ALONE

Words: STEPHEN BAXENDALE
February 17, 2013

I had this pain in my head. For a while it was just coming from my tooth, but by this point it’d crawled up and down the whole side of my face. I’d had tooth ache before, but this was something different, I was sure of it. There was a constant hot and stabbing pain […]


I had this pain in my head. For a while it was just coming from my tooth, but by this point it’d crawled up and down the whole side of my face. I’d had tooth ache before, but this was something different, I was sure of it. There was a constant hot and stabbing pain that kept me from sleeping. Then occasionally the whole side of my head would explode in pain and I’d start clawing at myself and have to writhe about on the floor until it stopped. It felt like there was some mad rat trapped in my head and occasionally it was attempting to escape by burrowing out through my brain and eye.

It didn’t help that my flatmates had been having a party going on for what seemed like weeks and that it showed no signs of stopping. It’d started off as the usual “let’s bring strangers and odd women back to the flat after a night out”, but in the morning this collection of leeches had stayed around drinking and then it just merged into a party the next night. Then the next. It was growing by the day like some horrible infection. My home was constantly full of fiends. It would get a little quiet every now and then but then they’d just go on runs to the Bargain Booze and bring back ale and cigs and stimulants and the party would come back with an even greater force. I think their sanity was resting on the idea that if they kept the party going everything would be okay. Like campers desperately trying to keep a fire going to ward off the darkness.

I didn’t join in because I was in constant pain and they were starting to scare me. My flatmates stopped acknowledging me as I shuffled around the hallway; I was the ghost at the feast, the pale reminder of mortality and humanity.

I’d walked through life like a zombie for weeks. Never sleeping. Constantly gobbling pain killers and swigging hot gin. Locked in my room listening to the terrible noises of the party, people having sex, people talking gibberish and the never ending “tunes”. Every now and then someone would try my door handle, hoping it wouldn’t be locked and probably looking for somewhere to have sex or for a secret stash of alcohol.

The bathroom was briefly unoccupied so I slipped in so I could examine what was going on in my face. I pulled back my cheek. The pain was coming from this big fat molar at the back. The gum around my tooth had gone black and there some sort of white bubble just above it. I poked at the black gum, it was a pulp of flesh with this frothy white oozing substance around it. There was no feeling from it, my finger went straight into it, old and stale dead blood started falling from it. It tasted like half cooked meat. I scratched at the whitish bubble above the tooth. Yellow pus started slowly crawling out like a lazy maggot out of an apple. There was a smell coming from it too, like raw chicken mixed with off milk.

What the hell was going on in my face? I thought to myself. I wasn’t going to stand for this. I poked my finger straight through the froth and pulp of flesh. The pain shot up the side of my face immediately. It was like the rat had snapped and gone crazy and had decided to start tearing me up from the inside out. I couldn’t think; there was just pain and nothing else. I started to punch the side of my head to try and distract myself, I thought about crying or vomiting but i must have just passed out instead because I woke up on the floor.

I decided it was time to seek help.

I walked across the city to the ‘A and E’. I waited for half an hour and was told that they only did bodies and not mouths. I had to walk across to the other side of the city to the emergency dental hospital.

When I got there the place was empty and dirty. There were only two staff, a fat and unpleasant woman and a bald dentist who claimed that his name was “Stein.”

Stein took a look at my mouth. He began scraping at the flesh around my tooth, it was coming off in thin strips like cured meat.

“You don’t feel that do you?”

“No” I tried to say. But Stein had a his fingers in my mouth so I could only talk in that ‘mid blowjob’ way of talking were people shout in vowels.

“That’s because this is necrosis, soldier. This is dead rotting flesh.”

“Is that good or bad?”

“Does it sound good?” Stein said.

“I suppose not.”

“I need an X-Ray, soldier.”

He kept calling me soldier. It was horrible. He went outside and pushed a button and came back with a black and white photo. He said something about me having a huge infection, that I’d lost a lot of mass from my skull and that the tooth needed to be removed. I think I said I didn’t care, but I can’t really remember because the rat was at it again and I couldn’t concentrate on anything.

The fat and unpleasant woman gave me an injection and told me to tell her when the gum and tooth felt numb. I could still feel the rat mooching about my head. She gave me another injection, then another two. I could still feel it. The entire side of my face was numb and unresponsive but I could still feel the damn tooth throbbing. My face was hanging slack off my bones like a rubber mask. She gave me one more injection, she said that this was the last one she could give me and if it didn’t work I’d have to book an appointment and go to the dental surgery. The injection didn’t work, I could still feel the tooth, the injection just made my face slacker and even more unresponsive, but I was not going to spend another night with the rat, so I lied and said it was numb.

