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  • Writer's pictureLuke Ramer

Recovery - 48hr Fiction Challenge

I recently took place in the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction competition. The rules are simple, you get 3 prompts, and you get 48hrs until you have to submit a finished story under 1,000 words.

My three prompts were:

Genre: Suspense

Location: A Recovery Room

Item: A Diploma

The following is my entry into the first round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge...Hope you enjoy!

(Or listen on YouTube with visuals, music, and sounds effects!)


by Luke Ramer

A hopeless alcoholic finds himself part of an unusual recovery program.

I’m getting drunk at a dilapidated drug house on the outskirts of town when the police crash the party. I escape out a back door, the last thing I need is to get arrested, again. I have no friends here so there’s no one to leave behind. I stumble into the woods, puking and collapsing into a thorn bush. It feels like rock bottom, but everything feels like rock bottom these days. The red and blue cop lights and sirens swirl through the trees. My sight wanes as a cold shadow descends over me.


I wake up in a comfortable bed wearing clean clothes, with an IV running into my arm and a wretched headache. The large bedroom is lit in a soft red glow. No windows, so I have no idea if it’s day or night.

A man sits in shadows behind a large oak desk across the room. An array of pictures are framed on the wall behind him, along with a medical diploma. He looks up and notices I’m awake.

“Where am I?” I ask.

The old man’s black lab coat drags along the floor as he walks to my bedside and lays his cold hand on my sweaty forehead.

“You’re in recovery, dear boy,” he says. “I’m Doctor Luther.”

“Recovery? This isn’t a hospital…”

The doctor goes to a cabinet across the room and takes out a tall bottle of champagne. “You’ve been to the hospital before, yes? For alcohol abuse?”

I nod and my eyes drift down to the carpet. Yeah, I have, a few times. I’ve battled alcohol for years. Tried AA and church support groups. Nothing worked. I can’t hold a job or apartment or girlfriend. I figure I’ll die young from alcoholism like my father and grandfather. No big loss.

Dr. Luther reads my expression. “That’s why you’re here,” he says and pops the cork of the champagne bottle. “My treatment methods are…different…some might say…controversial. But when I’m done, you’ll never want to look at booze again—assuming you survive the process.” He says this nonchalantly as he drops some pills into the champagne and hands me the bottle. “This will make you feel better.”

“But why me?” I take a long swig and the bubbles tingle my mouth.

“I have a special interest in you,” he says.

“You can’t just keep me here, you fuckin’ weirdo,” I say, but can’t resist drinking more champagne. He offers a sly smile but says nothing.

Dr. Luther hands me the remote for the television and stands at the bedroom door. Before he leaves the room, he points and says, “There’s a bathroom through that door, food in the mini-fridge, microwave over there. Help yourself.”

He leaves and I get out of bed and stalk to the door, but it’s locked. I consider breaking it down, but I’m still feeling like death from this hangover. I notice some of my family in the framed pictures on the wall behind the desk but everything is too hazy to make sense.

The doctor returns every fifteen minutes with a drink. Like clockwork. For days on end. Weeks on end. Martinis, shots, and endless red wine. He wakes me every time I fall asleep to force more alcohol down my throat. More than a few times I stand by the bedroom door, ready to surprise attack the doctor and escape. But I always stay for one more drink.

Sometimes I hear screams throughout the house that startle me. But soon the doctor is back in my room with a glass of red wine as if nothing is wrong.

But something is wrong now. I can’t keep anything down besides the red wine. Every time I drink anything else I vomit and my throat aches from the acid. Same story with food. I don’t even get hungry anymore. Fever dreams and cold sweats are constant. But the doctor assures me my recovery is going according to plan.


I stand behind the desk as the doctor checks my vitals. As he’s weighing me, my eyes wander to the medical diploma hanging in its gold frame—it’s dated 1890. The last name on the diploma is the same as mine, not “Luther”.

My blood curdles. “What the hell is this?” I scream, grabbing him by his collar. He sneers at me with his open mouth of razor teeth. I stumble back and head for the door. He calls after me, but now I’m running through the dimly lit hallway and reality is spinning as I descend a flight of stairs and dash out the front door onto the damp morning lawn.

The fresh air tastes sweet and refreshing and the sunlight hits my face—and it’s like battery acid. My skin sizzles and I see the smoke rising from my flesh. It smells like burnt steak.

The doctor’s strong arms quickly drag me into the cool darkness of the mansion. He carries me back to the recovery room and my skin returns to normal, although I notice how pale I’ve grown.

The doctor sits on the desk. He holds up a bottle of vodka.

“Drink?” he offers. But I just shake my head. Just the thought of drinking repulses me. He smiles.

“What’s happening to me?” I ask.

“I know first-hand our family’s history with alcohol, it’s our curse. Goes back through centuries,” he says and sets down the bottle.

Our family?”

“I’m your great, great, great grandfather,” he says. “I’ve watched you since your birth. I’m not supposed to interfere, but I can’t bear to witness another of my kin waste away from this accursed addiction. So, I’ve made you into something else, something above the cravings of man.”

I try to speak but my sharp canine tooth splits the inside of my lip and blood trickles across my tongue—it tastes like the red wine.

“Of course, you will have to consume to stay alive,” the doctor says. “But trust me, it’s much healthier than booze and there’s no hangovers.”


I take a seat at The Mainline Pub, a neon bar bustling with nightlife. The bartender has dimples and thick hips. She asks, “Want the beer special?”

“No thanks,” I say and smile. “I’m in recovery, one year clean today.” She smiles back and leans against the bar.

“So, then,” she says and plays with the necklace around her pink neck. “What will you have to drink?”

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1 Comment

Priscilla Bettis
Priscilla Bettis
Dec 06, 2022

Awesome job, impressive especially because you only had 48 hours.

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