**This is for a flash fiction contest on the In The Pantheon Discord Server, hosted by Thanatos. Dedicated to Jhiieri, because well, he pushed me to write this….**
She walked into the nearly deserted hospital, nervous and breathing deeply to calm her fears. A single security guard pointed her way and she followed the path to a single room with an open door. The room, lit by only the faintest of flickering lights, gave her the creeps, but she was here for a reason and she never backed out of anything. She’d been sick, off and on for the last little while, but the last week had been rough. Roller coaster fever, chills and sweats, body aches, chest pains, dizziness and fatigue. All sure signs that she had it, but she needed to be sure. The testing center wasn’t doing anything to assuage her fears either. It looked like it was one cough away from blowing over.
When she entered the room, the last room in the hall on the left-hand side, she stopped and stared. It was empty, no beds, no nurse waiting for her. They told her this was going to be quick and painless. She was early for her appointment, sure, but there could have been at least someone to greet her and tell her what she needed to do. There was one chair, and while she knew that the rooms were cleaned in between uses, she was hesitant to sit, even though her body ached for her to. After a few minutes of awkward standing, and no sign of a nurse or doctor, she sat. At the edge, with as little touching as possible. The woman made sure that her gloves were on properly and that her face shield was protecting her nose and mouth. And she waited. 5 minutes, 7 minutes… until finally there was a knock on the door and she squeaked out an “enter.”
The nurse was young and smiled at the scared woman kindly. “Don’t worry, I’m just going to take some vitals and then do the swab.” A swab, ok, that wasn’t too bad. After the nurse asked the woman some basic questions about symptoms within the last 24 hours, the woman removed her coat and the blood pressure, heart rate and temperature were taken, all within normal parameters, of course, the nurse looked at the woman and told her that the next part would be uncomfortable and would hurt.
The woman’s eyes flashed with fear, but the nurse just smiled calmly again and directed her to lower her face mask past her nose. “Focus on the clock dear, and this will be over shortly.” The nurse didn’t even wait for the woman to nod or acknowledge in any way that she was ready and the swab was thrust up into her right nostril. She gasped and looked at the clock, blinking back tears and sitting very still. “Good, only a few seconds more and then I’ll be done with you, and then the Doctor will be in.”
The Doctor? She wasn’t told about seeing a doctor?! The swab came out of her nose and she breathed a sigh of relief before pulling her face shield back on. The nurse left and the woman waited again… 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes. Then the Doctor walked in, gross and sweaty, it was a wonder how he was still practising with all this nonsense going on. “Don’t worry dear,” his voice was hoarse and ragged, “we just want to give you a pre-emptive shot, to help battle the cold you already have… ”
The woman was terrified, but the kind nurse came back in and held her hand through the gloves. The Doctor pulled out a long needle, glowing with a green-purple liquid, and just as the Doctor was about to stick the glinting needle into her arm…
I woke up.