The Vivisection of Hominis

Image of Short Story
Look! Just barely nick the coronary, and don’t look away. I’m only tearing my lungs out, and maybe my heart too. Mostly I just want to be empty. Right now I’m packed almost to bursting. Slice, exsanguination, empty. Why are you looking away? Why are your fingernails scraping at the polypropylene? Don’t you care? Watch how quickly, how professionally I can slice past the dorsal aorta.

First I’ll cut through the epidermis, then the dermis, then the hypodermis. The wings of pale flesh will cling to the knife but I’m good at ignoring my body. Why do I need you here? Don’t ask questions. Just watch me tap my nerves, cut through them, watch the C2952, H4664, O832, N812, S8, Fe4 hemoglobin full of albumin, RBCs and WBCs, erythrocytes and leukocytes and platelets push past everything. See how it wants this. It’s eager to escape, you see. See, see, see?

You’re watching now, slack against the braided fibers, watching as I reach the collagen, calcium, phosphate, and carbonate. The weak structures pretending to be strong. It’s just tissue, you see? Tissue with a hard layer. If I hit it just right I’ll get a comminuted fracture, communicating a breach of my body. I want it to shatter— snap, snap, crack, craaaack.

Presently I am at the xiphoid process, dark gray periosteum membrane penetrating the blood like my knife. High carbon alloy, manganese, nickel, carbon, iron. Cartilaginous lower section sternum ossified, stagnant rigid calcified, stuck. You are pale, more white than my bones, a stifled sound tearing from your lips. I say, speak your mind! Tell me, tell me, I want to know! How do you still not understand?

When cutting out the lungs—bronchi, pleura, alveoli—the knife must move up, up to the true ribs. Did you know there are false ribs? Yes, yes, they don’t join the sternum directly. 8, 9, 10. No connection. So I cut into 5, up to 4, up to 3, the costal cartilage, bars of hyaline, translucent bluish-white fragility. It rips apart slowly with a grating pop and there are twin spots of blood on your zygomatic arches.

When I had invited you, so very kindly, without a pause or break in my voice, I expected a different reaction—an interest, if you will. I know you lack my training, my appreciation for the human body, but I thought you’d at least summon an ounce of understanding, as you understand so much else of me. So when I open my ribs, and you can not imagine the precision of my metacarpals, the phalanges being held in perfect suspension by the opponens pollicis, digiti minimi, the flexor digitorum profundus bent away from it’s superficial counterpart—when I open my ribs and my eyes slide across the gray wall to connect with your gray face, gray eyes, you better smile back.

And have I yet told you that you’re mistaking the perception from nociceptors pulsing prostaglandins, serotonin, histamine, bradykinin to the brain stem, thalamus, and cerebral cortex as an actual deterrent? This doesn’t hurt—my heart still pounds, my fingers are still steady. I am not in pain.

Perhaps there is a pallid tone of my complexion, and I see it reflected in yours, but what you don’t seem to grasp is the necessity of my actions — how much the basest atoms of my being are swirling around, expanding, leaving their bonds in pure desire to explode outwards.

My fingers are a dark scarlet, the plasma clinging to the shallow pores of the distal phalanxes and dripping down, cupping the curve of my wrist. There are splatters on the floor and a puddle between my thighs. I’ve lost about four pints of blood. My heart is beating quickly, the rapid thuds strained, my atoms twirling so fast, so fast so fastsofastso—

You’re blurring. I’ve reached a Class 4 hemorrhage. I don’t have much time left, and the likelihood of me reaching my heart before total organ failure occurs is minimum. I will not empty this body. I will leave it, my soul exhumed from my carcass. My body will be abandoned, and I trust you will take care of it. I trust you will finish the job.

There’s no need to be careful — I won’t be here anymore. Make a Y-incision, peel back the layers of skin. You seem nauseous around blood, but without a beating heart, blood will not be moving through the disconnected vessels at this current rapid rate. My scalpel is sharp, and an intense sawing will get through the remaining ribs if you approach through the cartilage. At the lungs, it is simple. A slash through the trachea will sever both from my body. The heart is more complicated. Approach the aorta arch first, and slice the three veins leading upwards. The pulmonary veins and arteries on the sides should be disconnected next. The inferior vena cava, this large tube extending from the bottom of my heart, can be separated last. At that point, the removal of my lungs and heart will be simple. Understand? You must. There’s no other option.

Dark shapes are creeping in the corner of the rooms. You’re fading. The shadows are reaching out, twirling black limbs seeping through the ropes to wrap around your tibias, your torso, your humeri, rising up to envelop the top of your cranium. Don’t look so afraid. I’m sure they’re harmless.