Addicted to Death, a short story

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The needle shook in Kevin’s hand. Just a skin pop , he told himself. No big deal. But the plunge was too intoxicating, too much of a lure. His eyes rolled back and his hand fell away, the needle protruding from his arm.

He flew into a dark place at great velocity, speeding past roiling shadows on either side. That first sense of exhilaration was replaced by a complete lack of physical sensation. Where’s my rush? He felt cheated. Then he looked down and saw his body sprawled on the dirty floor, his so-called friends standing around him. Joe reached down to shake his shoulder, but he didn’t feel it. He was far above the scene, viewing it through the wrong end of a telescope. There was no anxiety in him for his well-being. In fact, he found the sight of his collapsed form uninteresting. Far more compelling was the urge to race into the pulsating darkness. He turned away from the image below and looked upward.

Immediately, he was bathed in feelings of contentment, pulled toward an opening in the distance from which a soothing light emanated. Happiness flooded him as he tried to hurry toward the bright gate in the distance. But something held him back; something grasped his ankle and tugged. Struggling did no good. He was stuck. Abruptly, he fell backward into a dream of his aged mother, her eyes filled with tears.

Then, Kevin sat on his mother’s lap; he was a boy again. She smoothed his hair out of his eyes and sang a lullaby. The dream shifted and he was a teen in his car on the boulevard at night, waving to this friend and that as he cruised the main drag. Neon lights smeared past him, and the breeze flowed into the open window. Then he knew nothing for what seemed like many long dark hours.

“He’s coming around,” the voice said near his shoulder. A painful stab of light in his eyes made him roll his head away. “Hey, buddy. Wake up now. Come on. What did you take?”

Kevin’s mouth felt lax, his tongue like rubber as he tried to speak. “I want to go back,” he mumbled. A wave of nausea gripped him and he fought it down. He lost consciousness. Time passed in a confusion of images and dreams.

Slowly his eyes opened and focused. He was in a bed, a hospital. Surrounding him were people; a doctor or intern, nurses. A cop. Another time, he might have panicked. Now, he simply didn’t care. I must be in trouble, he thought. Yet, he was detached from the idea. He closed his eyes again.

When he next woke, his friend, Joe, stood beside his bed with a frown on his face. “Hey,” he drawled. “You got some bad shit, dude. You’re lucky the ambulance got there when it did.”

“I want to die,” Kevin said, turning his head away.

“You almost did.”

“No, you don’t understand.” Kevin tried to sit up. His arms were weak and he fell back onto the pillow. He felt sick, frail. “I want to go back.”

“Back where? The party?” Joe sniggered, and then became serious. “Party’s over, dude. Steve didn’t make it.”

“Steve? Steve who?”

“You know, the dude with the stuff. He did it first, remember? He died.” Joe’s mouth trembled.

“Good for him.” Kevin stared vacantly over Joe’s shoulder at the window, its pale light sliced to ribbons by the blinds.

“That’s cold, dude.”

“Leave me alone.” Kevin rolled over, turning his back to Joe. A long moment passed before Kevin heard his friend’s footsteps signal his exit. The door closed quietly behind him.

                                                           * * * *

A cold rain was falling when Kevin was released from the hospital two days later. No one showed up to drive him home, which was fine by him. There were no cards or flowers to carry out. Low-life losers , he thought of his friends and acquaintances. If they had a dollar to spend, it would go to their next high. It would never occur to them to buy flowers for a sick buddy. Kevin didn’t care anyway. It was just a thought that popped up, nothing more.

Cars and trucks rushed by as he stood on the sidewalk in front of the hospital. He watched the traffic for a minute, ignoring the drizzle coating his hair and face. Whoosh! Cars sped by, flinging water into the gutter and splattering his legs. It would be so easy.

A delivery truck, its driver hell-bent on meeting a schedule, quickly approached in the closest lane. Waiting until the last possible second, Kevin stepped deliberately in front of the vehicle. There was pain, a great deal of it, as he heard the screech of tires locking against pavement. The sound seemed to come from somewhere in the distance. Again, Kevin was sucked into the inviting blackness. Again, he looked back and saw himself. His crumpled form lay in a pool of blood on the wet street, traffic stopped all around him. I’m broken , he thought dispassionately. He looked away; seeking that lighted gate he had seen before.

