Inspired by a true -life experience several years ago, this is the story of a young woman who felt she had lost everything. Never before had she experienced such burning anger and gut determination for the ultimate revenge.
*Contains strong language and graphic detal*
So unless ye be men of valour then step nae further
Special thanks to my Dad for his valuable help in producing the final draft and also for his artwork, and also to my Mum and husband for their support. Big thanks too to AD's inimitable Jackie Coupe for kindly allowing me to use a phrase from her gripping novel, "The Girl's Club"
Mandy had managed to overcome severe depression and a failed suicide attempt. Her frail and broken emotions had been strengthened and put together again then sealed by the love of her parents, her only reason to survive. Then someone came along and pulled the rug from under her feet.
Months down the line her health was no longer worth calling ‘health’ for it no longer existed in her troubled mind. Her job was now hanging by a fragile spider’s thread. Everything she worked for faced imminent collapse, but worst of all, she felt that her brother-like ‘friend’ had been gradually alienating himself from her. Phone contact and his familiar knocks at the door had diminished. He didn’t even visit her in hospital when she was ill. Instead of resting as advised by her doctor at that time, she cultivated resentment towards him instead. His apparent detachment from her was the final nail in the coffin as far as her tolerance was concerned:
“Is it because I can’t fucking walk quickly or get pissed on nights out like everyone else at the table? Is that it? Like everyone else I come into contact with, just scarper, that’s it, fuck he. What a shallow low-life cunt that he is! I hope he falls and lands on his ugly bastard head.”
It was time to attempt work again. Mandy tried her best to keep up with the daily schedules but her efforts were futile. Her superior was very supportive and helped her as much as he could but eventually the inevitable came: medical retirement at the tender age of twenty four years young. She was just a couple of weeks from gaining her qualification in anatomy and physiology as well:
“What the fuck have I done to upset life, the selfish bastard?” Mandy grumbled bitterly.
“For the best,” echoed the final words from the Occupational Health official.
“Yeah right, rub it in, cunt.”
Loss of job, poor health and social loss had now honed and rendered Mandy’s mind a dangerous weapon. The thoughts she was cultivating were disturbing. She fuelled her thoughts with gallons of elaboration, imagining what she could potentially inflict upon the object of her bitterness: John. He was supposed to be her best friend. The hatred she felt towards him was immense, explosive. She plotted and schemed what to do with him to teach him a lesson for being such a complete let down.
“Hmm, what a great idea,” she finally agreed with herself in the loneliness of the mortuary.
She picked up the phone:
“Hey John, I need help down here in the mortuary. I’m just packing up my stuff and giving the place the once over but I can’t stretch up to get the trays out of the fridges. Could you come down and help?”
Mandy hung up and smiled the smile of the Mona Lisa - superficial, devoid of real emotion. The non – lyrical sound of the doorbell made her jump as she was lost in her thoughts.
“Great, thanks for coming, John. I really need to get these body trays cleaned up. Look at that! Isn’t that gros?”
Mandy pointed to the fridge floor and filters where body fluid had overflowed from the shelves and dripped down onto.
“Like a freshly pissed bed but a lot more impressive on the reek scale, eh John?”
John stooped over and peered down at the strangely interesting build-up of sediment.
“What IS all that stuff?” He asked curiously.
Mandy looked at him disapprovingly:
“Twit, you know fine well what it is. It’s from patients with oedema and general leaks from orifices,” she replied wearily. “But say no more; I know what you’re thinking, you’re going to ask me to clean it up. Yeah, it’s always me that ends up cleaning up after folk, dead or alive. ‘Oh what a good girl, leave it to Mandy, she’ll do it’. Think of health and safety – not Mandy’s of course, she’s not got any health left to be concerned about, and I don’t agree with that in the workplace,” she rambled introspectively.
John ignored her behaviour and continued to look around the fridge interior. There were two bodies wrapped in white hospital sheets awaiting collection by the undertakers. Mandy occasionally received generous tips from them – ‘ash cash’ - and John benefited from them every Thursday in the pub.
“Those trays are massive!” he declared.
“No, a blue whale is massive. A seven foot plastic tray is not,” Mandy lectured.
The misuse of words, especially exaggerated adjectives, was one of Mandy’s many pet hates. John looked at her and raised an eyebrow.
“You on acid?”
“I’ll go and fetch a cloth,” Mandy replied in a Sandhurst butler type of voice.
She headed off towards the sluice and lingered awhile as John began to scrape off the dried debris. Mandy watched him discretely, biding her time for a particular moment. Then after she was certain that he was lost in thought she slowly walked back and to the side of him. She quietly gripped the loose handle of the body storage door and pulled it fully open, then with all the strength she could muster slammed it back into the side of his head - then again… and again, and again just to be sure that he sunk to the floor. He was still breathing and semi-conscious:
“Well done Mandy,” she smiled.
