From “The Somnologist”

(Originally published in SNM Horror Magazine, April 2010)


The Somnologist yanks several tubes from his arm, drops them on the bed. He removes glued wires from his temples.

He looks straight ahead, through the parted curtain. Sees a man sitting on the edge of another bed, staring straight at him. The man has bright, intense eyes, hair white at the edges of his temples, pointy shoulders slumped, and xylophone ribs showing through the collar of his gown.

He lifts a hand and waves it in front of himself. Shudders as the man does the same. A mirror? It can’t be…

He slides from the edge of the bed, watching the man – a sickened, emaciated, older version of himself – slide off his bed.

At once, he feels an uncomfortable tug and looks down with horror. He has a problem. Someone has inserted a tube into his manhood. A serious impediment for his task. He takes hold of the tube and is about to yank, but something stops him.

Disconnect it, Roy.

The words come to his mind, unbidden, from a familiar voice.

There’s a balloon in there, you can’t pull it out. If you try you’ll know pain like nothing on this earth.

He examines the tubes and their connection points. He turns a small release and the larger tube comes free. He cringes, expecting fluids to come rushing out of him, but none do. It is dry.

He leans forward and takes a few wobbly, shaky steps. Straightens his spine over his hips. Takes a few more steps. The weight of the tube tugging down there is disconcerting but he thinks he can handl-

Something on the ground in front of him.

The authority-man’s equipment belt, tossed aside.

He bends and puts a hand down onto the cold floor for balance. He unclips a snap, slides his hand over the grip of the…

What is it?

The words come like flashcards in his mind.




Why do I know this?

He slides the weapon out of its holder, grips it tight, and stands up straight again. He looks at the two people moving against each other. So close he can smell them.

He’s really giving it to her, he thinks.

The two moan, eyes closed, oblivious to all except making their bodies one, making them fit, and breath and move together.

The Somnologist raises the pistol and points it at the back of the half-naked authority man, an impish grin springing to his face. His thumb slides the safety off, and his finger caresses the trigger, flirting with it. He feels a childlike wonder mixed with nauseating fear. What will the recoil feel like? Will it be loud?

Go. Now.

Right. His task.

He lowers the pistol to his side, looks toward the door and shuffles out of the room, unnoticed. He must go slowly. The tugging down there is merciless and his feet feel like two rubber fists walking on hot needles.

He makes it halfway down the hall before the whispered sounds of lovemaking come to a sudden stop and become a female scream.

The Somnologist quickens his step.

The scream does not sound like one of ecstasy.

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