This little short surprised me in some ways. It follows the story of a man that suffers from physical pain without any cause that can be pin pointed in medicine. He has tried every kind of doctor and therapy out there to try and alleviate his symptoms to no avail. The protagonist eventually stumbles on a highly exclusive, incredibly expensive, and extremely secretive form of therapy that promises a cure to his ailment.
What follows is what I found to be a wonderful philosophical exploration on the nature of illness and the feelings of helpless that come along with it. It is not uncommon for those suffering from some form of disease or other ailment to feel like they’ve become a burden physically, emotionally, and financially. Illness can become something of a part of a person’s identity, and that can weigh heavily on them as their pain can become something monstrous and all consuming, difficult to comprehend or control.
“She hadn’t requested a list of symptoms. Your experience of your condition as a whole—that’s what she wanted to know. It was as if, in a single stroke, she were undoing the very premise of all the treatments that had come before, the idea that the suffering could be anatomized and its components addressed. Her question bypassed all the particulars—the chronic pain, the mental tension, the exhaustion—in search of something else, of the person beneath all that, the one who endured the affliction.”
There is a touch of science fiction in this novel and the only “horror” part comes around the end, and even then it’s not all that horrific. I didn’t find anything scary or creepy about the story and so it’s hard for me to really file this under the horror category. It was a fast read because it felt like a fever dream with the cold harshness of reality always waiting in the wings. For a short story it’s okay, but it’s the type of story that I would have liked a little more from. The discussion of illness and the ending were good, but everything in between felt like it was filled in to get from point A to point B.
After years of traditional treatments and therapies, Derrick still suffers from pain ineluctable enough that it has become his identity. Then he hears of an exclusive, very private New York clinic that promises relief. It comes highly recommended by a friend. The multisession remedy unfolds as a sensorial wonder that’s so illuminating it’s enough to bring tears to Derrick’s eyes. It’s all working so well. So unexpectedly well.