If Only I Could Afford My Copay

If Only I Could Afford My Copay

A Story by AshlynKay
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Short thriller with supernatural tones. A serious attempt at a silly concept.

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Travis was your typical junior in college, sports medicine major, gym rat. Protein shake in one hand, phone in the other. His sleeveless tank top and matching silk gym shorts constantly acting as a beacon to the body he considered a temple. Women fawned over him; hell, men did too. He reveled in the attention. Men envied him, women wanted him. What more could a dark haired, green eyed 24 year old ask for?
Insurance, maybe? F**k insurance, he thought, I’m just trying to get f*****g laid.
He left his afternoon class, backpack lazily hung over his left shoulder, phone in hand, and absent-mindedly followed the sidewalk that would lead him to his dorm.
*ding* He looked down as the message notification popped up, showing him a glimpse of who or what it was that was trying to reach him.
“Hey there sexy, you trying to ‘flix ‘n’ chill’ tonight?”
It was Julie. He always had time for Julie. Especially if the winking emoji she had sent to accompany her last message meant what it implied.
“Always. Anything for you,” he typed, a small smirk fluttering across his face.
*ding, ding, ding ding* Back and forth their coy messages and barely hidden innuendos travelled through the airwaves. Travis hadn’t really been watching where he was going. He allowed his peripheral vision to guide him home and steer him free of obstacles. He mindlessly stopped at a crosswalk and waited for the light to indicate when it was safe. Not that he had anywhere specific to be in that moment. The plans he was making with Julie weren’t until much later in the evening.
He replied to her latest thinly veiled offer and began to cross.
*CHING CHING*
The kid riding along on his bicycle slammed into Travis, scraping against his exposed ribs.
“What the f**k kid!” Travis yelled as he frantically inspected his barely bleeding wound. The kid was half way down the sidewalk when Travis looked up again.
“Hey! Kid! I said what the hell dude? Get back here!”
Immediately, the bike stopped. Travis took a step towards the boy with the chestnut hair. As soon as his foot landed, Travis realized something wasn’t right.
Dark, empty eyes spun to meet his. The boy’s bicycle and body were still facing forward but his head spun like an owl’s to greet Travis’ bemoaning. The boy’s mouth hung unnaturally ajar. Endless voids peered at Travis from the places the boy’s eyes and mouth should have been.
Carelessly, or purely out of astonishment, Travis began to speak again.
“Kid, you really need to-”
“CHING CHING. CHING CHING”
The trilling of the bicycle bell was unexpected and jarring. Before Travis had a moment to regain his thoughts and composure, the kid’s head had turned back around and he and his bike had disappeared.
What. The. Actual. F**k? Travis thought. Bewildered, he again scanned his chiseled body for a damage report. That damn kid had run over his brand new Adidas, which also meant he’d run over Travis’ feet. Sharp, rusted bike handles had torn right through his UnderArmour tank top.
“Of course, OF COURSE! I paid out the a*s for these,” he lamented, to no one in particular. Fiddling with the small tear in his shirt, he noticed the cut on his ribs had a very odd shape. It almost looked like it was patterned. Like a bicycle chain. But that was crazy, not to mention nearly impossible.
Travis brushed the entire encounter off. It was odd as hell, but he had plans to go get s**t faced at the nearest bar with Julie later. Who the f**k cared about some kid on a bike?
It was a short walk from the intersection to Travis’ dorm room. He half knocked as he simultaneously unlocked and opened the door. The scene that graced his eyes was one of pure testosterone fueled glory.
Brian, Travis’ roommate, was lazily draped across his bed, his headset slightly askew. Fragments of potato chips were clinging to his bloated stomach, swept to one side or another by his numerous and slightly greasy blonde body hairs. Brian’s old weathered boxers barely left anything to the imagination as he mindlessly pawed at his apparently itchy testicles.
“‘Sup?” Brian asked, as muffled gunshots and group chats spat in his ear.
“Not much, dude. It was a pretty chill day up until my walk home. Some fuckwad on a bicycle ran over my new shoes,” Travis replied, chucking his bag near his desk and flopping on his bed.
“Did you kick his a*s?” Brian asked, eyes still laser focused on his television.
“Nah, it was just some stupid kid. His bike ripped my shirt though. I’m a little pissed about it. Julie and I were gonna meet at the Beer Exchange tonight. You wanna come?”
Travis wasn’t sure why he’d invited Brian. He knew he was going to say no, which he did. It was probably just to cover his a*s later. No ‘ well you never invite me out’ s**t in his future. He couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off. He was sure a night out would help put his weird encounter behind him. A night out to get behind someone else would help a lot, too, he thought to himself.
*ching ching*
The sound made Travis jump a little. There was no way. This was campus after all. Tons of people bike to class. God, he was being ridiculous.
