The Limb

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
After an accident John Martin has his arm replaced with a robotic limb. Despite the doctors assuring him that everything is fine he is sure that something is not right with his new arm. He feels that there is something very sinister happening.

Submitted: March 03, 2014

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Submitted: March 03, 2014

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‘John, can you hear me? Just nod if you can.’

He nodded to the nurse. What was going on? It was like he was dreaming but he knew he was awake. His whole body tingled. He couldn’t focus or concentrate. He heard the nurse say to someone that he would need a few minutes to come round.

A short while later, the fog in his head had cleared a little. He was sitting up in the hospital bed. A doctor approached. He had reading glasses perched on the end of his thin nose. He reminded John of a Bond villain or an undertaker. The doctor went through the notes at the end of the bed.

‘Can you tell me your name?’

‘John Martin.’

‘How old are you?’

‘Thirty two.’

‘Who is the Prime Minister?’

‘That smug idiot in a suit.’

The doctor smiled.

‘And can you tell me who this is?’

He pointed his silver pen at the tired looking woman sitting at his bedside.

‘That’s my wife, Louise.’

Louise wiped tears from her cheek.

 

The doctor explained about the accident several days ago. John had made it through but the surgeons had not been able to save his arm. John looked down. But he still had both arms? The doctor continued, his left arm had been damaged beyond repair. The limb had been replaced with an artificial arm. This replacement limb, the doctor boasted, was the latest technology which, thanks to modern medical advancement will function in the same way as his other limbs.

John studied his new left arm closely. It was pale white in colour and cool to the touch. He moved his fingers on his left hand. He made a fist, slowly opened his hand. He made a circle with his wrist. It felt like his own limb yet not quite a part of him. It was similar to having numbness. When the numb feeling fades and you start to get the feeling back, that was how this new arm felt.

‘What do you think?’ the doctor asked.

‘I really don’t know.’

‘You will get used to it. Just give it time.’

The doctor told him that he would be discharged from hospital and would be able to go home later that day. He would be able to slowly get back to normal. No work though. He would be off work for several months. Every cloud, John thought.

 

Once back home his wife Louise hugged him. She whispered ‘I love you.’ John smiled. Told her he felt the same.

‘It’s so good to have you home.’

‘I’ll remind you of that when you’re mithering me to wash the pots or telling me I’m snoring.’

As she went to make them both a cup of tea John looked down as his new limb. He couldn’t explain why but he didn’t like it. It just didn’t feel right somehow.

When Louise returned with the mugs of tea she asked if he was okay. Yeah, fine he replied. He made a fist of his new hand, stuffed it into his pocket.

 

A few days later John went to see the doctor for a check up. With his wife beside him John held out his arm for the doctor to inspect. Nodding as he did his tests the doctor checked John’s pulse, listened to his chest, shone a tiny white light in his eyes.

The doctor smiled, went back behind his desk.

‘Well, Mr Martin, you are making great progress. Your body is recovering well. Your body is taking well to the new limb.’

John said nothing.

‘How are you finding the replacement?’

‘To be honest, doctor, I’m not sure I like it. It is useful and everything but it just doesn’t feel right.’

‘That is a normal reaction. Perfectly natural. Your head has to get used to it too, you know. Everything is fine. You just need to give it time. When I get new glasses I always think they’ve given me the wrong prescription for the first fortnight. And you have something more major to get used to.’

His wife placed a hand on his lap.

 

As they drove home John hoped they were right. Perhaps the doctor had a point. It was a massive change. No wonder he was struggling to get his head around it. His wife glanced at him.

‘You okay, love?’

He nodded, gave her a smile.

 

Later the following week he was watching football on Sky Sports. Louise said she was going to make a cup of tea. Asked if he would like one.

‘Affirmative.’

‘What?’

‘Yes, I mean, yes.’

 

The next morning he sat bolt upright in bed. His wife rolled over onto her side. Brushed her hair out of her eyes.

‘What is it, John?’

‘It’s six forty-five. Time for you to get up.’

As if to prove his point the alarm clock started chirping. Louise pushed the snooze button.

‘How did you know what time it was?’

John shrugged. He knew what time his wife had to get up for work. And he’d woke up at the exact time. That was weird. He looked down at his new arm.

 

One evening while cooking tea he caught a bottle of olive oil with his elbow. It toppled off the worktop. Before he knew what was happening his new arm shot out and grabbed the bottle just before it hit the floor. He had always been clumsy and was forever dropping things. His new limb was clearly more co-ordinated than the rest of him. His other hand was trembling as the new limb put the bottle back in the cupboard.

As they were eating their pasta and meatballs Louise flicked through the newspapers and told John about her day at the office. She explained about the restructuring of the company. She grumbled that she could not see the point of all the changes. She stopped talking mid-sentence. She tapped the newspaper in front of her.

‘Who did all the puzzles?’

‘I did.’

‘I’m impressed. You’ve never been very good with numbers. Look, you’ve even done the Sudoku. How did you do it?’

‘Dunno. The answers just came to me.’

 

On a cold Saturday afternoon as they were curled up on the sofa he handed her a paperback book.

‘There you go. You can read that, I’ve finished it.’

‘But you only started that this morning. Normally it takes you weeks to read a book.’

John shrugged.

 

At the next check up John insisted that the new limb still didn’t feel right. Again the doctor nodded sympathetically. He had an I understand look on his face. He then gave his standard answer that these things take time to get used to. Again he told John that it was perfectly normal. The doctor looked over his reading glasses at Louise.

