's 2017 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by Hisham Hasan

I know what we did seems terrible, a crime against humanity.

I know people will think us reckless, for endangering a child's life like that.

But we had no choice. Don't you understand? It was either that or death.

My poor child. We would never hurt him. We had no idea what would happen. I'm so sorry Alex.

The poor boy had several hereditary blood diseases. His bone marrow and liver would churn out defective blood cells, and the spleen would destroy them

Even after removing the spleen, he couldn't put enough cells into circulation.

And the constant blood transfusions took their toll. The transfusions helped, but then he developed signs of iron overload. It made sense, of course. The problem was never that he didn't have enough.

You see? The transfusions were both treating and poisoning him.

The constant anemia meant he suffered severe restrictions on both his mental and physical development.

And the bone marrow transplants kept failing as a result of graft-versus-host disease; the transplanted stem cells generated immune cells which attack his tissues.

Everything was so expensive. So very expensive. We were spiraling into debt.

We were desperate. Alex was getting worse.

So when the doctor showed up and told us he had a solution, at least a temporary one, we were willing to try anything.

He had a biomedical company which dealt in horseshoe crab blood. They used the blood in medical application, to detect bacteria.

He explained that he had a highly experimental idea; hematopoietic stem cells derived from horsehoe crabs. He explained that horseshoe crabs didn't have lymphocytes, but amebocytes, which behaved differently. There would be no danger of a graft-versus-host reaction.

Besides, he had other treatments in mind that would alleviate any immune reactions. He warned us, though: his blood would turn blue.

We went along with it. We were tired, exhausted.

I admit we didn't really understand the lengthy explanations they gave us. There was like 300 pages describing what they would do to him.

But we signed the papers anyway. What else could we do?

We had nothing to lose, or so we thought.

So the treatment began.

Our boy improved a bit. He became more aware, more active. No longer pale, but with a purplish hue that turned more and more blue with every passing day. Still, we were hopeful.

As time went on, his skin grew strangely dry and thick. The doctor reassured us; just increased skin cell activity, that's all. A side effect of all the cell boosters they gave.

Then one day they wouldn't let us into his room, wouldn't even let us see him.

They had quarantined him, they said. He had a severe infection; in his immunodeficient state they couldn't afford to expose him to us.

They kept him in a sterile room. We begged to see him; we would wear hazmat suits if we must, anything to see our boy.

But the doctor was adamant. The situation critical, the equipment delicate. We would only be in the way.

He told us that when our son was stabilized, we would be allowed to see him. But not before then.

We waited. Weeks passed.

Medical staff kept going in and out. Their expressions bleak, mystified.


The nice doctor stopped smiling. Every day we would beg to to see our son, and every day he blew us off.

The doctor's face grew more haggard day by day. The staff would dart furtively in and out if the room, as if they couldn't bear to be in there for longer than necessary.

Finally, we confronted him. He shouted at us, threatened to have us thrown out. We were furious and humiliated.

Then alarms.

The doctor rushed to the room. We followed.

Nurses and technicians rushed to the room. We heard him bellow at us, to stay out, but we slipped away in the crush of bodies.

As we approached the room, we heard, above the alarms, an inhumane shriek. Like the sound of a dying pig. It was like a stab to my heart.

Staff crowded to door. Everyone was in a panic. We heard the doctor roar to let him through.

We managed to squeeze inside. People crowded around the bed. We tried to push our way to the front.

One nurse saw us and cried out, "Don't let them see!"

Can you imagine the chaos? Two berserk parents, fighting and struggling with medical staff in a confined room, trying to reach their dying boy?

All the while we could hear his keening cries.

We managed to lock our limbs, brace ourselves in such a way that they couldn't force us out by brute strength. We managed to see at least part of what was going on.

Something twisted and brown lying on the bed, shaking rocking back and forth.

A crackling sound as the shrieking intensified.

Milky blue blood started leaking as cracks appeared.

Blue just started gushing out, splattering on the floor.

The shrieking reached a crescendo.

Then the shape on the the bed gave a violent spasm.

Something emerged. Something glistening, warped and twisted. Some throbbing mass of flesh.

Something pale, creamy blue.

I'm glad I couldn't get a good look at it. At the time, I think I didn't realize what I was seeing. If I had, I think I might have gone mad there and then.

It flopped over, and a fresh flood of blue gushed forward as it collapsed. The shrieking died away.

Oh Alex, I hope you are at peace now. I hope you can forgive us.