Alien medical mysteries? All in a day’s work if you’re a human xenophysician like Loke. But when her “species-unknown” girlfriend develops a mysterious ailment, can Loke find its cause—and cure—before it’s too late?
Standing in the emergency OR, hands sheathed, face shielded, I picked up my unzipper and looked down at my patient.
“You know,” I said, “I decided to become a xenophysician at age six. My reasoning was simple.” I set the unzipper against the patient’s shaved skin. “Aliens are so. Damned. Interesting.”
My colleague, Dreedo, kept his eyes on the patient. “That’s true.”
“I did not,” I went on, beginning to cut, “expect so many of them to be so bloody stupid.”
Dreedo laughed. “I usually don’t admit ‘interesting aliens’ was the whole reason I chose this profession. People seem to want me to say my reason was compassion or something.”
“Oh, well, compassion,” I shrugged. “I’m very compassionate. I’m just saying that’s a distant second when patients like Arbert here seem determined to make the worst possible life choices and then wonder how things went wrong.”
Arbert was under anesthesia, so he couldn’t defend himself. I wasn’t sure what he would have said anyway; this was entirely his own damn fault.
Monsters did not, quite, explode out of him when I broke into the chest wall. But the enthusiastic squirming in there was distracting. And even though I had forceps, keeping my fingers away from the gnashy little teeth chewing on his innards was still nerve-wracking.
“Who’s got the buckets?” I asked.
Our nurse—two beautiful gold-and-black creatures, shaped like beetles with deerlike heads—silently carted them over.
“Oh, good, they’re transparent,” I noted dryly of the buckets. “The cameras will get a good view when we show them to that PR disaster out there.”