Finalists for NYC Midnight Short Story Competion
|Heat 19: Comedy/Prank/A psychiatrist||
(Rainy Day Reads Publishing’s author Sameena Bachmeier is among the top 200 finalists advancing to Round 2 in the NYC Short Story Competition!)
“If your story placed in the top 5 below, congratulations, you are among the 200 writers advancing to the 2nd Round kicking off at 11:59PM EDT this Thursday, March 27th! Choosing a top 5 in each heat proved to be very difficult and everyone should be proud for rising to the challenge and creating a story from scratch in just 8 days.”- NYC Midnight post.
#1 ‘Curing Mr. Flint’ by Evan Donnellan SYNOPSIS – A needy man invites his psychiatrist to a dinner party and his brother learns a valuable lesson.
#2 ‘Here kitty, Kitty, KITTY’ by Robert Bainton SYNOPSIS – A troubled serial killer (of cats) is referred to a psychiatrist who has had a hand in his past and has one manipulating his future. A dark comedy that concludes in a marriage.
#3 ‘Faith, Magic and a Boy Genius’ by Kimberly Duncan SYNOPSIS – What if you discovered your parents had been lying to you your whole life? Could your world ever be the same again?
#4 ‘Holy Smokes’ by Sara Cardoza SYNOPSIS – Religious zealot psychiatrist gets an unexpected patient
#5 ‘Other People’s Problems’ by Diana Katsnelson SYNOPSIS – a psychiatrist goes on vacation to the Bahamas, where he is the victim of a prank.
#Honorable Mention ‘Floundering Psychiatry’ by Sameena Bachmeier SYNOPSIS – Insanity counsels insanity. Let the therapy begin.
#Honorable Mention ‘Prankenstein’ by PK McCabe SYNOPSIS – Wherein a psychiatrist’s twin sister pulls pranks on him until the siblings are reconciled. Telling more would spoil it.
#Honorable Mention ‘Rangoon’ by Ian Pike SYNOPSIS – A middle-aged man forced to care for his controlling hypochondriac mother undergoes talk therapy to confront the hatred he bears her.
|Heat||Last Name||First Name||City||State / Province||Country|
|19||Daly||Geraldine||Slane||Select a State||IE|
Sameena Bachmeier’s NYC Short Story Submission:
Insanity counsels insanity. Let the therapy begin.
Dr. Annabelle Chope flicked the pen on her notepad as she watched her patient sob on the office couch. “Only ten minutes left in the session Hank, let’s try to find some closure,” she suggested to the distraught man.
“Now I want you to go to your happy place in your mind, somewhere warm and safe where you can just be.”
“Warm and safe,” repeated Hank as he breathed in and out forcefully, eyes closed.
Annabelle watched and began chewing on her pen cap. She caught herself and sighed. She was overly stressed and she knew it. She needed a break but being the highest sought psychiatrist in the Portland metro area she couldn’t take a break. She dazed off as she waited while Hank found his peace and composed himself. The alarm sounded ending the session and Annabelle popped out of her chair. “I think we had a great breakthrough today Hank, just remember now it’s time for the healing to begin, not a time to relive the horrors of your past.”
Hank nodded and shook the good doctor’s hand before heading out the door. Hank had served in the military and suffered from endless nightmares and post-traumatic stress disorder. As soon as he left the office Annabelle lay in his spot on the couch and began chewing on the meaty corner of her lanky thumb. She caught herself again, “Dang it!” she scolded herself. She couldn’t stop thinking about Dr. Lang, her former fiancée. He was the man she had dreamed of since she was ten, only the dream did not include another woman in the picture. “It’s over, you need to accept that,” she reminded herself for the millionth time today. Her stomach growled as she realized that she hadn’t eaten all day. “It’s time for lunch.”
Annabelle checked out of the office and headed to the cafeteria. “Buzz,” her phone vibrated inside her purse. “Ah!” She fumbled around and yanked out her cell, dropping it on the ground in a hurry. “Oh!” she groaned, checking to see if it still worked. “Hello?”
“Hey sis, how are you?” the other voice on the end chattered.
“Ugh, you know Lucy, I could use a vacation. I just haven’t been the same since Dr. Lang.”
Her sister paused, “Well, why don’t you take one?” she questioned.
“It’s not that simple. I have patients that depend on me. I can’t close my practice.”
“I have an idea,” suggested Lucy. “Why don’t I see your patients tomorrow, and you go to the coast for the day. Just relax, how hard can it be to listen to people’s issues? We all have them, right?”
“No way, we couldn’t fool my patients like that,” sputtered Annabelle.
“Yes we could, we are identical twins Annabelle, nobody would know the difference. Besides, like I said how hard could it be to listen to people talk all day?”
Annabelle grabbed the tray with her lunch, while pondering the ridiculous idea. She finally came to a decided and called her sister. “Okay, let’s do it,” she said with a big grin on her face.
