[Continued from Part 1]
Around 4 p.m. Casey picked up the remote for her television and turned the TV off. She’d already watched two movies (a horror film and a comedy, in that order) and downed a quart of ice cream. How she maintained her figure doing things like that were beyond her. Feeling drowsy, she decided to crawl back into her cozy bed and take a short nap. After that she might actually try to do something productive.
When Casey awoke, her bedroom was darker. Not completely dark of course, as the last dying rays of sunlight were trying desperately to get in to her room, but dark enough that Casey realized that she’d been asleep for several hours.
“Great,” she thought. “Pretty much wasted this day.”
She laid in bed for a moment, deciding what she wanted to do. She remembered that she had a paper due in her American Lit class on Friday and some Anthropology homework that she needed to finish, so with a groan she sat up and flung her short little legs over the edge of her bed. Setting her hands on the side of her bed, she pushed as she always did and set her feet on the carpet below. Just as her feet touched however, she lurched to her left, clearly off-balance. This was so sudden that she was taken by surprise as her body teetered and fell. It was only by reflex that she held out her arms to break her fall and that probably saved her from hitting her head or smashing her nose on the floor. As her left arm impacted the carpet she felt a sharp pain race through the palm of her hand and through her wrist.
“Ow, ow, ow!” she cried, grabbing her left wrist with he right hand. “God dammit! What the Hell…?” she exclaimed. Pushing herself up with her right hand and left elbow, she sat up. She looked down near her feet to see if she had stepped on something that might have caused her to fall. It took her a full three seconds before her mind registered what her eyes were seeing. Casey gasped involuntarily in both shock and horror. She stared at the spot where her left foot should have been, but wasn’t. Her mouth opened wide but no sound emerged. Then she grabbed at her left leg which appeared to be completely normal until it tapered down to where her ankle and foot should have been. In place of those two things, her leg simply ended in a smooth round stub. There were no scars, no blood, just skin and… nothing. She pulled her leg closer to her face as if her eyes were playing tricks that her brain did not want to believe. She examined the stump closely and only then did she scream.
“This isn’t real, this isn’t real, this isn’t real…” she chanted with a terrified look upon her face. Her mind was frozen in a loop that recognized what it was seeing, but refused to believe it. Casey could hear her heart beating. Loud, muffled thumps echoed in her ears and in the back of her seizing mind, a small calm voice was telling her to get a grip and to stop panicking. She forced herself to close her eyes and with great effort, she began inhaling deeply and then exhaling slowly. It took nearly two minutes but she was finally able to get her breathing under control. Eyes still closed, she started telling herself that she was ok.
“It’s alright. I’m not injured. There is an explanation for this… I’m going to open my eyes and everything will be fine,” she said trying to keep the quiver of fear from her voice.
Casey slowly opened her eyes and looked at her left leg again. Her foot had not reappeared. She reached out with her right hand and slowly ran her fingers across the smooth stump that ended her leg. She confirmed what she had seen earlier. This was not a fresh wound as there was no blood or even any sign if injury at all. It was as if her leg had always been like this.
“What the Hell is going on?” Casey asked out loud to no one in particular. “How is this possible?”
Her first thought was to grab her phone and call for help. She remembered that her phone was still on her nightstand and so she pushed herself to her knees and looked for the phone. She grabbed it and with a swipe of her index finger she unlocked the screen and was about to dial 9-1-1, when she stopped. Who was she going to call? An ambulance? When the paramedics arrived, what would she tell them? If she said she had fallen asleep with two feet and woken with just one, they’d think she was nuts. There was no sign of trauma, no indication that anything had just happened. One look at her leg and they would deduce that she was just a disturbed young woman who maybe had taken some bad drugs. “What about the police,” she thought? “Sure,” that small rational voice in her head replied. “Tell them you want to report a missing foot. The sketch artist can use your right foot as a model. They’ll put out an A.P.B. to try to locate it.”
“Fuck!” she exclaimed. She dropped her head and let out a sob of frustration.
Although it made no sense to her later, she was suddenly filled with hope that her foot was still lurking somewhere in her bedroom and if she were able to find it, perhaps a surgeon could reattach it. She dropped her phone and began madly roaming around on the floor looking for a lost foot. She looked under her bed, all over the floor and even in her closet to no avail. After about five minutes of frantic searching, she stopped suddenly and curled up into the fetal position and began sobbing. Two years of psychiatric visits for treatment of anxiety and depression had not prepared her for this.
Long minutes came and went. Casey did not know how much time had passed and she didn’t really care. Eventually she was able to get herself under control and knew she had to figure out what was happening to her. She found her phone lying on the floor next to her bed. She grabbed it and then, using the bed to haul herself up, managed to stand on her right leg, with her left bent at the knee slightly. Hopping awkwardly to her bedroom door, she grabbed the door frame when she got there to support herself. Then, using her hands to balance against the walls of the hallway, she worked her way to her living room where she managed to hop to her sofa and sit down. The living room was mostly dark as twilight yielded to night.
Casey took a deep breath and decided she needed to call someone. Megan was her best option. She should be home and she lived only about ten minutes from Casey’s apartment. Casey found Megan’s contact information and hit the button to dial her number.
“Hey, this is Megan! Leave a message!” Casey heard the greeting to Megan’s voicemail. Feeling disappointed, she left a message anyway.
“Megan, it’s Casey. I need you to call me back as soon as you get this. It’s an emergency, ok? Please Megan, call me back, I need you,” Casey said, not even trying to keep the sound of fear from her voice. She decided to text her as well. Casey did not want to be alone and Megan usually responded to her texts right away.
