Coughing Up a Lung

Prompt Day #176: Experiment with lung tissue


Coughing up a Lung


The cough came on suddenly and it was harsh. It hurt all day long but then, when Hank was getting ready for bed, a fit hit so hard that he swore a chunk of lung came out. Whatever it was, it lay there on his night stand like a wad of bubblegum. He crinkled up his nose at it and walked out of the room to get some tissue.

When he returned, whatever it was had moved across the table and was currently crawling down the side. It looked more like a small pink squid. It puffed up with air and then propelled itself a centimeter or so by blowing it out again. Hank watched in horror as it slowly made its way down to the floor. This was a parasite then. No wonder he was coughing so hard. How the hell did it get there?

He threw the tissue down and decided to put it into a Tupperware container instead. By the time he got back with it the creature had made it to the corner where it lay inflating and deflating as if trying to catch its breath. He was a little grossed out so he dropped the container upside down on top of it and jumped into bed.

Coughing again, he woke up to find another piece of lung on the blanket in front of him. He prodded it with his finger. It appeared to be inanimate. It wasn’t breathing or puffing its way across the bed. It was soft and spongy, just like what he expected lung tissue to feel like. It started then to inflate. He flipped the blanket over on it and started coughing again. He was choking up more and more. Gagging he worked the bigger pieces out spitting them onto the blanket too.

Hank watched mesmerized as they all began their respiration locomotion all of them seeming to sense the others, they moved towards a central location until they all converged in the center and began to somehow meld together into an entire lobe. The lobe inflated into a balloon the size of a large grapefruit and rolled itself off the bed and into the corner where the lonely nugget of flesh pushed itself into the side of the container trying to get out and join its friends.

It was hard to rationalize what he was seeing as the larger piece of lung bumped again and again into the plastic prison. Hank’s sanity could no longer take it. He tiptoed over and timing it perfectly between bumps, he flipped the container over. The baby ball of lung bloated up and in a herculean effort propelled itself into its mother ship.

Hank tried to remain calm because the more worked up he got, the worse he needed to cough. He tried to suppress it for both his physical and emotional wellbeing. He couldn’t afford to lose anymore tissue. He would call the doctor first thing in the morning. He looked at his watch. 11:35, it was going to be a long night.

Something cool and wet, like a fish, brushed against his foot. He looked down and the lung lobe was rolling slowly over his toes. He shrieked and began to hack and choke. Pieces of darker tissue spewed out of him and rained down on the floor of his room like gelatinous hail. Some of the tissue inflated in what was now a familiar form of movement to Hank, but other tissue seemed to crawl across the carpet with tiny ciliated appendages.

By the time they had reassembled, Hank was sure he was looking at one of the two of his lungs. There couldn’t be much left and it looked like the pictures he’d seen of lungs in textbooks and science shows. He inhaled deeply and felt ok. He wondered if you could live without a lung like you could live without a kidney. He seemed to be doing ok. The now complete lung sat in the corner where he’d trapped the first coughed up piece. It seemed to be sleeping; it was still breathing but slowly. Lying there, curled into a fetal position, it looked almost cute. He turned on his night stand lamp and crawled into bed. He kept an eye on it but it seemed to have settled down for the night. Hank found himself falling asleep. He was breathing better and no longer had the urge to cough. He’d call the doctor in the morning and take the lung in with him to the appointment.

He’d just fallen asleep when a bright light flooded into his room, he could see it through his eye lids. He squinted, opening them slowly, detecting movement out in the periphery of his vision. Once his eyes adjusted to the brilliance in the room he was able to make out an almost human shape standing in the corner cradling his coughed up lung. The humanoid rocked Hank’s organ in its long spindly arms. Its overly large head was tilted down, staring at its treasure. The thing looked up, making eye contact with Hank. Black saucers reflected the light with a green glow. Hank pulled the blankets up to his nose in a child-like gesture. The creature hugged Hank’s lung against its chest protectively and then they were gone pitching Hank and his room back into darkness. Hank coughed once, dry and nonproductive. He pulled the covers up over his head and willed himself to sleep.