's 2016 Horror Write-off:

The Surgeon

Submitted by Gareth Barsby

One evening, I walked into a hospital. A hospital where my apartment should have been.

It was Friday, and all throughout the day, I thought about the lazy weekend I would have after work was done. I went through the job on autopilot, entertaining myself with visions of lying in bed watching the football. So, after I got off work, I went out for some fish and chips –always how I remind myself the week is complete – then went back home, or what I thought was home.

The building itself looked as it always did; big, grey tower overlooking a small grassy patch. The interiors mostly remained the same, looking fairly clean but still with the stench of mildew wafting through the halls. When I unlocked the door to my apartment, though I could smell my unwashed socks and the contents of my bin as soon as I put the key in, I was greeted by a hospital room. My walls were usually a pale blue, but now they had lost almost all colour. The mental smell of socks and rubbish faded immediately as I saw the shining floor that had replaced my carpet, and the hospital bed that had replaced my unmade one. There was a new smell in the air too, not unlike that from a swimming pool.

I walked into the hospital. At least I think I did, I don't actually remember doing it. I remember opening my door to see the hospital, then actually being in the hospital with the door closed. Somehow, I knew the door had locked itself, so there was no need to try to open it. Even if I had, I probably would have been greeted with a hospital hallway.

Though the look of my room had been changed, the layout was still generally the same. The hospital bed was where my rarely-made one used to be, there was a shelf where there was a shelf in my room, and the table where the TV rested on was still there, even if the TV wasn't. The window was where it should be as well, yet I saw no sky outside, just a void the same colour as the walls.

I took a look at the bookshelves. Still the same old books, ones that I had yet to read. My toilet was there, only with the walls and floor changed appropriately.

My kitchen, however, was gone. In its place was a miniature operating theatre. The walls there were tiled, my oven was replaced by a table and my stove was replaced by two overhead lights, and the more I looked at it, the more the area seemed to grow.

All of a sudden, I was on the operating table. I didn't walk to it, I didn't voluntarily lie down on it, I just simply appeared on top of it, unable to move a muscle.

Over me lunged a single surgeon, a young woman dressed in blue scrubs and face mask. Though her mouth was covered, I could still tell she was scowling at me. She pulled out a scalpel – a gigantic one straight from a cartoon. I would have struggled for my life were I not paralyzed.

All of a sudden, I woke up in my own bed. The kitchen was no longer an operating theatre, the smell of socks and garbage had returned, and the entire city was outside.

Yet I knew it wasn't a dream.

Last week, not that far from my apartment, a young surgeon was involved in a fatal car accident. I saw the aftermath of the accident outside my window, before the ambulance arrived, but then I just looked away. I hadn't really thought about it that much until now, and I could think of nothing else. As I got out of bed, the only images in my mind were that of the accident. The cars, the ambulance, the poor surgeon whose life was cut short, the surgeon who operated on me.

When I went into the hall, I found myself staring at a certain door. The last resident in that apartment was a man who verbally and physically abused his wife. She managed to get away, and he moved to another apartment soon afterwards. I had heard them argue, but chose to ignore it, never giving it that much thought. Now in my mind's eye, I saw him yell at her, her cowering against the wall, pieces of plates and glass on the floor.

Every place I went to told its own terrible story. Stories I heard about but instantly forgot about, stories that I just didn't care about.

The operation was a complete success.