John woke up in a chilly room made colder by the pale shade of blue in which the walls were painted. He could smell very strong disinfectant and also recognized the irritating odour of formaldehyde. His head ached but surprisingly not as much as it should have and there were no cuts and bruises. He guessed it was just luck that the semi-solid fridge doors caught him on one of his skull’s soft spots. He tried to move but felt restraints tied tightly around his wrists, ankles and waist. He looked down to see that he’d been firmly bound with a mix of “Incineration Only” sealing tape and the obnoxious-looking twine used to suture bodies back up.
“Mandy for fuck sake, what are you doing? Where are you?” he yelled.
Silence, only a timely whirring sound from the body stores fridge answered.
John absorbed his surroundings.
Two gleaming stainless steel dissection tables sat unoccupied at opposite ends of the room. They looked even more sinister when clean. Each one had a built in deep sink at the foot end and a hose attachment at the head. He’d seen Mandy use the hose to rinse blood from both inside and outside of the bodies and also from the floor, walls and stool. There was an old scruffy chest freezer humming away near the frosted glass windows. He didn’t like that old thing. He recalled how it was used for stillborns and bodies in advanced stages of decay. Freezing halted further degeneration. There was an old-fashioned glass-front cabinet full of various instruments, plastic trays, basins and those awful wide bore needles used for lumbar punctures. John smiled momentarily as he recalled Mandy teasing him with one. His vision then caught sight of the more brutal looking frequently used instruments neatly lined up ready for the next unfortunate soul: clunky long-handled rib cutters, a skull chisel, large artery forceps, scalpel, and the PM40 – the grim looking post mortem knife:
“Evil looking sods,” he muttered.
A small steel table on wheels bore the Swordfish, a strange brand name for the electric oscillating saw used to open the skull. John recalled how the ear-piercing noise could be heard down the corridors of the hospital basement:
“Just as well the public can’t go down there,” he mused.
John’s eyes also rested on the horrible macerator, an industrial sized blender-like machine used to liquefy and dispose of human waste. John remembered helping Mandy dispose of organs that the pathology teams had finished with. The macerator repulsed him:
“What the hell?”
John had just spotted a machine used in traditional butcher shops to slice meat to varying thicknesses:
“Ugh, I don’t want to know.”
Suddenly, the double doors swung open. Mandy stood there sipping the last of her coffee. She had been in the canteen while John had time to acquaint himself with his surroundings. She approached him calmly.
“Mmm, when coffee is as good as this, heaven can wait. See you’ve come round, knew you would, knew you would, it was only a little bump. See all my nice clean gear? I look after this place well. It’s much cleaner than when Danny looked after it. The woman’s touch you see. I bought some Ajax powder with bleach and it brought those tables up a treat, don’t you agree?”
“Mandy, what the hell are you playing at? You try to cave my skull in, tie me to your office chair and leave me in here, why?”
Mandy felt anger rise inside her.
“Don’t you know? If you can’t work out why I have done this then I’m very worried about your mind, John, really I am.”
John couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“My mind? You’re the one who’s done this to me. I’ve done nothing to you.”
“Ooh, I ‘aven’t done wrong to you brother, ha! John, you’re so ignorant of your own faults. I’m surprised at your lack of self-awareness. To think you’ve done me no wrong, John, really.”
Mandy pushed the chair towards the glass cabinet. She then opened one side and carefully pulled out a lumbar puncture catheter. John flinched when he noticed she was now wearing the latex gloves that she always despised. Mandy held the needle at eye level and peered down the length of the wide shaft.
“Yoo - hoo, John, I can see you! Isn’t this wide? No wonder they can drain thick spinal fluid so easily. Do you reckon these are used in angiography too? I do. You could easily get the thin tube into your arteries through this. Thought of everything when designing these eh, John?”
Mandy abruptly threw the catheter back into the cabinet. It landed with an amplified clatter sending it back out of its tray. She ignored it. She then wheeled Joe towards the freezer.
“Thank heaven for little girls, for little girls get crazier every day,” she sang, “Do you want to see what’s in here, John? Or are you too Chicken Licken? Bet you’d love to see a bloater full of maggots, you pervert, ha!”
“Stop trying to freak me out. The only pervert here is you!”
“Ooh, kinky, you know something about me that you shouldn’t, John?”
John was starting to feel nervous. Inside he knew he had been rotten to Mandy when she needed his support most. A pang of guilt hit him hard.
John felt the chair moving forward again this time in the direction of the macerator.
“You liked it when we macerated didn’t you, John, remember? What a horrid mess it makes of the blades, I have to almost get in with my large forceps to pull all the bits out. Bet you couldn’t do that, John, you’re such a wimp! Do you know where the liquidized remains go? Have a guess! Come on, John.”
