26 Teeth

“Now just raise your hand if you feel any kind of pain.”

    The whirr of the dentist drill washed out any recognizable sounds and polluted the air with dread. The sadist tip of the tool found it’s mark.

    He didn’t even attempt to pretend this time. Raymond H. Haggarty D.D.S. glanced for just a moment at his patients frantic flailing arms. Her little stick limbs with pronounced veins nearly shot out of the hand-knitted afghan sweater. Mrs. Maurine McDonald grasped the doctor’s shoulders for just a moment before her eyes looked back inside her own skull. Raymond began his real work while Maurine was unconscious, hopefully having pleasant dreams about her great-grandchildren. A hidden smile grew behind the white disposable medical mask. Dr. Haggarty gingerly placed the more vital mask over his patient’s face and turned the nitrous oxide on.

    Raymond had his normal moment of shame sink in. It uncoiled with serpentine smoothness. He was barely nine years old peeking through the slit of his parent’s open bedroom door. Their clothes littered the floor as they were engulfed in one another. Raymond tried to keep his hurried breaths quieter than the panting of his elder’s. He matched the rhythms they kept and was never discovered. Even then it was apparent to the young boy that this wasn’t meant for him to view, but that knowledge made everything more enticing. The shame gave him strength.

With a single blink and all of existence appeared within Raymond’s vision. Decayed buildings secreted amorphous larvae bigger than city buses. The creatures weaved in and out of broken windows and structural liabilities. Men and women littered the streets intersecting these partially demolished engineering wonders. These people were creating a din of laughter, screams, and meat being accosted by countless things. This spectacle of painful debauchery was sprinkled with a slight layer of ash that made blasphemous patterns as it fell from above and blew in the wind. Moving images of unfathomable beasts came to life in the grey. Creatures with too many or not enough appendages thrusted their parts into dully colored innocence.

Pandemonium compounded to such an extreme that as Dr. Haggarty viewed the unseen his very brain vibrated to the hum of reality unraveling. Then – all in the same moment – silence. The innumerable eyes of horror that were gnawing, slithering, raping, and bludgeoning anything near jolted to a stop… and stared at Raymond.

He opened his eyes, letting the shame seep into his loins, and shivered with arousal.

The task at hand recentered in Dr. Haggarty’s mind. Hovering his free hand over the meticulously sanitized table of stainless steel with neat formations of surgical grade instruments and a small ornate box that looked very out of place. Raymond selected the mouth prop from the many options, which he slowly nestled between Maurine’s upper and lower jaw. Next, the evacuation tube sucked up the building pools of saliva behind the elderly woman’s spotted tongue. Out of habit Haggarty almost muttered, “Alright, now close,” to help the tool do it’s job better, but scrunched up his face at his nearly silly mistake. He chuckled.

    Where the doctor originally began inflicting pain he resumed. His drill began excavating one of Maurine’s maxillary second molars. Being that this ritual was well practiced for Raymond, he moved on to the tooth’s twin within minutes. The incantation required precision – only towards the end – thus the doctor’s steady and gentle hand was replaced with the rage of a stamping hoof. He excavated the second to last molars until their nerves were nearly exposed. Taking the evacuation tube once more, Dr. Haggarty cleaned the mess that collected on the brittle woman’s lower jaw.

    It was almost complete.

    Raymond removed his mask and took in a large breath of air between his barely open lips and spoke the words, “Rashuit un Vertod des ral Tet vorce,” and with the slightest movements of his wrist began carving. From the innumerable times practicing these minute overlapping circles and the three hatch marks that accompany them, the doctor barely had to focus his eyes on the work in front of him; hand becoming a separate entity that was merely connected by ever fleeting flesh and bone. The art was no longer under his control.


    His body quivered as the ancient word encompassed the entire room. The voice had no body from which the word formed, but Raymond could feel hot breath against the back of his neck. Equal spasms of fear and pleasure ricocheted through his innards causing tears to collect in his eyes.

Dr. Haggarty plucked the ornate box off his bench of tools and rubbed the warm hexagon between his fingers. The familiar sensation of a trillion microscopic movements from within the tiny wooden structure brought a full body heat that Raymond could never describe, but knew it was more vital than anything he had ever experienced. Indents criss-crossed the angles of the box making full loops in some cases. Their shallow depths felt like deep scars that brought back thunderclaps of memories.

Children in rotted robes swung by their necks from gallow ropes, while emaciated dogs tore at one another inches below. Raymond could smell bread baking.

Silhouettes of writhing figures caressed all manner of beast in the reflecting moonlight of a tepid lake. Long extinct serpents constricted limbs and pumped venom into arteries. Undefined bodies of muscle and fur forced their genitals into countless orifices. Raymond felt the murky water begin to boil below his waist.

Shrieks shocked the steeply sloped pressurized cylinder of weathered seats as yellow oxygen masks fell from below small illuminated depictions of seat belts and crossed-out cigarettes. Raymond looked out his small window to see the wing of the plane canvassed in pulsating tumors and bursting cysts.

He moved his consciousness back to the present and opened the foreign box with a turn, squinting at its contents: blackness. Raymond scooped out a latex dressed fingerful of the dark paste that had always lived within the container and gently squeezed it between his digits. A vast sensation of infinitesimal pin pricks surged below his knuckles. His mouth turned into a flooding reservoir of saliva.

An overwhelming scent reminiscent of burnt popcorn saturated the room and the voice whispered, “Ul sephth qwuil, Raelmyond.”

Dr. Raymond Haggarty applied the slight bit of paste to his cavity filling instrument. His heart grew weight as he lost direct contact with the substance. The doctor took a moment to steady his hand then realized he was already within Maurine’s mouth with the tool. His movements were unnaturally quick, which he only knew by the tautness of his ligaments and tendons; the eye wasn’t sharp enough to notice.

With a turn of the wrist Haggarty centered his instrument perfectly between the absent spaces of the molars and in a fractured tone uttered, “Yoerw vel sihur.” The consistency of the black substance became a liquid and drifted away from the tool. Like a glass of water in zero gravity, the former contents of the small ornate box floated in the oral cavern. A faint pulsing glow emanated from the morphing substance; equally dividing itself to separate sides of the mouth.

Placing the cavity filling tool back on his bench, Raymond waited for the numerous black shapes to find their marks. The rhythmic glow they produced now became one constant source of light, which showed every fleshy crease and crack of Maurine’s mouth. The candid internal expanse began to darken again, as swirling wisps of shadows flocked without direction around worn teeth and gums. These manifestations of negative light became a torrent amongst the still globs of unknown liquid as Haggarty watched with bloated pupils. The corner of his mouth rose a sliver and he spoke the last words of the incantation: “Tresht.”

Instantaneously all the extraordinary activity ceased. The excavated teeth slurped up the drifting material, pooling above the tiny etched designs. All of the unnatural light and shadows died out once the fillings settled and solidified into a strong replacement for the original teeth. Dr. Haggarty retrieved his cavity filling instrument, using the opposite end this time to test the strength of the reinforced molars. When he pressed on them tendrils of shade whipped from every angle, then quickly retreated back into the filling. Raymond pulled down the white mask covering his face, so it hung around his neck, and he smiled.

Closing the valve on the o2 tank, the doctor gently plucked the other mask from Maurine’s face, cleaned up any remnants of his work with the evacuation tube, and took the mouth prop out from between her jaws.

“How’re we feeling?” Raymond quietly asked as Maurine slowly roused.

She placed a hand on the her cheek and replied, “Sore. Very sore,” in a groggy voice.”

“Well,” he began as he raised the examination chair to a sitting position, “those two cavities were very close to the roots, so I really had to get in there. You’ll probably be aching for the next couple of days, but it’s better than another route canal, right?”

Maurine nodded with a blank slack-jawed expression. The doctor just smiled back at her and removed the light blue disposable bib that rested on the afghan. He placed an arm around her while helping the frail figure to her feet.

Dr. Raymond H. Haggarty D.D.S. loomed over the short woman as he showed her to the door, trying to get another glimpse into her newly adjusted mouth. His teeth were grinding right behind his lips.

As he stretched his arm in front of Maurine, opening the door for her back into the reception area, Raymond said, “Let’s see that smile.”


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