Tuesday Tales: Crippled Playthings

Published March 12, 2012 by administrator

Here’s to a new venture – Tuesday Tales.  Having been invited by a close, personal acquaintance, it’s only right that I join in.  This week’s topic is “Legs”, which lends itself perfectly to my current work in progress, Crippled Playthings.  It’s a horrid, little story about the driving need to walk and it features a Louisiana Steampunk setting.

You think I’m kidding? I never kid about things like this.  Read on.

And after you’re finished, click on the picture to go back to the Tuesday Tales blog and check out the other talented authors there.

***

You want to walk again?  I can make you walk.

The words echoed in Trina’s head long after the mysterious man behind the curtain left the room.  His very presence was like something out of a twisted version of The Wizard of Oz, but the more the offer reverberated, the more desperately she wanted to believe it was true.  Six weeks ago a drunk in a logging truck had t-boned her little Kia, leaving her with a severed spine and no quality of life.  The prognosis she received once she woke from the anesthesia had been grim at best.

“I’m sorry, Miss Tipton…but you will never walk again.”

“But I can still feel my legs,” she argued as she struggled against the straps crisscrossing her chest, “I can move them, see?”

“No, you only think you can feel them.  Phantom sensation is common, and will lessen over time.  Though your brain tells those nerves to move your muscles, the nerves no longer reach your legs.  Your spine was severed between your lower thoracic vertebrae – L2 and L3 to be exact.” To emphasize his statement the doctor turned to the side and pressed his knuckles into the small of his back.  Like that would fix her.  “The damage is complete.  I’m sorry, Miss Tipton.”

For the following five weeks and four days, Trina lay in bed, feeling sorry for herself.  Nurses hooked her legs up to machines that worked the muscles to attempt to stem the atrophy, but she scarcely noticed.  She refused her medicine, requiring her doctor to order it intravenously.  She refused food – after all, what was the point of eating and keeping her strength if her life was over?

Now this… the one thing she prayed for – for this nightmare to suddenly be over – had been offered.  I can make you walk.

It had to be too good to be true.

***

The ability is yours…you have but to accept my terms.

“But what are his terms?”  Henry Gaston turned his wheelchair toward the bathtub and looked at it with utmost disgust.  The sink, like the rest of his home, had been altered specifically to cater to him.  A childhood victim of polio, he hadn’t walked since he was three.  Until last night, though, the fifty-two years he’d spent in a wheelchair hadn’t bothered him in the slightest.  Walking was never part of his life, so was not something he ever learned to miss.  But to experience it for the first time?

The offer was almost too good to be true.

Pushing it to the back of his mind, Henry reached for the cog-laden chain over his head and pulled, listening to the smoothly-running clicks and jingles of the mechanism that would descend and ultimately lift him into his bath. The water would be icy but he wasn’t about to complain.  After all, a Louisiana July night didn’t cool down until long after the sun set, and even then it didn’t cool down much below abject misery.  If a cold bath was the only way to keep himself sane and wipe the crazy idea presented the previous night out of his head, then so be it.

***

Bertram Granville lowered the goggles over his eyes and turned the dial the brought his welding flame to a roil.  The rod and cog on his worktable turned red-hot as he applied heat, and in seconds the two items fused to one another.    To that cog he attached two long, flat rods, and to those he screwed a set of leather straps.  A slow smile spread across his face as he inspected the contraption, stretching and twisting it from one side to the other.  A crude creation if he said so himself, but it was a start.

Once someone accepted his offer, he would have plenty of time to perfect the design.  As he pushed the goggles up to his forehead and wiped his greasy hands on his dirty pants, Bertram wondered if he would ever find someone desperate enough to accept an experiment without question.  Yes, he could make them walk in theory… but perhaps his idea of walking and theirs might be two different things.

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4 comments on “Tuesday Tales: Crippled Playthings

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