Get Free Copy

100 free copies left

This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.

0
Free copy left
You can read our best books
RachelWeisserman would love your feedback! Got a few minutes to write a review?
Write a Review

Writing on the Brain

By RachelWeisserman All Rights Reserved ©

Horror / Scifi

Short Story

I used to want to be a writer. Would you believe that? I would force myself to sit at a typewriter for hours, creating nothing but blisters and cramps. I would hold a pen like I held my scalpels, trying to cut excess adverbs from my sentences, the way I cut cancers out of a brainstem now. Cancers, on the whole, are easier; the difference between grey-pink healthy tissue and slick brown sacs of mutated flesh is obvious, but the difference between a good sentence and a bad one changes with each story. It was all too complicated for me, and I gave up.

Not that I don't still like to tell stories. When I lie awake at night, I don't think about the little girl whose aneurysm I clipped, or the old man whose cyst I removed. I don't think about how I'll have to be ready for an operation tomorrow, my hands steady and my vision unblurred. I fall asleep thinking of knights on quests, sworn enemies and star-crossed lovers, of epics I have the imagination—but not the skill—to create.

At first it was soothing. I'd accepted that my writing career would come to nothing, and had settled into my role as a saver of lives. The soap-opera, spaghetti-western tales that flashed through my head would take away the stress of the days, would replace my nightmares of shaky hands and dead patients with dreams that were more fantastical, if not more benevolent. I told myself that they were purely for escape, even though I sometimes sleepwalked through examinations, and even though I still felt most alive at night with my stories.

I would drift off in the middle of an operation, forcing the nurse to poke me or jostle me, sometimes resuming the operation herself. It happened more than once, as I was staring at the wrinkles of a patient's brain, imagining that it was a valley of stone, with a tribe lost to the centuries wandering within its folds.
The nurses whispered. It made my patients nervous. The director of the hospital wanted me to quit. I promised them I would get better. I went to therapy, I stopped reading novels, I even went to a professional retreat in the Bahamas. And I found a new way to make the stories I had in my head come to life.

Today, I am treating a man who works in marketing. His name is Spitz. He wears brown suits and very thick glasses, and he worries about his hair thinning and whether his wife really likes him, you know, as a person. He has come here because he has ferocious headaches. The psychologist who referred him to me says that they probably come from the pressures of his job and his gripping marital problems. She asked me to run a few routine tests on him, to assuage his hypochondria. I told her I had found a tumor. She is one of the few doctors in the city who still believes my diagnoses.

There is no tumor, but there is a small abrasion in the adrenal gland. I suture it. I make a few small, strategic incisions in the frontal lobe. When Spitz wakes up, he will no longer have headaches. He will not have a wife. He will believe himself to be a secret agent in the pay of the United States government. His secretary will be the agent he is assigned with. She will be blonde. I haven't decided yet if he will be on the run, in disguise. It might explain the glasses.

Tomorrow I will treat an eight-year-old girl with epilepsy. My hands will not shake, as they often do when I operate on children, but will make the incisions in her temporal lobe with precision. When she walks out of the clinic, she will no longer have to live in fear of her own brain. The fear will come from outside, not from within her; the city streets will be dark woods, each passing stranger a wolf in an overcoat or a haggard witch hurrying home to her chicken-legged hut. It will not be her mother who escorts her silently home, gripping her little girl's hand tight as she drags her through the crowds, but a sullen ice queen under a spell that will be broken when the woods melt away and the wolves turn back into men.

Next week, I will be removing an aneurysm from the brain of seventy-five-year-old man. He was a referral from a friend, a very cowardly surgeon who will not operate on the old or very infirm, for fear that they will die under his scalpel no matter what he does. I'm not afraid to operate. Of course, I will have to meet with him soon for a consultation, to determine his symptoms, learn about his dreams, figure out what kind of story to give him. The old have different stories from the young. Perhaps a war story, one of self-sacrifice, patriotic glory, with decoration and pride at the end. But only if he has never served; for a story to work, it must be unreal. The brain will recognize a familiar situation and twist my scenario to suit what it knows. I would hate for one of my well-plotted stories to turn into an ugly flashback, a thing of blood and mud and the smell of mustard gas.

I will watch them go, imagining that I am seeing what they see, that my neurons have been as artfully rearranged as theirs. I almost envy them their new realities, which I know will be seamless and satisfying. I always cut very carefully.

Write a Review Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, RachelWeisserman
Continue Reading
Further Recommendations

Kelsey Miller: Page turner set in a gritty future. Loads of flavor and depth that makes the pages fly by until like me you are at the end of the book wanting more!The world is developed to the point it begs more stories set in this harsh reality. More adventures from Daryl and thr crew.

Arabella: The catchy blurb caught my attention. The story is creepy but I would not qualify it as a horror story. The characters are likeable and I’m impatiently waiting for new stories from Obsidian Fae.

Meri Amber: The plot is creative, fun and addictive! The writing is superb and the characters are really well put together. Definitely highly recommeded!

SandraHan1: This story is very descriptive, with vivid scenes from the very beginning, which made for a good scene setting. I love the symbolism in names, such as “Naysayers”, “Hadd”, etc . The story itself is revolutionary, intriguing, emotional and exciting. I was very pleased to see that there is a happy ...

Karl12: This is a very unusual sci-fi mystery. I enjoyed the suspense which was present throughout the story. I loved how I never knew what to expect from the characters. This made the story thrilling and made me suspicious of everything and everyone. You have a great style of writing – one which captiva...

PaulSenkel: If you like Arthur C. Clarke's Odyssey, especially The Final Odyssey, then you will probably also enjoy this book. I definitely did.It does, however, address a more adolescent public than the above-mentioned book.I enjoyed the story and finished it in a few days. The overall situation on earth an...

Christopher Chew: Been a while since reading was this fun. The plot was easy to follow and built at a gradual but good pace. The dynamics between each character were interesting and kept things fresh and exciting, very much so that you would forgive it for not going deeper into the back stories of each character. ...

Hawkebat: Playing both Kotor I & II and Swtor I found the story line interesting and it held me until chapter 35 Very good story and plot flow until then, very few technical errors. I felt that the main character was a bit under and over powered, as it fought for balance. The last few chapters felt too f...

Chevonne Prinsloo: I loved this book.. I didn't want to stop reading it! just my kind of book... I really love how the plot of the story carries along. I hope there are more books to follow after this one! I like the way she describes how Rogue is feeling and the way she shows the emotions going through Rogu. I als...

More Recommendations

re8622: The Last Exodus quickly grabbed my attention. Almost as soon as I started reading the story, I couldn't put it down. I found that the ideas the author put forth were very thought provoking given the turmoil we have seen gradually rise over the last several years. I felt that I could understand th...

lopezmariana97: I loved everything about this book. I read it in a weekend because it was so hard to put down. I real liked that it wasn't a typical demon story and that It didn't involve vampires. I pictured the cast for this book if it ever becomes a movie. 100% love

Melissa Davis: Interesting book and an enjoyable read. Had something different to it, that made me glad I picked it up.

internathunal: I was held captive by your sense of style. I would love to see more from you. I enjoyed this immensely.

Jasmine Chow: As I read this story, I was reminded some what of Terry Pratchett, especially some descriptions of politics and economics. The sci-fic setting is quite intriguing. Writing style is quite lovely and grew on me slowly. I was also slightly reminded of Mark Twain, especially his book A Connecticut Ya...