“Gooooooood, heh. That’s right, John, the sewers! The rats must think its Christmas with all that meat flowing by on its way to the Thames. Hope it goes out to sea and feeds the sharks. You’d make a right feast for a shark because you’ve let yourself go haven’t you, John? All that shit you stuff yourself with each night. Do you want to do some more macerating? I’ve a stack of specimens that are done with. You can clean the blades this time, be a gentleman”
The memories of macerating made John slightly queasy.
“Think I’ll pass.”
“Ah, a point where a gentleman won’t step beyond? Well what about this then?”
Mandy spun the chair around to face the butcher’s slicing machine. The large razor sharp blade looked threatening and the thickness level was set at 10 millimeters. He’d seen perfect slices of lung, liver, brain, kidney and heart up in the laboratory and now knew how Mandy got it so precise and parallel. He had also found the tumour slices fascinating. John swallowed hard as Mandy leaned across yet another sink and turned on the power supply.
“Imagine what would happen if you accidentally hit the big green button while cleaning this sharp thing. That’s why you should always turn these things off at the wall first. One of life’s basic rules - ‘Please disconnect power before cleaning or opening the case’. Companies must think we’re bloody stupid. Happens all the time in more, er, backward countries. If you look at pictures of industrial accidents, you’ll notice the majority are from the Far East. Guess they don’t have those boring health and safety seminars we have. Learn by your mistakes must be their policy.”
“Mandy, what are you aiming at here? Why have you restrained me and taking me tours round your abattoir?”
“Roll up, roll up for the Mystery tour! Hey, don’t disrespect a place like this. People’s loved ones are horribly butchered here, I admit, but it’s better than an abattoir. At least they’re dead on arrival and departure unlike those poor livestock who suffer beyond belief just so you, you fat bastard, can have your fry- up every Saturday. Mind you, I’d never turn down a fry- up. I am a plain clothes animal lover, shh, ha!”
“Now then John, would you like to see me create the finest slice of liver?”
Mandy disappeared into the store room and returned with a bag. It bore the deceased’s surname, date, hospital number and laboratory reference number.
“In my life why should I give valuable time to people who don’t care if I live or die?”
“What song is that?”
She put the bag in the sink and awkwardly turned towards John.
“John I’m surprised at you. I take the trouble to learn a line from one of your favourite songs and you don’t even recognize a main line? Tut-tut.”
She then turned to the bag containing the liver and slashed it open with a nearby disposable scalpel.
“These disposables are useless. Although more economical, they break too easily”
The pungent smell of formaldehyde filled the air adding to the sickly cocktail of odours. A section of liver dropped out of the bag and slid down towards the plughole. It was perfectly preserved and showed signs of alcohol-related disease. The once smooth burgundy surface was now pale pink and nodular. John noticed Mandy hadn’t bothered with a mask. Formaldehyde fumes are toxic.
“You’ve no mask on.”
“I’ve no mask on? John, what can I say, I’m touched; I didn’t know you cared. Yes, got to put a mask on. Remember how our throats got irritated when we made up this stuff without masks – how’s our throats today bright eyes, ha? I should have remembered our throats. But there’s no point now, the formalin has all gone down the plughole.”
Mandy picked up the section of liver and dried it with a nearby roll of blue wipes.
“This is so it won’t slip. We’re learning a lot about safety here, it’s quite a revelation sometimes. Now I place the liver flattest side down on this bit, adjust the slice thickness as required and very, very carefully, ease it through the blade.”
“Don’t cut yourself too deeply.”
“Aw John, I’m surprised, sarcasm doesn’t go with your yellow skin, coward that you are.”
Mandy slowly eased the liver through the fine spinning blade and produced a perfect five millimeter slice.
“Isn’t that brilliant?”
She slapped him across the face with it:
“Now you’re really being disrespectful, John. This requires great skill and reveals how amazing the inner structures of organs can be - a feast for the eyes. Without seeing these things, disease will not be fully understood and medicine won’t advance so well. You have to consider these things, John; after all you do work in a hospital.”
“I’m parched. I’m just off to the canteen for a coffee. Linda gives me the odd one for nothing so hope she’s still on.”
John was stunned at Mandy’s casual approach to what was turning out to be the strangest day in his life. He was now very confused as to what her plans were. Strange tour of the mortuary and rambling on as though he was standing beside her like old times. John hoped Mandy was playing weird mind games. He tried to loosen the twine and tape but Mandy had used almost a full roll per section. She’d made sure he couldn’t free himself. He sighed and wondered what time it was. The people upstairs must be working away thinking he’s simply helping Mandy clean the mortuary, a gruesome task that can take most part of the working day or longer. He took a deep breath and braced himself for whatever Mandy had planned next.
“Cow, Linda’s just left to spite me,” Mandy complained on her return. “Maybe that’s because I take advantage of the fact she’s a bit slow. Mandy, go lie down and have a word with yourself,” she added as she began to busy herself once more.
