's 2019 Horror Write-off:

The Tyranny of the Body

Submitted by DandelionSteph

"Oh God."

Before him lay the head and torso of a nude, unmoving woman.

Her body was dismembered, with chunks of it scattered about, its limbs completely detached.

"I gotta...I gotta...." He shook, hyperventilating in the dim quietude of the warehouse.

But there was no blood. No blood. hair. And no...other details.

No blood. >She’s alive. >No blood.> She’s alive.> Over and over those thoughts circled in his head.

He rushed to her side. “Are you okay?” he asked. She kept staring emptily, sightlessly, up at the ceiling, her face locked into some strange expression. He looked up. Nothing. Of course she’s not okay, he thought, shaking her head. >She’s in shock. She must be. She’s missing her limbs...>

He bent over the side of her body, around the bottom rib. Where one rib should have been was just a long, shiny red oval, dry and smooth. There was faint imprint of muscle tissue inside, as if painted below a layer of transparent plastic.

His brow furrowed.

What was this? Some doll, used for a horrible prank? He looked over the woman again. Her chest rose and fell, quietly, slowly, as if in a deep sleep. That proved it: a real person. But her eyes kept staring, staring sightlessly.

But...her clavicles. Pieces were missing, pieces evidently torn off neatly like chunks from pull-apart bread. And smooth, red, oval-shaped patches laid in the recesses of her chest, like in the leg joints.

>It’s’s missing...he thought. Parts! Parts, I saw parts...>

He looked around the room. It was more than dismembered limbs. How could he have just seen that? No, no...a foot there. A knee there. A...spine?...there. A clavicle.

>A clavicle.>

He hurriedly grabbed a clavicle and fitted it to the missing spot on her body. With a soft click underneath his hands, it it had never been separated.

A giddy smile broke across his mouth. >I can save her. I can save her.>

>Oh god.>

It all came flooding back, the numb tunnel-vision of shock fading. >Her parts, her parts are missing, what is happening? This is all wrong, this is all wrong...>

But her chest continued to rise and fall. Was it moving before? he thought. He then looked down at his own hands, flexing them. There was so much he could do with these hands, things he took for granted every day. But she...she couldn’t be left like this. With a shudder, he went to work.

He picked up a large chunk of an arm. It was hairless and shone, plastic-like, in the dim light of the warehouse. >Click.>

That was when he noticed: the woman’s torso and head was hairless. Completely hairless. And smooth: not a wrinkle or crease, nor any orifice but her mouth. Numbly, he continued.

The arm connected to the elbow, and the finger connected to the hand. But did this piece go here....or here? At this angle? It was such a small piece, but it was so important. What if she couldn’t use her arm? He took in a deep breath and gently pushed the pieces together together. >Click.> It fused, seamlessly, as if never separated. There was no trace of a mismatch: not the wrong freckles, or creases, or subtle contour of skin. But that was true of every part: there were so few clues for ambiguous pieces.

He would only have one try.

He looked between her ribs, in the hollow of her torso. Thankfully, he didn't see an imprint of her guts inside, nor organs. All that he could see were red strips, with faint, wavering details.

Soon he had her heart in his hand. It was quiet, and motionless, and devoid of warmth. The piece was plastic-like, bulging, and a little soft and squishy, as if filled with a firm a gel pen, maybe? He suspected it was not quite anatomically correct: there was something about the heart’s tubes, and how they were fused together. But what did he know? He wasn't a doctor. Oh, how he wasn't a doctor...

Where did it go? The right side, or the left side? Carefully, he tried listening to his own heartbeat, a hand over his heart, in the dim quiet of the warehouse.

>I...just hope this is right.>

The heart fused, but did not start beating. He carefully placed the masses of red blocks beside her heart, rotating them around. Below those red blocks he put one meat-colored chunk. It fit into place with a click, as if he was re-assembling a small machine. Was it a liver? A kidney? He couldn’t tell. All he could tell was that the blocks made space for it.

>I don't even know if this is right! There's no wrinkles, no bones, no nerves. Nothing to align with, but it's all so permanent.>

He looked at the woman again. Her eyes were still empty, and she still stared up at the ceiling, her mouth slightly open. Her expression was frozen into one of...rapture.

>No. No, that’s can’t be right...fear? Fear? What was it earlier?>

"Are you alright?" he said.

No response.

He clicked a chunk of leg onto another chunk, a knee.

He noticed, just then, the clothes scattered about the room.


The woman's expression was still neutral, as uncommitted as if asleep. But as he re-assembled her, her eyes changed. They were longer empty, but dazed, absent. Soon, it was wistful: she stared far into the distance as he worked.

A sigh broke the silence. He nearly jumped out of his skin, his heart beating fast as he glanced around the room.

The woman’s lips parted. "When...since when..." she muttered breathily.

He tried to hurry the process. >She's alive. She's alive. I can save her.>

With every piece now, it seemed as if the woman grew more lucid, occasionally staring in roughly his direction as he worked. She was >conscious>, and now things were somehow so much weirder. But the man worked through his blushing and grimacing, gritting his teeth as he collected the pieces.

Finally, the last piece clicked into place. He knelt beside her. The woman, newly recovered, slowly, stiffly stretched.

"What happened?" he asked.

"I was liberated," the woman said breathlessly. He blinked and looked at her aghast, his mouth drooping. The woman gave an awkward little smile, and shook her head from side to side.

"I'll make it clearer. I was freed."

Still aghast.

"Freed, from the tyranny of the body. The tyranny...of the union of the pieces."

She chuckled at him, like an adult talking down to a sweet, naive child. "Oh, you've never experienced it before, have you?" Her eyes took on a dreamy look. "Never have I, until recently....oh, that man! What a man! He pushed me to a wall, and...freed me. Piece by piece, along seams I didn't even know existed! He freed me >just right>."

"...tell me...about" He said shakily. His heart was beating fast again.

"Oh, he just came in here, like a knight in shining armor, saving me from something I didn't even know was trapping me! What a nice fellow...he arrived so fast, too." The woman's face broke into a wistful, faraway smile. "I hope he comes back. Maybe...if I stay here...he'll come back. And free me again."

The woman sat down, muttering, "Yes. Yes. I'll stay." Finally she looked up, as if suddenly remembering he existed. "You know...he could liberate you, too!"

He ran.

And never returned.