‘And, Mrs Martin, how do you feel your husband is coping?’

‘To be honest, he hasn’t been quite himself. But, as you say, these things take time.’

‘Mr Martin, where do we go from here?’

‘If you are asking me to choose then I would be happier without this.’

He waved the new limb.

‘Give it more time. You’ll see. Come back and see me soon. Be patient. And after a sufficient adjustment period, if you still feel the same we will take steps to remove the replacement arm.’

John sighed, nodded.

‘Please remember that the tests are coming back fine. The new limb is working well and your body is accepting it. So, any uncertainty, or uneasiness, is produced by the mind. Stay calm, get on with your life.’

John said nothing. How many times did he have to tell them? The new arm, this thing, it was not right. He felt strange. Something was happening to him.

 

A few nights later, with tea and biscuits, John and Louise made themselves comfortable on their sofa. Time for University Challenge. Each married couple have certain programmes that are special to them. For some it is Come Dine With Me or Neighbours, or even the repeats of Cheers on ITV4, but you tune into these programmes with your other half, and give it your undivided attention. Somehow, united in front of the TV, it brings you closer. You discuss what is happening on screen. John and Louise would watch University Challenge. Being from the North they would support the Northern institutions, Salford and Manchester especially, and ridicule the southern institutions when they incurred the wrath of Jeremy Paxman.

Paxman read out questions to the teams on topics such as chemistry, algebra and quantum physics. Before he knew what he was saying John found himself speaking works he didn’t understand. A second later Jeremy Paxman read out the answers. John had answered all the questions correctly. Louise looked at him in confusion.

‘How did you do that?’

‘I honestly have no idea.’

John started to panic. His heart was pounding. He felt hot and dizzy. He had said the answers to the questions without thinking. It was like the way you say sorry when you bump into someone. It just came out. He knew none of the answers. He hadn’t even understood the questions. But he had got them all right.

His wife saw the worry on his face. She gave him a nudge.

‘Nevermind University Challenge, we’ll have to get you on one of those quiz shows where you can win us some money.’

Louise flicked through the channels. She found an old episode of Red Dwarf on a comedy channel. They soon lost themselves in the TV programme.

 

In the middle of the night Louise woke to find John sitting up in bed. He had his knees tucked up and hugged them tight. He stared out into the dark room, tears running down his face.

‘Hey love. What is it?’

John swallowed the lump in his throat.

‘It’s my new arm. It’s not right. Something is really wrong. It’s doing strange things to me. I can feel it.’

‘John, come on. They’ve done all the tests. Your results keep coming back fine. Don’t they? The doctors say you’re doing well. Everything is fine. Even this, your reaction to it, is normal.’

‘What if they’re wrong?’

‘I’ll get you a drop of whiskey. That will help you relax.’

He stared at her with frightened eyes.

 

The next morning Louise switched off the alarm. She turned to see John sitting on the edge of the bed. He had his back to her.

‘Morning love. How are you feeling?’

‘Fine.’

‘And about your arm?’

‘Yes, it’s fine.’

She gave him a kiss on the cheek as she headed for the bathroom.

 

That evening John watched Manchester United play a Champions League game against some team with a long unpronounceable name. Louise sat next to him. While he watched the match she read the latest Lee Child paperback. Thirty minutes into the first half Louise noticed something was different. She turned to her husband.

He was sitting on the sofa watching the game. But what was unusual was the way he was watching. Normally when the football was on he would get very animated. He would wave his hands, kick out and shout at the screen as though they could hear him. Now though, he just sat there.

‘How’s the match? Are they playing well?’

‘They have had sixty-four percent of the possession and twelve shots on target.’

Louise scratched her head. He had given her facts and figures but nothing more. Normally he would be ranting at the television. He would yell at them all, the players on both teams, the referee and the linesmen. But this evening he just slouched on the sofa next to her. He just sat there staring at the screen.

Louise tried to get back into her thriller novel. She read about the tough guy trying to solve the problems of a Mexican border town but all she could think was what if John had been right about the new limb? A shiver went through her. She shook her head. Decided to sleep on it.

 

The following night as they ate their meal at the dining table Louise voiced the concerns that had been on her mind all day.

‘How do you feel about your new arm now?’

‘The replacement is fully functional.’

‘But you’re not yourself, are you?’

‘I do not understand.’

‘It’s like something is missing.’

John said nothing.

‘What’s your favourite album?’

‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is considered to be the best record ever produced.’

‘No, John. That’s not what I asked.’ Tears burned her cheeks. ‘You always said that Definitely Maybe was your favourite. You used to play it over and over when we were going out. You remember that, don’t you?’

John did not reply. Louise slammed her cutlery down.

‘Right, I’m phoning the doctor in the morning. That thing is coming off.’

 

Early the next week they went to the hospital. John was silent as Louise drove through rainy Salford streets. Eventually John was taken through and prepared for the surgery. When it was time for him to go down for the removal operation Louise kissed his cheek. She told him she loved him. John simply stared straight ahead.

 

Louise paced up and down the waiting area. She drank cups of awful vending machine tea. Checked the time on her watch and the clock on the wall. The doctor came through some time later. He looked nervous, anxious.

‘What is it?’ she asked.

‘Mrs Martin, I’m afraid I have some rather disturbing news. As your husband was being transported to the operating theatre he attacked the hospital porters. Before he could be restrained he left the hospital.’

‘What? Did he say where he was going?’

‘That’s the other strange thing. The hospital staff that saw him leave claim he was repeating the same thing over and over. Installation complete. Installation complete.’


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