Black Petals Issue #94 Winter, 2021

Tumour Wakes Up
Home
BP Artists and Illustrators
BP Guidelines
Mars-News, Views and Commentary-Chris Friend
Basement Dweller-Fiction by Justin Swartz
The Beating of Their Wings-Fiction by Brian Maycock
Does the Bogeyman Live Downstairs?-Fiction by Clive Owen Barry
Dark Little Boxes-Fiction by C. M. Barnes
Death by Midnight-Fiction by Charlie Cancel
Forearmed-Fiction by Jan Cronos
Inconceivable-Fiction by Rich Rose
The Wolf's Den-Fiction by J. B. Polk
Treachery-Fiction by Ramon F. Irizarri
Tumour Wakes Up-Fiction by Alexis Gkantiragas
The Opal Ring-Fiction by Michael Dority
Flora and Fauna-Flash Fiction by Roy Dorman
Gnaw-Flash Fiction by Tony Kidd
Mad Money-Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Madonna of the Damned-Flash Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Special Teeth-Flash Fiction by KJ Hannah Greenberg
The Death Set-4 Poems by Hillary Lyon
Five Haiku-Poems by C. D. Marcum
Misanthrope-Poem by Donna Dallas
The Wish Tree-3 poems by Christopher Hivner
Nebulous-3 poems by Juan Manuel Perez
The Sphinx at Night-5 Poems by Meg Smith
Nameless-Poem by David Barber

94_bp_tumour_kjhgreenberg.jpg
Art by KJ Hannah Greenberg 2021

Tumour Wakes Up

 

Alexis Gkantiragas

 

Teratomas - a freakish product of the human body and the stuff of nightmares.  A tumour that differentiates into all kinds of tissues or in plain English - they look alive. Teeth, muscle and sightless eyes await those unfortunate enough to witness them. Here is one now! Phill doesn’t know he has a tumour, it isn’t killing him - it’s just growing away quietly. The thing is, this particular tumour is a little different It already boasts all of those standard features we know and love in an off-the-shelf, run-of-the-mill teratoma, but now something is changing, unfolding, evolving... It has reached a critical mass of nerve cells and it is waking up. It would blink if it had eyelids. The synaptic transmissions flow in that strange pattern that has eluded all of modern science and then... Consciousness.

Tumour likes his new world. The acidic tang of his little universe feels great. Tumour stretches, and its muscles twitch. Phil feels a strange jolt of pain.

“I must see the doctor about that” he mutters to himself, wincing. Tumour begins his planned invasion by slowly replacing the nerve cells around him with his own, corrupted tissue. Phil feels a little unwell but carries on with his life as usual, working as an investment banker late into the night, shifting money around, his accounts growing with the same inevitability as the creature inside him.

Over time, Tumour feels the edges of its body being agitated. White blood cells pound the boundaries of his body, leaving debris in their wake. Retaliation comes swiftly, growing like ivy, finding the lymph nodes and choking their blood supply, devouring the dead tissue and claiming it as its own. It spreads around the body unimpeded – dividing and conquering.

Lumps appear on Phil’s body, and he starts to worry, he books a doctor’s appointment for a week’s time. That is when Tumour crosses the blood-brain barrier and claims Phil’s mind. Sight, sound, smell and touch flood into Tumour. At first dazzled, then filled with wonder, Tumour comes to terms with the changes. Within a few days, Tumour begins to understand the strange world in which it exists. It knows it needs to act fast before it is carved out of Phil’s body. Tumour begins to flood Phil’s bloodstream with a tide of endorphins. Phil calls the doctor to cancel the appointment.

 “Sorry to cancel but I feel great now!”

Brains are strange organs. A human brain requires around 20 per cent of a human’s food intake, and it needs it in the form of sugar. But Tumour is the new brain now, spreading from head to toe, from thalamus to thumb, from cornea to coccyx. And he is hungry. Phil can hardly keep up.  Chocolate and fast food populate Phil’s fevered dreams. He eats as much sweet food as his stomach can hold but finds himself always wanting more. Tumour drives him harder and harder to eat more and more until he stops sleeping entirely, reduced now to merely feeding.

Fortunately for Tumour, Phil lives alone so the strange changes that have come over him of late have passed unnoticed. He was fired from his job a few days ago after he stopped turning up. Phil has become completely isolated. To tell the truth, we should probably call the body that was once Phil – “the vessel”. For Phil is now little more than that. Tumour has total control now.

Even this isn’t enough for Tumour. The thing about cancer is it rarely spreads to other individuals. Transmissible cancers are freakish oddities in the natural world. Tumour isn’t most cancers though; Tumour can think and feel and right now all it can feel is a desperate urge to spread and grow. There is a whole world out there waiting to be discovered.

Tiny lumps begin to appear on the roof of Phil’s mouth. They are, for want of a better word, foetuses — small bundles of stem cells coated in a sticky substance with a nerve bundle at their core.

Now comes the tricky part. Wielding its vessel like a master puppeteer, Tumour lands a job at a burger joint. It is perfect. The kitchen is hidden from view behind a closed door and he is the sole cook. Music blares out of the room at all hours so the customers can’t hear him spitting his tiny offspring onto each and every burger he prepares. Most will be dissolved in stomach acid soon after they are eaten, but some, just a few, will latch onto the lining of the oesophagus or stick in the mouth. From there they will grow and eventually metastasize into the blood and from there... from there anything is possible.

 

6th November 2032

Dear diary,

I thought it might be useful to start recording my thoughts so I can look back on the changes that came over me. I am becoming quite accustomed to my new existence. Navigating my vessel’s memories proved somewhat of a challenge but I have now mastered the skills and knowledge that it built up during its life. I am, without a doubt, the most intelligent creature on Earth. Just as my vessel became me, so humanity shall itself evolve. I am not human; I am what comes next.

Best,
Tumour

 


Alexis is a second-year molecular biology student at UCL who has published a range of scientific papers and is CEO for a peer-reviewed journal.

Site Maintained by Fossil Publications