John sat helpless, a look of bewilderment across his face. She felt quietly pleased with herself knowing he was going to get his comeuppance for being a prick towards her.
“Time for another ride! Just as well this floor is tiled or else I’d have trouble trying to move you. You’d be like that hefty guy we had in a couple of months ago, remember? I had to get the porter to help me transfer him. That porter was such an arse. Imagine being scared of a mortuary! Bodies are hardly a threat. I blame the film industry for putting such irrational fears into people’s heads. Do you agree, John? Of course you do.”
“I guess so.”
“No ‘guess so’ about it. The dead won’t rise up off these trays, drop their sheets and chase you. Be like those zombie films where no matter how fast you’re moving, they’re always right behind you. Only complete idiots fear the dead. What you should fear is dying. How and where. That’s worth thinking about.”
Mandy raised her eyebrows, bit the inside of her cheek then pushed John towards the dissection table nearest the viewing gallery:
“You gave me the answer to love eternally, I love you and you, you seem to love me, heading back to old familiar places,” she sang as she did so.
The gallery was rarely if ever used. Mandy was fed up with students fainting or being sick, more mess that she was expected to clean up. Their squeamishness always caused her to run late. The right hand table was a newer model than the left. It was easier to slide bodies across and had a far better drainage system.
“Look here John. This is where all my art happens. Bet you can’t believe how I’ve kept it so shiny! You know what body fat, sweat and skin cells do to your bathtub. They really dull it down. If you were listening earlier you will recall how I bought some Ajax powder with bleach. The powder is the magic part. It’s great at removing deeply ingrained tissue or fluids but the bleach only disguises stains. The powder also leaves a beautiful sheen; don’t you think so, John? I do have to use Hycolin as well. That’s the disinfectant you can smell. It gets rid of most known pathogens, very clever stuff.”
She pushed John right up to the edge of the table and his nose almost touched it.
“Look, John. You can see yourself in my clean table. I use it as a vanity mirror too. I think of everything don’t I, John?”
“Get me the fuck away from this, its rank!”
“Rank? Have you not been listening to what I’ve been saying, John? My table is pristine. I ought to wash your mouth out with Hycolin for blaspheming my table. Here, look at this:”
Mandy pulled out the retractable hose.
“Isn’t this one of the most practical things you’ve ever seen? You never trip over this and the gun spray action makes it so easy to control. Watch”
She gently squeezed the gun lever and a controlled jet of lukewarm water spurted out. The water ran down the sloped drainage panels and gently swirled around into the waste pipe. Mandy leaned forward and looked inside. The familiar number eleven frown lines appeared between her eyes.
“John I think you’re right after all, this table IS rank, I do apologize. Do you forgive me? Of course you do, that’s what friends are for – uh that’s what friends are, aaare forrrrrrr.” she sang in her best baritone.
Mandy leaned across the table and pulled the metal filter from the pipe. The filter had been overlooked during clearing up after the last post mortem. In it lay a mixture of plughole-staple hair along with yellow fragments of fat, crumbs of bone marrow and various other unspecified pink and red fragments. The Hycolin masked what stench resided there.
“Leave it to Mandy, she’ll clean it up,” she muttered. “Sods, I don’t agree with that in the workplace,” she added with a chuckle.
She tipped up the filter and tapped it against the side of the bin. The fragments slid out and stuck to the side of the yellow “Clinical Waste” liner. The filter was then thoroughly rinsed and plopped back into place on the drainage pipe head.
“No John, you are wrong after all; my table is definitely a pristine little madam. Would you like to lie on her? I bet you would too,” she chuckled. “It hurts your lower back where it dips down to drain but at seven foot long, there’s plenty room.”
“No I wouldn’t you demented cow. Lie on it yourself. Look Mandy, I’ve had enough of this shit. You’ll get the sack and I’ll make sure of it.”
“John, you are so ignorant. I’ve been medically retired and am just cleaning up ready for the replacement guy tomorrow. There’s no post mortem today so I thought I’d be considerate. I’m as good as sacked you dopey fat twat! Huh, all tied up and making threats, weally centuwian.”
“Fucking untie me you psychotic bitch!”
“Oh, I did not hear that! That word is so misused. Psychotic: defined as being very antisocial and aggressive,” she explained as if reading from a dictionary. “I think they don’t have feelings either, not sure. If I was psychotic then you wouldn’t be here because the fact that you’ve been a right cunt to me would not have bothered me. You are here because I have feelings – oh baby I dig you so much, uh huh!”
“You’re mental! Twisted, sick in your brain damaged head!”
“Well done Dr Nookie, excellent diagnosis. Yes, I have brain damage, true but it only affects my leg muscles. You really don’t know that much do you? How did you get the job as a medical laboratory scientist? Like me beating you at pool, it must have been a fluke. Time to stop and smell the roses again.”
