I am pleased to announce that a flash fiction story of mine, Lucidity, will be published in the H.P. Lovecraft Lunatic Asylum collection on Halloween. In the “spirit” of Lovecraft’s work, it’s creepy, and I’m presenting it here as a preview for your enjoyment. Happy Halloween!
By Leslie Conner
My name is Dr. Horace Watley. For now, I’m in Room 405, the one with the spider dangling from the ceiling, hovering spread-eagled like a paratrooper, above the light switch. I’ve asked for a more appropriate work space for ages, and yet, here I am still. I spend my days analyzing data, documenting countless hours of experiments. Although the research has not been recognized as such, in due time, my work will be considered the most valuable contribution to science in this century. The experiments are not without faults, however, but given the proper resources, those insufficiencies will be corrected.
I review my data every night, noting the progress that has been made, and what, if any, improvements can be applied in the future. The first study was a lesson in trial and, mostly, error. Of course, that is to be expected. The subject was locally anesthetized, which, at the time, I thought would make the collection of an accurate sample of data more probable. The blade entered the skull far left of the pre-determined entry point, and the subject, after an episode of twitching, died shortly after. For the second test, it was imperative to perform the procedure with a light general anesthetic. When the subject was unconscious, the initial entry was performed accurately. I was unable to measure the results of altering the frontal lobe, however, because the subject, possibly suffering from hemophilia, bled out before regaining consciousness.
The next test was the most promising of the lot. I hold that page of my notebook the longest, my fingers savoring the details of the nearest success story. It was all about the timing. After anesthesia was administered and the incision was made, the subject regained at least a semi-conscious state when the frontal lobe was altered. As I probed with the tip of the scalpel, gently, into gray matter, I asked the subject questions.
“Do you feel love?” The subject stared, wild-eyed at me, and gurgled something that sounded like a “yes,” all of which I had scribbled in my notebook.
“Do you love me?” I asked, as I pushed the blade in a bit further. The subject stared, cold and lifeless, making no attempt to answer the question. I pushed the blade in further, hearing a crack or a splinter from behind her glassy eyes. “No response” was the last entry.
The door opens behind me, and I put away my notes. A true scientist’s mind never truly stops, but it is time to retire for the evening. Tomorrow is yet another day. My assistant, Nancy, comes in and hands me my evening cocktail, a delightfully colored beverage in a small paper cup.
“There, you go, Horace,” the nurse says. “Drink it all up.”
“How many times have I told you, Nancy? Call me Dr. Watley.”