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The Legacy

by Bunbry 

Posted: 24 October 2013
Word Count: 500
Summary: "A story with a paranormal theme that includes as many words being with 'para' as possible." Sorry but only one 'para' word was possible. To include more would have (to borrow Sandra's phrase) turned it into gibberish!

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Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

I divide my patients into three broad groups; those I see most weeks and treat the practice as a social club, the vast majority who I see once or twice a year with something fairly genuine, and those who never attend. Peter Jackson is in the latter group and my next patient.

“Hello Peter. Or do you prefer Pete?”

As I speak, I quickly appraise the man before me – about 40, smart casual clothes, BMI 25, and clean nails. As he sits I notice what looks like a purple cloth scrunched up in his hands. I don’t mention it, but continue with my assessment. His hands tremble slightly, his face is pale and he has circles around his eyes. Best guess, stress at work and he wants sleeping tablets.

“Pete’s fine.”

I nod and smile. Wait for him to continue.
“I’ve not been sleeping too well recently and I was wondering perhaps about sleeping tablets or something.”
Bingo! I’m feeling pretty smug as I go though my usual routine of why we don’t like to prescribe benzodiazepines anymore. Usually people go at this point, but not Pete.

“I’m really desperate, perhaps just for a few weeks while I sort myself out?”

I really don’t want to prescribe any, so try another tack.

“Most people have trouble sleeping for a reason. It’s important to try and identify the reason and deal with that first. Is it stress at work perhaps?” I’ll give myself bonus points if it is!

“Trauma,” he says, flatly.

Car accident is my best guess now.

“Trauma?” I say.

He unfurls the purple cloth in his hand to reveal a Paratrooper’s beret. “This was my grandfather’s; he served in the Second World War. Towards the end he was captured. Gran, she told me that he’d had a bad war, never told me exactly what happened but I can guess.”
So can I. He would have been tortured in ways I dare not imagine.

Pete continued. “Gran was proud of him and she wanted me to have this.” Limply he raises the beret . “I was thirteen when she gave it me – said I was old enough to follow the one rule of ownership - never to put it on.”

“She thought it would be disrespectful?” I suggest.

“No, nothing like that. She said if I wore it, I would hear his screams, feel his terror, understand what exactly he endured. I respected that rule for 30 years. Then last month in a moment of madness, I tried it on.”

He breaks down sobbing. It’s total bollocks of course, but what am I to do?

“The imagination's a powerful thing,” I start.

He looks up with red-rimmed eyes. “You think I’m mad don’t you? Well if that’s the case, put this on, just for a few seconds, then I’ll go and not bother you again.” He leans forward and proffers the beret.

I swallow. “Temazepam 10mg for four weeks OK?” I ask, reaching for my pad.


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Comments by other Members

euclid at 22:45 on 24 October 2013  Report this post
Wonderful piece of flash fiction.
I like flash fiction that tells a complete story as this does.

You might mention the theatre of war. The far east, maybe?

Also, if he was a prisoner of war, he wouldn't have been tortured unless
they thought he had some specific information that they needed (I think).

Great story.

Desormais at 08:12 on 25 October 2013  Report this post
This piece was beautifully paced, with a great story arc. I was reminded of a story I once read (and saw performed in am-dram) called The Monkey's Paw, though when I googled it I saw it was nothing like it. But it had the same sense of growing apprehension for me and kept me glued to the progression of the theme.

I liked the doctor's 'asides' which I thought set the relationship up well, that patronising self-indulgent attitude came through which made the eventual 'chickening out' all the more enjoyable.

those who I see most weeks who treat the practice as a social club, the vast majority who I see once or twice a year with something fairly genuine, and those who never attend.

I'd take another look at this line. Four 'who's in the sentence dragged me out of a story which had already captured my attention, even at this very early stage.

I hadn't thought of approaching the challenge in this way - using only the number of 'para's' that allow the story to remain solid. If I get a moment today I might try my hand.

Well done Nick.


V`yonne at 11:56 on 25 October 2013  Report this post
I should think so! I like the way the doctor would be mind reader wasn't so brave about those thoughts You know if you made it that he would see through his grandfather's eyes... Just a thought...

Bunbry at 13:37 on 25 October 2013  Report this post
Thanks JJ for those very kind comments. Regarding where the chap was prisoner - I've left that to the reader to decide but your suggestion would certainly fit. I had to cut lots of words to make this fit, so couldn't elaborate on why he was tortured but from my own knowledge, a minor infringement of rules in some camps were punished in a way that can only be described as torture. Indeed, the general living conditions could be describe thus in some places.

Hi Sandra, to mention this in the same breath as The Monkey's Paw!! Thank you! I'll have a look at the 'who' words and see what I can do. It might be easier post-challenge when I've more words to play with.

Oonah, thanks for the idea about eyes! I've been lax this year abiout microhorror so who knows i might now use this!


V`yonne at 13:37 on 27 October 2013  Report this post
Oh I would! It's a good story, Nick.

Bunbry at 13:39 on 27 October 2013  Report this post
You're very kind Oonah, my only concern is, it ain't horror!!

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