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Flesh & Bone

Entry for the 3am challenge

By L.C. SchäferPublished 10 days ago 3 min read
Image created with AI

Night after night, it's always the same. I drag myself to the kitchen in a haze, and make myself a hot drink. Coffee, usually. I don't love coffee, but I do like the smell. And it's meant to be good for waking you up, right? That's what I need after such restless, stressful sleep.

I wrap my sore fingers around my favourite mug and drag myself from room to room. My desk hulks in the corner, leering. I avoid its gaze, and the machine that sits on it. Waiting. For me.

In the quiet, I can almost hear it mashing its teeth. The teeth I'm determined not to think about. I shudder.

I can't avoid it forever. Like magnets, we are. The force that repels me, eventually draws me in, just as insistently. To an outsider - a guest, maybe, if I had such a thing - I'd look insane. Trembling. Gibbering. Leaking tears.

Here goes, then. I pick it up, the thing with the blade, and, wincing, set it to my flesh. I get a good chunk this time, which I feed into the machine. It comes to life, whirring, mincing me up, and - this is it! Must seize this opportunity! - my hands leap into action.

Thick blotches splop on the keys. Big splodges with little satellite spatters around each one. Thick, unctious, and bright, bright red. They stand out, proud and paint-like, until my shredded fingers slip on them. Then the machine sucks in all that juice and whirs a little more.

When the whirring stops, I look down at myself, looking for another bit I can sacrifice. The end of a finger, maybe. Just to the first knuckle. Or a toe. It always amazes me, no matter how much I harvest, how much I sacrifice... when next I sit at my desk, there is still some bits smooth and untouched, seeming to blink innocently in the face of my greedy knife.

This one is more painful. The deeper I go, the more it hurts. But that's good, right? Good for the story, I mean. Makes it real. Gives it that... something. The more of me that goes in, the more the story will shine. If I can just bear it. Bare myself. First, to these biting blades and chomping teeth. Then, to the eyes and opinions of others, just as sharp and unforgiving.

Sweat drips, and that too, gets slurped in by the greedy device. It's all fuel. Teeth gritted, I use it. Clack, clack, clack clack... Feverish, now.

The smell of coffee has faded, and all I can smell is blood.

When at last my eyes open, I feel as if I have had very little sleep at all. A riot of scarlet pictures still splattered across the inside of my skull, making me shudder. Me, chewed up, laid bare. Picked over, like I've willingly given myself to vultures. A fool's game, this.

I drag myself to the kitchen, clean out the coffee pot. Spoon in the grounds. Lose myself, briefly, in the ritual of preparing it. Inhale that smell, wrap my fingers round the belly of my favourite mug. And the whole time, I avoid looking at the corner where my desk waits for me. Patient, maybe. Hungry, definitely.

At last, I can procrastinate no longer, and I can procrastinate with the best of them. I might fiddle about on the internet, and tell myself I'm "doing research", or idly flick through the book I'm reading and quote Stephen King to the uncaring room. But at last, I submit to the beast with a sigh. Drag myself over, swing my chair close. Pull the keyboard towards me... and bleed.

Short Story

About the Creator

L.C. Schäfer

Book-baby is available on Kindle Unlimited

Flexing the writing muscle

Never so naked as I am on a page. Subscribe for nudes.

Here be micros

Twitter, Insta Facey

Sometimes writes under S.E.Holz

"I've read books. Well. Chewed books."

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (13)

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  • Donna Fox (HKB)10 days ago

    Oooooo!! I sure hope this is an entry to the 3am challenge!! This was good!! It reminded me of this story someone wrote about a writing machine that produces stories based on the bits and pieces you feed it, I think in the story the MC cut up an old man and fed it to the machine or something...?? I'll have to look for it again... maybe you wrote it??? 🤔

  • Cathy holmes10 days ago

    I like what you did here. The Write Equipment was an excellent, and this is even better. Great entry.

  • A Dark side to the Internet and Writing for sure, well-written LC!

  • Well-wrought! In a way it reminds me of Kafka's "The Penal Colony", primarily this concept of the hungry machine. In Kafka's case he illustrates the absurdity of trying to make such a thing effectively punish others. Here you detail the seeming absurdity of artistic self-torment. Kafkaesque, indeed...

  • Hannah Moore10 days ago

    Excellent entry this. Despite the clarity of where you were going, I still wanted more blood.

  • Sarah Wilcox10 days ago

    This is fantastically terrifying! When I first saw the challenge I thought of The Write Equipment piece of yours and am impressed with your new twist! 👏🫶

  • This si an excellent story and great analogy for pouring out your ideas

  • Lana V Lynx10 days ago

    Oh, the poetry of words. Such a great language for writing. “Bleed.”

  • John Cox10 days ago

    I think the metaphor shows more clearly this time around, LC. Art is terribly personal isn’t it? The transition back from the dream comes as a relief. Wonderful storytelling like always!

  • Thanks for reading! I decided to rewrite The Write Equipment to submit it to the 3AM challenge.

  • This seemed vaguely familiar to me. Have you written something similar?

  • jameel Nawaz10 days ago


  • Nice. When you address the readers in the middle it encourages readers to read more!!! Nice!

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