This is chapter five of an unpublished story I’m working on. I thought it would be fun to post a short chapter every week or so. I’d like to know what you think.
The guy leaned back in his chair, crossed his legs, and continued, “As I told you earlier, I’m a video technician at Boiler Hospital in Dallas. My job is to digitally record the operations that take place in the hospital. They are used as teaching aids or as evidence if a malpractice lawsuit comes up. Of course, this evidence is only disclosed if the video shows the operation was performed competently. If any asshattery was caught on video, it is destroyed. Some of my best footage has been lost this way.
So about ten months ago, I was recording the video of an operation to remove a brain tumor. It’s a kid who looks like he’s maybe 15 years old. Sometimes, brain surgery is laparoscopic but not this time. They sawed all the way around his head – so the top would come off.
And when the top did come off, the tumor wasn’t a tumor at all. It was a very pissed-off brain crab. Everyone in the surgery room died horribly. Me? I wasn’t in the room. Hell no. I was in the video control room, on a different floor. The cameras are all operated remotely. This keeps me from possibly contaminating something or getting in the way of the surgeons.
Once all the screams and chaos subsided, I panned the cameras around the room, looking for the crab. I saw it hop the length of the room so it could be anywhere. By the way, the inside of the kid’s head was almost completely empty. The crab had eaten most of the kid’s brain.
Before the operation, I took a handheld cam and shot a few minutes of video with the parents and kid. They wanted it, you know. The kid was functioning normally – talking and moving around normally. He even told me a joke.
Did you hear about the crab that went to the seafood disco? He pulled a muscle.
I didn’t say it was a good joke but in that 20/20 hindsight sort of way, it’s really funny, now. The brain crab was making an inside joke. What I do wonder is, if the brain crab was in control – and it had to be because the kid had almost no brain left – why didn’t it try to stop the operation? The only thing I can think of is – I guess it wanted out. Do you think he wanted to kill everyone in the operating room? A psychopathic, serial killer, brain crab – who would have seen that coming? Or maybe after the boy’s brain was gone, it was still hungry and this was the only way to get out to get more brains? Who knows?
So anyway, the hospital went into emergency lockdown. The brain crab destroyed the lights and two of the three cameras that were in the room. The camera that remained was recessed in the ceiling and had a fisheye lens. It didn’t look like a camera – more like a light that wasn’t turned on and I guess that why the crab left it. Still, with no lights in the room, it was completely dark and I couldn’t see anything, though I could hear it scuttling around and what sounded like someone chewing wet food.
When two policemen arrived, they opened the door to the operating room with big flashlights on and guns drawn. The flashlight beams danced around the room and settled on a nurse in scrubs, standing among the bodies of other nurses and doctors. She had the mask and protective eyewear on. Her gloved hands and outfit were bloodied but it was a surgery room, so that’s not unusual.
“Freeze!” The police yelled, both training their shaky lights on her and probably their guns, too.
The nurse didn’t move, except her head. She looked up and said, “It’s on the ceiling!”
The flashlights swung upwards and around the room, and then there was pandemonium—the sound of rapid movement, grunts, and gunfire. Something was knocked over and clattered across the floor. The flashlight beams swung erratically around the room and, within a few seconds, lay on the floor – pointing towards the closed door. The two policemen were dead.
The nurse walked slowly to the door, illuminated by the crossed flashlights, and just before she opened it to let light spill in from the outside hallway, you could see the back of her head and the brain crab, clamped to her neck, manipulating her like a puppet.
I switched to viewing the security camera in the hallway, following her out of the room and past people, pressed against walls, or standing in doorways looking out. As she passed, thin, translucent tentacles shot from her open mouth, striking each person and then quickly retracting. Each victim reacted as if they were stung by a bee but promptly fell to the ground, motionless.
Finally, a doctor pulled a gun from a holster under his scrubs and fired, blowing the crab on the back of the nurse’s neck to bits. The nurse fell to the ground, and the doctor who was packing saved countless lives that day. He was later arrested for carrying a concealed weapon in a hospital.”
The guy casually stopped talking to take a sip from his coffee cup.
Doug was transfixed. I think he was buying it, but this sounded fake to me, and I had to say something, so I did.
“Why wasn’t this on the news?”
The guy lowered the coffee cup and said, “Shortly after this incident, two black helicopters landed on the helipads on the hospital roof, and four men in black suits came out. They took the video I recorded and the bodies in the operating room. In fact, they took all the videos recorded anywhere in the hospital, parking lot, or from surrounding businesses near the hospital.
