Craig Strete's "The Bleeding Man" (The Final Quick Thing to Read...)
My original plan was to end this with a short story of my creation. "This: being the short series of quick reads I have been posting over the past few days. I have a handful of nearly finished horror stories floating around, some essentially complete except for trimmings and some essentially incomplete, in a much more precise use of the word "essential". However, last night on NPR, I heard a Halloween episode of Hearing Voices. I am not familiar with the show, itself, but the format is a compilation of various spoken (with some sung) word tidbits around some weekly theme. Sarah and myself were running errands at the time, so the only clear portion we heard, outside of a song that we came into about the beginning but now escapes me, was a tale of a boy going trick-or-treating as a nun with an unexpected ending (I use this term the opposite of lightly). Right as we were pulling up to our first errand, picking up some things at Parkway Place Mall, there was some radioplay rendition about a boy, or so I assumed at the time, who constantly bled from his chest. Investigating later that night, it turns out that it was a bleeding man, and the story was adapted by a short story by Craig Strete called just that: "The Bleeding Man".
In some alternate world, be it a futuristic society or an America gone awry, there is a government research base that includes a patient, a twenty-something Native American with a deep gash on his chest. The wound bleeds continuously. Not a little, faint trickle; but on the order of up to three pints every day. As impossible as this seems, the story of his origin is equally impossible. His uncle describes his parents trying to kill him in the womb after being lost on a path and so forth. They were killed by him shortly after his birth, and were found "five days decayed" mere minutes later. In the midst of this mystery, a Miss Dow, a strong-willed and self-serving agent from The Government has toppled a Dr. Santell from his place while still demanding that he play along. She eventually lets Santell, and the reader, in on The Government's plans for the bleeding man, right about the time he starts drinking his own blood and strange things happen to glass.
Unfortunately, this short last saw publication as the eponymous story in a thin hardcover collection about the time I was born. If you are up for it, you can track down a few library copies on Amazon as one of those "penny books". Fortunately, though, the author has given his permission for a third party website to set his stories up as free downloads. You can get The Bleeding Man and Other Tales from an OCRed PDF. The spacing and paragraphs are not formatted super, but it is readable and comes out to be about 10 pages in this format (maybe a ten minute read, or so). It is a curious story and definitely memorable.
If you have to try an assign a meaning to it, then I would go for the broad strokes. An American Indian who bleeds from an old wound and is treated as a mute with retardation, who actually is more than he appears, is the victim, turned into a monster by his captors, of a self-serving government who does not even consider him properly human. Hmmm. I wonder what that could be about. [Not the lack of a question mark, there...] As for the glass "eating" thing? I don't know.
There you go, and have a fun and happy Halloween.
Si Vales, Valeo