Bewildering Stories

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A Visit to the Clinic

by Karlos D. Allen

Rashid al Saud carefully adjusted his tie and straightened his kafeyyah. The sun beat down on the reporters outside. He had to admire their patience: they knew that today was an important one; already the talking heads were preparing their ‘analysis’ of the events to come, shading it to conform to their particular ideology.

“Mark,” he beckoned his secretary.

“Yes, Mr. Secretary?”

“Inform the reporters that I will not be taking questions at this time.”

Mark stepped out and Rashid could faintly hear his voice coming back through the glass, “The Secretary-General will not be taking questions at this time. Please step back and let him get to the limo.”

It didn’t work of course, but they were warned. He took a breath and plunged outside. The shouted questions came, “Mr. Secretary, is it true that the Gaza camps have begun militarizing?”

“Mr. Secretary, Is it true that Khartoum was sacked and burned by militarized refugees?”

“Mr. Secretary, Is it true that The Base has developed nuclear weapons?”

“Mr. Secretary, Do you think the Aliens can help us?”

He stopped, some questions had to be answered. “The ‘Aliens’ have names. They are Chttrs and Hornik. They have titles, which translate to Doctor. They have credentials that satisfy me and other government leaders that they are indeed in the business of curing sick civilizations. One does not go to the doctor unless one believes he can help.”

He hastily stepped into the limo before anymore questions could be thrown at him.

Mark was waiting inside. “It’s a big day, Sir. The doctors could bring some sweeping changes to Earth.”

“They already have.”

“Of course, Sir. Just knowing we’re not alone...”

Rashid waved impatiently, “Not that. Most cultures in history did not believe we were alone. What I mean is what happened when they came. They refused to talk to any single nation, even yours. That put an end to the old notion of ‘national sovereignty’. No single nation was going to set policy for the world any more. I’ve staked not just my career but the prestige of the U.N. on this and I’ll do whatever it takes to make their prescription or therapy happen.” He looked out at the squalid streets leading away from the U.N. building. “This is our last chance.”

The grounds outside the clinic were silent. Normally the area was alive with aids, analysts, researchers and crackpots all vying for the attention of the doctors or else running errands for them. Today there was no one. Rashid got out and walked up the short walk to the door. It was well lit inside though no people were visible. He pushed the door open and stepped in hearing only the faint hum from the fluorescent lights. As he approached the office shared by the Aliens (‘Doctors’, he hastily corrected himself) he saw a shadow moving back and forth under the door.

He tapped on the door and heard Chttrs call to come in. As he entered he saw that the walls were bare. Chttrs looked up from the box he was filling and then glanced at the wall. “Ah, Rashayyd, I had forgotten our appointment. You are punctual.”

“What’s going on, Chttrs? Why are you packing? Where’s Hornik?”

“That is a good question. I have good news and bad news to give you. I believe it is customary among your people to ask which you wish to hear first?”

“Not among my people, but I know the custom. I will ask for the bad news first.”

“Very well, Hornik and I could not agree on a diagnosis for your civilization, let alone a treatment. In fact we disagreed so sharply that we have dissolved our partnership, and he has already left.” Chttrs set the now full box on a platform and pressed the button. There was a slight ‘Pop’ and it vanished. Then he stepped on to the platform.

Rashid collected himself hastily, “Wait, wait! What’s the good news?”

Chttrs paused, his finger above the button, “The good news? You may be confident that my diagnoses will be vindicated by the autopsy.”


Copyright © 2005 by Karlos D. Allen

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