the other foot

An English vet goes to Egypt for IVF treatments while she researches a rabies outbreak and gets impregnated with an ancient curse.

Maggie sat in her hospital gown and looked out the window. The sky was the same sky, and it was the same blue, everything was the same old, same old, except for her. She just stared at it. Then her lips tightend and trembled and she strarted to cry softly to her self. An honest sob, the kind you can't have unless you are absolutely alone. She was. Maggie cried, unususl because she never cried, "ya just gotta getton withit. Cryin's awaste a time", her mother would say, "now mop-it-up an ge-go-in".

Tony walked down the corridor with two massive plastic coated paper cups, one in each hand, he was too busy minding them to peer into the other wards, as you do, with morbid curiosity. He arrived at Maggies ward and stopped at the door. The glass pane was a minty green, and had a grid of fine wires reinforcment. He watched Maggie crying. He looked down, took a deep breath, nodded to himself and used the tip of shoe to push the door open.

Hey you, hope you're hunggreey, he said

Maggie quickly sniffled, wiped her eyes and then she look at him. Her face was tired, very tired but she made an effort and smiled. She sniffed and plucked a fresh tissue from its box and blew her snotty nose.

Ah, thats so sweet Tony, she said.

Tony gave her an oversized cup.

So that's "regular", if you believe it? That IS the smallest they got, so, yeah. he said.

Maggie wiped her nose again, before she took the drink.

The cup was enormous. She nodded and lifted it to her lips.

So, anything? asked Tony

Maggie froze for a moment, an imperceivable microsecond, an unnoticeable blip in the trajectory of the cup as it headed up toward her mouth, and got interrupted before her sip.

She blinked and her sad eyes changed.

The new eyes with their own flavour of smile possessed her lips.

Yup, i, ummm yeah, i remember the whole thing! she said.

She looked at Tony with utter contempt. Her eyes narrowed and she swallowed and her smile, smiled again.

"While you were downstairs, it all just ...", she said as she clicked her finger and thumb into a gun, which she lifted to her her temple, and said "POOF ... came back. just. like. that.".

Maggie glared at him and looked away.

I'm sorry Mags, said Tony.

Maggie just nodded while she stared out the window.

The room was pregnant with silence.

Then Maggie looked back at Tony, her eyes glazed with watery pools that hung on her eye lids, she gasped and a tear slipped down along the foothill of her nose and streaked over her cheek and down to her chin, where it grew ripe and fat and dropped into her cup.

She turned away again, and wiped herself.

Tony went to her, and put his hand on the back of her neck.

She tilted her head and shrugged her shoulder, to press his hand up against her wet cheek. Tony cupped her face with his palm, and stayed by her and cried in silence while she sobbed out loud.

After sunset a nurse entered with a doctor, she buzzed around and drew the curtains, and checked whipped the cups and soggy tissues into a waste paper bin with a thin plastic sleeve. The sleeve had a draw string noose which she pilled then rool out her pen and a crack-back stiky label scribbled somehthing on the label and left it on the facing table.

The doctor in the meantime checked a clipboard attached to the foot of the bed, checked pulse and pressure and temperature, and scribbled all that down. His english was poor but good enough to tell the couple that his superior would be constulting with them in the morning, and that his english was "perfectly good".

When they left, the nurse collected the bin liner and handed it to the doctor and at the door they went seperate ways, she crossed the corridor and disappeared into the opposite ward, while the young docotor head down the passage toward the elevator doors.

When Tony turned around there was a thin blanket and small pillow on an arm chair in the corner. He pointed at them.

Did you see her do that? I didn't even see her bring them in, he said.

Maggie squinted, and shook her head.

Uh uh, she said, but Tony you can ...

Shhhhh. Tony interupted, don't bother, I'm staying.

Maggie frowned and then nodded, and Tony winked and confirmed with a thumbs up, then looked around the room anxiosly.

They each read for most of the evening, and Tony would punctually pop out to get junk food, and mime pleasnatries with the night staff. There was one young trainee nurse from Tel Aviv that spoke english and they chatted until another nurse came running up the corridor and snatched the phone, and ordered the isralli to attend to a patient. She left urgently to the sound of screaming coming from somewhere down passage.

