The Fracture Clinic

You have 1526 unopened answers to sub-conscious questions

She blinked. The corneal display altered.

You have 25 unopened emails

She blinked again.

You have 6331 saved entertainment items

‘I need to sort this out,’ she thought.

6331 entertainment items filed to memory store JC1131P

Freya pushed back the sliding window and stared through the fine mesh into a world of green AstroTurf, neatly trimmed hedges, and tree-bark borders. She thought she saw a rabbit hunkered down, its ears twitched and the breeze played with the white fur of its bobtail. Then she remembered there were no animals here.

‘I miss the birds,’ she thought.

Her corneal display appeared uninvited.

You have 2304 unopened answers to sub-conscious questions

“That’s more than anyone can deal with in one day. No one should have to deal with that.” She spoke aloud. No one replied. “I’m just trying to find out the truth. About everything.”

Freya sat on the edge of the bed. She smoothed the faux-fur blanket and watched the tracks of a darker shade appear under her fingers as she rubbed the pile the wrong way.

‘Who says it’s the wrong way? Who decides?’

The display changed again.

You have 3999 unopened answers to sub-conscious questions

She blinked repeatedly, but her eyes filled up with data.

Freya called out, “I can’t see. I’m blind. You have to help me.” She slid off the bed and curled up on the floor, foetal, her palms pressed into her eyelids. The slate tiles were hard and unforgiving against her shoulder and hip, but cool on her cheek.

“It’s ok,” she told herself, “Calm down.” She scrambled up onto all fours and crawled to the wall. She drew herself up using the wall as her guide, then she pulled herself along as she felt for the handle. The surface was uniform, grey, and smooth. Every metre or so she found a join in the surface. But no handle. She patted lightly as if she were burping a baby.

Pictures of babies scrolled across the inside of her closed eyelids; smiling baby, crying baby, laughing baby, sleeping baby, baby dressed as a flower, baby in a Santa hat.

She stopped when her shins nudged the edge of her night-stand. The water in her plastic cup rippled and sent a prism of light across the ceiling. It danced like a fairy and flitted above her from corner to corner. She watched it fly.

“Where am I?” she asked.

Location: Fracture Clinic

She felt her bones through her skin. Arms seemed fine, legs, everything moved. She touched her head and felt a stabbing pain through her eyes. ‘My head must be broken,’ she thought, ‘I’m in the best place to get better.’ But they were not her words, they belonged to someone else.

She could hear music. She had never noticed the piano in her pod before, but it seemed fitting to join in. She sat on the stool and let her fingers glide over the keys. With a feather touch she played along, lost in the moment, she swayed to the soothing melody.

“Freya.”

You have incoming mail

The heads-up display interrupted the music.

She swivelled round on the stool and squinted through the data at the figure standing in front of her.

“Freya, you have a visitor.”

It was a woman. She could not recall her name but she had seen her before.

“You found the door,” Freya said, “I’ve been looking everywhere for that,” and she parted her lips and smiled at the woman, because that’s what she was supposed to do.

“Keep smiling,” she said as the woman took her by the arm and helped her off the stool.

“I must remember where the door is,” she said and laughed just a bit too loudly.

“The door is right there, Freya, you are not locked in. You can come out any time you please.” The woman’s voice was quiet and muffled as if she was talking from very far away.

Freya tried to move one foot in front of the other to keep up with the woman. It was difficult to walk without the confines of her pod to keep her safe. The corridor was endless, white and the bright lights hurt her eyes. In the passage, the pictures on the wall told a story of a time long gone. A ‘chocolate box’ cottage with a garden full of flowers, a white sailing boat on a Mediterranean-blue sea, a rocket in full “blast off”.

Freya stopped in front of the picture. They had all left. They had filed into a rocket like ants moving the nest and had blasted off into a cloudless sky to look for help. At least, she thought it was a rocket. It had certainly been very loud. It had definitely taken them all away.

You have no friends

Freya clenched her fists and blinked.

You are a worthless piece of shit

Freya ground her teeth and moaned. It had started. She needed to get back to her pod but the woman had a firm grip on her arm and chattered away at her side. Freya pushed her fingers into her temples and rubbed bruising circles into her skin.

You are nothing

You are nothing

You are nothing

There was only one way to stop it, when it started. She screamed at the woman until her voice broke and then pressed her forehead against the plexiglass that covered the picture. People shouted her name but they were far away. She tried to see them through her tear-filled eyes. ‘How strange to have red tears,’ she thought. She licked her lips and they tasted metallic, not salty. She felt a sharp pinch in her arm and the pain in her head started to dwindle. The corneal display pixelated and faded to

nothing

They brought you here to fix you. Your head is broken. It lolls in front of you, heavy, lifeless. You wail like a child and keen. You beg them to set you free, take you home, stop the noise. Shhhhh…

The fractures are filigree veins, infinitesimally small, not visible to the human eye. But you feel the pain of them, the tiny fissures, the membranes through which your thoughts seep, through which all the noise creeps in.

You pound on doors and scrape at windows. Like a wild and frightened stallion, you rear and buck at the world.

“Calm down, calm down, calm down,” you tell yourself, but you are just repeating words. Inside your head, the whistling tinnitus turns into a scream. Your scream.

“It’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok,” you mutter.

You pace your room like a sad bear in a cage, feeling your way round the walls until you reach an obstacle and then back in the other direction.

Colours and images agitate you, light distracts you like a buzzing fly.

You keep asking questions, the same questions over and over; ‘Where is the baby in the Santa hat?’ Because you are just trying to find answers. We are all just trying to find answers.

I bought you a type-writer in the hope that you would write again. I thought perhaps the out-pouring of words would alleviate the pressure, would lance your infected brain. But you play it like a piano and fill the page with numbers. Although, it makes you sway and smile.

I came to visit yesterday. You shuffled down the corridor like a frail, old woman, clinging to the nurse. You looked confused. You seemed overwhelmed. No filters, no order, no control.

You stood in front of the painting for an age. Sometimes, that’s all it takes. It was the picture of campers sitting round a fire at the foot of a tree, which set you off. You screamed about a rocket. You screamed in the face of the unmoved nurse. Then you smashed your head against the image until blood ran down your face. The alarm went off and nurses appeared from doorways and wards like worker bees emerging from the hive. They gathered round you and held you and sedated you with a sting.

I can only wait as they try to fix your broken head. I long for the day, when like a butterfly, you will emerge from your cocoon with your damp, fragile wings, and a new countenance.

‘What’s going on?’

Status report: sedated

‘Where am I?’

Location: Fracture Clinic

‘Am I broken?’

Affirmative

‘Can they fix me?’

You have 5247983 unopened answers to sub-conscious questions

This is my submission for the prompt ‘Explain the series of events that ties these images together’

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One thought on “The Fracture Clinic

  1. So many clever touches here! I loved the sense of unease it creates, the questions it makes you ask. I found myself grasping for the reality of it, like the protagonist: is this the dystopian future then, later, is it madness? Clever, seamless shift in viewpoints and great use of the second person. And further unease that you may have glimpsed my inbox (18,000 messages, 5,346 unread…)! I could go on about the wonderful imagery – anyway, really hope this is a successful entry. Good luck!!

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