The cult section of the literary world

Flash Fiction Friday: The Procedure

by Eric Stoveken

Day 1:

It’s odd to win a raffle prize from the mysterious clinic on the outskirts of town, but they’ve promised a life changing procedure, and I am taking them up on that. A prize is a prize, after all.

Day 2:

The bastards have implanted eyes in my fucking teeth!

Day 3:

I should take this opportunity to clarify before madness takes hold. At least eight, if not more, of my teeth have had fully functional eyes imbedded in them. Not in the front, mind you, where they could give me a deeply unsettling smile or an advantage at oral sex. These have been implanted in the back of my teeth, protected by some clear hydrophobic seal that precludes not only the need to blink but the ability to close these unholy fucking eyes.

They’ve installed light sources, mind you. My uvula has been replaced with some bioengineered equivalent of a bare incandescent light bulb, throwing the approximate equivalent of a standard 35 watts. The roof of my mouth has also been rendered bioluminescent, though the light it casts could be more closely equated to the institutional glow of fluorescent cylinders. I can toggle which one is on by tugging my earlobes but I can’t turn them off. I am constantly gazing into my own mouth.

Day 4:

I sit here in this “recovery room”, which bears more resemblance to an asylum cell than any hospital room I’ve ever been in, watching the internal workings of my mouth. Every time I swallow, my tongue undulates like an obscene worm. My throat constricts and expands, mucus drips. This space just inside my lips that I had never bothered to think of as a space before now dominates my field of vision and it is an alien hellscape the likes of which had never been seen in my worst nightmares.

Take a bite of food, chew it up and stick out your tongue like your idiot nephew at Thanksgiving dinner. Revolting. Now imagine that every time you want to eat or drink you have to watch the entire grotesque process unfold.

My diet here does nothing to mute the effects of this horror. Breakfast has typically consisted of huge artisan made sausages with natural casings. Delicious stuff, surely. Unless, of course, you have to watch your teeth pierce that casing, see the ground meat rendered, observe the oils and liquefied fats ooze around on your writhing tongue. Even the oatmeal they served me this morning as a seeming respite became revolting upon close viewing, coating my tongue and teeth in its mucilaginous film while slivers of grain made their ways into the spaces between my teeth.

And Christ! The sight of my own tongue involuntarily moving to extract those rogue bits of food! The horror. It’s like watching porn filmed in some heretofore undiscovered circle of hell. The tongue violently tries to wedge itself into the tight, saliva oozing gap between the teeth, alternately darting and grinding against the unyielding crevice. Even the tempo and pacing: cautious at first, then more and more rapid as a productive motion is established and the goal gets closer, is obscene in its way. The fact that this is all happening in my mouth makes it so much worse.

I eat as little as possible.

I am trying to eat even less.

Day 7:

I tried overloading my visual cortex by staring at the sun with my regular eyes while eating. The clinic has now sealed my window.

Day 11:

They now leave the lights off in my room. They want me to focus on what my teeth eyes see. I will refuse to eat. A feeding tube would be bliss.

Day 17:

The hunger strike was a failure.

No tube.

Threats were made.

I will eat again.


Day 24:

Desensitization may finally be taking hold. The horrorshow behind my teeth is more and more just becoming the vision of my life. They keep changing up the diet. Rare hamburgers topped with mayo, relish and sautéed mushrooms. Steamed Brussels sprouts in a cheese sauce that I know was intentionally lumpy.

Fuck ‘em. I can do this.

Day 35:

I have asked for paints and canvas. I want to share my visions with these sick fucks.

Day 70:

The painting is going well. I have been experimenting with my two light sources. I find that my uvula bulb works best for meats. It lends the tableau a particular malice. My mouth becomes a kind of turn of the century abattoir.

The cold industrial light from the roof of my mouth lends itself to processed foods, especially sweets. Everything from mass produced cupcakes to neon colored breakfast cereal takes on a surreal cheerfulness in that harsh white light. Even the hideous slurry of cereal bits and milk that cling to my teeth and gum line takes on a kind of beauty, like coral in some tropical divers’ paradise. I’ve produced a few dozen canvasses to date.

Day 117:

My first showing. A major gallery. The clinic has allowed me to leave for the occasion, there is apparently quite a bit of buzz around my work. People are entranced by the paintings. The push of revulsion and the pull of fascination keep them locked in place for longer than I expect. One piece has got the crowd particularly excited. It, like all the other pieces, is named for its culinary subject matter: Slaw Dog with Beet Relish. I admit that my detailed use of disgusting visual textures in the piece triggers even my largely numbed gag reflex. Yet the vibrant colors catch eyes from across the gallery.

Day 118:

The showing sold out. I am a reasonably wealthy man and the toast of the art world. I do not need to return to the facility. I am free. The procedure has, as promised, changed my life.


Eric Stoveken is a writer of strange and unusual tales living in eastern Pennsylvania. He is the author of The Devil Yearns for The Perfect Denver Omelet and Other Revelations, which is available from Amazon. You can visit his website at or follow him on Twitter @EMStoveken

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