Waiting for Athena #3 Zippers

“I’m just slightly concerned about the state of my health, Doctor Rice,” the man calmly sighed, “Lots of things have been happening lately and I wanted to make sure everything was alright.”

It seemed like a character had stepped out of a book or another sort of literature work because every characteristic of his body posed naturally exaggerated and carefully designed. A man mostly likely of business and importance, his slim figure was wrapped around with a jet black tuxedo and a narrow crimson tie. His clothing was completely incapable of covering the lines of his masculine physics, eye candy for the average woman passing by. In addition to his slick figure and glossed-back black hair, each of his fingers was decorated with brilliant rings of varying sizes and every imaginable color. Each was encircled by a blinding gold rim of priceless worth. His painfully sharp-edged nose and chin were accessorized with an intricate design trimmed in his dark stubble. He almost blended into the wall in a shade of skin that never saw the sun. It shone paler than freshly fallen ice cold snow, paler than the color white. Even simply staring at a side profile of the stretched 6’2 figure, I was in awe at the man’s subtle bizarre perfection. He could have been smoking a cigar in the middle of the hospital and no one would have the nerve to tell him no. It was as if I had stepped into a 1920s club with dimmed lights and jazz music playing in the background along with the swaying throng of people.

I was suddenly conscious of the amount of makeup I had hurriedly slapped onto my ordinary complexion this morning for work (Maybe it’s Maybelline?) and the way I held myself; my posture, the angle of my body. Unnecessary tension overpowered my mind and though he wasn’t even aware of my existence, I scared myself, thinking that he could possibly see me and my dumbfounded face.

Doctor Rice, on the other hand, was an emotionless man that seemed to be the kind of man that would immediately grab a shotgun and shoot anyone in the head if they turned against him. His spectacles were the only man-made asset of his expressionless face surrounded by a patted-down white mane of hair similar to that of a lion. The doctor also had a habit of grumbling every once in a while like a broken recording that wouldn’t stop playing. Wrinkles covered his pink, saggy face, but nobody interpreted them as a sign of lack of energy. Although he lacked the regular medical clipboard to record the occurring events, he intently listened to what the outlandish man had to say like the consequences would be a global disaster of some sort. If he didn’t pay attention, then maybe the world would fall apart and the dead would stumble out of the sewers or something. My mind told me I should leave before either one of them caught me but my heart seemed to immobilized my position by the door. I stood there like a rat ready to grab a piece of cheese even though  I was aware of the hovering mouse trap.

“Ah. I’m sure it’s just a minor problem. You have always looked fresh and fine. It’s already been fifty years and you are still looking great.”

Fifty years? I was extremely confused and I examined the man again. He did not look a day over twenty-five. Despite his mature attitude, he looked fresh out of university about to receive his first major job; surely this man wasn’t fifty or older. He couldn’t be the same age as my parents, could he? Then again, the doctor was rather old and he was possibly forgetful, constantly wobbling around like an insane, brainless zombie with a Phd. When the man began to nod his head at the Doctor, I assumed that maybe the Doctor was just blabbering nonsense and the man was simply accepting it not to hurt his fragile feelings and his quick temper.

“I expect everything will be in perfect condition. And if not I can only tell you what is wrong, but I may not be able to help. Many of the diseases or problems that you may experience I can do nothing but identify.” The man continued nodding absentmindedly, staring at the wall beyond the Doctor’s body, oblivious to the Doctor’s words. The Doctor was definitely beginning not to make sense and the man knew it.

“But I have a small idea of what may be the problem.” Doctor Rice added. The man quickly began to pay full attention the Doctor again. His eager head tilted up to catch the Doctor’s next words.

“What do you think it is, Doctor?”

“I reckon you may be…” The Doctor hesitated to finish his sentence, but after a long moment continued. “You may be lonely.” He checked the man’s facial expression to prepare for any outbursts of anger or denial, but the Doctor’s diagnosis left a blank stare on his face.

“Lonely? You think I might be lonely?” The Doctor confirmed this, bobbing his head up and down, completely unafraid of affirming his conclusion.

The man let out a relieved laugh that startled both the Doctor and me. The Doctor’s head wobbled slightly backward at the unexpected reaction. “It’s beginning to make so much sense now!” The corners of the man’s mouth rose slightly and, yet, his eyes sagged downward with a collection of visible moisture, possibly saddened. “I am lonely.  I spent so many nights, lying there wondering what it was that I was missing! Maybe it is even love, something that everyone, even mortals, fall for.” He said it like it was so obvious that he was been lonely the whole time. “Love is so simple and yet so mysterious at the same time.”

I was becoming more and more thrown aback both from his alien sounding laughter and the choice of words he was using. Like “mortal”, what about mortals? Was he not a mortal? Was he some newly evolved or mutated human species that I had never seen before from an underground cave?

The Doctor recovered and ignored his weird outburst, turning around to obtain some medical gloves before turning back around. “I suppose I should start checking now.” He repeated it like he must have said it to every patient he had, bored and unamused.

“Of course, Doctor. Of course.” The man kept shaking his head as if he was still in disbelief, although I, myself, did not think that depression, was a very strange condition. He shook his head, freed himself of his jacket, and started tugging at his hairline. His glossy black hair pulled off in one bloody piece, revealing a gold zipper ingrained into his raw skin and into his fine clothes that ran from the top of his head down the line of his spine to his hip bones like a snake slithering down his body searching for something precious. My eyes widened and I let out a tiny scream from my mouth, horrified and unsure of what I had gotten myself into. The skin hidden by the jacket seemed even paler, if that was possible, and the blood was dark hard red, a color that scream that he wasn’t bleeding at the moment but that the blood was from awhile back and was left, uncleaned. I got my first look at his dead eyes that flashed upward straight towards the noise and that saw my eyes peering through the tiny glass slit in the door. There was no light reflecting off his pitch-black eyes; only an eerie song reflected off of them. I could finally see what the man had been all along. Not a wealthy, businessman in his twenties with a bright future. Not an interesting new model born for the purpose for the others to gasp at and worship. He was nothing but a monster straight from the pits of hell sent there to find me. He was exactly the kind of monster that my mom had warned me about meeting. The mouse had finally been caught by the mousetrap.

Somehow in a tranceful state, I opened the door and let it close behind me because I was longer in control of my body and a strong force out of my control was. Blood stopped running to my twitching hands and arms and the floor felt unbalanced, leaning from one side to another, but I continued to inch forward like an irrational person. The lights above flickered for a moment and I knew it was because of his presence or maybe it was just my imagination. I had no idea what was reality and fantasy; the separate realms began to blend. My judgement was hazy and untrustworthy. What I had thought was impossible was now possible and what I thought was reality was no longer true. The sound of the door closing was the last sound I heard before the Doctor leaned around the frightening monster and tugged on the zipper to slowly reveal a rotting human skeleton underneath.

A dark, quiet voice that melted like a bar of butter on a hot plate spoke into my ear as the hairs on my neck rose.

Hello, Persephone. Am I lonely?

Words That I Care Enough About To Share

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