Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Century or Centuries (02/17/11)
TITLE: There Was an Elderly Woman
By Troy Manning
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Cedric could bear Eliza’s kicking no longer so he went to sleep on the couch. He couldn’t understand why, despite their advanced age, it seemed to increase in both frequency and force. He wondered how all this would play out as their bones became even more brittle.
One Wednesday afternoon, Agatha was admitted to the emergency room for what was thought to be appendicitis. When they opened her up, they discovered an old shoe. No amount of questioning or scouring of medical journals could provide the gastrointestinal specialists with an explanation. And Cedric’s hopes the discovery would bring an end to the kicking were quickly dashed, as they informed him that several vital organs had fused with the shoe and its removal could prove fatal.
The next few nights passed without incident as Cedric placed a couple of pillows between he and Agatha. But in the early hours of the Monday following, he awoke to the sound of loud snoring. Though unexceptional in itself, the sudden introduction of this sound after seventy-three years of marriage was rather disconcerting. Earplugs worked adequately for a couple of nights, but both became alarmed when the snoring started occurring while Agatha was awake.
Further exploratory surgery revealed a tiny purple man tangled in the strings of the shoe Agatha’s body housed. Though anaesthetized, Agatha snored each time the man attempted to scream out through a throat encircled by lace. After freeing him, the doctors saw the man was attached to one of the strings like an umbilical cord. They prepared to sever the string but, being wiser than they, the man was eventually able to talk them out of it, promising this would never happen again.
After many months of harassment from the press, Cedric and Agatha relocated to a humble dwelling on Tonga, a boon to their anonymity and a balm to their arthritis. Their stay was short-lived, however, as Agatha began manifesting new symptoms. The first was an evident loss of hair. What was most peculiar about this was that the detached hairs were nowhere to be found.
Next to be affected was her vision, with Agatha voicing her consternation about an intermittent fogginess. Cedric noticed that on most mornings Agatha’s eyes were a bit cloudy, but tended to clear by afternoon. Though Cedric repeatedly encouraged Agatha to see a doctor, she always declined. It wasn’t until Cedric acquired an unusual symptom of his own that Agatha was willing to try the island’s medical services.
Cedric complained to the Tongan doctor of a whistling sound that at times reached deafening decibels. When Agatha first heard it, she asked Cedric to check his hearing aide. After receiving no response, she saw the device wasn’t in and could tell the sound was causing him great discomfort.
On close inspection of Cedric’s ear, the doctor discovered several small birds’ nests near the drum. They were strangely white and composed of strands of human hair. “Okay,” acknowledged Agatha, “that may account for my hair loss, but it still doesn’t explain the blurred vision.”
When neither optometrist nor brain surgeon were able to diagnose the cause of Agatha’s occasional clouding, they returned to the States and the same specialists they had seen previously. Upon opening her back up, they saw the tiny man sitting at a miniature table. His coloration appeared normal and he was enjoying a morning smoke.
The surgeon general was summoned and he spoke with the tiny man about the potential hazards of his actions, and threatened to have him extracted. After a lengthy exchange, the general ordered the team to sew Agatha back up. When she awoke, he sat down with she and Cedric. The surgeon general calmly informed her that she would have to adapt to the symptoms. He explained further that as people enter a new century, they should expect to experience mysterious things.
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