Mandy turned towards the shelf that was laid out with instruments. It was the same length as the room and gleamed like the tables:
“Thanks Ajax, you were grrreat!”
She suddenly felt sadness as she realized that everything had been carefully laid out in order for the next case. Twine had been threaded and secured through the large curved needles, one short in length for the head, the longer one for the torso. There were new blades on the scalpel and post mortem knife and a heap of cotton wool lay quivering under the air vent shaft.
“What’s with the cotton wool? Is that to take your make up off when you look at yourself in the table?”
Mandy turned round and laughed at John’s remark. She was impressed and remembered their shared sense of humour.
“Oh you caught me out with that one John, very funny. I’ve always loved your original sense of humour. I should have done that come to think of it, would have saved me a killing buying the stuff. Boots the Chemist is a real rip-off merchant. It’s actually for stuffing the head once the brain is out. It prevents leaks and skullcap slippage. Cotton is packed into the pubic cavity too for the same reason leak-wise. Once your rectum and reproductive organs are removed you don’t half leak. You wonder who thinks of these brilliant ideas for cotton wool, folk just think of them as ear plugs or for removing nail varnish, that’s interesting isn’t it?”
“You’re so hostile towards clever ideas aren’t you, John?” Mandy snapped. “Hmm, you’re only jealous. The beautifully even slices from that butcher slicing machine and now you’re having a go at the benefits of cotton wool. You never cease to amaze me at times but sadly in bad ways too.”
She was becoming increasingly annoyed with John putting down her work.
“You’ve never had a good look at these things have you?” she asked rhetorically. Her questions were uttered in a tone and mood that never expected answers.
Mandy gestured towards the row of brutal looking instruments. John looked at one particular instrument:
“What’s with the ladle? I’d whack you to death with that if I could.”
“But you can’t and besides it’s not for that tender, loving purpose. Think John! After I have eviscerated the body, a lot of blood wells in the back of the chest and down in the pubic cavity. That is quite unpleasant. A mixture of blood, piss, shit and stomach contents. The ladle is great to dish it out into that jug over there and then it goes in the macerator with any other scraps. It could just get flushed down the toilet but that would breach health and safety. Stupid really because that’s exactly what goes down toilets every day. Shit, piss and blood. What a nanny state- spit spot, fucking interfering cow!”
“Why don’t you just use the suction machine?” John sighed.
“Aha, quick thinking but not quick enough to save your wretched skin! The suction machine is only for fluids; otherwise it will get blocked and even rupture the pipes. What a mess that would make. Hmm, I never thought of that possibility. All I have is Hycolin and Ajax. Shit! I should have bought a better mop and floor cleaner! Did I ever tell you that I was a dental nurse, John? And a bloody good one she was too,”
“Yes and you had a comedian come in one day who was really rude.”
“Very good, Pipkin, very good indeed, so you do listen? Well I used a suction unit there too which I rested against the patient’s cheek and removed saliva build up. It was very boring and I had to be so careful not to catch loose crowns or fillings. Least it had a filter to catch them. Suction and drainage units must have filters mustn’t they? Yes Mandy they do.”
John could not believe how Mandy was raving on. She’d lost him now. What were her intentions? He couldn’t escape from the chair. No-one upstairs will suspect anything and they never call down to the mortuary anyway. He also realized that he’d urinated in his pants:
“Fff…, hope I don’t crap as well, fucking bitch,” he angrily seethed under his breath.
“I’m waffling aren’t I, John? Where were we? Ah! My instruments”
“What are you going to do with those? Don’t be so fucking stupid man!”
“Stupid? Don’t call me stupid ever again!” Mandy responded, making a warlock type of zapping gesture with her hand as she did so.
To drive the point home, she reached out to a table, picked up a length of wet twine then whipped his face with a single lash of it.
John fully realized that Mandy had now lost all sense of rationality. He also recognized that his negligence of her in her time of need played a role in triggering this absurd scenario. He knew deep inside that she’d been through the mill in a way he probably could never have coped with if it was him suffering. If only he had the sensitivity to have cared more. Mandy was there supporting him when he had his knee operation, trivial when compared to the physical and mental complexities connected with her plight. His emotions ran the gauntlet from A – Z as he sat there pondering these things. His hands were tied in more ways that one.
Once more Mandy wheeled John forward this time towards a main shelf:
“Choo choo train a chugging down the track, never getting closer never coming back, woo - oo, gorra one way ticket to the blues…”
John felt a shiver surge down his spine at the sound of the post mortem knife blade scratching against the shelf. Metal against metal, one of the worst sounds there is. Mandy had the blue handled beast in her gloved hand. She had pulled a chain mail glove over her other hand.
“What’s with the Sir Galahad glove?” John boldly quipped.
