by Jeff C. Carter -
Nosey put her small ear to the locked door that separated the patients from the staff.
“I didn’t know whether to kick him out or have him committed!”
Dr. Loomis’ normally breathy voice was now breathless. Nosey supposed he was still upset about the riot.
“I’m sure Dr. Singh didn’t mean to cause any trouble. Besides, no one was hurt.” Nurse Vuong said.
Her high-pitched, nasal voice penetrated the door easily. Nosey liked that about her. Of course, Nurse Vuong knew better than to badmouth a doctor. You never knew who might be listening.
“It’s a miracle no one was killed. I would have held Dr. Lev personally responsible. What was he thinking?” Dr. Loomis said.
Nosey imagined she could hear Nurse Vuong shrug. When it became clear that no more gossip was left, Nosey drifted down the hallway to the Rec Room.
It was a short trip. St. Christina’s Clinic for the Neuro-Atypical was small and dingy. Smudge said that the Rich Man’s Happy Bin was a zillion times bigger and everything was fancy and clean. Nosey wished this place wasn’t quite so dirty but she was glad it wasn’t very large. Open spaces terrified her. The miles of hallways circling Avenir. The maze of tunnels twisting above and below. The bottomless void outside the hull. She pressed her back against the padded wall and shivered.
“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” Smudge screamed.
Nosey peeked around the corner and saw Smudge ripping the earphones off his head. He stomped on the soft foam head set, silencing the virtual therapist program. Nosey didn’t mind the VT unless it tried to counsel her while she was eavesdropping.
Dr. Lev walked down the hallway and gave Nosey an oily smile. His black eyes always held the threat of dark empty spaces. The thin doctor brushed by and her skin crawled.
The doctor approached Smudge.
“Are the voices in your head bothering you again?"
Smudge didn’t look up, he just kept picking at the thin layers of spray-skin that covered his self inflicted wounds.
“Did you enjoy the speech by our guest, Dr. Kwame Singh?” Dr. Lev tried again.
Smudge perked up.
“Seas boiling. Volcanoes exploding. Boom!” Smudge whooped.
Dr. Lev smiled.
“That’s right, very good. Would you like to hear more?”
Smudge clutched his thin, grubby smock and nodded emphatically.
“Very good. Come with me please.”
Dr. Lev led the excited patient to the entrance of the medical ward. The heavy locks clicked loudly and the door slid open.
Nosey inched forward to watch them go. She heard Dr. Lev say one last thing before the solid door slid shut.
“We’re going to put a new voice in your head.”