Trapped in Time

One night when I was about to close my clinic and go home, a man came stumbling through the door. He was evidently in distress and appeared unable to see properly. He was covered in mud from head to toe, as though he had fallen into some ditch and had to crawl his way out.

He rubbed his eyes with his hands and said in a feeble voice, “Help me, doctor! There is so much dirt in my eyes that I can’t see.”

“Pray be seated. Tell me what happened. You will be seeing again in no time!” I said, reassuring him.

“I fell into a trench in the woods and was buried by the falling debris,” said the man, in his distinctly wasted voice.

“That is terrible. Are you hurt anywhere?” I asked, aghast.

“No, doctor. If you would be kind to help me see again, I would be grateful.”

I examined his eyes. Indeed, they were full of muck and grime. Having ascertained there were no injuries, I decided to irrigate the eyes to remove the dirt.

As I proceeded, the amount of mud in the man’s eyes bewildered me. But I was ill-prepared for what happened next. When all the mud was flushed out, there were no eyes visible. The man’s orbits were utterly hollow.

Before I could recover from my shock, the man stood up and said, “Thank you, doctor, for helping me see again!” Then he stumbled out of the door, in the same manner as he had come in.

I was shaken to the depths of my being. I recovered my composure and rushed out. The streets were empty and not a single soul was in sight. Only my patient was visible in the distance, floundering his way through the moonlit darkness.

I followed him at a distance. Soon we were out of town and in the woods. A ghastly scene unfurled before me. As the man walked under the surreal moon of that night, his flesh was peeling off from his legs, leaving a trail of putrid dampness on the road. When the flesh from his legs was gone, he collapsed on the ground and dragged his body along the path.

With my heart pounding in fear and awe, we entered an old, abandoned cemetery hidden deep in the forest. The man crawled slowly but surely to a grave that appeared to have been disturbed. By now all the flesh from the man’s body had crumbled away, and when he dropped himself into the grave, he was a bag of bones.

Beside the grave,  under the glimmering moonlight, were written the following words on the headstone –

“Here lies he who triumphed mighty Death
But could not tame the ravages of Time.”

In the stillness, I heard stifled sobs coming from the grave. There were tears flowing down the man’s face, of which only the skull remained. Dejected and helpless, I staggered away from the place. And all was darkness and silence around me.

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Beryl Zephyr

An occasional writer but a regular thinker, Beryl sometimes fiddles in speculative fiction. He sees both humour and tragedy in everyday events and is extremely concerned with the fate of other creatures trapped in the monstrous march of 21st-century human civilization.

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