• Hard to Swallow

    by  • September 1, 2014 • Fiction • 0 Comments

    An essay by Arthur L. Berkowitz, as provided by Nick Nafpliotis
    Art by Luke Spooner


    When most people hold a pill in their hand, it represents some manner of impending relief. Whether it’s prescription strength meds or a good old fashion over-the-counter pain reliever, swallowing that little pellet is supposed to do something that will make you generally feel better. Hell, even the bad stuff that you’re not supposed to take is all for the sake of acquiring some badly desired short term benefits for your brain and body.

    But for me, this pill represents something that will wreak all types of havoc on my heart whether I take it or not. This is the old “red pill/blue pill” scenario, only both options are attached to varying degrees of nobility and suffering.

    If I take this pill, like I did diligently a couple months ago, then I finally get to be a normal, functioning member of society. Sure, I might be the guy who causes folks on the subway to look over their shoulder more than once. But I can live with that if it also means I get to wake up in the morning, go to work, come home, and go to bed like everyone else. If that type of life comes with friends and the potential to actually talk with people other than my shrink, I’ll gladly take that, as well.

    The real benefit to it all, however, would be the added storage space. As it stands right now, the cutting equipment alone is taking up the entire basement. Once you add in the bones and hanging frames for each one, I can barely move down there. Sixteen bodies doesn’t sound like a lot at first, but people come in all different shapes and sizes. There’s no standard way to set and arrange them all in the proper positions without utilizing a large amount of square footage, most of which is taken up with the arms and legs jutting out from the torso in whatever stance The Rattler tells me to put them.

    I learned long ago not to argue when The Rattler tells me to do something. It’s best just to make the offering, clean off the flesh, bleach the bones, and put everything just the way He wants it. Otherwise, the screaming between my ears gets so loud that it feels like my eyes are going to pop. Procuring and preparing the offerings is fairly gruesome business, but I know that it needs to be done.

    I also know, however, that I’ve been pretty damn lucky so far. This isn’t like the serial killer shows on TV where some suave psycho keeps up a normal life while hacking away at fleshy versions of his own personal demons. I know that if I keep this up for much longer, I’m going to get caught … which honestly didn’t matter that much until I met Liz.

    Hard to Swallow

    I’ve weighed the decision, so has The Rattler, and so have you. What will I do?


    To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Summer 2014 collection.


    Arthur L. Berkowitz is a mail sorter with the United States Postal service. His favorite subject in school was biology, particularly as it pertained to the study of reptiles and their habitats. His favorite past times include marathon viewing session of the National Geographic Channel, wood working, and appeasing The Rattler any way that he can.


    Nick Nafpliotis is a music teacher and writer from Charleston, South Carolina. During the day, he instructs students from the ages of 11-14 on how to play band instruments. At night, he writes about weird crime, bizarre history, pop culture, and humorous classroom experiences on his blog, RamblingBeachCat.com. He is also a television, novel, and comic book reviewer for AdventuresinPoorTaste.com.


    Luke Spooner a.k.a. ‘Carrion House’ currently lives and works in the South of England. Having recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a first class degree he is now a full time illustrator for just about any project that piques his interest. Despite regular forays into children’s books and fairy tales his true love lies in anything macabre, melancholy or dark in nature and essence. He believes that the job of putting someone else’s words into a visual form, to accompany and support their text, is a massive responsibility as well as being something he truly treasures. You can visit his web site at www.carrionhouse.com.

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