The Treatment

In Fiction on April 22, 2013 at 11:17 pm

siemens konvulsator electroshock therapy machine (image from wikipedia)

The Treatment

I ducked and followed Meher into the narrow hall. Wide bands of rusty light shone beneath the corrugated steel roof; dust motes danced upon the strands. The air was damp and the walls were black with mold.

“Is it safe for the inmates?” I asked.

Meher smiled, barely turning.

“By your reputation, I am thinking you don’t much care what is safe, yes?” He laughed. “But don’t worry, doctor; these men cannot be harmed.”

These men… they were everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Their silence, their stillness—approaching catatonia—unsettled me in a way that my work rarely does. They lined the walls and huddled on stairs, clutching their bony frames, watching us pass with milk-white eyes.

I pulled at the strap of my satchel. I was sweating excessively, and the heavy gear was chafing.

“What do you bring with you, doctor?” Meher asked, noting my struggle, not troubling to mask his lack of interest.

“Equipment,” I replied, simply enough. “Medicines to increase the effectiveness of the treatments. Atropine, methohexital…”

I trailed off as Meher began to laugh.

“Treatments!” he said, and he wagged his finger at me. “Trifles. These men are not ill—they are intoxicated with love for God. No ‘treatment’ can shake them from their ecstasy.”

We were approaching the end of the hall, and an imposing steel door studded with massive rivets. Meher unbarred it and gave it a mighty push.

“This, I think,” he said, “is what you have come to see.”

I stared. At first it was difficult to see anything at all, but slowly a pair of glimmering grey eyes distinguished themselves from the black.  Set in a soft, pale face, they did not blink and they did not move—but I could feel that they saw me.

“He came to us long ago,” Meher said quietly. “Long, I think, before you were ever called ‘doctor.’”

When I finally spoke, my voice quavered.

“Brother,” I said. “Brother—I have come to take you home.”


Something slightly different for this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge (at least I think it’s different!) The word this week was ecstasy.

Leave your comments and other goodies below, then be sure to check out the rest of the stories!

The series: The Treatment // A Prison of the Mind // Echoes

  1. A scene full of building tension and mystery, not judged by the narrator. Very intriguing.

  2. everywhere and nowhere at the same time – powerful line

  3. Ah dude you can’t leave a cliffhanger like that!!!!

    The description of the inmates’ states was spot-on.

  4. I read this with enthusiasm! A unique idea, well executed! A pleasure to read. :D

  5. Excellent descriptors throughout. It really brought me into the story.

    • Thanks – and thank you, by the way, for the little glimpse into ECT and how it’s used around the world. I’d done a bit of research, but you guys just gave me an extra dimension to think about

  6. This was great. Something different without predictable prose – it’s rare to find and you do it well.

  7. You’ve described this eerie scene well. It was kind of mean that you ended where you did, though…there’s so much more story to tell :)

    • I’ll get right on it I promise! I actually thought up a lot of backstory for this already, so it will definitely make its way into another story soon. Thanks for reading!

  8. Terrific opening paragraph – the walls were black with mold. Quite an atmosphere you’ve painted. And great ending – what does he mean by that? Maybe you’ll continue it with another prompt? I hope so.

  9. I don’t know why exactly, but I’ve always enjoyed the imagery of dancing dust motes. This was definitely different, but excellent. I admit that I was kind of expecting a lunatic or criminally insane asylum, so when their God ecstasy was given as cause for catatonia I had to go back to the beginning and start from that perspective. Huge fan of your writing.

    • Yeah, sorry about that! There’s actually a concept of someone called a Mast – which is someone who is sort of insensible to the world around him because he’s caught up in his love for God, and that’s what I was aiming at. But there’s definitely a lot more to be written to this one. Thanks for being a fan – I love having actual readers!

      • no, no apologies necessary – it’s like watching a movie that has a twist at the end that you didn’t see coming, then when you re-watch it (which I always have to do, ha) you see all the clues that they sprinkled out there that you missed

  10. Lovely and disturbing all the way through – some chilling touches.

  11. A brilliant tale and a great twist at the end. I love it

  12. I loved the wide bands of rusty light! That set the tone of this whole exceptional piece!

  13. Okay, Brian, now that you have started it… what are you going to do with it? You hooked me with the first line.

  14. Mildly threatening throughout, this piece built up towards ickiness. It was nice to feel relief at the end, rather than horror! And you totally nailed the intro.

  15. Great stuff! Very moody and the ending… So full of ambiguity… I love it!

  16. Congrats on 1st place this week. I’m a big fan. Well-deserved win.

  17. Congratulations! I did find this riveting but it left me speechless. So am here to confirm what I felt…a job really well done.

  18. Eep, beginning to end. Seriously beautiful. You immediately set a tone and a place and now I really, REALLY want to read more! Thank you for this!

  19. [...] Trifecta Writing Challenge prompt, Door, worked pretty well with the storyline I started last week, so I decided to keep it going with this. I hope you all enjoy this [...]

  20. [...] word was: Blood. It’s a continuation of my story from the last few weeks, so head back to the beginning to catch up and let me know what you [...]

  21. […] The Treatment // A Prison of the Mind // Echoes // Out for Blood […]

  22. […] continuation of my series, The Treatment, is my response to this week’s Trifecta Challenge: Light. The entries are already pouring in […]

  23. […] The Treatment // A Prison of the Mind // Echoes // Out for Blood // Lonely Travelers // From the Cradle […]

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