"What are you talking about nurse? The man is clearly on the operating table."
"Yes, Doctor, but he's not the right patient. He's male."
"I can see that, thank-you nurse."
"How do you propose to give him a hysterectomy then, Doctor?"
"The surgery plan is on the table over there, nurse. You can see what I'll be extracting, and how I'll be putting things back in again."
Miss Snippet held the struggling woman back from the child on the floor. She had her arms wrapped around the woman's rib-cage and was squeezing slightly more tightly than was really necessary to try and cut down her breathing and make her easier to control. The pair of them seemed to be attempting some complicated dance move, as the woman kept trying to rake Miss Snippet's shins with her high-heels, and Miss Snippet kept stepping away. The headmaster, an indecisive man except where it came to nepotism, looked on vaguely anguished, but made no attempt to help the scalded and bruised child on the floor. Miss Snippet glared angrily at him.
"Headmaster!" she said, jerking her head back to avoid being reverse-headbutted by the struggling woman. "Headmaster, can you please help Michael up!"
"I don't think I should be touching the child," said the Headmaster, his voice trembling with nervousness. Miss Snippet noticed that a tic had started up in the corner of his right eye. "I think we need a medical professional here now."
"Then call one." Miss Snippet's tone was as acid as her thoughts, as she stepped back again to avoid another high-heel raking and realised she'd backed up against a wall.
The radio's still playing but I've left it in the bedroom.
The radio's still praying, and I've left it to it's bare doom.
The radio's still.
Dr Verfuegbar lifted the scalpel, and the blade glinted in the bright, cold light of the operating theatre. On the table, the patient murmered something and tried to roll over. Dr. Verfuegbar sighed, set the scalpel down again, and tightened the thick leather bands that restrained the patient. They'd been laid across his throat, chest, wrists and ankles, leaving enough space for him to get into the patient's abdominal cavity and hunt for a womb.
The nurse, stood at a small steel side table, read through Dr. Verfuegbar's operating plan. Part of her admired the beauty of his handwriting, another part was impressed by the elegance of his grammar. A third part of her, that she was trying very hard not to listen to, was screaming that the operating plan had nothing to do with humans, and was in fact a wiring schematic for a telephone.
A soft bing sounded in the operating theatre, and she looked up.
"What was that?" The Headmaster looked even more panicky, and Miss Snippet could see that his hands had started shaking now, and little beads of sweat were standing out on his forehead. The last time she'd seen him like this she'd been killing herself laughing as his nephew nearly immolated himself in front of three hundred parents at the nativity play.
"The doorbell," said Miss Snippet. "It's how people request entry to the school when we're closed."
She stepped sideways smartly, unexpectedly, and ducked as much as she could. She buried her nose in the woman's back, just between her shoulder-blades, and the woman's attempt to reverse head-butt her again missed and her head bounced off the wall with a solid thunk.
"Let them in," said Miss Snippet in her best tone of control, the one that calmed wild animals at the zoo and could reduce an entire class of small children to tears.
Something goes bing where I can't see it, and I know that there's a wave coming. There's pressure somewhere around my legs.
Something goes thunk and there's a door opened in the wall. I think I can see a way out.
What does Verfuegbar mean?
"The lip reader has arrived," says the Nurse, answering the intercom. Dr. Verfuegbar lays down the scalpel again, and looks confused.
"Don't we normally feed them to the landmines?" he asks.
"No Doctor, it's just that the last four hundred have been taken by the landmines," says the Nurse. "It might just be that all the landmines have been found now. The lip-reader has arrived."
"Do we still need a lip-reader?"
The nurse thinks about this. "I think we might have given the patien–"
Miss Snippet lays the unconscious woman down on the floor next to her son, and checks the child's pulse. It's there, but it's not strong. The Headmaster comes back into the room with a man who reminds her of a cruise-ship and purchasing replacement children from a third-world country.
"She's not allowed in here," he says flatly, pointing at the unconscious woman. "I have a restraining order."
I'm not allowed out of here. I have a re-training order.
"Put the lip-reader on the table," says Dr. Verfuegbar. "I have a maiming order."