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[Hollow, 656 words, Genre: Experimental]

* Image courtesy of Dirk de Bruyn

Caught up in-between sleep and being awake, Richard remembered his dream from the night before. He had dreamt that he had been on a surgery table, doctors had surrounded him as they opened up the contents of his skull. He remembered the doctors arguing amongst themselves. Discussing his case, these were distant voices that he recalled from a state of semi-conscious daze.

“The grey matter is attached to his personality, we can’t remove it.”

“I don’t care. He needs to forget. We can’t let him remember how things run around here.”

“But he’s attached it to his personality. The disease is part of his personality, we can’t remove it.”

“What are you trying to say?”

“I’m saying that if we remove this section, we’ll leave him worse than he was in the first place.”

“There are many people in this world who have lost their eccentricities, they all function well enough.”

“No, you don’t understand. We will be removing his essence, his spirit. He won’t even be able to function like the rest of them. He’ll just be a hollow shell.”

“I don’t care. We have to remove it. He can’t remember.”

Those were the voices that he recalled in the morning. Doctors arguing amongst themselves about his condition. Some sort of brain surgery had occurred overnight and now that he was awake he felt different. There were no more troubling thoughts, no more hysteric spikes of emotion, he was just… just… hollow. He walked around the kitchen attempting to discover some hint of resentment that had been so common a focus for him previously. He couldn’t. Everything was fine. Everything was normal. And that was part of the problem, having lived an abnormal life up until this point he felt aloof. Something was definitely missing. It had been a dream, hadn’t it? The memory of the doctors arguing around the surgery table was just the intangible stuff of dreams, it had no effect in the real world. But still he felt something was missing, some part of him had been taken away overnight. He started to visualise himself and what he found was a caricature of a man with a scar on the top of his skull.

“God damn it!” he cursed aloud to no-one in particular.

He started pacing back and forth in the hallways of his home. He started a steady stream of blasphemy inside his head. Something had been taken away from him, he was missing something, he instinctively determined it was a piece of his mind. Once again visualising himself, he travelled back to the intangible world of dreams. The imaginative realm of the mind where anything could occur.

He found the hospital and bumbled through the hallways. All the while screaming out in agony, “Give me back my brain!” The hospital staff, figments of his imagination, looked on in awe as he moved like a pinball in a pinball machine. Bouncing off the walls, making his way towards the surgery area. He found it. The surgeons looked at him, recognising him. “Give me back my brain!” He screamed out. The surgeons took a step back, revealing the surgery table. There, in a metal container was a pile of grey matter. He pushed past the surgeons, found a nearby scalpel and cut along the scars that had been sewn up around his skull. The top of his skull flapped open and closed just as a leaves on a tree blow in the wind. He stuck his fist into the metal container, grabbed all he could and shoved it into the orifice on top of his head. “I got my brain back!” Richard ran out of the room, once again pushing past the surgeons.

The last thing he heard before returning to reality was, “Hey, that’s not yours’.”

Richard sat down to his morning coffee, seeing that he had resolved the troubling dream. “I feel different,” he mumbled to himself absent mindedly.


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