“It’s interesting you should ask. This style of glove is used to stop you accidentally cutting yourself when dealing with AIDS or TB patients. You’d be surprised how long those viruses can survive. Look:”
She ran the edge of the knife across the chain - mail glove, an ill-advised practice which John knew would blunt the blade.
“It’s crap trying to preventing this clogging up though,” Mandy reasoned.
She then aimed the knife vertically and punctured the glove. She quickly shook her hand. The tip of the blade had pricked her finger.
“Mandy, what the...?”
“Oh don’t be such a baby. My mum pricks her finger like this four times a day after each meal because she’s diabetic.”
John took a deep breath in then exhaled slowly. He was becoming increasingly uneasy. Nausea swept over him as he recalled a scene from a film about the murder-for-profit business they had both seen at the cinema. He realized he was in a similar situation, potentially worse.
“Chain mail gloves are not that clever after all are they? In hospitals, puncture wounds and needle stick injuries are far more common than slashes. I think the company who came up with these got the statistics back to front. The idiots”
Mandy threw the chain mail gloves across the room in disgust. She then reached over and picked up an orange facemask with a built in plastic visor. John recalled how the orange mask made Mandy look like a duck. She used to call herself Daisy Duck but sounded like Donald Duck when she tried to imitate her voice. He could not help but smile as he remembered.
“Something amusing you, John? Oh I remember, Daisy Duck. Daisy Duck liked to fuck. With her beak she’d swallow and suck, ha!”
“You mean Daisy Duck is one sick fuck,” John countered wearily.
Mandy ignored his remark.
“Here look at this. This saw is great, feel the handle; feel how sturdy it is.”
She placed the handle of the saw between his exposed palms and fingers:
“Go on grip it, feel its power, brilliant sensation eh?”
John feebly did as she asked:
“Yeah, very,” he responded unconvincingly.
She frowned for a moment at his lack of enthusiasm. By this stage, John’s mind was racing with all sorts of sickening thoughts of what Mandy had in mind for him.
“Here goes, what next, another pet hate about to be revealed? Why be so pedantic?” John added.
Mandy carried on as if she had not heard him.
“I watched a cheesy B-movie the other day where a load of students go on a field trip to an island. The couple they stayed with specialized in making snuff movies. In one scene, a guy gets his lower leg cut off with one of these. You can’t do that! Flesh clogs up the blade’s teeth really quickly and you just slip, lose control. Dumb ass film writers, watch what I mean:”
Without any prior warning, Mandy lowered the saw and placed the blade against her upper arm.
“What the fff… Mandy! Oh fuck, no! Please, Mandy…”
John finally crapped as well.
Mandy never responded audibly to his pleas, all that could be heard was the saw’s exceptionally loud motor as it echoed around the suite. Her flesh made no noise as the menacing looking blade began to dig in to its thin, pale surface.
A glazed, distant look covered Mandy’s eyes:
“I’ll prove it you bastard, calling me pedantic,” she sneered.
The saw blade sank into her flesh but started to stutter and slow down as it clogged up with yellow fatty tissue and muscle. It’s whining and smoking motor wound down until it stopped.
John could hear Mandy breathing fast and noticed beads of sweat rolling down her face. Without any ceremony, she pulled the blade from her arm and dropped it onto her pristine dissection table. A fine line of blood and serous fluid trickled down the draining panel into the waste pipe. Mandy stood a moment:
“There, believe me now?” she gasped triumphantly.
She then glanced down at her mangled arm which had now started to bleed profusely. The adrenalin rush had passed and the burning, searing pain suddenly kicked in. Mandy started to make whimpering noises, gasps, and then repeatedly swore as she bound it in the blue disposable wipes she’d used earlier. Blood oozed right through the heavy duty material so she added what was left of some “Incineration Only” tape. The bleeding was trapped, for now.
“You fucking stupid whore! What are you doing?” John yelled incoherently as he tried feverishly to free himself.
“Eh, eh, eh calm down, calm down; I just wanted to show you I was right because you’ve always been a cocky bastard when I tell you things. It’ll heal anyway, get a grip.”
“That needs looking at; you’ve gone to the bone you mentalist,” John continued tactlessly and with no respect for Mandy’s state of mind.
“Oh just fuck the fuck off” Mandy snapped. “Why should you care all of a sudden? You haven’t cared for the past thousand years. Brother and best friend, you said, bollocks!”
“I’m sorry but what can I do? You’ve got me tied up, it’s your show. Nothing I’ll say will change how you feel. You need help. Untie me we’ll just bullshit our way out of this one to everyone upstairs.” John responded desperately.
“Oh, you think of all the nice things, John, very delicate, very subtle. Heinz could make a nice sauce out of you couldn’t they. If I let you go, you’ll go straight up to our control freak boss and do me right up. Nope, I don’t think so. You even reckon you can’t do anything to make all this better, that makes me sad. You’re just a big lazy pathetic lump of shit.”
