Body Alterations

📅 Published on May 12, 2021

“Body Alterations”

Written by Dawn Shea
Edited by Craig Groshek and N.M. Brown
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 9.20/10. From 5 votes.
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Karen woke in a sweat, the peripheral of her dream slowly dissipating.  Again, that smell.  She took a long deep breath and groggily massaged her nose though it did not help; it never did.  In fact, the nauseous stench of putrid flesh seemed to linger for hours after the dream had ended. Almost as if the scent escaped the confines of her nightmare and hauntingly resided in her nostrils.  She knew it was all in her head, but she couldn’t seem to shake the feeling of the dreamscape. She could still remember the man was there, face shaded by the bill of his cap. He was looming over her, forcing her to choke down rotting meat mixed with hard bits, like pebbles. She gagged thinking about it. She could never see his face, and she wondered what horrors lurked under the bill of that hat. He never spoke, only grunted.

She looked around the room and saw that it was still dark out. No use trying to go back to sleep, she thought, you might as well get on with the day. Shower, she needed to start with a shower.  Maybe it would help get the smell out of her nose.

She strode to the bathroom and, once there, stared into the mirror. There was a smear of blood on her face. She wondered how it got there. She checked her reflection for any wounds. Finding none, she checked her pillow. All was fine in the bedroom, not so much as a sheet out of place. She started to undress without giving it another thought when she heard it. The clanking sound of old pipes and a drill? The guy downstairs. He’s such a weirdo, she thought to herself. She had only heard of him through her landlady, Ms. Windham. Accordingly, she had the main floor. Lucy lived in the upstairs loft, and David…Daniel, his name eluded her, had the basement.

It had worked out pretty well so far; mostly everyone kept to themselves. Especially that guy, he rarely left the house that she knew of. Ms. Windham had mentioned he was in some security business that allowed him to work from home. She still thought that was odd. How did he get food, she wondered? She had never seen him go to the grocery store. He was generally quiet except for the occasional construction noise and, every so often, a weird smell. She put it off to old plumbing in the house. Turning on the shower, she didn’t have time to worry about the basement dude. She had so much stuff to do today; she was anxious about getting it all accomplished. She focused on the warm shower letting the anxiety melt away.

After dressing, she grabbed her purse and keys and headed out the door to the street. Just as she started down the stairs, the basement door slammed shut. Seeing no one while continuing to her car, she looked around, threw her purse in the back, and slid behind the steering wheel. She was off.

The first stop was to the florist to go over orders. You could not have a big southern party without an abundance of flowers. They couldn’t be just any flowers either. They had to be perfect. They had to be the most eloquent assortment for the grandest family in Georgia, the McMann’s. Her anxiety returned at the thought.  It was the first big event she had acquired since venturing out on her own three months ago.  The party had to be impeccable, down to the very last detail. Her career may very well be riding on this one event. If she nailed it, she would be swamped with Georgia’s most affluent and lavish clients.

She was so lost in her fantasy she almost missed the turn for the florist.  With quick footwork, she made a left-hand turn barely in time.  As the car lurched sideways, she heard a thud from her trunk. Must’ve left something in there from my pickups yesterday, she thought. No big deal, she would check it when she got back to her shop. She pulled into a parking spot right in front of the florist and jumped out, anxious to start picking out the most stunning bouquets money could buy.

* * * * * *

It was the longest and most tedious day Karen could remember when she finally made her way back home. She had been so busy, she had no chance to eat, and every part of her body ached. She had every intention of taking a long, hot bath, followed by the warmth of her favorite flannel pajamas. Supper would be popping a Lean Cuisine in the microwave and getting her nightly glass of Pinot Noir, then falling onto the couch to watch The Love Boat reruns. She was such a sucker for classic TV shows.

As she parked the vehicle, she once again heard something slide. As she went to grab her purse, she remembered she had never checked the trunk to see what she had left in there. She bit her lip, hoping it was nothing perishable. She clicked the button on her key fob and saw the trunk pop up in the rearview. Starting around the car, she looked inside and noticed a small metal box lying flat. She picked it up curiously. Was it a part of the car? It hadn’t seemed to affect the performance of the car.  Scanning the interior trunk space, there was no obvious place for it. She tossed it back in the trunk, telling herself she would have her dad look at it when he came to visit in a few weeks.

