by James Edwards-Smallbone
“I’m really very sorry to have to tell you this Mrs Davids. Would you like a tissue?”
She took one and wiped her dampened eyes. It smelt of ten-year old disinfectant, the same as everything else in the surgery.
“Could… could there be some mistake with the tests?”
“I’m afraid that’s very unlikely. The readings from your lunar response assay are particularly high, and given the symptoms you’ve been experiencing, we can only really draw one conclusion.”
She felt Wendell’s hand tighten in hers and choked back a sob.
“I understand that this is a distressing diagnosis for you Mrs Davids, but there are treatment options available, and we should explore those as soon as…”
“You mean silver?” Wendell cut in. There was the shadow of fear in his Black-Country-accented voice.
“Oral Therapeutic Silver is the most common treatment yes, but given your wife’s otherwise good health you may wish to consider a surgical option. A ventricular plate would most likely reduce Mrs Davids’ dependence on OTS considerably. However complications are unfortunately quite common”
He swivelled his chair away from them and picked up a glossy pamphlet with two densely-typed A4 sheets tucked into the cover, which he handed to Sarah. She took it in her trembling free hand and stared dimly at the cover. Below the NHS blue branding was an image of a couple strolling hand in hand through a park. Underneath, in a sympathetic font was written: ‘Lycanthropy: a guide for patients’.
“This should give you all the relevant information. I would suggest you and Mr Davids read through it together and then I’d like to see you again next week to discuss any further questions or concerns you may have. Mary can fix an appointment for you on your way out. In the meantime I can give you a prescription that will help with the nausea and I’ll just remind you to take aspirin rather than paracetamol for the pain – you’ll find it’s more effective.”
“We’re out.” Said Sarah, in a small voice strangled with emotion. “I went to take some last night but we were out”.
Wendell looked at her reproachfully. “Sarah you should have sent me out to the 24 hour Tesco.”
“You’ve been so tired lately. I didn’t want to wake you.”
“It’s okay Wendell, really. I did some more…” she gasped a little, internalizing a sob forcibly “… some more work on that report for Graham. It wasn’t so bad once I had something to distract myself.”
A silence heavy with unspoken fears was broken only by the tactless throb of an Inkjet.
“Please try not to get too distressed Mrs Davids. Treatment for your condition is improving at a very rapid pace and there is no reason you cannot live a very full life, with careful management of your OTS regime and reasonable lifestyle adjustments.”
She took the prescription he proffered in a trembling hand.
“I’ll see you again in a week’s time and we can discuss the best treatment option. In the meantime take as much rest as possible and avoid red meat.”
“Oh god… They say it triggers it don’t they. In the paper they said…”
“Mr Davids, the likelihood of a full attack at this stage of the lunar cycle is extremely low. Any link has yet to be definitively proven, however the NHS is advising all patients with incipient or chronic lycanthropy to avoid red meat as a general precaution. In the meantime remember that you can obtain emergency colloidal silver inoculations from your local police station should Mrs Davids experience at least three of the five attack symptoms. Please don’t go to the hospital. You’ll find this information in the pamphlets there as well, along with some emergency numbers and other sources of support.”
Sarah nodded and stared at the floor unable, for the moment, to speak.
“Thank you Doctor.” Said Wendell, and then, lifting his wife gently from the chair by her shoulders “Goodbye.”
Sarah managed a half smile without accompanying words and turned away towards the door.
“My very best wishes Mrs Davids. And my sincerest sympathies.”
Outside in the waiting room Wendell arranged the follow-up appointment with the receptionist, and then took his wife gently by the hand as they headed out into the car park.
“It’s alright darling, it’s okay. We’ll get through it, you’ll see. It’s not like they say. It can’t be like what they say otherwise they’d do something about it wouldn’t they, the police or the government or MI5. It can’t be like what they say.”
In the late morning breeze a red-top front page blew past them, partially wrapping around the lamppost which in the evening would light this corner of the surgery car park.
“WEREWOLVERHAMPTON!” It screamed.
James Edwards-Smallbone is a strict amateur in every sense of the word and occasional Pygmy Giant contributor. He is not a werewolf.