Mandy’s arm continued to sting. In time with every heartbeat, it had begun to throb too. She assumed it didn’t hurt as much as she had thought because she’d gone through the major nerves. Blood was now starting to seep through the many layers of tape. She was beyond caring. She turned once again towards her gleaming steel shelf and picked up the PM40: the lethal post mortem knife.
“Mandy! Don’t!” cried John as she looked into the viewing gallery window and pressed the tip of the blade against the top of her sternum.
“This is where I start, then it’s all the way to the pubic bone – I like to go all the way, don’t you, John?”
She swallowed hard, screwed up her face and dragged the blade down her breastbone to the centre of her chest directly above her bra. It left a perfect red line that begun to gape open as she breathed. Her breathing became rapid and shallow. White connective tissue, muscle and fat became clearly visible yet like a paper cut, there wasn’t as much bleeding as expected. Mandy then lifted up her ornate tight-fitting top and revealed her abdomen.
“Mandy… please…don’t you fucking…oh shit!” John felt dizzy and looked away as Mandy dragged the blade from beneath her bra line down her abdomen and curved it around her navel. The blade stopped above the beltline of her hipster jeans.
“You can’t cut through the navel – Bernie’s nice though,” she croaked absurdly.
As Mandy inhaled, the laceration began to widen under the strain and pressure of her insides. More tissue started to poke through and her peritoneum - the yellow-white membrane covering her abdomen - began to show. The laceration had punctured it and straw coloured abdominal fluid was beginning to ooze down towards her jeans making her look like she’d urinated herself. Her eyes were blank and lifeless like a doll. Her face was deathly pale and her sweating had become more profuse:
“I’ve already cried that much I can’t cry anymore, nothing left to cry for. Burns like a bastard but it’s satisfying. Self harm never got this extreme! Fucking Oklahoma was never like this either. This will be remembered for ages,” Mandy mumbled to herself.
John spat out the acid he was retching up. The fact he hadn’t eaten for a few hours made his retching all the more painful. There was nothing he could do to make Mandy stop her insanity and he didn’t know what to say anymore. The sight before his eyes no longer looked real. It was all turning into one of those really disturbing stress dreams. He hoped he would wake up soaked in sweat at any moment but he knew this was grim reality and his old friend Mandy was extremely pissed off:
“All because of me, selfish cunt that I am,” he moaned.
Suddenly, John heard a splashing sound. Like a cleaner’s soaking wet mop hitting the floor straight from its bucket. John felt his jaw hit the floor at the grotesque sight before him. He’d now lost count of the times acid had filled his mouth. There on the tiles before him were loops of Mandy’s small intestine and colon, still connected to her stomach which was pulled taut by the weight. He noticed how it all resembled air-filled sausage skins covered in tiny vessels. Strange ribbons of fat resembling lace trimmings hung along the full length of her gut. Abdominal fluid had spilled out and a pungent, gassy stench filled the air. Completely overwhelmed, John passed out.
Mandy’s peritoneum had finally ruptured under the heavy internal force. She stood there dazed and clearly in shock:
“Wha…? Is that mine?”
She felt faint and begun to sway so she firmly gripped the table. She let out a long deep sigh. She swallowed hard once again as saliva was welling up behind her front teeth and overflowing down her chin. She was beginning to feel numb to the agonizing pain:
“Thank God for adrenalin,” she groaned.
She then hauled up her gut which was beginning to dangerously dry out:
“Shit a brick, I’d better get a cloth. Wet it.”
Mandy pulled as much from the roll of blue cleaning wipes as she could and thoroughly soaked it with water. With her gut sticking to her already contaminated gloves, she eased it back into its cavity and placed the wet bundle of wipes over it. Her head started to throb as her temperature, blood pressure and heart rate increased. She knew she had limited time left. Abdominal contents had now infected her bloodstream. Blood loss from her arm was going unnoticed as she tried to literally contain herself:
“Stay the fuck in dammit!”
She pulled her snug fitting top down over the dripping wet cloth and tucked it into her belt. It only just managed to hold:
“I’ve had to hold my belly in before but not like this.”
Mandy was becoming increasingly weak and dizzy. She knew how fragile the human body was and how infection kills fast. She knew septic shock will take her down very soon:
“Shit man, my guts have been on that floor! No floor cleaner. Fuck you John! Piss off and go to hell!”
She picked up the scalpel this time, not as strong but sharper than the post mortem knife and as John lay slump in the chair she used the last of her strength to cut him free. Mandy smiled. Her smile this time was radiant. Genuine like some great achievement had finally been made.
John awoke with a start. He’d forgotten where he was for a split second until he caught a sniff of the air:
“That fridge! Uh, smells like wet copper coins too. Hang on…”
Mandy’s lifeless body was sat on the floor against the dissection table. She had a tub of Ajax against her leg. She had naturally been still worried about keeping the place pristine right up until her last gasp. The wet copper smell was blood.
