Stranded on a tropical island, Dr No-Name has no mobile phone, no wallet, no keys, no passport. No left hand, no shoes and no memory. What she does have is a blister pack of nicotine gums, two minibar-sized bottles of whisky (consumed), and what appears to be an endless supply of coconuts. She can’t possibly get into any worse trouble, can she?
In the Palm
Elna Holst © 2019
All Rights Reserved
I am drunk and about to chop my hand off. There is a correlation between these two states of being, or becoming; but it isn’t that I am crazed and delirious from the alcohol. On this short notice, it’s the only anaesthetic available to me—and the hand needs to go.
Despite my grogginess on first coming to, I recognised the symptoms of a necrotising infection: the tissue death eating away at my digits—the fifth and the second are already black, all but falling off on their own—the red and purple nebulae spreading over the back of my hand, my palm, inching up towards my wrist.
I need to amputate. I need to amputate right now, if there’s even the remotest possibility the bacteria haven’t reached any of my vital organs yet.
There will be time enough for questions later—with a little, or rather a freighter-shipload of luck. Because I do have questions. Like, where am I?
Who am I?
What am I doing here?
Checking that I have my penknife at the ready, I start tightening my primitively devised tourniquet: a stick and a belt. It’s like something out of a survivalist’s wet, apocalyptic nightmare.
Fortunately—incomprehensibly—there were two minibar-sized bottles of whisky in the sorry, debris-filled excuse of a handbag I had slung over my shoulder, caught at my hip, and wound across my chest in a way that restricted my breathing when I regained consciousness. I was alone, drenched and shivering like a stray, on this abandoned strip of beach in No Place.
Maybe I’m a recovering alcoholic. It would explain the blackout. But it seems unlikely, since the spirits performed their magic after just a gulp or two, offering a warm, tingly sensation that managed to put a cap on my agony, strengthening my resolve.
I am not going to get the tourniquet any tighter. My right hand is shaking as I reach for the puny knife, making sure I have the rags I have torn out of my shirt within easy access.
“This is going to hurt so bad.” I tell the knife conversationally—like the drunk I am, at present—and I am struck by a thought that makes me laugh grimly. “I sure hope I’m not a leftie.”
Screaming like a banshee to get my adrenaline pumping, I swing the blade down over my left wrist with as much force as I can muster.
Meet the Author
Often quirky, always queer, Elna Holst is an unapologetic genre-bender who writes anything from stories of sapphic lust and love to the odd existentialist horror piece, reads Tolstoy, and plays contract bridge. Find her on Instagram or Goodreads.