She shut the trunk, locked the doors with a click of a button, and headed towards the house’s steps. She noticed movement out the corner of her eye from the basement window. Someone had been looking through. Maybe the weirdo was watching for her. Karen, get it together. He’s probably busy playing Dungeons and Dragons or something, she grimaced. She ran up the stairs and into the house without another thought, to laze the rest of the evening away.

* * * * * *

A few days later, her party planning was done. Two days away from the big event, Karen was sitting on her couch making her list and checking it twice. She wanted to ensure that she had it all together and everything was ready to go. She smiled to herself as she read, realizing she had done it. She had planned the perfect party.

Just as she was about to close her notebook, she heard a whoosh from the kitchen that sounded like a fully opened fire hydrant, followed by a stream of water rushing from her kitchen into the living room. Shiiit, she thought, jumping up and starting for the kitchen. Water was pouring from the cabinet beneath the sink. She opened it up and was immediately drenched in spraying water. She remembered the water valve was in the basement. Oh great, she thought as she stood and looked around. She’d have to get the basement boy to turn the water off. Then she would call the super, Harold, and see if he would come to fix the pipe. What a mess to clean up.

She walked to the door at the top of the basement stairs and stared at it. She felt queasy; she was not looking forward to this interaction, but it had to be done. She hesitated and then knocked, softly at first, then harder. She heard scuffling behind the door, and she waited.

After a brief moment, just as her hand was poised to knock again, she heard heavy footsteps coming up the stairs. She held her breath as she waited for him to open the door. A bolt lock clicked, and the door swung open to reveal a man about 5’9, mid-to-late thirties, with close-cropped black hair and a round belly, which she presumed was from beer and lack of activity. He wore a hunter-green robe hanging open to reveal a somewhat stained, white tee underneath. He had on a pair of jeans and flip-flops. She laughed to herself as she gazed at his ensemble.

“Oh, hi, I’m Karen, your…..”

He cut her off, “I know who you are.”

She gazed at him momentarily, as they had never met in person, and wondered how he knew for certain who she was. She smiled politely and attempted to look down the stairs behind him, but it was so dark she couldn’t see anything.

“Okay, well, I had a pipe burst in my apartment, and I was wondering if you could turn the water off for me until I can have the super come fix it.”

He did not directly look her in the face, more towards the left, and he didn’t raise his eyes to look at her.

“Want me to come to take a look? I’m pretty handy with fixing stuff.”

She looked like someone had slapped her across the face. “No, that’s fine. If it’s no trouble, could you just turn the water off?”

“Suit yourself,” he spun and shut the door.

As the door swung shut in her face, she got a faint whiff of a vaguely familiar smell. Just as the foggy memory was coming to her, streaming water swamped her bare feet. She shook her head and whispered, “thanks for nothing creep,” and headed back to her kitchen for the mop bucket.

Several hours and many beers later, the Super had fixed the pipe. She had cleaned the mess and was back in the water business. She had just sat down to go over delivery schedules of equipment for the next day when she heard a knock at the door. She rolled her eyes, grunted, and thought, Who the fuck is it now? Better be a Girl Scout with a wagon full of cookies, or they can take a fucking hike. She opened the door to reveal Ms. Windham, her landlady.

She looked as refined and impressive as ever in her horn-rim glasses, grey hair back into a sleek bun and her signature brocade jacket with white slacks. She looked Karen up and down as she often did and gave her a fake smile.

“Karen, oh my goodness, are you alright? Harold called me and said he had to come to fix a pipe in your apartment. What happened?” she asked, slightly flustered as she was examining her hardwood floors.

“Oh uh, yes ma’am, something happened with one of the pipes under the sink. Harold fixed it right up, and everything is working as it should. He said no permanent damage. I caught it right when it started,” Karen motioned towards the kitchen and offending sink.

“Good, good, glad to hear that. I heard you met Douglas as well.” Karen stared at her quizzically. Ms. Windham clicked her tongue and said, “The young man that lives in the basement.”

Recognition struck like a lightning bolt, and Karen switched her weight from one foot to the other. “Yes, I did meet him. I had to go and have him turn the water off until Harold could get here.” Karen admitted.

“Dear, Douglas would’ve been glad to help you. He’s quite the Bob Vila if ever you should need anything else. He’s lived here for a long time, and he’s helped with many projects over the years. Job performance, SUPERB!” said Ms. Windham, hands clasped to her chest.

“Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind.” Karen smiled.

“Okay, sweetie. Well, I have to run. I’ve got an appointment at the hair salon. This rat’s nest won’t fix itself, you know.” She blew Karen a kiss, and in a whirlwind, she was gone.

Moments later, thoughts of Lucy crossed Karen’s mind. Where was she? She hadn’t seen her in 3 weeks, maybe more. She had been super busy planning the party, and Lucy worked killer hours at the bar, but they always ran into each other at least a couple of times a week, either coming or going. She scratched her head and tried to remember the last time she saw her for sure. Giving up, she decided to go up to Lucy’s apartment just to check on her. Maybe she was sick, or god forbid, back with that bass player that gave her a black eye as a parting gift when he ran off with some skeezy groupie.

She bounded up the stairs taking them two at a time. She knocked on her door but heard nothing. She knocked again and then a third time. Must be at the bar, she thought to herself. Searching her jeans, she found a business card to her favorite Chinese restaurant and scribbled on it quickly.

“Luc, checking on you. Hit me up. I need a plus one for an event. Dying for you to see!!! Heart, K”

Sliding it under the door, she descended the stairs with a glance back over her shoulder to the door as a nagging feeling bloomed in the pit of her stomach.

Karen went to bed that night, exhausted from the day’s events but excited. As she slept, she dreamed of the man in the hat, the rancid meat, vomiting, crying, begging him to let her go, the scrape of the rusty chains that held her. She had to wake up. She had to get out of this nightmare.

She woke with a start, looked around, and found herself just where she was when sleep had taken her. She wanted to cry, wanted to scream. The dreams were seriously affecting her sleep and focus. What was causing these atrocious nightmares? Was she stressed? When this event is over, I will go to the doctor and see about getting some sleeping pills.

She was sore like she had been in a fight, but she knew it was from lack of sleep. The smell in her nose and the taste in her mouth was making her want to vomit. She made her way to the bathroom but retched before she made it through the door. As the contents of her stomach emptied onto the floor, the noxious smell of decomposing flesh was stronger than ever. When she finally finished dry heaving, she stood and felt every bit of energy drain from her body. Falling to her knees, she wondered if she could even make it back to the bed. She attempted to get to her feet but made little progress. She collapsed back to the floor and tried to crawl. She felt dizzy and disoriented. She was about six feet from the bed when everything went black.

Head pounding, she awoke sitting on a cold, cement floor. Her arms were chained to a large drain pipe running from the floor to the ceiling. She looked around and saw no one. Where was she? How did she get here? It was cold, and there was that smell. It was intense and so familiar. She recognized it as the smell from her dreams, that disgusting, fetid odor. She felt her body reacting to the smell as her stomach started to roll, but there was nothing left to discard. She could hear music coming from nearby. What was that? She knew that song. It was Seven Nation Army by the White Stripes. She groaned and looked around the room again. It was bare, except for a metal table in the middle of the room and a drain directly under. She could see another room behind the table with a light on, but nothing else was visible beyond the doorway. Her head was foggy, and her eyes were blurry. She attempted to pull on the chains. They did not budge. She yanked again, harder. Nothing. She didn’t know what to do or how she was going to get out of here. She frantically looked around for any kind of object that might aid in her escape. Seeing nothing, she collapsed back against the wall.

She was just about to let the exhaustion take her once more when she heard a sound. She looked to her right, wherefrom out of the blackness, she saw the figure of a man coming towards her. Her breath caught in her throat. As he neared the light, the fading shadows bred familiarity. It was the man from her dreams.

His hat was in place, and he was looking towards the floor. A strangled scream began to rise from her throat, and as it did, the man raised his head to meet her eyes. A new recognition dawned. She screamed, as loud as she ever had. It was the basement creep. What in the fuck was he doing here?

He smiled sideways. “So, we meet again, my sweet Karen.”

She narrowed her eyes at him, “Where am I? What am I doing here?”

He looked surprised. “My sweet darling, don’t you know your own love nest when you see it?”

She looked at him, eyes ablaze. “What are you talking about, you psychotic fuck? Let me go!”

A slight smile crept across his face. He reached down and pulled her chin up to meet his gaze. “You’re the one I’ve been waiting for. Don’t you see? All the others… they were weak but not you. You’re so strong.”

