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Poems, Stories & Stuff

Short Stories...
The Patient
A Perfect Life
Midnight at Captain Tom's
The Shark Man
Setting Free the Moth

A Warrior's Heart
I'll Remember Love
These Things I Pray
My Miracles
Raison D'Ítre

Sailing Through Life
What's Become Apparent
The Wrong Wish

The Patient
by Pat McDonald
© Pat McDonald 1990
all rights reserved

The chief of surgery looked bewildered, unable to accept the diagnosis.
"But what of the risk?  If we intervene, we could kill her."
The specialist sighed.  They'd been over this for what seemed like millennia.

"I believe it's quite likely that the patient will die if we don't remove the infection.   The virus has infected over twenty-five percent of her body and it's shutting down her systems one by one.  You asked for my opinion and that's it."

The chief took a long hard look at the patient through the one-way mirror.  She turned softly in her sleep, barely aware that her problem was so severe.  Lighting another cigarette, he inhaled deeply and released a sigh of gray smoke.  The latest analysis had come back from the lab team and it was not promising.

"We've seen this before" he mused.  "The statistics show a measurable probability that this type of virus, left alone, will mutate into a symbiont to keep from killing its host."

"That's true , but no one has ever let it progress this far before.   If we don't act soon it will be too late and she'll die anyway.  We must destroy it before it destroys her.  Or rather," he said pointedly, "before "they" destroy her , let's not forget we're dealing with billions of individual cells each with the ability to replicate itself."

"You're right, of course" the chief nodded.  "Still, one thing puzzles me about that lab report.  There appear to be small areas of the infection, or small "groups" in your terminology, that are actually helping to reverse the harmful effects of the whole.  Isn't that an indication that the virus is changing and may become benign?"

"It's a possibility" the specialist conceded.  "Look, it's your call, but you know my recommendation.  Whatever you decide, we can't afford to wait much longer."


The Chief was quiet as he continued to watch the patient's quiet slumber.  "Well, I may be erring on the wrong side of caution," he said finally, "but I think we'll give her body a short while longer to try to heal itself before we do anything invasive."

"Very well" said the Specialist. "Are we still on for our game tomorrow?"

"It's Wednesday, isn't it?"

After the Specialist left, the Chief Surgeon took one last look at his patient. Spinning serenely on her axis with her blue oceans, her clouds and her mountains, she seemed so full of promise, so lovely, so fragile. "Hang in there," he whispered. "You'll make it".