Hi Scriptmedic, long time fan, first time writer! I have a gothic horror fantasy protagonist who’s a surgeon in a Victorianish setting. The character gets into some necromantic shenanigans, and performs a ritual where he cuts out his own heart. He ‘survives’ the process by becoming undead/a ghost during it. How would I viscerally describe a surgeon doing this if there was no pain, no need to stop bleeding, no need to be delicate, yet keep the vibe of a surgeon operating on himself? Thanks! <3


Hey there @shatterstag ! Congrats on the first ask of
October! This one is spooky enough for Halloween.

Here’s a special trick treat. Feel free to modify it, scorn it, or
copy and paste it directly into your story.

Squeamish readers, skip this one. 

The mirror wasn’t strictly necessary. He was good enough to
do it by feel if he had to. But the mirror added theatrics. Made it real. Made
it a show, one only he could see.

He was so used to the operating theater: the rows of doctors
murmuring in their seats as the surgery happened. But now it was just him.

He opened his shirt. Lay down a clean towel in his lap. The
pain wouldn’t bother him. But the trousers were too nice to spoil.

He began with a cut down the breastbone. From the V at the
hollow of his throat to the tip of the breastbone. A red trail preceded the tip
of the scalpel as the wound oozed. The white shine of bone could be seen,
underneath the skin and parting muscle.

Next were the pruning shears.

He had considered a saw, but it would have proven
ineffective. He had used it on cadavers before, but the angle made it

Instead he began with the shears on either side of the
sternum. The cartilage where the ribs spread off was thick and tough.

The first one gave with an awful thunk and a sound like a small branch snapping.

It was peculiar. It should have hurt. The snapping of the
bone should have done more than made him grind his teeth from the sound. He
should have felt agony. The only people this was done to were the dead, and
they didn’t mind.

He smiled. Perhaps he was dead already.

He made his way from bottom to the top: tenth, ninth,
eighth, all the way through the first. The snap
snap snap
of the ribs echoed in the empty theater.

The right side followed. This was more awkward: his left was
not his strong hand, but he managed.

He pulled his breastbone off his chest like a flap.

What remained was a window into the workings of his organs.
He could see his gray-purple lungs expand and collapse with his breath. His
heart hung beating nestled between them.

Even as a doctor he had never seen a human heart beat. The
science of medicine had not yet advanced to being able to cut a man’s chest
open and have him live.

He reached out his fingers to touch it. He felt the chambers
pump. It squeezed and released over and over. The very foundation of his pulse was at his command. 

He held the scalpel against the arch of the aorta, that main
thoroughfare of blood from the heart to the body. He watched his own deep
breath in the mirror. The hand that held the scalpel did not betray him. It was
steady as a rock.

He sliced.

Blood sprayed as much as a yard from his heart. It
splattered on the mirror and soaked the white towel in his lap red. He could
feel it soak through and into his trousers in moments. It was warm. 

He knew he would not die as he watched the blood slow to a
trickle. His heart began to quiver under his hand, and then was still.

Perhaps he was already dead. Or perhaps he was well beyond
death, into the thing that lay just on the other side of a heartbeat.

He finished the incisions: pulmonary artery, pulmonary
veins, vena cava high and low. His bare hand was slick with his own blood as he
held his heart up to the light.

Morbidly he squeezed it: top for the atria, bottom for the
ventricles. It dribbled a dark red trickle down his ruined shirtsleeve.

He stood, chest yawning open to the world.

He dropped his stone-dead heart on the floor. It hit with a
wet thud. He thought he saw it quiver once and then go still. 

Then he stood, and put down the towel, and walked out of the

He did not look back.

Anyway, that’s how I’d do it.

xoxo, Aunt Scripty

[disclaimer] – wait does fiction need a disclaimer?!

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