By Ellyn Newman
The pain wasn’t all that bad anymore. Frank Miller was sitting in his studio apartment staring at the stump on the end of his right leg. The dirty bandage was starting to fall off. His wound was almost fully healed and soon Frank would be able to try on a prosthetic. The searing pain he’d felt initially, after the accident and the weeks that followed, had been dulled with medicine, but he had no use for it anymore. It wouldn’t be all that bad to have one less foot, he said to himself, no more stubbing his toe at least.
Frank Miller was what most would call an obsessive. Once an idea was planted in his mind, it quickly grew roots and became all consuming. It would occupy his mind day and night. Any consequences ceased to matter at all until a conclusion was reached. One example of this is that as a boy, Frank somehow got it into his head that his parents were secretly plotting to murder him and proceeded to sleep with the bedroom door locked for the next ten years until moving out at age 18.
He had also been born with an extremely high pain tolerance. A gash on the arm or a punch to the face didn’t seem to bother, but insignificant things like paper cuts or tripping in a puddle would drive him mad with irritation. Frank was of the mind that all the soft skin and the nerves which made up man’s body were an inconvenience. Before his accident, he’d tried convincing his coworkers that humanity would be better off with bodies of metal holding their consciousness. Of course, they had only laughed it off as another one of Frank’s crazy theories.
These eccentricities made it difficult for people to connect with him. He was a friendless child and grew up to be such an adult. Frank spent his days deep in thought working at a shoelace factory and came home to an empty apartment. The evenings were spent eating expired spaghetti O’s and reading fringe magazine’s conspiracy theories on aliens and the nature of man.
There would be perks to having only one foot to worry about. Yes, no cold feet at night, no wet toes in the rain, no hangnails. The more Frank thought about it, the more convinced he became. He was better off, he told himself. It was the remaining foot that would prove to be a bother. Now all he could think about was what luck he had had to get pinned so perfectly in the machines as to lose such a small piece of himself. It was a chance to put his ideas to use.
As he was pondering this new lifestyle, the doorbell rang. The doctor, of course, here to remove the last of his dressings. It was unlocked, he said, and the lab-coated man entered. Franks eyes widened as the last of the bandages came off. Perfect, he thought. What he saw was a clean, rounded stump where the ankle ended.
He supposed the doctor was talking to him but paid no mind. There were more important matters at hand. The factory had given Frank paid leave until he was back on his feet- or rather, his foot- again, so he had plenty of time to get used to the ‘condition’, as the doctor called it. Alone that night he noticed a chill biting his surviving adjunct, even through two layers of socks. He thought of how wonderful it would be to never stub his toe on the corner wall ever again. How he would never have to find matching socks ever again. Glorious freedom! All his life Frank had walked on two feet like an imbecile, thinking he was able-bodied. Ha! All along he could’ve been free from the burden of standing upon flesh.
Frank rubbed his cold toes between his hands, and a thought came to mind. At first it was only a whisper and Frank allowed it to linger, but it soon grew louder and began to drown out reason. Just a simple idea, mind you, a theory. He reassured himself that no harm would come of merely fantasizing, so the thought permeated. The more he thought of it, the closer he came to giving in. And so what if he did do it? It hadn’t been too much hassle to recover before, plus he’d gotten time off of work.
Just like that his mind was made up and in an instant, he had lunged out of bed to find what was left of the pain medication. He’d gotten used to hobbling around on one foot and was able to move around quite quickly. Lighting a candle to work by, he also found an ax, old but clean. Tossing a handful of pills into his upturned head, he threw the singular foot upon the bedside table and swung down with the ax as hard as he could.
Some sort of powerful resolve worked in him to keep himself from screaming. Frank had been so worried he wouldn’t get through all the way on the first try that his swing had sunken deep into the wooden top of the table. Now he needed bandages so, using nearby kitchen rags, he wrapped up the wound himself and squeezed a pillow to keep conscious. Finally, that nasty cold in his toes was gone.
Of course, that doctor might come back to check on him unannounced, and there was no way to clean up the ever-growing mess. What did the doctor know? The ignorant fool was trapped within a delicate fleshy prison. Frank was free from the useless confines of mortality that obstructed progress. He was the evolved human, far above such hindrances as pain.
But that epinephrine quickly wore off, and soon he was staring at his two legs with loathing. What use was it to get rid of his feet if he still had to rely on vulnerable corpulent stumps? Now Frank started to get jittery with excitement. It wasn’t a few minutes later that the ax once again occupied his grasp.
When the deed was done, Frank didn’t bother trying to stop the blood at all. He’d taken the last of the medicine, but the pain didn’t bother him. He ignored his blurring vision and basked in his current elevated state, unawares of the pooling blood around him. At last, peace. He closed his eyes and tried to relax, but something was bothering him. An itch on his left arm. Frank angrily sat up let out an inhumane growl. He would not be subject to a mild irritation like that. After all, he was a higher being. The arm had to go too.
When that was over there was peace for Frank Miller, who simply lay back, appendageless, almost. He was still made to bear the arm he’d used to wield the ax. And how he hated it. Atrocious thing that it was, Frank became mad with disgust. He gnashed his teeth and swung the arm against the bloodied wall. The thing didn’t seem like his own. It was a parasite, infecting his enlightened mind with its earthly function. It was a burden made to encumber him on his path to freedom! Frank began to thrash around on the floor. He tore into his shoulder with his teeth, ripping away the skin that trapped his soul.
A pounding began to throb behind his eyes. Oh, what an inconvenience to live! Feelings and thoughts were simply nerves and chemicals, yet they held so many captive. Such a nuisance. A genius such as he shouldn’t have to experience such vexation. Frank knew what he had to do to be free, but luckily for him, he wouldn’t have to wait much longer.
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Ellyn Newman is an aspiring writer with a taste for dark humor. She has been writing for as long as she can remember and enjoys turning intrusive thoughts into tangible stories.