“You’ve here complaining of stomach issues?”
“Not just issues. I had a plate of homemade mac and cheese three days ago and my body rejected it. I either threw it up or it came out barely digested at all. I had a fever and cramps and couldn’t leave the house for a day and a half.”
“Have you been having any other digestive issues?"
“No. I – wait.” Dr. Cassandra Dennis looked up from the notes she was making in the electronic chart. Andrew Evans was a middle-aged man with a paunch, and not a usual patient. He was using his finger to point at something only he could see.
“I’ve had other stomach cramps recently. Last week there were fancy coffee drinks at a meeting and I took a latte, the rest of the meeting is a blur I was just focusing on staying upright. And over the weekend at a dinner thing a friend had baked brie out which is a favorite, I probably ate too much, but I ended up going home before dinner was served.”
“Mm-hmm. The connection seems to be dairy. Have you had lactose issues before? Sometimes as we age the body is less able to process some food sources.”
“No, that isn’t it. Cheese is one of my favorite things. I made the same mac and cheese three weeks ago and ate it then with no problems.”
Dr. Dennis made a few last notes and turned away from the keyboard. “Please lie back Mr. Evans, let me palpitate the stomach area.”
Andrew lay back on the crinkly paper looking concerned. “You can’t get lactose intolerant all of a sudden can you?”
“It would be very rare. Andrew, can you pinpoint when the stomach cramps began?”
He started to poke the air with a finger again, at a calendar she now realized. “It’s been about two weeks.”
“Had you done anything unusual before the cramps started? Ate something you’ve never had before maybe?” Dr. Dennis moved his shirt out of the way, everything looked normal. She began lightly pressing on his mid-section working from the outside in.
“I hiked up to see the crater, you know the one they said was a meteor but was actually a UFO.”
Ah, one of those, she thought, while Andrew warmed up to the topic.
“The government hides stuff from us all the time. If it was just a meteor why cordon off the area? But I used to hike up there in college and know a back way in; I got within a few feet of the thing before I left.”
Dr. Dennis took her hands off his stomach. “Was there any discomfort with the pressure?”
“None at all.”
“Stay here for a moment; I’m going to get an ultrasound machine.”
“Doc, what is it?”
“Hopefully it’s an explanation for you not feeling well. Let me order the machine and I’ll be back with you in a moment.”
By habit Cassandra didn’t mention the mass she had felt at the base of his stomach. It wasn’t hard and it didn’t hurt him to push on it, until she knew more there was no point in causing a panic.
A few minutes later Cassandra returned with the machine and rolled it next to the padded table Andrew was lying on.
“All right, have you had an ultrasound before?”
Andrew shook his head no.
“I need to put some gel on your stomach to help the wand glide on your skin; we’ll know what’s going on shortly.” She smiled brightly at Andrew still aiming to keep him calm.
“What do you think is in there doc?”
“I’m not certain, that’s why we’re going to take a look.” She put some warmed gel on his stomach and the wand of the machine. “I’m going to start at the top of your stomach and work my way down.”
“Can you turn the screen so I can see it?”
“The machine isn’t built for that, mostly because ultrasounds aren’t very clear if you’re not used to looking at them. I promise to tell you what I see if anything is unusual or – “
“Doc?” She had the wand just to the left of his belly button and was staring at the screen.
“Doc? What is it? Am I – “
“Shhh.” She waived her free hand at him and continued to stare at the screen. After a minute she glanced back at her patient.
“How close to the meteorite did you get?”
“I said, a few feet. I was on a ledge above it; there was no way for me to jump down without attracting attention. What’s going on?”
Dr. Dennis had a tear running down her face. “Well Andrew, you’re right and you’re wrong. It was just a meteorite not a UFO, but it was harboring alien life.”
“How do you kn – “ Andrew looked down at his stomach. “It’s in me.”
“It is. It’s highly intelligent and has been picking up on our world through you.”
“Is it like a baby? Is it going to burst out of my stomach like that movie?”
“No. No, Andrew you as host will be fine. It’s like a tapeworm of a sort, but nothing I’ve ever seen before.”
“How do you know it’s not just a tapeworm?”
“It’s talking to me. Or more accurately spelling to me, using an appendage to form letters.”
“That would take days to even get through a sentence.”
“It’s very flexible and I am a quick reader. It says it is here to help; it can give us the plans for a machine to clear the chlorofluorocarbons out of our air. It means no harm.”
“But it’s in me, and it’s been giving me cramps.”
“It has no experience with anything like our earthly dairy, and that’s poisonous to it.”
Dr. Dennis turned away from the screen to look at Andrew. “You are incubating a new to us lifeform that could save all of humanity. Dairy products are a small price to pay.” She removed the wand from his stomach. “It can hear and understand everything we say, and it came to Earth to help. I can’t keep you here much longer for an ordinary appointment, and I don’t want you to undergo any other tests until we can talk to it longer. Let me clear a spot in my schedule later this week, you can come back in and we’ll ask questions and get a clearer idea of what this is before going to the authorities. You just need to sit tight for a day or two. You’re going to be famous, the host of our first contact with interstellar life.”
Dr. Dennis wiped his stomach clear of the goo and smiled her first genuine smile at him. “I’m so grateful you came to see me today. There’s nothing else to do right now, my nurse will call you with details about an appointment later this week. Take care of yourself, and your passenger.”
She flipped several buttons on the machine and rolled it back out of the room. Andrew sat up slowly and rolled his shirt back down, being careful not to touch his own stomach. He walked out to his car and realized he was hungry; probably all that spelling was hard on the thing he was carrying and it wanted a meal.
Andrew pulled into a favorite local café and sat a table. A waitress came up and smiled that same customer service smile he had seen for most of the day. “What’ll you have hon?”
“A burger and fries.”
“Do you want cheese on that? And what to drink?”
Andrew froze. Of course he wanted cheese on that, and he usually had a glass of milk. But now he was carrying something that would make him sick if he had one of his favorite meals. Or maybe he could make it his not his problem anymore if he ate enough dairy and could ride out the effects. Damn government, they couldn’t even keep secrets right and now he was stuck in the middle of an x-file.
“Hon? Just the burger and fries then?”
Andrew sat thinking about the future of the world.
*** It's another week of LJ Icol and the topic this time is a line from a song. Read other fabulous week 5 entries at the link.***