I appear to have written this in 2008 and it was one of the first stories I took seriously. I wrote a few others around the same time, but none are saved on my computer, so they may take a while to track down.
The first signs of possible change came when the fingers went numb. This was hardly seen as an obstacle for normal life, as typing became only slightly clumsier and writing does not come from the fingertips. These signs were easily ignored and left to progress at their will. When the fingers became sore the ignorance continued, thoughts such as “I will see a doctor if it gets any worse” permeated the mind and self-diagnosis of over-working cold hands became almost dogmatic. It is easy to convince oneself that it couldn’t be anything serious, after all, serious things don’t creep up on you right? They surely always make themselves noticed right away or they would not be serious n’est-ce pas?
Typing had now become very stiff and laboured, writing became illegible and any attempt at drawing could be no more complicated than a stick-man at best. The thought of picking up any instrument became a laughable affair, if you have that sort of sense of humour, most of us would simply wince. Of course, excuses can be made to get out of almost anything, though eyebrows are likely to be raised when you refuse to shake hands in church because you have oil on your hands. There are times where we all like to think ourselves as warriors, battling to triumph over adversity, safe in the knowledge that old adages such as ‘God helps those who help themselves’ may somehow prove true.
By now it was no longer just the body which was affected; the mind was starting to go too. The doors were kept firmly shut, work was quit and all appointments and plans cancelled. Luckily it is easier to be reclusive in this day and age with such revolutions as internet shopping available to even those with dysfunctional digits. So what if mundane tasks were no longer achievable, such as fastening buttons on clothing? So what if hobbies are no longer manageable as they require use of the hands? So what if a social life is impossible when hiding from the world? So what if painkillers do nothing to numb the intense agony that clings to your most useful limbs as though they have become one in the same? As long as you can make decisions it’s not the end of the world right?
Life had become a repetitive nightmare, with pain being the most constant aspect. Frustration had performed a spectacular coup d’état on the mind, overthrowing a pleasant blend of truly democratic emotions. Something had to be done. Changes were needed. They had to be drastic. Time was running out. What to do? Increasing the dosage of painkillers was achieving nothing, creams and lotions were more painful to apply than beneficial, even after the immense feat of removing the packaging and lid. A rash decision had to be made and one particular risk sprang to mind, determination to end this all kicked in and thoughts were put into action.
In the shed outside was a set of rarely used tools, neglected and left eagerly awaiting to be used on even the most tedious of tasks, still somehow retaining their original polish. If you entered the shed you would swear you could hear excited murmurs as they watched to see who you picked. Today the saw was seemingly in luck, removed from its resting place for the first time in what must have seemed like a decade to such an underused piece of equipment. If it knew what it was going to be used for it would have tried to have hidden itself under the lawnmower or behind the rake.
As the right arm was the least functional the saw was brandished in the left, its shiny surface reflecting an expression of anxiety mingled with a maniacal, determined glare. Just below the right elbow the first mark was made, the saw’s teeth sliced effortlessly through the flesh, tainting its polished sheen with the stain of blood. The left arm drew back and forth clumsily, making the job take far longer than intended. Blood was spewing forth rapidly as the pain surpassed the previous agony. With a sickening crunch the saw hit bone and the sawing halted. The effort was too grand, but the determination surpassed it. As the sawing recommenced, the world started to blur, the pain subsided slightly and actions repeated as though they required no brain to power them, they simply had their own momentum.
After the last of the bone had been sawn through, the limb hung limp. Dangling flesh was difficult to continue sawing through and any rational mind would have found another method, but as is probably obvious, rationality was nowhere to be found. As the blood rushed out of the arm as though in a race to leave the body, the last of the flesh was hacked off until only a ragged stump remained. Before realisation could kick in that the job was only half complete with no means to finish it, the whole world went black and consciousness left the body.
It took a while before the remains were found; being a recluse can be quite risky as it leaves nobody to pick up the pieces. Whoever was unfortunate enough to find it would have probably been incredibly baffled by the horrific scene lying before their eyes. I do not envy them.