Radiant and beckoning, the opening waited up ahead, like an old dear friend. He urged his mind toward it and felt himself moving forward at great speed, but it seemed he only drew a little closer than before. Hanging in the void ahead of him, spectacular rays streamed outward into the darkness. Kevin tried to attach a meaning to the image, a name. Was it love? It felt like love. And acceptance. He yearned toward it. But as he did so, he felt arms around his waist pulling him down, down, down. Away from the sweet light…

                                                        * * * *

This time when Kevin woke he felt tremendous physical agony. Hovering over him was a round pink-cheeked face above a white collar, rimmed by thinning light brown hair. A priest!

“Well, if it ain’t John the Baptist,” Kevin slurred. “You’re barking up the wrong tree here, Padre. I’m not religious.”

“Actually, I’m non-denominational.” The clergyman had a high voice for a man, and Kevin suppressed an urge to smirk. He thought of Father Mulcahy on the old television show, MASH . The clergyman’s voice was kind, and Kevin felt an unwelcome surge of tears behind his eyes.

“I must be hurt pretty bad if they called a preacher to my bedside.” Kevin tried to move but found only his mouth cooperated.

“You’re in fairly bad shape,” the chaplain agreed. “You were only just released from this hospital and now here you are, back again. You know it’s one of two things, I think. Either you have the worst luck in the world, or you’ve got a death wish. Witnesses say it appeared you put yourself in front of the truck on purpose. Want to talk about it, son?”

“You think I’m suicidal?”

“It crossed my mind. And the minds of your doctors. That’s why they called me.”

“Well, you’re wrong. All of you.” Kevin closed his eyes, stared at the comforting blackness behind his eyelids for a moment before opening them again. “I didn’t do it because life is bad, which it definitely is. It sucks, of course. I did it because death is so much better . I want to go there…I want to be in it.”

“What do you mean?” the clergyman blinked and then looked at Kevin expectantly.

“I saw it, Padre. The other side. Just a glimpse. I felt it.”

“What was it like, son? What did you feel?” The clergyman’s voice held no disbelief, just curiosity. Kevin’s throat clenched and a sob worked its way up from his gut.

Forgiven .” He choked on the word and struggled against the tears that threatened. “I felt forgiven. I want that feeling again.”

“Forgiven? Ah, I see.” He stroked his chin. “Some people achieve that feeling through prayer.”

“I told you, I’m not religious.”

“I know, but humor me,” the preacher said. “Let’s assume for the moment that you were made by God. Wouldn’t He then be the One to decide when to call you home?”

“Spare me.” Kevin rolled his eyes. They felt like they were filled with gravel.

“Alright, son. But think about one thing for me please. Call it God or call it Fate or whatever you want to call it. It appears you were given a second chance at life. Would you waste it?”

“I don’t want to talk about it anymore,” Kevin said, every word an effort to produce.

A nurse entered the room. She took his vitals, adjusted his covers, and produced a hypodermic.

“Father, I need to give this patient his pain meds. You can stay until he falls asleep, if you like.” She found his IV and inserted the needle. Kevin drifted into blessed sleep once more where he dreamt of the glowing gate and sought unsuccessfully to reach it.

“Your friends have been by to check on you,” the nurse said when he next woke. Her words hurt him.

“I don’t have any friends,” Kevin said. “Just people I party with. They’re losers, every one of them.”

“I’ll tell them you don’t want to see anyone right now,” she said as she turned to leave. A figure rose from the chair in the corner.

“Padre.” Kevin laughed hoarsely and without mirth. “You don’t give up, do you?”

“No, son. I rarely do.” His smile was tolerant, loving even. “So your friends are beneath you now, are they?”

“No. They’re not beneath me. Hell, I’m exactly like them, a low-life. No better, no worse. I just don’t want to see them. In fact, I don’t want to see anybody. I just want to die.” His composure crumbled and he wept. The chaplain placed a comforting hand on his shoulder as he dried Kevin’s eyes for him with a tissue from the box on the nightstand.

“We all die, son,” he said. “Soon enough. Most of us aren’t in a hurry to do it.”

“I am. I want to reach that gate. I want to walk through.”

“What if, next time, you arrive at a different gate? A dark one? One not so inviting?” His cheeks grew pinker as he looked down at Kevin and dabbed at his teary eyes. Kevin tried to grab his hand but his arm wouldn’t work. He whipped his head back and forth in frustration.

“It’s a chance I’m willing to take,” he said with faux bravado, but the pastor’s words gave him pause. How many times could he take the leap before he ended up on the wrong track? What if the tunnel went both ways? He refused to think about it.

                                                      * * * *

Months of rehabilitation and therapy, in which he only marginally participated, left Kevin able to walk, but with a pronounced limp. His left arm hung uselessly at his side, and his head was covered with scars where hair would never again grow. Thin and shaky, he stood once again outside the hospital. This time he waited for a taxi to drive him to his new temporary home, The Gentle Arms Transitional Living Center, a place secured for him by the Padre. There, it was assumed, he would put his life back together, kill his hunger for illegal substances, and receive training in life skills. Kevin had no intention of addressing any of these issues. In fact, as soon as he could get around a little better, he would at the first available opportunity be checking out for good. Not just of the Home, but of life. He only needed the chance to make it happen.

Less than a month later, his chance presented itself. Snow had been falling for two days. Clyburn Harris, driver for The Home, sat in the kitchen drinking coffee with the cook, waiting for the car to defrost. As they laughed and chatted, Kevin sneaked out the side door, hobbling over the ice with his cane to the idling vehicle. He slid behind the wheel and pulled the car into the garage and hit the remote to close the door behind him. Leaning back against the seat, he sighed. Before long, he grew sleepy. This time I’ll make it.

Velvety blackness descended upon him and he found himself traveling that now-familiar corridor. He glanced down at his lifeless body, head lolling against the car seat, and experienced his usual detachment. He felt himself pulled along. But this time, he was zooming backward. He could see the lighted gate before him, but it was receding before his eyes. Panicked, he tried to propel himself toward the welcoming light, but it grew smaller and smaller, until it was pinpoint-sized. Then it was gone.

In his mind, he screamed and the echo followed him down into darkness.

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Comments 41 comments

Poohgranma profile image

Poohgranma 6 years ago from On the edge

I like this. I like the premise and your straightforward style of writing. Surprised to see your name is Karen - thought this was written by a man and that, in itself, speaks volumes of your talent. Going to check out your other hubs!


sammyfiction profile image

sammyfiction 6 years ago from Australia

This was a very deep hub! I could see everyything you write very clearly, it was great!

Thanks, SF :)


Scarlett My Dear profile image

Scarlett My Dear 6 years ago from Missouri

Desperate times may not call for desperate measures, but they certainly have a way of forcing us to re-evaluate our choices in life. Thought I knew where your story was going, only to find that I did not. Well done.


Huey19 profile image

Huey19 6 years ago from Chicago

I think I'm in love with this unique sort of story. The idea of being in love with death without being suicidal is amazing. Very well written, I loved the detail and the feeling. Great Hub


mandyf profile image

mandyf 6 years ago

very awesome visuals while reading and yet I can feel a part of me in Kevin poor guy I really got attached! continuation maybe?


SilverGenes 6 years ago

This is a compelling read and I enjoyed every moment. You have a unique style that takes the reader along for the ride and surprises us at the end. Well done!


saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 6 years ago

This was an excellent read, I felt riveted to the page. There are to many Kevin's in the world and I see many as homeless on the mean streets of many cities. It certainly left a penetrating feeling in my soul. Bravo and welcome to the Hubs you are a gifted writer.


A.A. Zavala profile image

A.A. Zavala 6 years ago from Texas

Dancing with death can be intoxicating. Knowing when to bow out before he takes his due is another. Outstanding hub.


Karen Wodke profile image

Karen Wodke 6 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks AA. It's true...it would be a dangerous game.


dswan9 profile image

dswan9 6 years ago from Amsterdam and London

Hi Karen, an awesome story it takes courage to write about such a subject matter.Do you in anyway associate with Kevins ideas or feelings or is it completely from the imagination.

was kevins desire genuine ? did he just want to return home or was he in the grip of a depression....just some thoughts


Karen Wodke profile image

Karen Wodke 6 years ago from Midwest Author

Hi DS, no I don't really associate with Kevin's ideas in this. I'm actually the opposite, the sort that will cling to life at all costs! So it just came from my imagination.

In the story, Kevin is a drug addict so he doesn't have much to look forward to in life except his next high. Thanks for your comments!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America

Rated up!


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada

Rated up and Shared!


Karen Wodke profile image

Karen Wodke 6 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed my story.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 5 years ago from UK

This is fantastic piece of writing, the dialogue sparkles, the premise is innovative and the pace is brill. voted up & awesome.


Karen Wodke profile image

Karen Wodke 5 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks so much, Docmo!


Rosie2010 profile image

Rosie2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Hiya Karen, OMG! You are one heck of a writer! I'm sure we'll be seeing your name in the Bestsellers. This short story is riveting.. it got my full attention from start to finish. I would have loved to see Kevin reach that wonderful light he was obsessed with and was so sorry for him he didn't. Absolutely wonderful writing! I'm a fan.

Congratulations for being nominated as a Hubnugget Nominee! I wish you the best.

My hub "Walking can be hazardous to your health" is a nominee in the health category. Please read my hub and if you like it, I'd appreciate your vote. If not, but I made you smile, that's good enough for me.

http://hubpages.com/education/Walking-can-be-hazar...

Thank you in advance,

Rosie


The Baking Guru profile image

The Baking Guru 5 years ago from California, USA

Hi Karen,

What a wonderful hub! Congratulations on your nomination!


samiaali profile image

samiaali 5 years ago

Hi Karen Wodke, This is a wonderful story. Congratulations on your nomination. This story certainly deserved it!


Karen Wodke profile image

Karen Wodke 5 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks, Samiaali!


Rebecca Saunders profile image

Rebecca Saunders 5 years ago from Australia

Great story Karen! Having worked with drug users for years - you caught their determination to self destruct so well! You have encouraged me to share my own short stories! I look forward to reading more of yours.


Karen Wodke profile image

Karen Wodke 5 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks, Rebecca! I look forward to reading your hubs.


fetty profile image

fetty 5 years ago from South Jersey

I also was drawn to each paragraph. Wonderful writing. Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination.


Karen Wodke profile image

Karen Wodke 5 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks, Fetty! I appreciate it very much.


Karanda profile image

Karanda 5 years ago from Australia

Interesting take on why people choose to die. Very well written, most impressed. I am sure you will go places with your writing. You had me from the opening paragraph all the way through to the end.


Karen Wodke profile image

Karen Wodke 5 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks so much, Karanda!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

Riveting. Well written-drew me in and held me till the end. Nicely done.


LindaJM profile image

LindaJM 5 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

Pretty trippy! Well, he was warned...


Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 5 years ago from Texas

You are a very senstive and empathetic soul to be able to get into Kevin's mind like that... I loved reading this, it had me hooked... would love to see the next chapter.. is that in the works, maybe?? Great hub and congrats on the hubnugget nomination!


Karen Wodke profile image

Karen Wodke 5 years ago from Midwest Author

thanks, Jamie. I don't know about another chapter. I'm not sure exactly where Kevin is at this point...


jdogg42 profile image

jdogg42 5 years ago

Very very nice, kinda reminded me of Ellen Hopkins writing at first.


Dino Rudder profile image

Dino Rudder 5 years ago

Very nice story. You have made the characters utterly believable in such a short period of writing. A fantastic trait. really enjoyable


Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 5 years ago from Vermont, USA

This "Hubnuget" was a gem...wonderfully well written.

I look forward to reading more of your work.

CP


Karen Wodke profile image

Karen Wodke 5 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks, CP. Thanks for the follow. I will check out your hubs.


Shilo  Eagle profile image

Shilo Eagle 5 years ago from United States

Quite an amazing story!!! Thanks for sharing...


Wendy Rogers 5 years ago

ooooo!! Amazing story, Karen! Your story has a lot of similarity to my own story "I'm Not a Doll, I'm an Action Figure!", however, your story is so much better! I love the kind of story wherein the author experiments with suicide and the internal conflicts the character feels/experiences. fantastic story!


Karen Wodke profile image

Karen Wodke 5 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks, Wendy. I am going to check out your story now! I seriously doubt if mine is better. We are just two writers giving a different take on a theme.


Karen Wodke profile image

Karen Wodke 5 years ago from Midwest Author

thank you scottmadijack!


QudsiaP1 profile image

QudsiaP1 5 years ago

Karen this was absolutely magnificent; the range of emotions you displayed in the protagonist's character was breath taking.


Karen Wodke profile image

Karen Wodke 5 years ago from Midwest Author

Thank you, QudsiaP1. That's very kind of you.


Mobile Spy iPhone 3 years ago

Your blog background is very inviting and all. But a lot of your info isn’t very comprehensive. I would like more but your outline isnt helpful. Would you perhads work on that?

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