020 - The Clinic

Ride the 305 for exactly six stops. Where you get off doesn’t matter. Then walk to the nearest medical clinic and ask the receptionist if you can see the on-call doctor. You’ll be told that you can’t. Ask for the other on call doctor. Her face will go white as a sheet and she’ll tell you to go to exam room three. Wait there until the physician shows up, which could be anywhere from less than a minute to six hours.

When he does show up, he’ll be old: Leathery skin, coal-black eyes, and the medical paraphernalia of a bygone day. He’ll begin the examination without exchanging pleasantries or asking you what’s wrong. After the exam, he’ll consult your file and tell you his prognosis. If you’re healthy, you won’t be when you leave the clinic. Ebola, Rubella, SARS, he’ll pick something nasty for wasting his time. You won’t die of whatever he gives you. Instead, you’ll be damned to wander the earth spreading it.

If you’re ill, however, he’ll tell you it will clear up on its own by the end of the week. It will, as will any chronic pain or other long-term conditions. From that day on, no other doctor in the city will be willing to see you or even make eye contact.

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