An essay by Jay Callum, as provided by Paul Stansbury
Art by Leigh Legler
“Do you remember how to fly?” was how Froug started the conversation. His question caught me off guard. I had been working as a weekend orderly at Wrighthaven Hospital for barely two months. College was costly, and I needed the money. Besides, I figured working in a hospital setting, even if it was a psychiatric facility, would provide a beneficial experience for a pre-med student. Wrighthaven was an old facility with a grimy, limestone façade that gave it the appearance of a prison. The gray clouds of January made it look all the more foreboding. Froug was always in the solarium, sitting in his worn wheelchair facing a window that overlooked the vast grounds surrounding the hospital. The sour smell of lunch trays waiting to be retrieved from the hallway spilled into the room. That was the only place I had ever encountered him. Until that point, I had never heard him say anything; I had not even seen him move. He was always attired in ubiquitous institutional clothing, faded blue robe struggling to cover striped pajamas, his bare feet shoved into dingy, terrycloth slippers. He had turned his head in my direction, clear, bright eyes focused directly on me.
“Oh, I never learned,” I replied.
“I didn’t ask you if you learned how to fly,” he clipped back. “I asked if you remembered how to fly.”
“Well, I’ve been on a plane a few times if that’s what you mean.”
“I don’t care if you have been on an airplane, hot air balloon, or rocket ship!” The frustration in his voice was palpable. “The question is very simple. Do you remember how to fly?”
“I guess I don’t, then. Is there anything you need, anything I can help you with?” I asked.
To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Summer 2019 collection.
Jay Callum is currently a resident of Wrighthaven Hospital in Brambling, Maine. Prior to that, he was a pre-med student at Gadwall College, where he also played winger on the soccer team. He is a graduate cum laude of Paloma High School located in Finchville, Maine.
Paul Stansbury is a life long native of Kentucky. He is the author of Inversion – Not Your Ordinary Stories, Inversion II – Creatures, Fairies, and Haints, Oh My!, and Down By the Creek – Ripples and Reflections, as well as a novelette: Little Green Men? His speculative fiction stories have appeared in a number of print anthologies as well as a variety of online publications. Now retired, he lives in Danville, Kentucky.
Leigh’s professional title is “illustrator,” but that’s just a nice word for “monster-maker,” in this case. More information about them can be found at http://leighlegler.carbonmade.com/.
“Do You Remember How to Fly?” is © 2017 Paul Stansbury
Art accompanying story is © 2019 Leigh Legler
This story originally appeared in Inversion – Not Your Ordinary Stories.Follow us online: