The Anatomy Lesson of Doctor Nicolaes Tulp – a practice at creative writing

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I remembered waking up from the cold. It was a kind of cold that penetrated skin and bones. I lay flat on my back on the steel gurney as they all looked down on me. Their faces were a mixture of disgust, shock, and…a tiny bit of fascination. I wanted to scream at them, at anyone but I couldn’t move a single muscle, not a single finger.

I could hear the professor, Doctor Nicolaes Tulp, talking to his students. He explained to them the magnificence of the human body. He told them of the various organs and their respective functionalities. He told them of the different diseases that could afflict each one. The students murmured their amazement and whispered their varying opinions and ideas.

I wanted to shout. I wanted to scream but I remained frozen. Nicolaes Tulp took a scalpel from the steel tray. It glinted menacingly at me; I saw myself reflected on its face. I was naked and ashen gray. But I was not dead. I was not dead! Doctor Tulp positioned the knife at my left arm. Concentration masked his bearded face and made more evident by the beads of sweat that had gathered on his forehead. He started flaying the skin off of my arm. The pain that came with it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. I felt every moment of it – the blade biting into my skin, digging into it just deep enough for the good, old doctor to peel it off. He pulled and removed it expertly as if he was removing a simple glove.

It was a nightmare that had spilled through the cracks of the dreaming and into the expanse of reality.

The doctor looked into me, into my eyes, and what I saw in them horrified me more than the flaying of my skin. He knew. He was aware. I was in thrall to him and his twisted experiment.

It was then that the laboratory doors were pushed open with a force that reverberated within the room. Everyone, including Tulp, all stared at the newcomer. His voice sounded familiar.

The pain was too great and I slipped into the clutches of unconsciousness.