*ching ching*
“Bro, if you’re going to be playing Call of Duty all night, at least turn your phone volume down. I don’t want to hear your booty calls messaging you all day.”
“Huh?” Brian asked, removing one half of his headset, “ Dude, my phone has been dead for like 4 hours. Take a nap or a Midol. Chill.”
“Fair as f**k. Sorry man. Hey, does it smell weird in here to you? Like a weird rubber smell?”
Brian rolled his eyes before shaking his head no and returning the headset to its natural perch upon his head. Travis knew Brian was right. He had had a long day. It was four in the afternoon now and he wasn’t leaving until nine. He took a shower and drifted off for a few restless hours of sleep.
Searing pain tore through his body like a bullet train, waking him up from his not-so-worth-it nap. Fires burned behind his eyes, accompanied by an unidentifiable, ear splitting screech. A metallic taste danced on his tongue. The faint smell of burning rubber greeted him as he violently sat up.
It took several minutes for Travis’ odd symptoms to subside. He tempered his breathing and tried to steady his racing heart. Unsettled by his dreams only to be awakened by sheer pain, was something he hadn’t dealt with since his time on the high school football team.
Breathe in, two, three, four. Breathe out, two, three, four. His whole body ached. It felt as if all the flesh had been ripped off his body and hastily sewn back together before he woke up. Slowly, he got up and crept to the bathroom for some pain relief. God damn if he was going to let a little headache and sore arms ruin his time tonight. They were going to feel the same in the morning with the way he planned on drinking.
*ching ching* Or was it a *ding*? It was just some stupid, creep. Jesus, man. Pull yourself together. It’s just Julie. Seemingly convinced by himself, he went and checked his phone. It was, in fact, Julie. And he was now late.
“F**k! I overslept. Give me 10 minutes and I’m there,” he typed clumsily as he pieced a decent bar outfit together. Not even Barry Allen could have kept pace with Travis as he sped out of his dorm room and headed towards the bar.
He loved living on campus. It was close enough to everything he could need and far enough away from home for him to enjoy his breaks. It was pointless for him to have a car. He needed to fit cardio in whenever he could, too. He hated cardio. However, he couldn't deny the beauty around him outside in the dark. Orange light cascaded around him as he trotted under the street lamps. He looked up to see the bright, almost full, moon, it’s light kissing dewy grass, mirroring the sky above.
The crickets chirped happily, guiding Travis through the maze of sidewalks. Occasionally, he’d pass one or two other students drunkenly swaying towards their dorm. Whether they made it there, or found a patch of grass to “sleep” on, wasn’t his problem.
*Ching ching*
Travis pulled out his phone and sent a quick message to Julie.
*ching ching*
A bitter aroma filled the air. Burnt rubber. Breath caught in his throat. Travis picked up his pace. A few more blocks and he would be at his destination.
*Ching ching*
Travis, giving into his now mild paranoia and feeling utterly ridiculous, spun around. Upon seeing absolutely nothing behind him, he began to jog. F**k. This. S**t. He thought to himself. Pounding blood was the only sound that filled his ears now. If he had made any mental limitations to his drinking, those plans were off the table now. He was blacking out. No matter how much it was going to cost him. Brief daydreams of warm bourbon caressing him from the inside out until his mind was a puddle of goop, drifted to him as he burst through the door to the bar.
Taking a left through the doors he spotted Julie, Trisha, Thomas and Greg all sitting at their regular table. Breathing a sigh of relief, Travis eagerly took his place at the table.
Smiles and head nods of acknowledgement greeted him as he sat down. Almost frantically, his eyes scanned for the closest wait staff. When he spotted her, they locked eyes and he flagged her down.
“What can I-”
“Jagerbomb. Two. Please, it’s been a long day” He handed her his ID and card and she left.
“Jesus, dude. Jager? Right off the bat? Gross,” Greg noted.
“I f*****g know dude. I’m going heavy tonight.”
*Ching Ching* Not here too, Travis thought. His eyebrows furrowed. His heart palpitations returned. He could have sworn, mixed in with the potent bar fragrances, there was a hint of...
“Are you ready for finals, Julie?” Trisha asked, bringing Travis back to reality. A resounding no came from the other four.
Magically, Travis’ drinks appeared. He downed the first one before the second hit the table. He ordered his third and fourth drinks and some fries. He wanted to get s**t faced and black out. God damn did he hate puking though.
*ching ching*
Glass slammed on wood, as he downed his second shot. He half heartedly participated in the conversation around him. Travis wanted to pay attention. Julie was all over him. Hand placed gently on his thigh, she leaned in close to talk in his ear. Her golden curls caressed his shoulder and he couldn’t help but notice the extremely deep v-cut shirt she had worn.
*Ching ching*
