitches and one broken leg. The only good (if one were inclined to call it that) outcome was that his son’s death had been instantaneous.

All that potential, evaporating faster than water droplets on a summer day.

And then discovering his wife, inconsolable in grief, dead seven days later by her own hand. Her son had only been in the ground two days, and coping proved an impossible task. The man had to admit he entertained the same thoughts; losing a seventeen-year-old child to such a random act did wonders for crushing one’s soul with grief. But she was the one who opted for the easy way out, leaving him to sort through the senseless shards alone.

She had been lying on the floor for at least an hour when he walked in the front door, an immediate foreboding falling over him that something was out of sorts. A lethal concoction of medicines did the trick, and a note as succinct as it was wrenching was left behind. Why she felt it necessary to rehash the obvious in it he would never know, but it was undertaken nonetheless.

One after another she spelled out why life was no longer worth enduring: they would never be able to see their son graduate high school, never see him take a hand in marriage, and, the part that seemed to bother her more than any other aspect of the unexpected nature of his death, his parents would never see him run the high school track again.

She loved going to his track meets, meets her son would more often than not dominate; she never missed one as far as the man in the hospital bed could recall. Their son was regarded as an upper echelon runner in the state, achieving the school record and second fastest time for the eight hundred meter in state history.

“He’s going to be an Olympian one day,” she once said with no doubt in her voice. That had been two weeks before the drunk driver took his life, words which would endure in infamy. She referenced them in that awful note he wished he never laid eyes on.

He sobbed in the quiet darkness of his post-surgery bed as remembrances he spent the last six years repressing flooded back. They were a slow leak becoming a massive torrent, one he was powerless to stop given his current emotional state.

And now here he was, wishing in hindsight he had just followed his wife’s lead. His wife and sole child were the only two family members he maintained any sort of relationship with; he drifted apart from his few friends during the depression that ensued after their deaths. Losing a wife and child in a span of one week was a life twist he’d never seen in the cards.

To complete the vicious circle, receiving the pink slip from work cut him completely off; the co-workers and customers he occasionally conversed with were now gone from his life as well. It was only small talk for the most part, but it kept him on an even keel. Gave him much needed grounding.

He was left to cope with this latest negative hand dealt by life alone. The irony would be too grotesque to digest were this current predicament caused by alcohol impairment; but it was almost worse to have such pain inflicted by a doctor who was stone cold sober.

Not a day passed that he didn’t wonder what could have happened to his son’s blossoming running talent if the jaws of death hadn’t taken their premature bite. His anger always came back to this, without fail centering on the discarded potential. His son was a remarkable student and had a bright future in academics as well just as his wife had taken pains to mention in the note she authored moments before taking an obscene dosage of the medicines, but the biggest hurt swelled when he thought of his son gliding gracefully along the track, legs unloading like springs as one stellar performance after another was turned in.

An article about the colleges courting his son that ran in the local paper a week prior to his death still sat framed in their—his, he’d often correct himself---living room. Track and cross country medals adorned several rooms of their house.  The pain was doubly bad when he hearkened back to his own abandoned dreams of running glory. He’d been a decent runner in high school, possessing talent nowhere near that of his son’s, but an ability which was nonetheless serviceable.

Enough to at least remain on the bubble when talk of running scholarships surfaced. That scholarship never materialized, and he’d always sensed some vicariousness in the wishes for his son’s success. He did his best to avoid being overbearing, but the desire for his son to grasp the success which had eluded him was impossible to camouflage. The importance he attached to watching his son take the talent to heights his father failed to reach went unspoken, but it bubbled up following each track meet and during each run around the neighborhood with his son.

He continued running on his own since the end of his high school track career, not letting disappointment over an insufficient talent level discourage him from keeping up a healthy routine during free hours. And he’d loved runs with his son during the offseason; it let him feel as if he had a small hand in the boy’s in-season success. As if he was a coach of sorts to such a prodigy.

Though the disappointment receded to the point of being manageable, he always sensed an emptiness that stemmed from his inability to make it at the collegiate level. Prior to the drunken driving incident he was convinced his son’s burgeoning career in running would fill it, a circle completing itself.

That this potential had been snuffed out with such finality gnawed at him daily.

He continued his running and jogging routine following the death of his son and wife, the pounding of concrete and occasional local road races serving as an outlet for his grief and reminder of his son. His son’s presence was a constant when he ran; he felt the boy’s spirit keeping pace right alongside him, encouraging him to finish when his body screamed at him to slow down.

But he was now robbed of even this last bit of comfort. His ability to run was gone, first slowed by the knee problems and vanquished by the nightmarish stint in the hospital.

‘We had no way of knowing the surgery would end like this,’ he’d been told.

Other variations on this theme were played on as well; with such clichés, the hospital officials were a guitar and bass player away from turning their lyrics into a chart-topping success. Midtown Presbyterian Physicians present their newest single: Doctor Damage Control. ‘Infections are not unheard of following procedures; we took all the necessary steps beforehand and will be looking into it.’

Yadda, yadda, yadda. It made him sick to hear the half-hearted excuses.

‘It very well could be an issue that originated with our supplier’ ultimately proved to be the truthful explanation for his impending leglessness, but he winced at its dismissive phrasing. As if his predicament were nothing more than a hiccup with the prices at the local lemonade stand, something that could be fixed with minor tweaking.

The only relevant takeaway was the news he would soon be losing both legs, the two appendages capable of keeping him sane after his boy’s death. He would soon be parting with the final connection he had to his beloved son’s memory: the ability to run.

Surely there must be a living, breathing individual to blame in this scenario. Venting his frustration at a faceless hospital bureaucracy might be good fodder for a ‘rage against the machine’ documentary, but he wanting a tangible object to focus his anger on.  The first doctor to bring tidings of the botched surgery could be a good target: a complexionally-challenged, inexperienced recent medical school graduate to direct his fury toward might not be all that bad; Pin the Tort on the Tenderfoot had a nice ring to it.

But he wasn’t even the same one who did the procedure, and the man swore to himself in the quiet of his hospital room that he would discover the truly responsible party. Whether it was shoddy surgical work, poor hospital sanitation, or a breakdown that could be pinned on a third party was irrelevant: he would stop at nothing to provide an answer to the question of whose negligence made the amputation unavoidable.

It might be a month-long job or one which consumed the rest of his life, but they would be held to account; of this he was sure.

But just punishing the individual involved would not go far enough. He’d rehashed the thought a multitude of times from the confines of his hospital bed: making it through this horror would not have been such a steep climb had there been a loving wife and son next to his bedside. But he had been denied their presence; had it snatched from him just like his legs.

Yes, whoever was behind this injustice would suffer, but so too would the ones they love.

Even should a court of law hold those responsible to account, forcing a king’s ransom in payout in the process, he would still see to it they were robbed of much more than monetary units. All the currency in the world could not make up for the involuntary severing of the final connection to his son.

It was during these lonely nights in the hospital that he first made the companionships with the enablers of his revenge. If all the carnage he was to witness later in life could be traced back to one moment in time, it would all come back to the quiet encounters he had while surrounded by hospital bed sheets and self-pity. The half-smile he fell asleep with, content that a unique brand of justice would one day be served, was all the opening that the enablers of his revenge required.

 

 

 


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