On to the Next One

Matron Josmene looked to her assistant.  

Catching her eye, Cal uncovered the patient. A girl, with bright-green eyes that snapped between Josmene, and the dark room.

Cal moved his bioscanner across her body.  The device resembled a gunmetal squid, with an array of appendages that poked and prodded the girl’s flesh.

‘I can’t see myself,’ the girl said, her face twisting as she strained with another effort. ‘Medicae, I can’t move.’

‘My rank is Matron,’ Josmene said. ‘And you’re on strong medication, partial paralysis is normal.’

‘Am I naked?’

‘We have to do an exam. But nobody else can see you.’

‘And… How do I look?’

Josmene made a show of looking across the girl’s body.  ‘You look fine,’ she said.

The girl’s upper body was trim and without blemish, pampered even. Her arms dangled limply from the gurney’s sides, her fingers twitching from the drug cocktail.

The girl’s trunk ended just above her hips, with the flesh below laying in shreds. The blood had been cleaned away, leaving a slurry of pink and white entrails to sit exposed on the gurney.

Her legs had been similarly detached and were laid out neatly beneath her. Wet and glossy black tubing had been pushed into her torso, connecting her to vats underneath the gurney. Each tube slowly pulsated, pumping fluids into and out of her.

Josmene looked back at the girl. ‘Totally fine.’

The girl let her head fall back against the Gurney with a sigh. ‘Good. I thought that it had… You see, I don’t really remember the birth. It feels like a vague dream… A bloody and terrible-‘

‘One moment.’ Josmene turned to her desk’s cogitator. 

Research & Records Report: Sanitatem Heart

Patient No: 3877

Compiled By: Matron Seran Josmene

By Order of: [REDACTED]

‘Sorry to interrupt. But I have to ask you set questions about that.’

‘I see.’

‘This is for your treatment, so please answer honestly.’

‘Yes, of course, Matron.’

‘Who did this terrible thing to you?’

The girl’s limp hands clenched into fists.

Cal almost jumped back, then leaned over to quietly adjust the injector vat’s dials.

‘I was so good to that bastard!  All I asked was that he honour my father’s wishes. That we wait until we’re married.’

Josmene nodded along. 

‘But after I gave him what he wanted, he vanished.  That slippery-‘ The girl erupted into a fit of wet and wheezing coughs.

Josmene turned to her cogitator again.  

Conception Method: Copulation

The girl’s coughs subsided. ‘I began to show quickly, so quickly that nobody would believe that the child was his.  My own father-‘

‘How long was the pregnancy?’

‘Apologies Matron. Three months.’

‘Thank you.’  

Incubation Period: 90 Days.

‘Is it here?’

Josmene looked down at the girl.

She grimaced. ‘My child, I mean.’

‘Yes. I’ll let you see her after we’ve-‘

‘No!’ The girl’s head recoiled away from Josmene.  ‘Keep it away from me!’

‘So, you do remember it?’

‘I remember a hundred eyes, all of them crawling beneath my skin, splitting me-‘ she closed her eyes, her face now wet with tears. ‘He wasn’t… it’s father… I thought he was, but he wasn’t…’

‘A normal man?’

She nodded. ‘Please, just keep it away from me.’

‘It’s done Matron.’ 

Josmene looked aside to see Cal holding out his scanner’s data-slug. She took it, plugged it into her cogitator, and added its data to her report.

Verbal Assessment Notes:

Patient verbally confesses to being a parasitic xenos host.  Patient claims to have been deceived by a shape altering xenos. Xeno confirmed to be specimen 01912.  Conception timeline matches patient’s alibi.  Patient currently stable, Scans attached.  No additional xenos presence detected, scans attached.  

Treatment Recommendation:  Reconstructive bionics and memory correction.

The screen cleared as Josmene submitted the report.

‘Am I going to be okay?’

Josmene looked at the girl again. There was something familiar about her, something disarming about the way her bright-green eyes so earnestly looked up at her.  She smiled and placed a comforting hand on her head.  ‘Yes, I’m certain of it, we just need to wait for my superior to-‘

Her cogitator chimed.

‘Hold on.’ She turned back to the display.

Treatment Instructions: Reclassify Patient 3877 to Specimen 3877. Terminate specimen. Send cadaver to xenobiology for further analysis. Archive scans and verbal assessment.

‘Good news,’ Josmene said as she turned to the girl, switching her genuine smile for a practised one. ‘we’re going to treat you straight away.’ 

The girl’s face lit up. ‘That’s wonderful, I was so scared.’

Cal silently moved to stand behind the girl.

‘I can’t wait to be back on my feet again!’  She closed her eyes and grinned wide.  ‘Once I’m well enough, I’d love to-‘

Her head jolted suddenly, and her smile changed into an awkwardly relaxed droop.  

Blood trickled from her nose as Cal reached over and pointed his scanner at her neck.  After a moment, the scanner blipped. ‘Confirmed.’ Cal said, then wiggled the spike from the back of her head.

Josmene turned back to her cogitator, queuing up the next patient’s notes.

‘You seem shaken, Matron.’ 

Josmene looked at Cal blankly.  

His face was hidden under his gown’s hood. ‘Did that specimen affect you?’

‘No. She simply reminded me of someone.’

‘I see. Are you going to be alright?’

‘Irrelevant. We have a duty to perform.  We’ve seen terrible things come in on that gurney before, and we’ll see plenty more.’

‘Understood, Matron.’

Josmene continued to look at Cal, noticing the droop in the boy’s shoulders. She sighed.  ‘It does affect me.  If that’s what you meant to ask. But I have my ways of dealing with terror, as I’m sure you do too.

‘I am… coping, Matron.’

‘Of course you are. If you weren’t, I would have had our tech-priest install a cerebral implant.’

Cal snorted at the joke, then met Josmene’s serious eyes.  He cleared his throat, ‘I see,’ he said.

Josmene smiled thinly, then pressed on her cogitator’s input panel, sending in the next gurney.

About the Author

Who is Solomon? You mean the guy who rarely steps out of his man-cave? Well, he’s an aspiring author who should probably read more. Why didn’t anyone tell him that becoming a writer wasn’t as romantic as it seems on TV? Oh well, I’m sure he wouldn’t have it any other way.