Saturday, 31 December 2011

Staff surgeon

The young mummies were taking up most of the beds in the Gorillamumps infirmary.  From what Jermander could gather, eavesdropping on Nurse Hearse's conversation with the staff surgeon, Nurse Hearse had a bad case of corpse-worms and the young mummies had been playing pass the parcel and come a little undone in the process.  The way she talked about it made it clear that the woman had sex on the brain and probably shouldn't have been working in a school, but Gorillamumps was unusual in many respects, and the corpse-worms would probably keep her celibate, if not chaste, for a while.
"And what are you here for?" said Nurse Hearse sharply, stalking back into the examination room.  She was tall and thin and had incredibly long arms, so long that she could actually touch her ankles without bending.  Her face was pinched and red, partly because she washed it every time she walked past a sink and partly because she was partial to the medical ethanol.
"I don't feel well," said Jermander reflexively.  It was a lie, he had already accomplished what he'd come there for.  While Nurse Hearse had been attempting to seduce the staff surgeon and, from the sounds of things, he'd been beating her off with a chair, Jermander had opened the basic medications cabinet and added a few drops from the Blistermas Herpes vial to everything in there.  He wasn't sure what most of it was for, but he was pretty certain it would all have the desired effect.
"Be specific!"  Nurse Hearse glared at him as though he'd told her that he had wet himself.
"Well, just after dinner in the hall today I started having these headaches," said Jermander.  "So I thought I'd better go and have a lie-down, only then I started getting all itchy as well."
"Dinner in the hall?  You're a vampire?"  Jermander nodded to each staccato sentence.  "You're also an idiot.  Dinner today included a side of roasted garlic."  Jermander had to stop himself nodding to that and giving the game away.  "Go away."
He left, glancing through the small head-height windows in the ward doors at the young mummies.  He had no idea if mummies could catch herpes, so it would be interesting finding out.
The infirmary building was one of many erratically laid out buildings that made up the Gorillamumps campus; their erratic layout was something Jermander had learnt quite intimately just a few days earlier when he'd clipped a wing on the Engineering building and then crashed face first into the Modern Persecutions block.  He'd had dizzy spells every time he turned into a bat after that, but he didn't want to tell Nurse Hearse about that in case she came to ask why he was flying so fast through the buildings in the first place.  Or, he thought now, decided to treat him from the basic medications cabinet.
He walked down the steps at the front of the building, and turned left, intending to go to the Singleton Quad and try turning into a bat again.  The Left-aligned Ancients of MuMu had their dormitory there, and eavesdropping on their conversations always made him feel like he'd just heard something deeply significant and yet impossible to fully understand.  He was quite surprised, then, when he almost walked into the staff surgeon.
"Watch it," said the staff surgeon, then recognising Jermander, "Wotcha!"
"Uh, hi," said Jermander backing off a little.  The staff surgeon, who'd never apparently shared his (or possibly her, maybe its) name with anyone was about three feet tall, covered in long, thin, greasy hairs that seemed to move in breezes that no-one else could feel, and had eight arms, all of which terminated in surgical steel claws.  Sometimes an arm had more than one claw at the end of it.
"You were just up in her office, weren't you?  Sweet Mephistopheles but that woman's unstoppable.  Did she try it on with you?"
Jermander wondered for a moment how desperate he'd have to be before the staff surgeon would look attractive to him, and then he realised what he'd been asked.
"Oh, no!" he said, slightly shocked.  "I don't think she likes me very much."
"You must be the only one then," said the staff surgeon, giggling in a way that suggested he/she/it might actually be drowning in their own mucus instead.  "Lucky you."
"What are corpse-worms then?" asked Jermander, figuring that he might as well ask someone who knew.  When the staff surgeon had finished explaining Jermander was glad that he wasn't capable of vomiting, sorry that he'd asked, and felt that he wouldn't be getting too close to any of the zombies for a while.
"So, what were you in there for then?" asked the staff surgeon.  "You don't seem ill."
"Food poisoning," said Jermander.  "I ate some garlic at dinner."
"Yeah, right," said the staff surgeon.  "And I'm a monkey's uncle."
Jermander considered this until he realised that his silence was telling the staff surgeon exactly what he was thinking.  "No, really," he protested.
"Doesn't bother me," said the staff surgeon.  "Whatever you're up to, it just means work for me, and I enjoy my job."  He snipped his claws like maracas and laughed in his horrible, gurgling, drowning way as Jermander flinched.
"Enjoy Janus-day!" he called as Jermander walked away, trying to look vampire-cool and not really succeeding.  Janus-day.  How could he have forgotten that it was almost upon them?

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