I’m a nurse for a patient in the burn ward. It’s 10:30pm. The patient woke up while I was checking on him. He asked me to open his laptop and begin writing his account of what happened to him. Honestly, I don’t think he has much time left so I’ll do my best to tell his tale.
Right now, I’m in the hospital feeling excruciating pain. I had the nurses minimize the morphine drip so I’m at least conscious enough to tell this story. I have to, because my cousins can’t. My suffering is what happens when stupid people do really, really stupid things. This whole mess began a few days ago…
Did you know humans are the only creatures on this planet that love hot peppers? My love for hot chilis came from my mother’s cooking. You see, my family, especially my mother, loves spicy food. Jambalaya, gumbo, and rice and beans. Every year we had a family reunion and everyone would be super excited to try some of my mother’s food.
The family reunion was in full swing. Everyone was catching up and having a good time. I was sitting next to my two cousins, Connor and Matt, who also happen to be very good friends of mine. We had just finished chowing down on some delicious New Orleans chocolate bourbon pecan pie. Mm! It was always a crowd pleaser. I was scraping the last few pieces of pecan and pie crust onto my fork when Connor spoke up.
“Hey guys…. guess what I got?” he asked with a conspiring look in his eyes. He leaned in close, pulling a small black cloth bag from his pocket. It had a red string tied around the opening and two black orbs on the ends of the string. He threw the bag down on the table. I looked between the bag and Connor. A small grin was slowly growing on my face.
“You’re kidding! You actually found it?!” I said with a bit more excitement than I wanted to show. I opened the bag and peered inside. Before I even had a good look of what was in the bag, my nose was assaulted by a barrage of stings and irritation that I had never experienced before. I pulled back and covered my nose, pushing the bag away. Matt looked at me with disbelief and skepticism. I pulled my hand away as the stinging sensation subsided and Matt’s eyes widened in shock.
“Dude… you’re bleeding. Your nose is actually bleeding!” Matt immediately grabbed a napkin from his side of the table and handed it to me. I dabbed my nose and looked down to the cloth. Red splotches were on the light-yellow napkin, and more drops continued to drip down onto the napkin. I looked at Connor. He had a victorious look on his face.
“Satan’s little helper.” he simply said. Now, I have to give you a little background information. Every year, Connor, Matt, and I brought some new hot pepper to try. Last year, I brought the Carolina reaper hottest pepper known to man and the year before that we tried the ghost pepper. It was hot, downright painful, and, to be honest, fun. A few months ago, I got a message from Connor saying he found a pepper hotter than the reaper. Now personally, I couldn’t believe it. The reaper was the hottest pepper in the world and it earned its title. So, to get a message saying he found something even hotter? Well then, challenge accepted.
“That… is ridiculous, Connor! Where the hell did you find this?” I asked as I was wiping the last of the blood from my upper lip. Connor shook his head and put his hands behind his head. “Nu-uh, I can’t reveal my secret. Just remember that tonight, when everyone is chilling around the bonfire, you guys meet me at my car and we can truly experience this little guy.” He said as he grabbed the bag and put it into his pocket. Now that I knew he wasn’t kidding, I was a bit nervous. I mean, this pepper just made my freaking nose bleed and I was going to ingest it into my body? Who knows what could happen? Little did we know, our questions were going to be answered real soon.
It was around 7pm when Matt and I walked up to Connor’s beat up truck. He was sitting on the hood of it, holding the small cloth bag in his hand. He hopped down as we approached him. He had an excited look on his face. “Gentlemen! Are you ready to experience what could possibly be the hottest pepper in existence?” Connor asked. I rolled my eyes. He was always one for dramatics.
“Uhm… are you sure we wanna do this? I mean if this pepper can make nosebleeds, is it safe to put in us?” Matt questioned. Honestly, he made a good point. Connor only scoffed and shook his head in disbelief.
“Dude, quit being such a p***y. It’s a pepper, not acid.” He said. He tilted the bag onto his left hand and 3 shiny orbs fell out. They were topped with short stems. I coughed a little. I could smell their potency from a few feet away. “Alright, open your hands” Connor commanded as he grabbed two of the intense peppers and placed them into the palms of our hands. It was hard to believe, but it felt warm, like it was just in the microwave for 30 seconds. Matt and I locked eyes. He certainly felt the low warmth too.
Connor looked at us and smiled. “Alright, three… two… one!” All three of us simultaneously popped the small orbs in our mouths. You know that small moment when you try to brace yourself for the intense heat and you already feel regret for even thinking of putting yourself into that situation? I’ve always hated that moment. All of us were locking eyes with each other to see which one of us would break first. That’s when I first heard Matt scream.
Connor and I turned and saw his eyes water. His face was twisted in agony as his eyes rolled back in pain. Suddenly, I turned to Connor. His screams were hoarse as he dropped to his knees, scratching his throat. I backed away a few steps and then, suddenly, as if I just got shot in the mouth, a burst of intense pain exploded in my mouth. This was hotter than anything I’d ever experienced. Boiling water would be ice cold compared to this intense heat. Everything hurt, as if I was caught in the middle of an explosion. It felt like it wasn’t going to stop. My stomach ached. No, it felt like it was being punctured with a hot drill. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, the smell of burning meat filled the air. I turned to see something that would forever haunt me. Connor was rolling around. His clothes were somehow on fire. I was seriously confused. His screams of pain filled my ears. He was rolling around, trying to put out a fire that could not be smothered. Nothing around him was burning. The grass beneath us wasn’t even blackening and yet this heat was intense.
I turned to look at Matt. He was laying on his side, shaking and curled in a ball. His eyes were wide, and blood was leaking out of his nose and mouth. A state of shock and unrivaled pain that I did not want to endure. I felt myself close to the breaking point. Blood, smoke, fire and screaming. That’s all I remember experiencing before blacking out.
I woke up in the hospital. My throat was hoarse and dry. Doctors, my family, and cops came by, asking me what happened. Apparently, I was the only survivor. All they found of Connor was blackened bones and ash. Matt had been cooked. I overheard the doctor talking to a cop about it. He said he looked as if he had been boiled alive. He was red and raw, like his outer layer of skin just… peeled away. I guess I was the lucky one. That’s what the doctors said. My lungs were blackened, and my stomach was utterly destroyed. Stomach acids had leaked out from, what they could tell, burn holes. The doctors were baffled at the fact that I’m still alive, considering the extensive internal burns.
This isn’t living. Every breath is a challenge. Everything hurts. The doctors say I don’t have long to live. I’m not surprised. A small part of me is telling me to just let go. Just close my eyes and just go. It’s tempting honestly, but I had to tell this story not just for me, but for Matt and Connor too.
He, uh, died not long after telling me this. I did some digging and the doctor did extract a small black orb from his insides. The doctors can’t seem to explain why it is not digested or how warm it was.