A sob attempted to escape her throat, but she choked it off. He was not going to get the satisfaction of knowing he scared her. He walked over to the table and picked up a metal bowl. He swirled around the contents. She couldn’t see it, but she could smell it. She gagged involuntarily. She knew that smell as well as she knew her own name. It was the smell that had plagued her dreams and mornings alike. It smelled like death.

He looked at her with a crooked grin. “Are you hungry, my love? It’s all been working out exactly as planned. I’ve taken the best parts of them and given them to you to make my perfect mate.”

She didn’t know what to say; she didn’t understand what was happening. He sauntered towards her with the bowl in one hand and a large spoon in the other. He snaked the spoon into the bowl and came out with a heaping pile of bloody, rotten meat and what appeared to be teeth. Bile began to rise in her throat.

She spat in his face, then screamed, “Get away from me, asshole!”

He shook his head. “Honey, please don’t do that. It makes me angry, and I want this time to be very special between us. You’ve never minded your vitamins before, so be a good little girl and take them for daddy.”

She began to sob. The man backed away from her slowly and placed the bowl back on the table.

“You know, all the other girls before you prepared me for this moment, the moment when I could make my most perfect girl. Feeding you the best parts of them has made you into my personal science experiment, but it has worked out so nicely. They all screamed and screamed until I had no choice but to shut them up and that Lucy, well, she was a fighter.”

Karen gasped as understanding hit her.  She had been force-fed her friend.  Her stomach heaved in response. She began to cry again, “Why? Why are you doing this?”

He began to walk back to the table and did not attempt to answer her question.

She screamed, “Answer me, damn it!”

He looked back at her, shocked and picked up a large drill with a spade bit on the end, then pointed it at her, “Enough playing around, we are going to get this done tonight and then you will finally be all mine.”

He headed towards her, squeezing the drill trigger every few seconds for effect. When he reached her, she scrambled as close to the wall as she could get, pulling her chains as hot, fresh tears fell from her eyes.

He grabbed the back of her hair and kissed her as she tried to turn away. “It’s our turn baby, we are going to be together forever,” he said as he placed the drill to the side of her knee. As he pulled the trigger, a fine spray of blood hit his face. She screamed, and all awareness was gone.

Regaining consciousness, she was alone again. She looked around apprehensively. She was in excruciating pain. She looked down and saw that in the holes he had drilled, he had placed hinges. She had hinges attached to her knees, hips, and ankles. She screamed as loud as she could and tried moving her legs to no avail. Next, she tried to grab her legs to forcibly move them but couldn’t do that either as there were hinges on her elbows, wrists and shoulders as well. In shock, she fell over on her right side. She didn’t know what to do. She was unable to move her arms or legs on her own accord. She had to think of a way to get out of here, a way to escape. As she was lying there attempting to think, footsteps echoed into the room.

She looked up as he entered.

“It was so hard to keep track of you. I had to install my surveillance equipment in your apartment, in your car, at your office. It was a bit tiresome. When I decided to start putting sleeping pills in your bottle of Pinot Noir, I could do whatever I wanted with you at night. Oh, what fun times we’ve had!” he chuckled.

“However, it’s time that your free will come to an end, and my absolute control begins.”

He walked back over to the metal table and picked up the drill. He replaced the drill bit with a different one and picked up a liquid greenish-blue tube. “After I put my new creation into that little brain of yours, you’ll have no choice but to do my bidding. Of course, you won’t be the same you that you were, but you will still retain some of your best qualities, and I will have the woman I have always wanted.” He smiled at her, but she closed her eyes and turned her face away.

He walked behind her and lifted her hair. “I want to do this in the best place so that your hair will cover the scar. We don’t want to mess up this beautiful head of yours.”

She began to scream and jerk against her chains. She twisted her head back and forth to keep him away. He righted his grip on her hair and wound it around his wrist so that she could not move. Just as she felt the tip of the drill touch her skin, she saw movement from the shadows. Looking up, she saw Ms. Windham, her landlord, step forward.

Oh, thank god, her mind screamed, followed by her pleading voice, “Ms. Windham, help me, please. He’s crazy. Call 911!”

Ms. Windham didn’t say anything, just gave Karen a sad smile.

Right before her mind went dark, she heard the basement asshole say, “Mother. So glad you could join us. You always get the best girls for me.”

Rating: 9.20/10. From 5 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Dawn Shea
Edited by Craig Groshek and N.M. Brown
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Dawn Shea

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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