Morning came quick the following day, Lucy threw he dark locks back into a sleek ponytail and dressed the part accordingly. She stopped at Starbucks so she could arrive at her sister’s office with coffee in hand as she knew Annabelle always did. She admired herself and puckered her frosty lips as she rode the mirrored elevator to the office floor. “This is so much nicer than my usual Big Burger work uniform,” she chuckled, while checking out her black, fashionable boots. She stepped off the elevator with pride and determination. “Morning!” Lucy sang to the receptionist.
“Good morning to you, Dr. Annabelle Chope!” the redheaded receptionist cheered back, “It’s going to be a busy day, just how you like them,” she winked.
Lucy snickered at being called Annabelle. It worked! “Thank you, please let me know when my first patient arrives.’
Lucy shut the door to Annabelle’s office and sat at the desk. While sipping her coffee, she fondled the stack of client files stacked neatly on the desk. “Hmmm, Lane Skinner, patient number one,” she read aloud. Before she knew it, there was a heavy rasp on the door.
“Hello, good to see you again Lane,” she said, giving a welcoming smile to the scrawny gentleman as he came in. “Please, have a seat so we can begin our session.”
The man said nothing as he sat awkwardly on the couch, looking rather meek.
“Well.” she opened his file to read quickly what she should be talking about with him. The chart notes read “Stendhal syndrome.” What on Earth is that? She flipped through the notes, “Sent into a state of shock by beauty” she read aloud. “Uhem, well then, how is that going for you?”
Lane peered at her “Fine. I suppose.” He shrugged.
“So, are you feeling shocked by say, possibly my beauty?!” she joked.
He continued to stare at her, not finding her funny at all.
“Sorry, that was a bad joke. But really, how are you coping with this Stendhal syndrome?”
Lane sighed, “Well, I avoid art galleries and I wear very ugly clothes as you probably noticed.” He picked and pulled at a loose thread beginning to unravel on his goodwill sweater.
“I see,” nodded the wanna-be psychiatrist. “And how does that make you feel?” she questioned, trying to seem believable in her position.
Lane stood up, “How do I feel?” he suddenly bellowed. “How do I feel!?” his boney face frowned and his pointy nose turned red with anger. “I feel like a blasted fool!”
Taken aback by his abrupt emotional outburst, Lucy signaled for him to sit back down. “Please Mr. Skinner, calm down. I understand and have a few suggestions for you. Your condition doesn’t allow you to appreciate the beautiful things in life, so really, you just need to learn to appreciate the ugly in things.”
He listened to her, confused and waited for her to continue.
“For example, you need to find yourself a very hideous girlfriend and find the splendor in her hairy moles and atrocious breath. As for your clothing, wear your pea-green and aqua colored vest with pride. You are probably the only one on the planet wearing that outfit today, by the way!” she winked.
He nodded, “Okay.”
“Yeah, yeah, lets try this. For lunch when you leave here, what will you eat? Surely you will not enjoy an artistic sushi roll or divulge in some divinely overly-garnished soup? No sir, you will march straight to the garbage can outside of this very office and pick out the smelliest, rottenest, and mushiest leftover you can find. These decisions that you make on a daily basis will suppress your Stendhal Syndrome and lead you to a much more revolting yet…happier life.”
The man shone his toothy grin at her and pointed his nubby finger at her. “You are amazing. Thank you Dr. Annabelle Chope.” And with that, he ran out the office to find the closest garbage can around.
Lucy grabbed her luke-warm coffee and beamed with pride, flicking her ponytail confidently. “I just may have to quit my day job, now who’s next?”
As she grabbed the next file, a deathy-thin, frail woman came up to the door and stood with a vacant expression on her face. “Please come in Miss.” Invited Lucy.
“Thank you,” said the patient, moaning oddly, her, eyes wide like that of a beetle. Her blond hair looked like it hadn’t been washed in weeks and her clothes were not much better than poor Mr. Skinner’s wardrobe. Hey Mr. Skinner come back, you forgot your new girlfriend, chucked Lucy to herself.
“Lovely to see you again, Miss Kat Deville,” she began as she opened the patients file and scanned the reports. This is was another shocking case as well. “And how is your Cotard Syndrome doing lately?”
Kat looked down at the floor, “Well, I feel like I have had a..”
“Wait a minute,” interrupted Lucy holding her hand up like a teacher. “Cotard Syndrome- as in you believe you are dead? Like those in Return of the Living Dead?”
“But I am dead,” stuttered Kat, pressing her to believe.
Lucy tried not to laugh as she found the woman to be nothing short of ridiculous. “Are you on drugs?” she giggled. “If not, you should be, and heavy ones at that! I am sorry but really? Like you seriously believe you are dead? How can that be?”
Kat began to tear up, “No I am not on drugs. Well, other than the ones prescribed,” she said sniffling.
