“the veins” Short Story by Bogdan Dragos

Something wasn’t quite right in this small, barren room. The man sitting across the square table, dressed in a white coat, seemed a little to calm for someone in reaching distance.

‘I could just reach for that bald head and snap the neck real nice,’ he thought as he watched the man. ‘What does he want from me? More questions?’

It was indeed more questions.

“So,” said the man in the white coat, “if you are ready to speak, I am ready to listen. I am here for you.”

“How come you’re still alive?” he asked the man.

And the man answered, “What do you mean?”

“Are you one of the few who adapted?”

“Adapted? That’s interesting. Please, explain. What do you understand through this adaptation you speak of?”

He shrugged. “I just… thought I’m the only one who adapted. To the new life.”

“I see. And what about your family?”

“What family?”

“Your wife and child. Did they not adapt to this new life?”

“Stop trying to manipulate me, Mister White Coat. I know you know they’re dead.”

“Yeah, but I’d like to know why are they dead.”

“They didn’t adapt. They were too trusting. And have been touched by the veins. I had to dispose of them. So they wouldn’t infect others.”

“Or yourself.”

“Or myself, sure. Sounds selfish but adapting means you come to understand that once touched by the veins, a human being is no longer who they were. They become one of the infected and from there they only live to spread the infection even further. Make more veins. The world is at its end. Everything will be taken over by the veins. If you don’t adapt, you die.”

“I see. So tell me then, where do the veins come from? And why do you call them so?”

“I’ve no other name for them. I’m not some scientist. I just describe what I see. And heck if I know where they come from. I’m starting to think they were created. Artificially. In some lab, you know?”

“Well–”

“Actually, you look like someone who works in a lab, to be honest. You motherfu — ah!”

He could not leap across the table to reach the man in the white coat. The chair held him back with cables apparently.

“What the fuck? What’s going on here? Who in the fuck are you?”

“Relax, I’m only trying to help. I want to help you. Please.”

But there was no reasoning with him. He kept screaming that the veins had gotten to everybody but him.

Some days later after many sedatives and solitary confinement he was given a piece of paper in his cell and a pen and was asked to draw what the veins look like.

It took him the whole day and finally he drew the picture of a woman.

***

Bogdan Dragos works as a dispatcher for a Romanian gambling company (supervising casinos) and that implies spending twelve hours alone in the office (where he daydreams and writes poetry that he emails to himself). He is the author of Pour the Whiskey Over My Heart and Set it On Fire.

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