Rebecca Lane Check Ups


Check Ups

They have doctors for it now. Not like before. It’s practically scientific, down to the

white lab coats and the post shot lollipops. But it hasn't always been that way. Even fifteen

years ago which is before I was ever diagnosed, there weren't many treatments. Not really.

When I say Us, I mean the cryptokids. We’re the ones with the diseases that don’t get

better from a round of penicillin, or a strong antibiotic. We’re the ones that have the less

ordinary’ diseases. Vampirism, lycanthropy, combustion, hands that ice whatever it touches.

We got great publicity in the X-Men movies and comics. And some of us can go on to live

healthy, relatively normal lives. But there are others, well, we need a little intervention, a little

maintenance until we can control things manage the symptoms on our own. I’m one of those.

I’m simple. My condition that is. I disappear. Not that I want to, and it’s not something

I can control., at least not yet. If I could control it, it’d be called a gift or a power, or even a

talent. But I can’t control it, even though I’m working on it. My mom tells me about the first

time it happened. I was in my crib for nap time, and my mom kissed me good night. She

turned around I was gone. She screamed and started rifling through the room, and the crib,

when she saw the blanket breathing. I reappeared and she swooped me up in her arms and

held me tight. I giggled and disappeared again, and she nearly dropped me. Then I screamed.

That was the first time I disappeared. My mother made me wear bells after that, just small

fairy chime bracelets, so she’d always be able to find me.

Every Tuesday, Thursday, and sometimes Saturdays, I cross Kettigern Avenue and walk

through the doors of St. George’s Hospital. I turn left at the nurses' station, and then take the

elevator to the fourteenth floor. After the doors have opened, I walk back to the rear stairwell

beside the wall mosaic of the dragons, take the back stairwell or service elevator – depending

on how I’m feeling that day – to the thirteenth floor. No self-respecting building in the world

admits to having a thirteenth floor, even though they all do. No self preserving organization

would be without one. Especially a hospital. There are some things that aren't talked about, or

things that aren't done, but they must be done, they must exist all the same. That overlap is

where the thirteenth floor exists.

The nurses all have floral names. Hyacinth, Poppy, Ivy, and Hazel. All dark haired

women with glinting eyes that flash like firelight against the blue flamed wall sconces. The

walls are all blue, with blue lights in the sconces. Blue is the most harmonious color. It’s not

too bright. People find it calming, and doesn’t induce anger. That and it’s just in between

enough to keep any infected with nighttime ailments from shifting, but enough to have their

symptoms close to the surface. There’s never a worry about getting to the doctor’s and having

the symptoms suddenly not show up. Blue lights brings out everything it seems, though I

suspect the chief attending doctor and head warlock have something to do with that.

My treatment is easy enough. But it must be performed consistently. If not, I fade

away. I’m still there of course, or here really. But no one would know. And it’s not something I

can rectify. I can help by wearing things that reflect light or color. Opals help. But really, I’d

become a living ghost.

I lay down in a room on a low bed while one of the nurses sets mirrors round me. Then

she takes a candle holder and candle and sets them on each mirror. She snaps her fingers and

the wics catch light. Bay leaves are burned in a small bowl at the foot and the crown of the

bed. Essentially, I breathe in the smoke, and let the dust and ash settle on me. By the time the

candles have burned down, dust has settled on my form, outlining me on the bed, and I’ll be

visible and solid for the next week. Some times, a few stones will be ground up and dusted on

me opals, quartz…. and then I’ll even be shiny and visible. I look almost like a fairy, or one of

the twilight vampires. But, it’s not permanent.

I’ve got it easy. Amanda is a selkie. She turns into a seal and swims in the ocean’s

waters. At least she would like to. Except her fins cross, so swimming is more difficult. She

comes for physical therapy each week. She can’t do it elsewhere because it would be too

obvious to the uninitiated. Sometimes I see her across the hall from me, in a huge tank of salt

water, zooming through the water in her seal form. But sometimes, she’s in mid transition,

and the form is a bit surprising - human torso on a seal body. Not exactly the romantic

mermaid we’d like to imagine. Amanda has to work on her water maneuvering yet, and not

running into things. Cross finned and everything. the poor girl swims in circles and doesn’t

mean to.

Other patients are easier than that. Some will ask for a shot of the wolfsbane, to take

the edge off the change. Others will just schedule a room for their time. There’s a floor for the

rehabilitation of other creatures. Also available are the changing rooms for the skinwalkers.

when the change is coming up, for the werewolves or anything else.

There are of course more urgent care areas and doctors. (We call them doctors, even

though they’re really warlocks, and doctors trained in cryptomedicine. Doctors helps everyone

blend in better.) Someone gets bitten by a pixie in the park, or a hobgoblin steals the left ear of

the male child in the whole family until the end of time. That kind of thing. It’s all very

efficient. A memory wipe sticker, curse breakers, a lollipop, and the patient is on their way, no

more remembering what they were there for.

There have been complications though.

It’s not common that someone wanders onto the floor. Most often it’s a child who is

bored and exploring, and easily bribed with the extra big lollipops laced with glittering sugar

crystals. And a little bit of, well they don’t tell us what exactly. Then Ike the bald orderly,

whose eyes eyes blink side to side, wheels them away to the service elevator, up to the

fourteenth floor, and hands them over to Nurse Hyacinth. She’s another one of ours. If by

some chance the child hasn’t eaten their lollipop yet, or even taken a lick of it, Nurse Hyacinth

gives them a jab with a dragon toothed needle. ‘To forget, sweethearts. We don’t want them

coming back.’ Moments later, the child is out, drooling, and being scooted away to their rooms,

with a special purple tag wrapped around their wrist. “Risk of Scales. N. Hyacinth.” They keep

an eye on the patient for a while after that.

The lollipop does the same thing as the needle. It’s just more pleasant and doesn’t

leave the same black ringed puncture wound. The chances of dragon scale infestation are

much lower using the lollipop. Something about the way it’s absorbed, or the pace. At least

that’s what the nurses teach us.

I have only heard of one case of scales from an injection in the past years I’ve been

coming to St. George’s and I’ve been coming here ever since I was little. Some little blonde

haired girl wandered downstairs and everyone followed protocol. But she was diabetic.

Couldn’t have the sugar, she swore it would kill her. And what hospital doesn’t carry sugar free

stuff? She started to scream bloody murder, and someone just jabbed her with the needle. Just

to shut her up. It’s another great side effect to the stuff – it knocks you out almost

instantaneously. But she thrashed around, and the needle got stuck in her arm. Broke off in

the vein. Within a couple hours, she was covered. Head to toe in yellow and red scales just like

her hair. The only thing human about her were her eyes. They were six year old’s eyes. The

rest, well the rest was dragon.

Once scales set in, it can’t be changed back. and by the time the day was over, she was

too big to take on the bus or train to the appropriate hospital. The mom and dad did the best

they could, but even with the doctors’ help the little girl grew until she was larger than anything

they had known. The parents followed their girl one night when she flew out the window, and

against the night

For weeks later, the forest glowed red from within, and smelled of burning.

(C) Rebecca Lane