Stein fishhooked my cheek. I could feel him clumsily circling my tooth with his pliers. I began to shake with a crazy kind of fear. I dug my fingers into the chair. The waiting was unbearable. I knew at any second this fucker was going to start attacking my head and I’d feel every bit of it. He locked his pliers down on my tooth, than snapped it to the side. Before I knew what I was doing, this scream was coming from my throat and my hands were hitting at him.

“You said you were numb!” Said the fat and unpleasant woman.

I thought I would have been able to take it. Perhaps I’d been too optimistic in presuming dental science was more advanced than some mad bastard pulling at my skull with pliers. I wanted the tooth out, but I couldn’t take any more of that. I got up to leave.

“We can’t have that soldier, that tooth is half out, if it gets infected it’d be our fault.”

“No. Honestly. I feel fine now. Thank you very much.” I said with half my face, the other side drooling and bleeding, but the fat and unpleasant woman started pinning me down.

“There you go luv.” She said “Just one more pull.”

Then stein was fishhooking me again. It was too much pain, my brain would snap before the tooth did. I was going to be driven insane and these fuckers were going to get away with it. I tried to get up but the fat and unpleasant woman was on me and she had the strength of a bastard.

“Here we go soldier.” Stein was saying as he yanked my tooth left and right “Almost out now.” Water was falling from my eyes and I was covered in sweat, I tried to make little screams but they sounded more like sobs. I was hoping I’d black out. Then there was a pop and it felt like someone had punched me. I saw Stein holding the mouldly and black tooth in his pliers.

The hole in my face was bleeding a lot so the fat and unpleasant woman gave me a wad of wool to bite down own.

“Here you go soldier.” Stein said handing me a pack of blue pills “These are from my personal stash, take one a day, they’ll keep you from feeling a thing until you’re healed.”

I wanted to call him a prick but I didn’t have the strength. I got up and walked back to the flat in the rain. I was so weak I was walking in slow motion. Cars were slowing down to look at me. They couldn’t understand why somebody was taking long and slow exaggerated steps through the rain without any coat or jumper. I tried to tell them I was okay by giving them a smile, but half my face was numbed and my mouth was full of blood and wool. They sped up after that.

When I came back to the flat and the party was still going on, obviously. I doubted it would ever end. As time went on the energy was more intense, more edgy. People were getting tired and unpredictable. The music was loud and electronic. People were jumping and shouting and banging. It was like some sort of post-apocalyptic future, except it wasn’t in the future, it was in my flat and I needed some respite and sanctuary.

I sat in my room swigging gin and tounging the new hole in my face. People were rattling my door handle. My nerves were all in shock. I kept shaking. I felt fragile and schizophrenic. I wasn’t sure what was real anymore. The party outside my door sounded depraved. Intense crazed chatter. Manic laughter. Senseless singing. They’d been drinking for too long. Their brains had lost all rationality and purpose. They were dangerous. I was so tired and beaten, I felt terrified being in their presence. I felt like I was trapped in a den of foxes. Only a matter of time until they tore me to pieces. I knew I’d need to defend myself.

I crept through the hallway, past the living room, and then slipped into the kitchen. Two people I’d never met before were fornicating. They were making terrible noises. Like some sort of violent exorcism. They paid no attention to me, so I went over to the drawers and picked out the largest kitchen knife I could find. I ran back to my room. I used some boxes of books to form a barricade behind my door.

I sat on my mattress swigging gin every time I had a paranoid thought. I was hammered after fifteen minutes. Then I took two of steins pills.

At the time, there was no doubt in my mind that I’d need to defend myself. I tried to think of a strategy. When they came for me, their debauchery would have reached such heights that they had devolved into animals. They’d probably break down the door and come running at me naked and on all fours, screaming and slobbering, ready to rape then torture me just to get a kick, anything to keep the party going. I could try and stab my way out, but I was weak from the dental surgery, it’s likely I’d just end up angering them and making it worse for myself. The best I could hope for was to probably turn the knife on myself. When they broke down the door I could begin wildly stabbing at my own gut and start shouting “You’ll never get me now you bastards!”

Stein’s pills began to kick in. The walls felt like they were expanding and the streetlight coming through the window began to take on purple and green hues. The noise from the party sounded far away. I lay there on my mattress with the gin and the knife and I could feel myself falling into a delirium. The shadows in the corners of my room began to move and I thought someone might be in the room with me, I shouted out “Is anyone there?”, but no one answered. I was quite obviously alone.


< Back