The Widowmaker

The pain was slightly sharper than heartburn, lasted less than half a minute, and he felt perfectly fine after it subsided. He was of an age where unexplained body pains suddenly appeared and disappeared as a common occurrence, so he gave the chest twinge no further thought. But there was a saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know” and what he didn’t know was that he just had a heart attack.

It would be another two months until the pain returned, intensified to the point that it dropped him to his knees and led him to be taken to the emergency room. The cardiologist found two plaque build-ups that blocked ninety-nine percent of his left anterior descending artery, which was responsible for a heart attack known as the widowmaker.

In the intensive care unit, as he was recovering from surgery, mind swimming in a morass of anesthesia, a sound caught his attention. It was a heavy sobbing that seemed to be emanating from somewhere within the room. When he attempted to look in the direction of the whimpering, an unseen force turned his head away. Out the corner of his eye, he could have sworn he saw the night nurse’s shadow jitter and twitch in a jerky fashion.

At first, he thought it was an anesthesia hallucination, but came to believe that something unnatural was at play and his suspicion was confirmed when the nurse left the room…but the shadow remained behind.

The shadow struggled to break free from the confinement of the nurse’s silhouette and once achieved, it slid down the wall like obsidian mercury. It crossed the floor in a spidery fashion, tendrils of ebony arcing up and out, digging into vinyl flooring and pulling itself toward his hospital bed. The darkness that seemed somehow sentient pooled on top of him and he could feel its weight—weight that a shadow should not possess—putting additional pressure on his already weakened chest.

The black mass rose, building upon itself and transmogrifying into the solid form of a woman in tattered scrubs. Beneath its widow’s veil was a sorrowful face that wept tears of misery so black as to absorb the surrounding light. He wanted to turn his head, to stare directly at the creature, as his mother taught him to do when he was that young boy afraid of the monsters that lurked under his bed and in the closet.

“Look them directly in the eye, see them for what they really are, and make them disappear,” she said. But this beast was far more cunning than the night terror monstrosities of his youth, for it would not allow him to view it head-on, only from the corner of his vision.

“No fear, no fear,” the shape said in a voice as raspy as tires on a gravel driveway.

The weeping creature straddled him and splayed its fingers, the tips of which were flat like electrode pads and one by one placed them all over his chest. He could feel those fingers sinking through his hospital gown and grafting themselves to his trembling flesh.

“Feed, feed,” the deep timbre of its voice anchored his body in paralysis and he finally realized the creature’s purpose. Similar to the vampires of myth and legend, whatever this thing was, it gained its sustenance from the heartbeats of the living, as opposed to blood. This was the true Widowmaker.

He tried with all his might to struggle, to break the connection and throw this abomination off him, but he was too weak to prevent it from siphoning the precious beats that gave him life, an act that would continue for as long as his strained heart held out, an act that rendered him helpless and was inducing a deep and dreamless sleep.

His final thoughts, as he slipped into unconsciousness were how many heartbeats had the Widowmaker taken? How many hours, days, years, had been stolen? And would this mourning and hungry beast leave any behind for him to continue his existence?

15 responses to “The Widowmaker

  1. Rhyan, I’m so glad that you’re okay. And that you’ve dived back into writing. This is such a beautiful piece. It’s really a helpless feeling to have a health issue that lands you in the hospital. Especially one that could have been fatal. Just writing this makes me shudder. Health is truly the greatest wealth, and it’s appreciated more when it slips from our grips, leaving us vulnerable and forlorn. The Widowmaker can be assumed to be real or a figment of imagination.
    Feed, feed… This was terrifying.
    She is a person’s greatest fear. The way you’ve expressed her presence and greed for a person’s heartbeats makes her a gruesome nightmare. It must have been so unsettling to have endured this. And the line between imaginary and real often is a blur, especially in a writer’s mind. You are very brave to share this. I hope you never go through such pain again. May the Widowmaker be forever banished.
    Lots of best wishes. And may you and your writing always flourish. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, as always, for your concern. It’s still early days and I’ve been ordered to take it easy for the first month or so, so I might not be back to writing full time as of yet. I’m just playing it by ear at the moment.

      Health is definitely something I’ve taken for granted and this was the first time I’ve ever been hospitalized. My mother, sister, wife and daughter all died in hospitals, so I’ve never had much love for the place, but the entire medical staff treated me well and I came out the other side alive, so I might just have to alter my opinion…a little.

      This was slightly based on an anesthesia dream and my heart rate must have spiked high enough that the night nurse came rushing into my room to monitor me. I’m not sure how many heartbeats the Widowmaker robbed me of but I’m determined to see that she doesn’t take any more.

      Again, thank you for your compliments and concern, they both mean a lot.

      Be well, my friend.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for sharing this, Rhyan. I’m saddened to read about the pain you have suffered. I wish you well always. And pray that your loved ones always remain in your heart. Sometimes that’s all a person can wish for.
        You’ve definitely come out of something traumatic. So, please rest. And take each moment as it comes.
        Nothing can keep you from your writing. That’s the spirit of a true writer.
        And the Widowmaker messed with the wrong guy. Guess she figured that out too late.
        Lots and lots of peace and good health coming your way. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, come now, who wants all the answers? Gotta leave something to your imagination in order to keep the mental juices flowing. But here’s a hint: none of us make it out alive and intact in the end. It’s all about how we can delay the inevitable, so…fingers crossed.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This was very creatively written and presented. At first, I thought that it was autobiographical, then it switched to a horror and I thought it was fictional, but now I suspect it’s a little of both. I really love how much you experiment with different styles and structures. This one was definitely a win for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a powerful story. This one spoke to me deeply. It reminds me of when my father suffered a heart attack followed by a stroke. It’s scary how resilient we are but also how fragile at the same time. Good job!

    Liked by 1 person

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