Headache – a short (terror?) story
By: Esteban Cascante
After hours of tossing and turning, he decided it was time to get up.
It was still raining, it hadn’t stopped since the afternoon but now the silence of the house at night made it sound more like a storm rather than a simple winter downpour.
He tried not to make noise, as if someone else was in the house even though he knew he was alone. He went straight to the bathroom, turned on the secondary light that was dimmer, but it felt like a lash to the eyes.
After recovering, he looked in the mirror. He did not know what he was looking for, but he was desperate. The pain had become unbearable. It started as a minor pain a couple of days ago. Almost insignificant. He thought it was stress related but over time it began to feel like an animal was incubating inside his head, growing, breathing, and taking up more and more space.
He checked his eyes but saw nothing different. He felt his fictional animal move. He imagined that he could see through their eyes, that maybe they were both seeing the same thing now. Suddenly he felt as if legs were scratching his brain and he had to close his eyes again.
He grabbed his head with both hands and squeezed it to try to calm the animal down, so that everything would stay in place the pain passed a little.
Now he was walking back and forth in the bathroom, he didn’t know if he could drive to the hospital, he felt confused and his eyesight was patchy. It was raining more and it was late. He would surely spend hours in the hospital before being treated.
He felt again as if the animal was moving, now he was sure that something lived inside his head, he imagined the rat’s legs scraping the skull from the inside as if it was a coconut in which it was trapped.
It seemed to him that the possible rat now wanted to get out of his head, it was still clawing at the skull from within. He thought he was going crazy, but at that moment he heard a scream, not a rat screech but something he couldn’t identify but knew it was coming from within.
The pain was unbearable and the thought of an animal living inside his head overwhelmed him. Had to get it out.
He did not know what to do, he went down the stairs in the dark and went to the warehouse, took out his small tool box, meanwhile the pain continued to increase, he felt the animal trying to get out with more effort, it was also desperate.
He took the toolbox to the kitchen and tossed everything on the floor. He started going through the tools but none seemed suitable for what he had in mind.
For a moment he tried to calm down and reflect on what he was doing, but the pain and the screaming came back to remind him why he was desperate.
He took the hammer and ran up back to the bathroom.
He looked at himself in the mirror and it seemed to him that his eyes had become reptilian eyes. He was no longer himself. He was determined.
He tapped his head with his fingers to mark the point. Then he took the hammer in his right hand, took a deep breath, held it, and struck a solid blow on the side of his head.
He fell to the ground immediately, felt the hot blood rush out of his head and reach his ear and face. He felt groggy but painless for the first time in hours.
He sat on the ground already full of blood, he didn’t hear anything. Again, the second hammer blow in the same place. He fell flat and remained immobile without knowing for how long.
When he came to, he leaned against the sink and stood up to see himself in the mirror again. The reptilian eyes were gone. The dim light made it hard to see but his face was bathed in blood, his soaked chest dripping over the sink. He began to search the place of the blow with both hands. Slowly he pushed his hair back until he found it.
He felt the hole that the two hammer blows had made and when he brought his fingers closer he felt the animal’s legs trying to get out. He panicked and pulled his hands away. He went to the mirror to try to see it. He identified some legs but not as he had imagined, they were black, thin and shiny. He tried to touch them slowly with his right hand and heard the screech again, only now clearer and louder, he thought he saw the animal’s snout in the hole. It was a reptile with black skin, with small teeth and thick scales.
He brought his hands to the place of the blow again. He began to remove pieces of the skull from the sides without any pain. Little by little he made the hole bigger and bigger. The reptile seemed to wait for there to be enough room to get out, and when there was, it ventured to the surface.
He felt like in a trance or a senseless dream, he was watching an animal that lived in his head go out into the world. The reptile put out its black and scaly head, now he could see it clearly, he could identify the reptilian eyes that for a moment he was sure had taken over his own.
The reptile continued to come out slowly, cautiously, advancing towards the head of its host. He wanted to touch it, but held back. He kept watching it go up. When the animal pulled out its torso it seemed to identify wings. Wings! He thought.
So when he could see the complete animal above his head he had no doubt: It was a dragon! A dragon coming out of his head, which was now completely bathed in blood and with a huge hole. He touched the animal and felt its scales and snakeskin full of warm blood. He felt disgusted.
The now dragon screamed once more and took flight and then the two realized something else, both were still linked by some kind of tissue like an umbilical cord.
So now, in the middle of the night, in the bathroom of an ordinary house, in an ordinary neighborhood and with a downpour in the background, there was a man with a split skull, losing blood and with a dragon hovering over his head.
He was intrigued that they were united but it was too late, he needed to free himself from this beast, which at the same time was pulling harder and harder on the cord to break it.
He decided to look in the bathroom for something he could cut the cord with, he only had a few nail scissors within reach but they seemed enough.
He took the cord with his left hand and snipped it with his right, they both screamed in pain. After recovering he tried again and it was worse, but he was almost ready. He took another breath, held it, and gave it the last snip.
When the last fiber that held them together was separated they both felt free for an instant, but to their surprise they immediately both fell dead, one next to the other.
It turns out that a man and his dragon cannot live without the other.