Travis took another deep pull from his third drink. Or was it his fourth? He didn’t know or care. Burnt rubber and bicycle bell chimes had seemed to follow him ever since that kid ran into him that morning. His side burned. Hoping to drown out the sounds and smells that had been haunting him all day, he took another deep drink and passionately kissed Julie. Thank god for beautiful distractions.
He ate and drank until his mind had finally begun to float in all the liquor he’d drunk. His limbs directed themselves, as he was no longer in charge of them. Slurred speech sloshed its way out of his mouth. Travis’ plan had worked though. He couldn’t smell burning rubber anymore. Whether that was because his nose was swollen in his drunken stupor or if the smell was actually gone, he couldn’t be sure. Nor did he care.
Julie had gotten progressively more annoyed with Travis throughout the night. With every drink placed in front of him, a vicious glare was shot his way. He had noticed. His mind was made up. He’d committed to blacking out. Not to mention the amount of money he’d spent to pursue that commitment.
He knew he’d blown his chance with her. Hopefully only for tonight. Travis fumbled with his phone as he tried to find the Uber app. Double vision and severe drunkenness made things exceedingly difficult.
F**k it, he thought, I walked here. I can make it home.
By this point Thomas had already left, Trisha and Greg were hand in hand as they, too, began to leave, and Julie strongly urged Travis to call a ride.
“I’ll make it home jus fine Jules.”
She rolled her eyes at him and walked out of the door with the other two.
He took a few breaths as he psyched himself up. You got this. It’s just a walk home. So what if the room’s sideways bro. We just gotta make it home. That’s like….. Only a block away?
Travis’ confidence had left with his other bodily functions. He was not convinced in the slightest that his house was a block away. Or, that he could even make it to his house. Would he even remember where he lived?
He audibly chuckled to himself at the thought. He’d passed out in and around stranger places. Bracing himself with everything in his path, Travis exited the bar. He ignored the snickers and stares that trailed him like wolves trailing their next meal and headed, he assumed, in the direction of the door.
Travis found himself, again, bathed in the luminous splendor of the moon. He stooped down to admire the crystalline dew drops. Weak muscles failed him and he face planted into the ground. The cold, wet earth smelled wonderful as it soothed his blistering cheeks. Instantaneously, he breathed deeper, his heart slowed, the world spun behind closed eyelids, and the crickets sang him the sweetest lullaby.
*Ching Ching*
Sunlight pierced through his eyelids and straight into his brain. The migraine he now had was worse in every way than he prepared for. It felt as though 2 railroad ties had been shoved through his eye sockets and pinned him to the ground he still lay upon.
Travis’ whole body was alight with fresh pain. Searing in his head, a dull throbbing throughout his muscles, and sharp stabs in the area near his “bike chain” cut. Groaning, he got to his feet and begrudgingly surveyed his surroundings. Instant regret. He didn’t recognize where he was.
He cursed his own stupidity as he searched the ground for his phone. Thankfully, it was still there next to him but, as he had assumed, it was dead. He crossed his arms while he contemplated which directions seemed best to trial and error. He wasn’t far from the sidewalk, so at least town was relatively close. Travis began to walk.
*Ching Ching*
A few moments passed and relief slowly settled in. his surroundings were becoming recognizable again. He knew he was close to his dorm. Mild curiosity struck him as he mindlessly ran his fingers along his torso while he walked. A large, squishy lump had formed on his side. Travis fidgeted with it, similar to someone poking a known bruise, as he passed through town. He’d check it out when he got home. How could he be sure he wasn’t mugged in his sleep?
Finally, he made it to his room. Spilling in like slime through fingers, he gingerly shut the door behind him in. He didn’t want to wake Brian. Brian, however, was still where Travis had left him however many hours ago. Travis began to undress. He needed a shower and to sleep in an actual bed. He f*****g hurt everywhere.
“Dude! What the f**k?!” Brian yelled.
“Aw, what man? Someone campin’?”
“Always, but no. Is that where the kid hit you with his bike? You need to get that looked at because, holy f**k.”
Travis looked down. From just below his n****e to above his belly button, varying shades of purple, red, blue and black radiated from the now clearly defined chain-like cut. The cut itself had formed the large, squishy mass his fingers had fondled on his walk home.
“Dude, I wish I could. But I don’t have insurance. Worst thing that’ll happen is I’ll get lock jaw. I’ll just go to the ER then, ya know?”
Brian sighed heavily, “Just be careful, man. That looks like it could get really infected.”
“Thanks man, I’ll keep an eye on it,” Travis replied. He grabbed a towel and headed for a much needed shower. Maybe all he needed was a nice steamy shower to clean his wound, relax his muscles and get him ready for a deep rest.