After sending the text, Casey looked down at her leg again. She tried to recall anything from her dreams to see if there was some sort of memory that might explain her missing body part. Her mind was a blur. Casey had slept pretty soundly and remembered nothing significant. Panic slowly started creeping back and she closed her eyes again and practiced her breathing. Doctor Jefferson had insisted that she learn calming techniques while in therapy. Casey knew she had to keep her wits about her.
The breathing exercises helped some, but her trembling hands were a telltale sign that she was still on the verge of losing control. Although she was loathe to do so, she realized that she would need to self-medicate to calm down. With some difficulty, she stood and hobbled across the living room and down her hall to her bathroom. Her finger found the light switch and the fluorescent bulb on the ceiling of the bathroom instantly came to life. Casey turned and the sight of her pale face in the mirror startled her. All the color seemed washed out and the visage that stared back at her appeared as if belonged to someone else. She quickly flipped open the door to the medicine cabinet and grabbed the brownish plastic prescription bottle. Twisting open the cap, she dumped a pair of oblong pills into her palm. She then replaced the lid and was about to place it back in the cabinet when she changed her mind and decided to hang onto it instead.
Hopping like a child imitating a rabbit she clumsily bounced off the walls of her hallway and back to her kitchen. Even this much exertion was taking its toll and her right calf started to burn with fatigue. She turned the light on and headed to the corner. Reaching up, she opened the door to an upper cabinet and hauled out a half-filled bottle of bourbon. Tossing back the pills, she took a long swig of the whiskey and swallowed hard.
“Ugh,” she gasped as the liquor warmed her throat. She was not used to drinking straight from the bottle but she was in no mood to fix a cocktail. She placed the cap back on the bottle, but instead of returning it to the cabinet, she took it in one hand, her pill bottle in the other and hopped back into the living room, leaving the kitchen light on to provide some illumination.
Settling on the sofa, she looked at her phone to see if she’d missed hearing her text alert. There were no texts. She’d wait a few more minutes and then, if there was no response from Megan, she’d call Todd, she thought.
As she sat quietly waiting, a dawning realization came over her. She stood up, almost too quickly as she lost her balance and nearly fell. Regaining her balance, she hopped to her apartment door. She hadn’t checked to see if the door was locked. As she approached the door she could tell that the dead bolt switch was in the correct position and the chain was latched. She checked the knob and it too was locked. No one had come in.
Returning to the sofa, Casey’s mind started running through different scenarios that might explain the loss of her foot. It was a stretch to come up with anything that resembled a rational explanation. Feet don’t just fall off and disappear and no one, it appeared, had come in to her apartment. After ten minutes of going around in a circle of odd thoughts, she felt no closer to explaining her predicament. She looked at her phone and checked once more. No calls, no texts.
She’d waited long enough. Grabbing her phone she deftly found her brother’s number and with a couple of taps of her thumb, his phone was ringing. She waited for him to answer. No luck there either. Casey got his voicemail greeting just as she had for Megan.
“Where the Hell is everyone tonight?” she thought frantically. She left her brother a message almost identical to the one she left Megan. After hanging up she paused a moment and then started flipping through the contacts on her phone. Alyssa! Casey hit the button on her phone to dial the number of her friend. She and Alyssa had been good friends once but over the past year they had grown apart, even though they lived in the same town. Alyssa had met a guy and Casey didn’t like him. This had caused a few arguments between her an Alyssa and in the end, they left things without resolution and had essentially stopped talking to one another. Still, Casey was sure that in a time of need, Alyssa would be there for her.
She heard the phone ringing once… twice… three times…
“Hello?” answered Alyssa.
“Alyssa! Thank God you answered!” Casey shouted.
“Casey?” Alyssa asked surprised.
“Yeah, it’s me. I’m sorry to call out of the blue like this but I really need help,” Casey said, trying not to sound like a crazy person.
“What is it, what’s wrong?” asked Alyssa.
“I… I can’t… explain now,” said Casey. “but something has happened. Something really bad. Do you think you can come over?”
“Right now?” Alyssa asked.
“Yeah, it’s kind of an emergency,” said Casey, hoping she wouldn’t have to give a full explanation over the phone. She had the presence of mind to realize how it would sound to Alyssa if she told her everything. It was best if she saw it for herself.
“Are you hurt? Do you need a doctor? Should I call 9-1-1?” Alyssa asked nervously.
“No… I mean yes but… No, I don’t need a doctor. Please don’t call 9-1-1. You’ll understand when you get here,” said Casey.
“Uh… OK, I’ll leave in about ten minutes. Be there in about a half hour, ok?” Alyssa stated.
“Great, yes thank you. You remember how to get to my apartment, right?” asked Casey.
“Sure, I remember,” said Alyssa.
“Ok then, I’ll see you in a bit. Bye,” said Casey feeling relieved.
“Bye,” said Alyssa.
Casey leaned her head back on the sofa and let out a long sigh. A short laugh escaped from her and a tear rolled down her eye. Strange how this morning the last thing she wanted was to see another human being and now she was desperate for company. She wasn’t sure what Alyssa could do to help, but at least she could confirm that Casey was not losing her mind. Somehow, that was enough to set Casey’s mind at ease.
She reached for the bottle of bourbon and un-capped it. She put her lips to the bottle and drank long and hard. This time it didn’t seem to burn as much going down and the warmth of the alcohol soothed her. Over the next 20 minutes or so Casey continued to drink steadily from the bottle. Realizing she had to pee, she stood up so she could hop on down to the bathroom.
Perhaps it was the combination of her meds mixing with the alcohol, or the fact that she was still unused to balancing on one leg but she lost her balance as she tried to stand and this time she toppled to the right. Arms flailing wildly as she fell, she grazed her temple against the side of her small coffee table. Strong, hard pain shot through her head and for a moment, she saw specks of floating lights in front of her eyes. Then darkness took her.