He shakes himself into focus and waves the wand over his midsection and hears nothing. He waves it down his leg and over his foot. He shivers again, moves to his other foot and continues up the other leg.
He stops waving the wand over himself as if his magic trick failed. He rests the wand on his knee and takes another gulp of whiskey. So far, the wand has remained silent. But he’s not done. He’s avoided one part of his body, and he’s finding it hard to finish his self-scrutiny.
But eventually, he takes the wand into his other hand and lifts it to his right shoulder. No sound comes from the wand, as is expected, so he slowly moves down his arm to his bicep…his elbow…forearm…and stops at his wrist, where the wand begins to scream in alarm at the four thin slices where the bastard carved into him with its gentle caress.
Damn. Damn. Damn.
He turns off the wand and places it on the desk under the aged lamp. He scoots his chair towards the desk and rests his hands on the edge. He can start to feel it now that he knows to look for it. A tingling sensation slowly moves up his arm, reaching just short of his elbow. His nostrils flare and he is hit with an impression of static, copper and earth.
Well there’s only one thing to do.
Thomas takes another slug of whiskey, opens a drawer and rummages through it until he finds a soiled rag. He shakes it out a little before putting it on the desk. He swallows another gulp of liquor and feels around the side of the desk until he finds the handle of the hatchet resting against the desk.
He finishes his bottle and clears a small space on his desk so that he can place his forearm on it. Without taking his eyes from his arm, he stuffs the dirty rag into his mouth and sighs through his nose. He takes the hatchet, heavy and expectant, and lays the blade on the crook of his elbow. He lifts it, and lowers it three times. Measuring, calculating. It’s going to hurt.
But strangely, the hatchet doesn’t feel right. It feels awkward and unbalanced and it’s hard to get a good grip. Thomas brings the ax down to eye level, and sees that it’s not the hatchet that is disfigured, but his hand. He drops the hatchet onto his desk and studies his hand where the thin square-shaped razors are extending from the pads of his fingers.
My god, how…?
He continues to stare absently at his hand and wonders vaguely what he was so worked up about. His only wish is that the whiskey would start to work so that he could feel a little warmer.
He takes his index finger and glides it across his palm, opening up a thin slice from which there is no blood. He takes his other hand and digs his fingers into the line and pulls, tearing away the flesh to show the corrugated metal beneath.
He stares at his hand again until a large crack erupts from his neck, jarring his head violently to the left. He feels his back, at the base of his neck and finds that the skin is raised, as if something is trying to break through. He makes an unconcerned shrugging movement and continues to study his hand.
He stays in that chair, watching his own metamorphosis until he realizes that he has been getting colder with each passing moment and immediately craves warmth. The craving quickly becomes desperation and he begins to shiver a little, the vibration causing his new joints to grind disturbingly against each other.
Thomas stands up slowly. He shifts in his body, trying to find a comfortable stance in an uncomfortable frame. He turns and walks toward the door, his progress halted only briefly by another searing jolt from his lower back, slamming him a step backward as if hit by a sledgehammer. He regains his balance and moves his arm around, feeling the jagged metal protruding from his back.
He walks slowly, precisely, making as little noise as possible as he leaves his office and moves across the tiny hall, in no time at all, to the bedroom door. His fingers move up to grip the doorknob. He begins to turn the knob, the movement creating a small moan like a child’s fingernails on a tiny chalkboard and the Tin Man hesitates. But there is only silence on the other side. He opens the door and quietly enters the bedroom.
Where his wife sleeps warmly in their bed.
~ Dale Howard
Dale Howard lives in Connecticut with his wife, son, and two-faced animals. He teaches English as a second language as the first part of his plan for world domination. He only has two more parts to go.