When Thomas Livingstone went to bed Tuesday night in his second story studio apartment it was warm. Eighty-five degrees warm. The temperature warranted propping his bedroom window open with a square fan, one with three power settings, “3” being the most powerful and “1” being the least powerful. It felt like a number “2” kind of night but there was a chill in the air so Thomas opted for the “1” setting.
Thomas snuggled himself into his bed sheets like one tries to fit their entire body into a sleeping bag that’s six inches too short. He pulled the bed sheet up to his chest and pulled the comforter up to his waist. As Thomas settled his head into his plush pillow he thought he heard the cool air crawl across the sky. He lifted his head, looked right and raised an inquisitive eyebrow towards the window and fan. Curious, Thomas untucked himself from his bed, sat up and took two steps to the window. Pulling back the curtain he took a deep breath, tasting and feeling the air. The air, while cooling off, felt normal and tasted of a possible rain but nothing out of the ordinary. It was still warm enough to warrant a number “1” setting on the fan in his bedroom window.
Satisfied with his weather forecast Thomas tucked himself back into his bed and quickly fell into a deep sleep. With his head cradled in his plush pillow and his body half covered in bed sheets and comforter, the fan in the window cooled off the warm second story apartment bedroom. As the night progressed and Thomas fell deeper into his sleep, the temperature in his bedroom changed from warm, to cool and finally to a cold chill.
The chill in the air was similar to sticking your head inside Grandma’s old freezer in the garage. The air even smelled like Grandma’s old freezer; homemade cookies, an old family recipe for turkey stuffed stuffing, (handed down several generations) and the smell of cold metal chopping icicle filled air. Grandma’s freezer even produced a weird chalk filled air every time you opened it. The night outside Thomas Livingstone’s second story apartment window smelled, looked, felt and probably tasted like the inside of Grandma’s old freezer in the garage.
As the world was crawling into waking, Thomas woke before his alarms could rouse him out of his deep sleep. He felt tired but rested. With his eyes still closed he yawned and stretched the bed sheets off of his body. He opened his left eye but his right eye was encrusted with sleep, it looked like an old cobweb. He gently brushed the sleep aside with the pointer finger and thumb of his right hand. As the sleep left his fingers it flew through air and seemed to expand and contract before it landed behind some old books. Thomas didn’t notice as he was too busy clicking the back of his throat. Something felt off. He clicked the back of his throat again and shook his head in disbelief, he couldn’t be getting sick.
It started like any typical cold, with a light itch at the back of the throat.
THE FOLLOWING TUESDAY
“Medical Offices of Doctor Nhids, good morning this is Amanda how may I help you?” said the receptionist.
With a deep achy scratch in his voice Thomas forced out, “Good morning, this is Thomas Livingstone and I’d like to schedule an appointment to see Dr. Nhids. I’ve had this, this whatever it is for over a week and I need some antibiotics.”
“Yes, you do sound horrible. Could you please explain to me your symptoms ?” said Amanda the receptionist with a sense of false care.
Annoyed Thomas replied, “Sure…well I have a sore throat. There appears to be an off-white film on my tonsils and cream-colored lines on my throat. I don’t feel congested and I’m not experiencing any sinus pressure. When I breathe in through my nose it feels like someone took an ice cream scoop that was frozen in Antarctica and scooped out my ear drums, like being stabbed with an icicle.”
“Perfect! That’s great. Well the symptoms you’re describing don’t require a visit with the Doctor in person. What I can do is have Dr. Nhids call you in an hour or so to discuss your symptoms and he may prescribe some meds.” said Amanda the receptionist.
“Sure.” croaked Thomas and immediately hung up the phone.
TUESDAY PLUS A FEW HOURS
Thomas Livingstone sat at his desk, in his office, sitting in a puddle of his own sweat watching the clock tick another second onto his cold or whatever it was. Another second of not feeling better. Another second of waiting for the Doctor that was supposed to call two hours ago. Another second without a prescription. As time continues to pass Thomas begrudgingly begins to respond to one of his two-hundred and fifty work emails. Mid sentence, mid thought his cell phone rings and he quickly places his work phone on “DND” and logs out of the phone system.
Picking up his cell phone Thomas growls, “Hello, this is Thomas.”
There’s a medium length pause before the light smacking of lips can be heard. Thomas thinks he smells the faint aromas of Indian cuisine; Chutney, Nan, Puri, Biryani and Tandoori Chicken. The light smacking can be heard again and an accent trying to muffle out a greeting. In case you were wondering, you are a racist for thinking Doctor Nhids is the typical third-world Country educated Indian Doctor. Doctor Nhids relocated from Nebraska and his family history can be traced back to the United Kingdom. Doctor Nhids is a man who enjoys his curry and a clean colon.
“Hello Thomas. This is Doctor Nids. So I see here that you are experiencing some typical symptoms of a cold. What I’m going to do for you is prescribe a ramped up Anti-histamine. This will dry you out and get rid of that mucus.” said Dr. Nhids as he wiped some sauce off his lip.
