An Average Man

Prompt Day #248: Depict an allergy gone haywire.

My version of the Jeckyll and Hyde story. Enjoy

An Average Man

                Douglas Preston was an average man. A bachelor, living alone in a studio apartment, he walked to the bank where he worked every day at exactly 8:35am. Douglas was if nothing else, precise. He awoke at 6:58 am each morning and arose without touching the snooze button. By the time he put on his slippers, emptied his bladder and put on the robe that hung from the bathroom door, it was 7:00am exactly. His coffee was set to finish brewing at this time. Breakfast was completed by 7:45 and he was showered, shaved and dressed by 8:30. His routine for leaving the apartment and locking up took three minutes and he was standing on the sidewalk in front of his building by 8:35. Arizona weather fit his routine perfectly and he enjoyed the lack of seasonal changes which would theoretically require an adjustment in his morning schedule.

“So, the bottom line is that we need you to go to Louisville and get the new branch up and running, Doug.”

Douglas stared at his boss. This was an unacceptable request.

“Sir, I’ve been the manager at this establishment for ten years now. I started here as a teller and worked my way up. This bank is my home. Yuma is my home. I can’t just up and leave it for a year.”

“You’re a bachelor renting your apartment, Doug.” Perkins said “We’ll put you up in a nice condo. You’re the best man for the job because of your history with this bank.” He cracked his knuckles and shuffled some papers around on his desk. Douglas watched in silence, still waiting for a punch line that didn’t seem to be coming. Perkins, without looking back up at Douglas, delivered. “Look at it this way, you may end up a regional manager. And at worst, you took a five year paid vacation on the company’s money. I hear Kentucky is beautiful in the fall. You leave on the seventeenth.”

There was nothing more to be said. There were still small patches of snow on the ground. The bank provided a nice condo within walking distance and while Douglas did need to add to his wardrobe, he was able to continue his daily routine. There was a lovely park he enjoyed walking through on his way home. So much that he altered his evening routine so that he could slow his pace when he reached the edge of the park’s pond.

As February gave way to March, ducks began to settle in bringing life to the park. Douglas found that he did not miss the desert heat as much as he’d feared he would. The following day, there was a new and unusual warning on the news. Douglas had never concerned himself with “pollen counts” before. He wasn’t sure what one should do to properly prepare for a High Pollen Count and so, he went about his morning routine as usual with the exception of placing a piece of toast into a baggie which he placed in his trench-coat pocket.

The sneezing began shortly after his arrival to work. Coworkers smiled understandably and offered tissues and knowing smiles. By 5:30, his head felt significantly enlarged and he was convinced that his eyes were beginning to bulge from his head. He shuffled home with his head tucked down into the collar of his coat and decided not to stop for the ducks that day. By the time he arrived at the park portion of his journey, he no longer even liked the ducks, in fact, he hated them. When he saw one waddling towards him, he quickened his pace and stepped directly onto its back, pinning, then killing it as he trudged over it with nary a thought to its welfare.

“Hey!” he heard a voice shout and then “Hey Buddy, What the hell?”

Douglas ignored the protests and continued along the path. He heard the running steps and felt a heavy hand on his shoulder. He swiveled on it and hissed. The man attached to the arm shrank back, a look of sheer horror on his face. He dropped his hand from Douglas who continued home without further incident.

The alarm did not ring at 6:58 the next morning, but Douglas Preston’s internal clock woke him only four short minutes later. He was stiff and achy. He found it difficult to move his neck. He sat up to a chorus of joint protests and looked around. His bedroom had been replaced by the park. The blue hue of early morning gave the bloody scene a surreal appearance. Dead duck bodies formed a trail between Douglas and the pond. He assumed the blood belonged to the water fowl, even the blood covering his hands and coat.

He gathered himself together and rushed home. Staring in the mirror, he saw a tired version of himself but otherwise nothing out of the ordinary, no evidence of the man he was yesterday. He rushed through his routine and for the first time in his life, Douglas Preston called a cab.

The bank was abuzz with talk of the duck slaughter in the park, it seemed he could not avoid the topic though he tried. He decided to walk home, see for himself the hubbub in the park.

The sniffling started first but he was sneezing fitfully by the time he reached the pond. He no longer cared what was going on. All the stupid people mourning the loss of dirty little bird beggars. It sickened him; he sneered and growled as he pushed his way through the crowd.

Thud, Thud, Thud. The pounding on the door of his office awoke him. Again, he found himself in an unfamiliar location upon awakening. He remembered nothing.

“Mr. Preston, this is the police. Are you okay?”

He jumped up and surveyed himself. His clothes were rumpled and stiff with dried blood and dirt. He ran to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Disheveled with dark circles under his eyes. He tried to smooth his hair down and washed his hands and face. There was nothing he could do about the blood stains. He would have to think on his toes. The good news was they were asking if he was “okay” which might mean he wasn’t a suspect in anything.

He opened the door. The officers’ eyes focused immediately on the rust colored blemishes on his shirt. After several assurances that he was indeed okay, Douglas sat down with the two men to hear the sordid tale that ended with the homicide detectives knocking on his office door.

A woman had been attacked and ravaged in a jack the ripper style murder in the park last night between the hours of nine and midnight. Witnesses saw a short, possibly deformed man limping away from the scene. Some described the man as a hunchback and some said he appeared to be crippled with some sort of arthritis.

“Early this morning, a man fitting that description was seen entering your office.”

Douglas shook his head.

“He appeared to have a key.”

Douglas shrugged.

“We’ve reviewed the surveillance video, Mr. Preston.”

Douglas sneezed.

“We’d like you to come to the station with us, Mr. Preston.” The younger detective said standing up, pollen drifted down off his shoulders.

“Just have a look at this video with us. We believe you may know the man.” The older, grey haired detective said.

Douglas sniffled, sneezed. His eyes bulged and he felt his back pushing out against the cloth of his dress shirt. The repugnant version of Douglas Preston rushed the two men. This man was no longer the fastidious banker. This man was a monstrous version with no impulse control, no morals, and no restraint.

Shots were fired.

The autopsy on the fiend found edema in the frontal lobe. On further microscopic evaluation, tree pollens were found embedded in the man’s frontal lobe and in the ethmoid sinus. Rage brought on by an atypical anaphylactic reaction was the secondary COD recorded on the death certificate of an average man named Douglas Preston.

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