He ached everywhere. Deep down, he knew it wasn’t just his hangover. Admitting it, though, would be admitting defeat. It was just a damn scrape, he thought, if I still hurt this bad tomorrow I’ll go into urgent care.
Travis began rooting around the room for the box that could barely pass as a first aid kit. He wanted to at least put some ointment on his side. Better late than never, he justified to himself. When he found what he was searching for, he grabbed it and headed to the shower.
Running water cascaded over his tired, aching body. The heat seeped deep to his bones. Inhaling the steam, Travis could have sworn the smell of rubber emanated out of the shower head. He grabbed the body wash and began to carefully scrub the filth off of him. He couldn’t actually tell if he was dirty or not. Fresh bruises littered his body anywhere there was space for them.
Dread sank in the pit of Travis’ stomach. He knew this wasn’t normal. Not for a scrape, not for a night spent sleeping in a park, not for any situation he’d placed himself in in the last week. He sighed as he resigned to go to the emergency room.
Drowsiness swept across Travis like a weighted blanket as soon as he stepped out of the warm caress of the shower. He’d have to go after a nap. Dull throbbing had begun to beat against his skull again. Relief that had been brought by the warm water was short lived. He took some pain medication and headed for his bed.
His bed cradled him like a mother cradling her baby. He’d never felt so comfortable in that bed. Tense limbs finally relaxed, breathing slowed and his eyelids felt as though ten pound weights sat upon them. As the world faded away, a metallic taste danced on his tongue. The distinct smell of rubber assaulted his nose, but he was too tired to be worried.
*ching ching, ching ching* He had fallen into the comforting arms of sleep's embrace.
Travis’ eyes snapped open. He couldn’t breathe. His eyes flailed wildly, assessing his surroundings. Heat tore through his legs, up his spine and down his arms. What’s happening?! Where am I? What the hell?!
He was in the middle of an unfamiliar meadow. Travis had never been one to walk around in his sleep before. This only added to his panic. The full moon could only illuminate so much. The smell of rubber was so strong it almost made him puke. No matter how much he spat, the overwhelming metal taste wouldn’t leave his tongue. Feeling as if he’d taken a sledge hammer to his brain, Travis tried to focus. Every inch of his body felt as if the flesh was being stripped off. Heat and blood oozed from the bicycle chain cut on his side.
Screams and the trilling of bicycle bells filled the air around him. Were they his screams? He looked down at his hands and he screamed in terror. Flesh had indeed stripped from his bones. He could see every bone and the tendons in his hand. He was writhing on the ground by this point. Pulling at his face to stop the pain in his skull, frantically moving to try and dissipate the unfathomable pain. A cold, solid chill ran up his spine and he couldn’t move. The feeling ran through to his left hand. He watched as the bones in his hand began to twinkle in the moonlight, blood trickled off what looked like metal protruding through where bones should have been.
WHAT THE F**K? WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?!
Involuntarily, he felt himself contorting into unnatural positions. His bones rearranging themselves before solidifying. The agony he felt overtook him and all rational thought. His clothes tore off him as his new form took shape.
Flesh fell from bone and blood soaked the ground. How he was able to maintain conciousness, he would never know.
Screams and bicycle bells echoed across the meadow until the screams finally faded away. The bells chimed frantically from all directions. Bathed in the soft glow of the full moon, four bicycles stood without riders, bells chiming. Each bike had its own pile of shredded human clothes, flesh and hair beneath it. Blood glistened in the moonlight as it slowly slicked off their aluminum bodies, to the crimson pools waiting below.
A young boy with chestnut hair rode out of the forest surrounding the meadow and a deafening silence filled the air. The boy’s mouth hung unnaturally ajar. Endless voids peered at the bikes from the places the boy’s eyes and mouth should have been. He threw his head back and stared at the moon.
*ching ching, ching ching*
Bicycle bells trilled loudly, like wolves howling at the moon.

© 2020 AshlynKay


Author's Note

AshlynKay
First draft, any constructive critisisms welcome.

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Reviews

wow, this is very good and very descriptive, love the imagery. Keep writing always

Posted 7 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

AshlynKay

7 Months Ago

Thank you so much!
Just Kim

7 Months Ago

not a problem, hope you have a good day
I've had nightmares that weren't this good.

Posted 7 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

AshlynKay

7 Months Ago

Thank you! I really appreciate that! I don't write very often so this is very encouraging.

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92 Views
2 Reviews
Added on October 23, 2020
Last Updated on October 23, 2020
Tags: Thriller, first story, supernatural, bicycle, fantasy

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