John felt a strange mix of emotions - relief, anger, sorrow and hate, separately and also in a confused muddle. He looked down and saw that he had been cut free. As he pulled all the tape and twine off and got up he also felt his brand new jeans reeked of dried urine. His legs were very stiff and painful but he managed to walk over to Mandy’s body:
“She looks and smells like a gutted fish,” he complained.
He put the Ajax back beside the sink and moved all the used instruments back onto the shelf. The flesh on the saw had dried on and would present a challenge even for the patented tough performance of Fairy Liquid:
“Why the hell am I thinking of Fairy Liquid? Must be Mandy rubbing off on me, bitch.” The reality of the whole situation suddenly hit him as much as stepping on a land mine. He put his pounding head in his hands:
“Shit, how the fuck am I going to explain all this fucking mess?”
“Mandy, do you agree with the death penalty? I don’t. I’d hate to be on death row”
“Too right I agree. Why should these folk deserve to live? Think of the victim’s family you soppy git! Execution isn’t punishment for someone who’s accepted Jesus though. Death may hurt for a bit but wouldn’t it be worth it for eternal life and glory? Only an idiot would class executing a Christian as punishment. Having horrible memories burned into your mind and life in a putrid, violent prison full of corrupt screws is the only way in my opinion”
“What a strange thing to say! I think you’ve got a point though.”
John was shaken roughly by strong hands.
The solidly built male attendant stooped over him then left, slamming the cell door behind him. John realized he’d just dreamt about a conversation he’d had with Mandy. They had discussed anything and everything as they cleaned the upstairs laboratory together. He then remembered the events of the last two days. Mandy had very cleverly set him up - her ultimate revenge. She’d worn gloves the whole time they were in the post mortem suite. Both of their fingerprints were found all over the body reception area, sluice and fridges. All the upstairs staff knew that John was helping kind and thoughtful Mandy to do the clearing up. Only his prints were found next door - upon the chair, the table, the shelf, the door handles and most importantly for Mandy’s plan, upon all the instruments:
“Shit, clever bitch, I should never have touched those handles when she asked me to.”
She had obviously well thought out her own murder. The purpose of the death penalty conversation finally dawned on him:
“I bet that was a part of her inspiration to do this to me.”
In his new found adverse situation, John preferred execution after all.
John was given a life sentence to be served in solitary confinement and without parole. He faced the rest of his miserable existence incarcerated in Broadmoor State Mental hospital. Shut well away from London, the world and from everyone he ever knew.
He had always heard of dark tales of Broadmoor, of the psychopaths and serial killers housed there. Now he was locked in with them. To the outside world he had been presented by the prosecutor as the insane, cold blooded murderer of a defenseless, disabled young woman. The judge and the press agreed classing him also as a ‘danger to society and to himself.’ His family and friends disowned him and his name was removed from all outside records except from his birth certificate and the Broadmoor register, and even here he was just a number – he was pure persona non grata. Mandy had ensured John suffered a fate worse than death.
As this realization sunk in, John dropped to his knees and began to weep bitterly, as he did so one of Mandy’s favourite quotes from a book she’d read entered into his already tormented mind:
“Love your friends”
(Artwork by Daibhidh MacAdhaimh 2007)
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|Reviewed by Jackie Coupe
|I am amused and horrifed! I knew there were dark things lurking beneath that petite exterior, they have found voice ;)
Its been my experience that a writers first full outing will always reflect a personal experience or wish and I am glad not to be on the wrong side of you girl - to be sure!
A good size read, impressive amount of terminology used, 'good to gore' morsels of surgical spirit to go with the dark good humour.
I am very happy that you have 'tapped this vein' and hope to see 'Sharon Lawson's Surgery' as a collection of evil evil tales to whet the appetitie of even the most hardened of sick freaks.
I wish you the very best Shazbot.
You deserve it.
|Reviewed by Ed Matlack
|SHORT STORY...? WOW...I find it along the lives of Stephen King...best to your dad...Ed|
|Reviewed by Approximately Naive
|As her pater I am familiar with the events that inspired this real horror show - really I am - 'good to see you happy. 'I thank you Dad.' 'And just to show how happy I am, I'm going to give you that five hundred quid...' 'Aw no, I had you by the throat...well thank you Dad.'
Felix's advice is sound.
I look forward to the next epic on the wing - dahn tahn!
|Reviewed by Felix Perry
|Very well done...Lovecraft, Hitchcock, Steven King and now Sharon Lawson. Great write with lots of knowledge behind the story. Only suggestion might be if posting here next time try and break down into smaller segments for ease of reading on line.
Other than that great stuff.
|Reviewed by Susan Linehan
|Couldn't put it down had to see what happened next. Good twist and well written. Will there be another? I hope so|