They also took everyone on the second floor away to be inspected. Black vans pulled up, and men in hazmat suits took them away. I was on a different floor, so they didn’t take me.”
The guy leaned back in the plaid chair back again, not relaxed but still reclined.
He said, “The thing is – no one said, don’t talk about it. I mean, they took all the video and the bodies and stuff but didn’t say to keep quiet. So, people called news shows and were interviewed. Each story differed a little from the others, and most people only had seen a small part of what happened. They haven’t watched everything unfold via video cameras as I did. Most of what they said involved the Men in Black from the helicopters and vans more than anything supernatural or… crabby, and this is why you didn’t hear about it on the news – because most of it wasn’t about crabs, and none of the crabby stuff was credible.
I didn’t want to get involved in the circus, so I kept quiet, sort of. Instead, I posted it online. Disinformation.org picked it up and ran with it, but it’s all the conspiracy theorists and nut-jobs that keyed in on it, forming their theories and extrapolating the facts to a great extent.”
The guy seemed to notice my nano-reaction to his comments and looked directly at me, over my tented fingertips.
“See? You do remember the news stories about the black helicopters at the hospital, don’t you?”
The guy put his hands behind his head, fully reclined in his chair, but he kept talking.
“There’s a lot more to tell, but this is usually enough. Either you will acknowledge the brain crabs, or you won’t. So let’s make it easy. If you don’t believe me, leave. I’ve got the check. If you do believe me, then stay, and I’ll give you what you paid for.”
Check? We waited. Apparently. Doug said nothing.
“OK. My name is Benson Doyd. That’s my real name. No convictions. I’ll tell you why I’m telling you anything.”
Good to know. Boyd pulled the recliner forward, put his head in his hands, and rubbed them over his face as he looked up.
“So here it is – it’s because of my dog.
Buddy, my dog – he was a sensitive animal. I don’t mean that he is a wuss or anything, but he is a sensitive dog and can tell when I’m sad or upset. He’s a Rat Terrier, and they are thoughtful, independent sages.
The thing about Buddy is he’s a good judge of character, but he gives everyone a chance. He’s a thinker, wise in a canine sort of way. Yes, he drinks from the toilet, but he knows when someone has an alien brain crab up in their noggin, steering the ship, you know? He knows, and he won’t have anything to do with them. You might remember – he didn’t like you at all, Doug.
That’s when I asked you to leave, said I didn’t feel right – I would call you later. And didn’t. Of course, I wasn’t going to have sex with you. You have crabs!”
That made me do a double-take. It was one of those, looking back and forth between Doug and the guy over and over until I blurted out, “What?! No!” Like Homer Simpson, seeing the last donut eaten. Neither Doug nor the guy seemed phased by my cartoonish reaction.
“I know,” Benson said, glancing up at me but down at the floor, quickly. “How do I know Buddy didn’t have a brain crab too? I’ve had other experiences outside of that day at the hospital. I don’t think the crabs like dogs or cats. Not sure about monkeys or chimpanzees – but they prefer people.”
He looked solemnly at Doug. “Don’t look so sad. You knew it couldn’t work out. Me, a big city dork with commitment issues and you, a scaly brain-eating crab. Star-crossed from the beginning. You are from another dimension, after all.”
My Homer Simpson impression of, “Ahhhhhhhh!” continued with little notice. Boyd, however, kept talking.
“Where was I? Oh, yes. You’re from another dimension. I found your portal – the one in the back of the Starbuck’s on McArthur Blvd. The one behind the bags of espresso beans. I shut it down. I have no idea why a double-tall caramel latte can sever the connection, but it did. If coffee defeats you, it’s a real bummer that you opened the portal in a coffee shop. Anyway, that portal is gone, but I bet you have others, eh?
I also stomped four of your little cousins who had just popped through. They squish easily when they are small. I’m guessing everyone who works at that Starbucks is crabbed. I got out. That was this morning, right before I came home, to meet your crabby self.
I’m not saying you have a brain crab, Doug. I think the crab has fully taken over, eaten the entire brain, and everything that made you Doug is gone forever. I think you are all crab, looking at me with little crabby eyes, thinking little crabby thoughts, right now.
I have dominated the conversation, haven’t I? Why don’t you talk for a while?”
Drool plopped quietly onto the table as my mouth hung open, witnessing this exchange. Doug took a deep breath and then spoke.