Darkness moved in from the corners of my eyes
“Hello, doctor? Yeah, it’s Sarah, Sarah Langston. I’m sorry to call again so soon, but I don’t think the cream you gave me for the rash around my neck is helping. It still stings and burns, and It’s starting to feel like it’s beginning to constrict.” I told Dr. Steven, but he just groggily exhaled slowly, irritated I was bothering him so early in the morning.
“Ms. Langston, I’ve told you already that it is not a serious problem. After some lab testing, it is clear to me that what you have is a mutated form of shingles, nothing more than that. The cream won’t work, especially after only three days. Call me again in another two days, if the pain persists come on back and we will take another look. Goodbye.” He hung up as I tried to further explain myself to him, but it was futile. I slumped against the wall next to my bed and gingerly grasped my neck with a hand. The light squeeze I gave it gave me a quick jolt of pain and I found myself unable to breathe properly for a few seconds.
“Shingles my ass,” I mumbled as I got up slowly to move to the bathroom, careful to not move my head too much. Staring at my neck in the mirror, the band around it had darkened from a light pink to a deep burgundy. Not only that, but it also increased in width. Now, I’m no expert when it comes to anything medical but I’m damn sure shingles don’t act this uniformly.
I let out an exasperated shout, uncaring if my neighbors heard me. I took a glance at my alarm clock in the other room and glumly decided to just get on with my day, classes wait for no one. So, I put on a hoodie, a pair of leggings, and wrapped an ice-blue scarf around my pained neck. Hoping that the symbolism of it would cool down the band as absurd as that sounds.
Minutes later I had arrived on campus and made my way to class. However, by the time I had reached the door to my first class of the day, I was already winded. By no means would anyone consider me as out of shape, but it felt as though my lungs were working overtime. They burned as they struggled to pump air in and out. Only when I sat down did I realize that the band was now applying enough pressure to restrict my windpipe. Trying to calm down, I took a sip of water but had to struggle to force it down, causing me to cough.
“Hey, you alright?” A concerned student next to me asked politely. I nodded and thanked them for their concern. After that, I decided to toughen out this one class and head home because I knew I wouldn’t be able to exert myself much further.
After reaching my apartment, I immediately stumbled to my bathroom and ungracefully removed my scarf, throwing it to the tiled floor. I tilted my head up and wanted to scream, but could only muster strained throaty gasps. The band had tightened so much in only a few hours that the middle of my throat was forced inwards. Despite the fear and pain, I felt, my neck looked almost comical, like an hourglass. Thick on the upper and lower halves and thin in the middle.
Livid that Dr. Steven did not take my concerns seriously I steeled my nerves and called him again.
“Dr. Steven, please listen. I’m struggling to breathe, I need help right now, please!” I managed to stammer out. Hearing my strained voice, he was much keener on being professional towards me, but I could still tell he was skeptical.
“Ms. Longston if what you are saying is true, please call 911 to bring you here if you can not drive. Goodbye.” He hung up immediately, clearly putting the burden of my situation onto myself. So much for the Hippocratic oath. I then picked up my scarf and re-wrapped it around my neck to hide the freakish sideshow. I figured I would be okay to drive, but when I grabbed my car keys I completely missed them as my vision blurred from another jolt of pain originating from my neck.
I fell to the floor with a thud and attempted to cry out, but only a croaking sound escaped my lips. Under my scarf, I felt the band growing tighter and tighter as though a boa constrictor was squeezing me for the kill.
Thinking quickly, I desperately pulled out my phone again and tried to call for 911. I started to cry as darkness slowly moved in from the corners of my eyes. I was losing air fast and the panic made my hands profusely sweat so my fingers failed to unlock my phone.
I had one option left, I could call out to Siri and have the A.I. save my life. But, as I opened my mouth to say, ‘Hey Siri’, nothing came out. Not even air at this point, but rather blood. My throat at this point was constricted enough that I felt my bones begin to break, blood vessels burst, causing more and more of my blood to pour from my mouth, discoloring my scarf.
At this point, my neck was nothing more than a pencil before my vision went black.
After a quick roll, Sarah’s head thudded to a stop next to her bed, red liquid oozing out of her decapitated and limp corpse. Police would arrive two days later to her apartment at the behest of her concerned friends and parents from not hearing from her.
Her doctor, Dr. Steven faced considerable outrage for his negligence towards his patient and was convicted of medical malpractice for not taking the poor girl seriously. From that day forward, her rare and seemingly one-off condition came to be known as ‘Sarah’s Band’ as doctors researched it.
As of today, no known cause for it has been found, nor a cure.