Is insanity contagious? In school, I learned of many diseases that can affect the mind but I never understood the horror someone must face when their very thoughts could be affected by something so out of their control. My name is Jacob Mason and before it all started I was an ER nurse just outside Boston. I was used to hectic days, the sight of blood and even death but nothing could compare to what I’ve seen since that one dire night. It was what passes for a normal weekday in the ER, chaotic. A line of people needed to be seen. All the staff did their best to see to everyone while sorting them between the time of arrival and seriousness of the injury. My eyes had long gotten used to the fluorescent lights and smell of sanitizer that filled every inch of the hospital. The waiting room was filled with the sounds of low muttering, and coughs contrasted by the loud yelling and rushing of staff that filled the rooms behind.
A homeless man was rushed in on an ambulance. He was young, unwashed, unshaven and covered in self-inflicted knife wounds. The blade had been recovered by the police and he was already bleeding profusely before he reached the hospital. Still, the doctors worked all their magic to try and save his life. I was called over to assist. Holding the struggling man still as the doctors tried to stop the bleeding in each wound. Another nurse rushing towards us with donated blood. I looked into my patient’s eyes, he looked terrified. It was then that he started to violently cough blood, it splattered into the air and into my right eye. Another nurse wordlessly took my place as I rushed to an eyewash station to clean out the biohazard. I was at risk for a number of blood transferable diseases, but that was always a risk and the hospital was prepared for it.
I was not there when the man they brought in died. A John Doe, we could find no trace of his identity. That was all the information I was privileged to hear. The rest was up to the police. I was used to the coming and going of many of patients, but he was someone I now truly wish I know more about. I took an HIV test and had blood work done to check for other diseases. The news seemed positive I seemed to have had little worry that I had any infections. However, within twenty-four hours I was experiencing symptoms to something I am still unable to fully explain.
I awoke ready to face another long day when I noticed it. A blot of something in my right eye. Like a single drop of black Ink in the corner of my eye. It moved when I tried to focus on it and when I looked I could not see it in the mirror. Trying to wash it out failed to yield results. Before my shift started I had a doctor who was a friend take a look at it but he failed to see anything wrong. Soon I was wrapped up in another busy day and failed to follow up on it. It did not obstruct my vision so I let the issue wait. It wasn’t until that night that I started to worry something was truly wrong. It was after another busy day I waited in my bed for sleep to take me. My eyes were closed, half asleep I could feel it. Like worms crawling across my eye stretching. Contracting and elongating to reach further and further across. I awoke in a panic, fumbling around to turn on a light. It was then I could see it. Reaching out of the black little dot in the corner of my eye, tentacle-like growths now obstructed my sight. They streaked across my pupil making my view look like peeking through a fence.
This time, I did not hesitate. I rushed back to the same ER I worked at. This time, a patient myself I was granted no special favors. Sitting in an uncomfortable chair under fluorescent lights with the familiar mumbling and coughing around me I waited. My discomfort soon turned to sharp pain. My eye felt like it was attacked by a red hot needle. All I could do was cry out in pain as I covered it with my hand. It was then I saw something in my eye. Something moving in the hazy darkness. It looked like faces in pain shifting in a mass of flesh. Each face trying to escape before being swallowed by the flesh and replaced with another.
By the time the visions had stopped I was being rushed into the back to be looked at. My eye forced open and carefully examined by a doctor. The pain was gone, replaced with the tedium of awkward questions and paperwork. I was in shock, unsure what to even tell the doctors. They looked at my eye, took more blood but only ended up shaking their heads. I saw the familiar eyes of pity and annoyance, the kind reserved to the hypochondriacs and the mentally ill. I know what they were thinking. Hours passed as I waited for a specialist and an ultrasound, meanwhile, I started to grow hopeless and anxious. I did not like being so out of control, to be the patient. After hours of waiting, a doctor sat me down and looked me in the eyes. He told me my initial tests looked good and that some other tests may take some time to process, that I should go home and rest. Before I could leave he handed me a piece of paper with the name of a psychiatrist that could help me.
I left the hospital feeling hopeless and drained. I called out of work and decided to rest as the doctor ordered. After drifting to sleep I dreamed. I dreamed of masses of flesh as dark as oil. They looked almost human but wrong. Misshapen as if they were made of melting wax. The almost humans all looked at me as if just noticing my presence. The crept slowly towards me. I awoke in pain, sharp pain. My eye felt like fire and nothing I did could ease it. Painkillers were useless. The pain would occasionally subside just long enough for me to start to fall asleep once more then start again just as I was about to pass out. I did not sleep at all that night.
I did not sleep the next night as well. Or the one after. My days turned into a blur of pain and sights that become harder to explain. As the blackness spread across my right eye it looked as if a painting was ripped in half to reveal another painting underneath. The two paintings contrasting against each other but at the same time creating a whole. I was losing my mind. I stopped even attempting to go to work. My tests came back negative. The doctors seemed more certain that this was a mental problem. Mental or not the pain was real to me.
Hopeless and wrapped in despair I did something reckless, auto-enucleation. Before I started I called an ambulance. I know the dangers involved and would need aid as soon as possible. Taking a scalpel I carefully cut into the orbit of the eye. I started like a surgeon careful and precise before pain and adrenaline turned my efforts violent. Cutting muscle and flesh without regard to which. Before I know it, what was left of my eye was a thick soup dripping out of its socket while leftover muscle tried in vain to hold the mess in. I passed out before the paramedics made it to my home.
I awoke in a dark hospital late in the night, drifting in and out of consciousness. My hands bound to rails so I could no longer harm myself. I had succeeded, my right eye was black. I could live with one eye, the pain was gone replaced by working pain killing drugs. For the first time, I could sleep. I had won. However, I could feel something move…it pushed against the bandages that covered my eye. Finding an opening. Something warm and slimy pushed out of the bandage like a popped pimple. It slid down my cheek. I tried to grab it but my hands were still chained. It wormed its way down my shoulder then my arm and dropped onto the floor with a splat. I could not see it in the dark as it vanished. My ordeal was over, my pain was gone as was my visions but I fear I let something out.