It’s Time for your Operation Now, which ache, pain, or disorder led to Peter and Pat being at the hospital checking in for Pat’s major surgery, doesn’t matter at all. All that matters, is that her day had come at last. So now they sat, in a bare beige box of a waiting room. Peter sat idly thumbing through magazines. Pat nervously studied the otherwise empty bland, silent, room. After some minutes, Peter said, I need to use the men’s room. You okay here alone? Yes, sure. So, Peter left Pat alone. As she idly picked up something to read, a man entered, and took a seat across. Pat glanced up from the page. Oh—blank face he has—tiny eyes. He is looking away. He is quiet; good. So. And, at last, an interesting article to read—thank God. But— Miss. Miss. The man. Look up. Yes? The man said quietly, Are you here for surgery today? Yes, I am. Why? Are you nervous at all—about your surgery today? A bit, I suppose. I bet you don’t know the real reason you’re here. Squint, but—what’s this— Ma’am. I’m really sorry for this, but—you got to know. They told you you need this. But that’s a lie. His eyes—what— You’re not sick like they told you. No—you’re not. His eyes—somehow—turned different, now. —where the hell’s Peter— Leaning slightly toward her, the man went on, saying, Have you really pictured what’s going to happen after they take you back there? You’re about to go back there to be slowly and methodically wounded. Really badly wounded—you know? Then, after today, it might take months or years for you to recover—if ever. It’s all an experiment, you know. They say you need this, that it’s to help you—but that’s a lie. You don’t need to be here, Ma’am. She stared—motionless, afraid—don’t move—Peter, come back, Peter—her hands clenched hard as if holding on for life above a great drop. Heh, he said, shifting in his chair—heh. Heh. They call it—an “operation”. Heh. Not hardly strong enough of a word for what they plan to do to you. They’ll use this blade, that blade, this drill, those saws, each tool designed to inflict a very particular type of injury. Heh. Heh. Peter. Where’s Peter— You’ll be knocked out lying there, with them shouting over you things like, scalpel! Forceps! Yes, heh! You won’t know, but they’ll be yelling scalpel forceps sponge sponge forceps scalpel hollering, and cutting. Cutting, and hollering— —no—no—let go—let him go on. Breathe, calm—Peter’ll be back—this is just—nothing. Don’t look at him. Don’t look. Like—yes like you did way back driving to work in that stopped dead traffic by that red light waiting by that scary big teenage preacher, always there on that same curb you passed every day; scary, in his black suit and wide tie, holding his big black bible-book parted open, bellowing the word of God at the top of his lungs, staring at you, staring—always there every day—even in that blinding hard downpour that day—just don’t look over—these’re all just crazy. Just harmless. Just—don’t look. Just don’t look at th’ miserable drenching downpour soaking him to his skin, sluicing ice-cold to the gutter, or his book, or his yelling down, out, ’n away—no! It’s just sad. It’s just miserable. These kind are just miserable. Feel sorry. Just feel sorry. These can’t be saying the true words of God; no, these just shout loud-n’-long, all nonsense, all deluded, all ignored—‘n every time over’s just thank God, ah, the green light. Green at last—but where’s Peter— The man went on speaking into the side of her face, saying—and when its all over, they’ll roll you into what they’ll call a recovery room. They’ll bring you around. You’ll think it’s nearly over. But the real torment’s just begun. They’ll surround you laughing loud down in your face as you waken to a world of pain—pain so horrible, that you’ll immediately regret having let them do this to you. You’ll hurt so much, you ‘ll wish yourself dead; maybe even wish you’d never been born. How fun! How fun! Then—and get this—for the next few days, they’ll toy with you. When your pain is most terrible, they will sedate you, and—and all will sink to gone, but, heh, you’ll slowly come around again, rising into torment, then, sedation, again—down, then up, back into torment—cranked tighter, harder, worse and worse every time—until they tire of you. They’ll cut you loose and send you home. But—ha! Ha! Your old life will be gone. Your new life will be—pain. So much pain, that you’ll cry inside, Why did I do this to myself? What was the reason? Was there ever any reason at all? You’ll struggle for hope. And sure, in time, things will calm a bit. But the pain will nag you. So you’ll go back. For more scans, examinations, tests—then they’ll tell you, hey, listen, Just one more small procedure will cure you. Oh yes, yes, don’t worry. It’ll be very small. Another minor operation’s definitely required, but—it’ll pay off. You’ll be totally well again. In your desperation, you’ll have no choice but to agree; bad memories slather’d o’er in the turned back to time, so, back here again! He. Hee. Te’heeeeeee! Yah, back here, for their pleasure, again—and again and again and again, as many times as they see fit! Because, you know—because your world’s not your world anymore, it is theirs! So now—tell me. Do you still feel good sitting here waiting for them today? Hey, listen. Enjoy these last moments you’ve left in your old world, because they’re about to blast it away after they take you back through that door—there’s a reason we’re the only species who cut each other apart for fun, and put each other back together again! There’s a reason and you—you are part of the very sick reason ah ah sick yes very sick sick sick sick reason— Blam! Blam? Whut? Hup, flinch, and duck! A blast of red engulfs the world, earsplittingly loud; the horrible crazy yelling man disappears, gone, transformed into a hot red boiling mist expanding out, dissipating away from what’s left, which collapses, tangled, torn, red-soaked and sodden, onto the floor, a steaming bag of rags, and there, stands—the drenched crazed boy preacher, shotgun lowered, muzzle smoking, face pushed in your car window—why the hell’d y’ roll down your window, in this pouring rain—You, he shouts—you passed by every day, even now where I stood freezing in the rain, suffering to bring you God’s word, yes, God’s word—to save you! To save! But; look at me, soaked and suffering; why did you not help me? Why did you not help! He reaches in, grasping, yelling, You need punishment! Punishment! Punishment scalpel forceps punishment sponge sponge punish forceps scalpel punish’ no! No, no—you’re yelling, No, I didn’t mean it, I didn’t—dear God, let the light turn! Let the light turn—now please, dear God— Green! Thank God! Bu— Blam! A final blast of red engulfs the world, earsplittingly loud; the miserably drenched raving holy boy yelling at you disappears, gone, transformed into a red roiling mist expanding out dissipating away from what’s left, which collapses, tangled, torn, red-soaked and sodden, onto the floor, a steaming bag of rags, and there, stands—Peter, leaning, shotgun lowered, muzzle smoking, standing where all the crazies had been, but now, thank God, all’s gone. Peter! My God, my God! It’s all right now, Pat. Come on. It’s time to go in the back. Uh—thank God, but—why’re you all in white? Those gloves, that mask, the—are you really Peter? Why do you look that way? Why those clothes? Why—my God. What? Where did you get that gun? You don’t do guns. You’ve never done guns. Peter waved her face into silence. Never mind. You are safe now. The only important thing now is—your operation. Come in to the back, they’re waiting. Hear them? They’re calling. It’s time for your operation.