“And that will clear this up?” choked Thomas.
“Sure, sure. 200mg of Itsnotgonamine (ITS-SNOT-GONE-A-MEAN) three times a day will clear you right up, dry you out and make you feel drowsy. Take this for ten days and you’ll be brand new. You can pick up the prescription at any Pharmacy you choose. Any questions?” said Dr. Nhids in a hurry.
Before Thomas could croak out a question Dr. Nhids muffled, “I’ve gotta fly.”
HALF PAST THE SECOND TUESDAY
It’s another warm night in the second story studio apartment of Thomas Livingston. Eighty-five degrees warm but the fan isn’t propping the window open. The window is barely cracked open and Thomas is engulfed in bed sheets, comforter and is swimming in his fever while he sleeps. The red numbers click over to read 4:00 A.M. on the nightstand clock. Thomas coughs himself awake. His eyes are sealed shut, the mucus from his tear ducts solid like cement. Too tired to care Thomas scratches away the crust on his left eye, losing three eyelashes.
Stumbling across his bedroom floor Thomas clicks the back of his throat. Click! Day seventeen and the itch is still there, only it’s worse. Click! It feels like the kernel skin from a popped corn kernel lodged into one of the rear pits of tonsil. Click! Each breath it digs in further, digs in deeper. Click! Each swallow of liquid sandpaper the kernel cuts deeper. Click! Every inaudible moan and groan the kernel disappears. Click!
Standing in front of his bathroom sink Thomas fumbles for his cup of water and takes a sip. The water scratches. Click!
Thomas growls, “Fuck you Doctor Nhids! Your drug doesn’t work. Fuck you, you quack! You’re no Doctor Eric!’
The night listens in silence. Click! Thomas can’t tell if it’s the light playing tricks or if it’s the sleep hanging from his left eye but it looks like the mucus crust in his right eye is sewing the lid shut. Click! He turns on the faucet and washes the crust away. Click! Thomas takes another sip before he lays down and covers himself in his sweat drenched sheets. Click! Click! Click! Thomas is back asleep before his fourth click.
The bed sheets and comforter that encase Thomas Livingstone like a cocoon are cool, crunchy and damp from sweat. Thomas stirs letting out a moan. Click! His eyes sewn shut with the cobwebs of sleep. Click! Instead of scrapping away the sleep he forces his eyes open and the few remaining eyelashes he had are pulled free. Skittering away, they fall across his right cheek. Click! Kicking off the bed sheets Thomas gets out of bed, stands and stretches. Click! He feels better, he feels different.
Thomas makes his way of to his bathroom sink and washes the sleep from his eyes. He takes a sip of water directly from the sink. Click! He takes one more sip before turning on the hot water. He keeps his left hand under the running water until it’s warm enough, but not too hot, to gargle. Lowering his head and placing his mouth under the bathroom sink faucet he takes a big gulp of lukewarm water. Thomas stands up, tilts his head back and gargles away the pain. Click! And then he spits. But he breathed in at the wrong time, some water was slowed and he starts to cough. A few light coughs at first, most of the water is out, he’ll be okay. But the last cough forces something out. This is it, this is what Thomas Livingstone has been waiting for and it’s tastes horrible, like swamp water smells. He spits it out into the sink. It looks like a slime covered cotton ball. The cotton ball slowly crawls its way into the drain before Thomas could examine it closer.
Thomas takes another sip of water and then swished some mouthwash around in his mouth. He feels better. Whatever that was seemed to have removed that lodged kernel feeling inside his throat. Click! Click! Click! The itch is still there. Thomas grabs his cell phone and turns on the flashlight feature. He gets right up close and personal to his reflection, steam from his nostrils is fogging up the mirror. The some hundred odd blackheads and clogged pours smile and spruce themselves up. Thomas opens his mouth and faces the flashlight past his pearly whites.
Everything looks normal. No more mucus covered tonsils. No streaks on the rear of his throat. Click! There is it again, that itch. Thomas swallows. Click! As Thomas looks closer he feels that itch, that throat tickle like bug walking across your arm hairs. And that’s when he sees it, not one, not two but four thin twig like legs crawl out from behind his left tonsil. Thomas can’t breathe, he’s stopped. He won’t allow himself to move a muscle. Now he sees eight shiny eyes looking back at him. Now the other four legs make their way out from behind the tonsil. A click comes from the back of Thomsas’s throat. It wasn’t him. It was the spider on his left tonsil, three of its four left legs are reaching for Thomas’s uvula. They can’t reach. The spider positions and aims its bublous rear towards the uvula and shoots a web and attaches itself to Thomas’s uvula. The spider let’s go of the tonsil and hangs from the uvula.
Thomas’s mouth is open. Sweat is beading off of his forehead. He can’t breathe. He won’t allow himself to move a muscle. The spider clicks and Thomas swallows.