Zero to 40: A Sinister Smile

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In the seemingly serene town of Skystead, an undercurrent of whispers flowed just beneath the surface, disrupting the stillness of the night. At the center of these murmurs stood a state-of-the-art dental clinic, its contemporary façade jarring against the old-world charm of Main Street. The clinic was helmed by Dr. Rachel Dolton, a woman whose smile was as disarming as it was chilling. Her office, a labyrinth of high-tech equipment and sterile white walls, hummed with an energy that unsettled all who entered.

Kevin, a newcomer to Skystead known for his infectious laughter, found no reason to doubt the town’s only dental practice. Oblivious to the whispered warnings, he stepped into Dr. Dolton’s clinic for a simple dental checkup. The reception was unusually quiet, the stillness punctuated only by faint, indecipherable murmurs that seemed to seep from the walls themselves. The room was adorned with numerous dental accolades, but curiously, it was void of other patients. An inexplicable chill crept over Kevin as he sat, waiting.

“Mr. Kevin, Dr. Dolton will see you now,” intoned the assistant, her voice a flat, emotionless timbre. Walking down the corridor, Kevin felt the flickering lights cast long, grasping shadows, while soft whispers brushed against his ears, warning him of dangers he couldn’t understand.

Dr. Dolton greeted him with an unsettlingly perfect smile. “Welcome to our clinic, Kevin. Comfort without pain is our promise,” she declared, motioning towards the dental chair that seemed more akin to a command center for a torturer than a haven for healing.

As Kevin positioned himself in the chair, he caught sight of portraits of past patients that lined the room, their gazes following him, filled with silent terror and unspoken pleas. He tried to dismiss it as a trick of his mind, fueled by anxiety.

Dr. Dolton approached with a nitrous oxide mask in hand, her words smooth as silk, “Let’s elevate your experience from zero to 40, shall we?” The hissing sound of the gas filled the space around Kevin, and a dizziness took hold, the room swirling into a maelstrom of distorted shapes and hues.

In the midst of the gas’s effect, apparitions of previous patients appeared to Kevin, their expressions warped in agony, their spectral eyes begging him to escape. Benevolent spirits attempted to steer him toward salvation, while malevolent ones delighted in the horror that awaited, their spectral whispers intertwining with the hum of dental devices.

Dr. Dolton’s instruments of dentistry appeared before his blurring vision, shining ominously as she leaned in, her surgical mask hiding an iniquitous grin. “Relax, Kevin. This is all part of the procedure,” she whispered, as the gleam of a scalpel caught his eye.

A symphony of the damned erupted, the sound of drills and the echoes of ghostly cautions mingled with Kevin’s muffled screams. The entreaties of the helpful spirits vied against the mockery of the wicked, creating a discordant harmony that reverberated against the clinic’s advanced walls.

The ordeal seemed to stretch into eternity, and as Kevin’s awareness began to ebb, the clarity of the phantoms’ warnings crystallized: Dr. Dolton was far more than a dentist; she was a conductor of dread, orchestrating pain under the pretense of dental care.

When the effects of the gas finally subsided, Kevin found himself alone, now a part of the haunted gallery, his once warm smile forever twisted into a visage of shock and despair. The clinic stood silent, ready for its next unsuspecting patient, as the whispers of the tormented continued their ceaseless waltz through the sterile corridors of Dr. Dolton’s practice.

And so life in Skystead marched on, its dark secrets buried deep, while the high-tech doors of Dr. Rachel Dolton’s dental clinic swung open once again, awaiting the arrival of the next unassuming victim.

© Eric Montgomery, 15-February-2024

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