Lucy handed her a tissue. “Okay I am sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.” She wasn’t quite sure how to handle this nut. “Okay, you think you are dead, but you do eat, right?”
“Some,” whispered the blonde.
“Well, dead people don’t eat right? So, you can’t be dead!” she announced, pleased with her explanation.
“I only eat raw meat.” Kat argued. “You know, dead things.”
Lucy scowled “Okay then. That doesn’t mean you are dead. Plenty of living people eat raw foods. Now, give me your arm.”
Kat held her arm out reluctantly. Lucy reached out and slapped her arm as hard as she could, sending Kat reeling back in pain. “Ouch! Why did you do that?”
“Aha! Pain.” She bellowed, smiling. “If you were dead you wouldn’t have felt that.”
“I have no organs inside me,” Kat declared suddenly, arguing still that she was dead.
“Okay, you have no brain maybe, I’d believe that,” Lucy cracked, laughing. “But you have organs, I mean I can see you breathing. Listen, you are very much alive but if you like living like you are dead, then that is your choice. So I want you to go home watch every horror movie you possibly can find and write down every way in which you feel you relate to the dead characters. Then I want you to take that list and throw it out the window. Throw yourself out the window as well if you truly desire, at least you would really be dead for that matter. However, my suggestion for you though, is to choose to rejoin the living. You can start by getting yourself a makeover because the deathly-pale look really isn’t working for you. Lucy stood up. “Alright, session’s up.”
And with that Lucy was on to the next patient, Burt. She didn’t have to read his file to see what his syndrome was; he waddled into the room gasping as he plopped down onto the couch.
“Hello Burt.” She immediately noticed he had no hair. None. No eyebrows or facial hair. Zilch. Nada.
She opened his file. “Trichotillomania, the obsession of pulling your very own hair out,” she remarked aloud. “And why do you pull your hair out Burt?” she prodded, raising her eyebrows at him.
Burt burped and scratched his belly which hung over his pants like a sack of potatoes. “Hair is dirty, Miss Chope.”
“Dirty?” she repeated, eyeballing the mayonnaise and mustard stains on his shirt. “I see. Cleanliness is obviously a top priority of yours. What about hair makes you feel dirty?” or “What is it about hair that makes you feel dirty?”
“It is like millions of bugs on my body,” he said, and began to sob. Once again, Lucy handed out tissues.
“Don’t cry Burt. But you should be on medication, hair is simply hair. And some people are desperate to have it, while you rip it out of yourself.” She grabbed a permanent sharpie off the desk. “Here is what we are going to do.” She began to color dots all over his arms similar to hair, eyebrows, and even drew a mustache. She then held up her handheld mirror to him, “See? You look stunning with hair, and you are going to wear this all week. You are also going to buy a product called Rogaine. It is a hair growth renewal product for men. I want you to start using it regularly. That, my friend is your prescription,” She declared smugly, arms crossed in satisfaction.
Burt shrieked with horror, knocking the mirror out of her hands. “The bugs! The bugs!” he howled.
“Burt, calm down. This is your therapeutic assignment for the week. Please.”
He rubbed his face incessantly trying to remove the ink, to no avail.
He ran out the door well before the session was up, leaving Lucy standing alone in the center of the room. “Well, if he doesn’t keep the ink marks, at least he’ll be taking a well-needed and hopefully long shower,” she exclaimed, as the receptionist came in.
By now Lucy’s coffee was cold and the day was nearly over. It had been a long day. She wondered how her sister was doing, enjoying her day at the beach, probably treating herself to some fancy beverage. She decided to give her a jingle. She dialed her sister’s cell phone number from the office phone and waited. No answer. She must be really enjoying herself, she thought.
As she packed up her things she stopped by the receptionist desk to say goodnight. “What a day!” Lucy exclaimed, “Can’t wait to go home and put my feet up. Have a great evening!”
The receptionist continued her paperwork and didn’t look up. “Goodnight to you too Miss Annabelle Lucy Chope.” Lucy stopped dead in her tracks. Who did she call me? She slowly pulled out her cell phone from her purse and her jaw dropped as she saw the missed call five minutes ago from her office phone. That was the exact same time she had called her sister. Odd.
Lucy hesitantly opened her wallet and viewed her driver’s license, “Annabelle Lucy Chope. Age 37”. She was going mad, Annabelle was her sister.
The receptionist looked up from her heap of papers, “Is everything alright Doctor?”
“Actually, have you heard from my sister today?” croaked Lucy.
“Excuse me? Doctor you don’t have a sister, you’re an only child. Again, are you alright?”
“Everything is fine.” whispered the esteemed psychiatrist, Dr. Annabelle Lucy Chope as she headed out the door and scurried home like a lost lab rat.
All Rights Reserved/NYC Midnight/Sameena Bachmeier