I wake up, paralysed but lucid, lying on an operating table. I appear to be experiencing anaesthesia awareness, which turns out to exist after all. I can hear the surgeon and nurse speaking quietly, and there is also some other doctor present, an intern perhaps. The surgeon is explaining his actions in detail to the observer. It’s almost like an expositional device, a cheap tool to deliver the narrative of events unfolding before me. Almost like that.
“Our first stop is the lower left floating rib,” he says. I hear the clink of cutlery or something like it and a moment later there’s a white, cold sensation in my chest. I try to cry out but nothing happens. I am a statue. I can feel fingers rooting below the skin and hear or feel a crack, I can’t tell which. “This is his sense of childlike wonder,” the surgeon tells his intern. “Bowl please.” A clatter.
There is pain but it is not like real pain. More like pressure. “What’s next?” asks the surgeon. “Egotism?” says the intern after a pause. The surgeon grunts assent and a moment later I feel the pressure in my left foot. “Proximal phalanx is the ego,” the surgeon says as I feel something give way. “He’ll have to lose the toe of course, but that’s only his denial. It wont slow him down.”
They move up towards my head. “His articulacy is actually a tooth,” he says and a large instrument is pushed between my lips. A moment later it’s gone, one towards the front. An eye tooth I think but I’m unable to move my tongue so I can’t check. It hurts, that one. It hurts… bad.
“Last up? Imagination. Distal phalanx, index finger. He’ll miss that one.” Someone lifts my right hand and I get a snip. The hand drops on the table, still dead, still a stranger. “That’s it!” exclaims the surgeon. “Not a creative bone left in his body. I trust you can take it from here?” The intern probably nods because I hear the surgeon walk away. “Why are you doing this?” I try to say. “I have a novel to finish,” I try to say, but my tongue wont wake up.