Hello friends! It's my one year Patreon-iversary and as promised, you get a short story. It wasn't the one I was planning on giving you, but I've been trying to finish some other things, and then I got sick, and well... excuses.
Anyway, it's October which means Halloween so let's get spoopy*! Here's some horror-lite for you inspired by... you'll see. I don't want to spoil it.
*I just googled the official definition of "spoopy" and it's something that is scary and funny at the same time. Thanks, internet.
“Do you think this is a bad sign?” A carpenter held his hand out to his wife, who was a doctor. She was bent over the sink trying to unclog the garbage disposal and after a moment she looked up. She glanced at the tips of his fingers and was startled to find that they were a rich, dark purple. The doctor was used to caring for the odd bump or bruise, as the manual labor of her husband’s career made them common in their household.
“How did you do that?” She asked. She wiped her hands with a towel after washing them in the sink and reached out to examine his hand. “Because yes, I think that’s a bad sign. Blood shouldn’t typically pool in your fingertips like that, just in case you were wondering.”
“That’s the thing,” he replied. “I didn’t do anything.”
“You mean you don’t remember hitting your fingers with a hammer hard enough to leave bruises like that?” The doctor’s eyes flickered briefly towards his hairline. She wondered if she would need to look for a head injury as well. Once, he’d fallen off a ladder and not remembered it.
“I don’t think they’re bruises,” he told her. “I’d have remembered hitting myself that hard.”
“Burns?” They didn’t look like burns to her, but it was worth ruling out anyway.
“No. I can’t remember hurting them at all.”
Now, the doctor did pull her husband into a chair so that she could get a look at his scalp. There seemed to be no obvious bruises, lumps or lacerations to his head. She picked up her phone, turned on the flash light, and shined the light into his eyes. No signs of concussion. There was no reason to take him to the hospital at that point.
She shrugged, flummoxed. “Keep an eye on it. Right now it looks like a serious bruise. Any swelling?”
He shook his head. She poked at his fingers again and compared them to his non-purple hand. He was right; no swelling.
“Okay,” she said. “There’s nothing else I can do for you right now. Let me know the second it gets worse.”
That night, over dinner, the carpenter brought up the subject again. “I think it’s worse.” He pulled up his sleeve to reveal that his whole arm was now the same deep purple. His wife gasped and dropped her fork. She ran her fingers gently over his arm; even his skin had changed. It seemed thinner, more fragile, and all of the hair was gone. He was purple, and smooth. Reflexively, she pulled up her own sleeves to see if she had been contaminated by whatever he’d been afflicted with. She saw no signs on her own skin, but it was better to be safe. It was time to take him in where she could properly examine him.
It wasn’t until they took him to the hospital that they realized he was shrinking, too. Five foot eight, the nurse measured, and the carpenter protested. He was five eleven. She shook her head at him.
“How is that possible?” The carpenter asked. His pants, which had fit him perfectly that morning, were grazing the floor.
His wife attempted to reassure him. “It happens to everyone as we age,” she said.
“This seems extreme, you’re right,” she admitted.
“Also, the purple.” The nurse interjected.
They set up a schedule to monitor his progress as they scrambled for a reason for the changes. He was steadily turning purple, and continued to shrink at an alarming rate. There seemed to be no reason and no cure. All they could do was run tests on his blood, which was becoming increasingly full of sugar, and chart his progress as he changed. Every time they poked him with another needle he released a clear liquid instead of red blood, and the fat under his skin was becoming fibrous.
As dawn broke over the hospital, the doctor admitted defeat. All that was left of her husband was a round purple plum where the carpenter had been. There was absolutely no logical explanation. There was no contagion, as no one else was turning into plums. The doctor and her nurse had even dispensed with their hazmat suits halfway through the night when it became clear they couldn’t catch his condition. She promised her husband, and herself, that she wasn’t going to give up. She’d find a way to reverse the process.
After taking more samples from the stone fruit formerly known as her husband, the doctor placed him in the refrigerator in the staff room to keep him ripe while she did some research. She took a cup of coffee from the fresh pot and retreated to her office.
She returned to the staff room at lunch time, exhausted, but no closer to finding the answers for her husband’s mysterious condition. She opened the refrigerator to retrieve him, and was confronted by an empty shelf. He was nowhere to be found. She spun around and found one of her coworkers sitting in the corner, reading a newspaper. The staff room was otherwise empty. On the table in front of him was a paper towel containing a small fruit stone.
The doctor felt her pulse drop into her shoes and the air was sucked from her lungs. She gasped. “You ate the plum!”
Her colleague looked up, startled by her sudden outburst. His coworker was usually the best of all of them at handling the stress of their jobs. His face turned apologetic as he took in her panicked expression. He said quickly, “There was no name on it. Was it yours? I’ll replace it.”
“You can’t,” she said flatly, the pain of sudden grief tight in her chest. She sat heavily in a chair and pressed a hand to her mouth. Tears flooded her eyes.
Her coworker wasn’t sure the best way to respond to her overwhelming emotion. He tried to be kind. “Forgive me; it was delicious.”
End note: Obviously shoutout to the source material-- William Carlos Williams' poem This Is Just to Say, and the random meme-storm that happened around it last summer when I wrote this. Again, thanks, internet.