Three nurses suddenly appeared and head in the same direction, and the first nurse pulled a heavy key ring from her pocket as she punched digits on a cordless phone. The the handset tucked in the nape of her neck she used both hands to unlock a metal medicine cabinate, from which she removed syringes and small potbelly vile with a clear liquid inside.

She spoke to the phone sternly and nodded positively, and checked the other flasks and vials in the cabinate, asking more question until she found what she was told to take. She ended the call, collected everything and locked up and the she too skipped down the passage toward the aweful screaming.

Another able patient appeared in the door way to a different ward, half wat between Tony and the nurse, she raised her voice to him and pointed into his ward, then called out loud and she continued, she had called to the israli nurse. They passed in the passage and the tranee nodded and immediately attended to the nosey patient who was still watching on.

Tony wondered down the corridor toward her, as she reprimanded the patient and ushered his back to his bed. Tony waited outside the ward for the young woman to return, and when she did her eyes where composed but strained, and she kept frowing and relaxing her forehead, almost as if she was batteling to keep an image in her head away from her mind. But the image was demanding.

Whats going on? said Tony

You must please return to your wifes room, please. she said.

What is it? he asked

She let herself frown, she let herself remember the last 10minutes of her day, and she looked at Tony and shook her head.

Please go to you wife, we will manage. thank you. she said

But she's down there, Tony said, and pointed down the corridor past the ward to Maggies room. The nurse frowned and nodded.

They set off together.

Please, said Tony

The nurse said nothing, and entered the offending ward leaving Tony to imagine the horrors coming from the screaming inside. As he passed the closed door of the neightbour ward, he could see the head nurse with her syring high, the palistinan girl, and writhing torso and wild random kicking legs. There was a sudden forceful kick and the as the misin nurse approached and she was launched backawards, and the madman crashed to the floor and then there was a nother sream added to the ussteria, a womans scream, unmistakeably, high pitched and frantic, Tony turned back an morbidly approached the door. There was yelling and shouting and then the madness jumped up and launched toward the door.

The thing was a man, or was it a man, it had been a man, but now that was a forgotten formality, this thing was crazed and frantic, with sever nervous ticking in the neck, snapping to one side. The eyes blinked independantly and seemed almost vancant, abscent of the stuff that makes morals, and at the same time a lumbering calm, a heroine peace vailed its soul. But the mouth, it was the mouth that Tony could not unsee. The teeth were bear and chattering by some subartic gale force cold, and froth and foam slobbered down over the chin and slipped and dripped off the face and on to the neck. The stwisted mouth racheted horizontally, grinding and bitting its own teeth, and in the steam of the white foam where unmistake able sreaks of blood, like expensive meat marbled with red and white. The thing smashed its face against the turquiose window of the door. Its eyes were locked on Tony, and the head drew back, apparently unaware of the bunt force, and gathered strength and smashed against the glass again, slipping its lip open, and freh blood smudgeing with foam on the glass. At this point the nurses arrived and a long sliver needle sunk into the neck and four of five sets of hands grabbed and restrained the monster.

The hands held the body against the door, and a palm pressed the head flat on the glass, until the drug grew in strength, and cancelled the mans consciusness.

He went limp, and slid down out of Tony's line of site. He could see the night nurses now, lifting the body and under his arms and draggin him backwards enough for them to open the door. The nurses came out sullen, one ran toward the elevator and came back with a wheelchair, another held the door open, and helped lift the mans legs around, and then Tony saw the Israli girl.

She was holding her hand against her jaw, and her fingers were covered in blood, and she was crying uncontrollably. One of the other nurses was hugging her and another was leading her to sit at an unoccupied bed. The head nurse and another collegue lifted the unconscious man into the chair and wheeled him out into the corridor which by now had gathered into a small crowd, some even had their cell phones whipping around, pointing into the cneter of the most obvious action. One followed the psyco down the passage, another the crying tranee nurse and one audacious woman entered the ward swooping her camera around like some kind on crime reporter.

The high voltage situation was disapating. Tony realised that he had not been breathing, his entire abdomen was tense. He released his core and let his breath full his belly and the tension eased with each exhale.

Wow, that was pretty fucked up, he told himself.

The amature crime reported came out of the ward flicking her finger over her valuable footage, smiling and nodding to herself, she looked up at Tony, and wiped her smile away, but her being was still delighted. One of the other nurses returned to assist inside the room, she brought a bucket and mop, in a moulded plastic trolley, a housekeeping wagon.