(c) Michael E. Picray
Hey! It's good to see ya. You must have come from the deep shop. And you say they tried to get you too... the MRI's, but you just didn't have time to come up? Then you won't look at me funny when I tell ya what happened while you waz down there.
I was drivin' a pusher cat over the drift when the chunks in front of me decided to turn into subduction plates. I scrambled off'n 'em in good shape, but they ate the pusher. Then this boss man shows up and says I gotta go to the med station for a check. I figgers, "Hey! I get paid and I don't have'ta work. Okay by me." and off I go.
So I get there and the techs start helpin' me off with my gear. First the forty-pound safety helmet with the VR enhanced sensors, then the rest of the contraption. At the end of it we had a pile of over 369 pounds of metal and plastic laying on the floor there in the change room. I just figured I was done work for the day 'cause it takes almost two hours to put that stuff on. So now I'm stark naked, but that's the only way to really be comfortable here so I'm not complaining.
So the tech, he looks at me funny, you know, like there's some secret that he's gonna let me in on and he says, "Have you had an MRI lately?"
And I say, "What? why should I have an MRI?"
And he says back, "Everybody's ordered to get one this month, he says in a monotone, like he's a monster on one of them scary old movies. "Mandatory," he says.
"Okay," I says. "Let's do it," and I walks into the room. There's this huge gray machine squattin' there in the middle of the floor with a hole in the middle, and a table sticking out one side. It looked like the receiver of a big naval rifle, only there wasn't no barrel. "So, I just get up there?" I asked.
The guy looked at his shoes and just nodded.
So I got up on the table and laid down. "This how it works?" I asked, just to make sure.
He just nodded again and came at me with all these plastic buckles and nylon straps.
"Whoa, horse. Whadda ya think you're gonna do with them things?"
"We have to immobilize you so the images are clear," he said in his monotone to the floor. He was moving kinda jerky-like, too. It occurred to me that maybe he needed an MRI?
"Not for me," I sez. "I'm immune to them things. They give me cholestral phobia."
"Then we have to drug you," he sez.
"Now you're talking!" I said to him. "What's on the menu? Maybe a little Scoot? Maybe some Flashdash?"
He paused. "No. Just a sedative so you can't move."
He hadn't raised his eyes from the floor since we came through the door and I began to smell a rat, or a fertal dof, which smells worse. "No, I have a clearance from the chief Med here that you can waive both of those things," I said and waved them away with a free hand.
He stood there for a minute, unsure, then decided. "You mustn't move at all. You will hear loud noise and see strange things as you go through, but that is just the effect of the powerful magnets we have to use. Remember, none of it's real."
I shrugged and settled-in to be really still. He went over and pushed the button and went behind a panel and watched from there.
At first it was okay. My head went into the chamber and the thing looked like a naval gun from the inside too. I was doing pretty good until the little door opened in the top of the barrel and a tiny creature dropped down onto my gut. I stayed still, didn't want to mess up the images, you know. Besides, I figured, this must be one of those illucinations the tech told me about.
The thing was as green as green could be and it had three eyes arranged in a triangle on the front of its head. It had what looked like super-sharp teeth and was carrying a tiny drill and a pouch of what looked like seeds. The thing confidently walked across my belly and and up toward my face, then stopped and put the drill thing down. And darned if it didn't look just like it was takin' a whiz right there onto my chest! That illucination was so real, it even felt wet! Then it picks up the drill and heads toward my head again. Well, I'll tell you I got a little nervous when the thing disappeared down off of my shoulder. But I could still hear it, even though the machine was making a terrible racket, and that made me feel some better.
Then it bit me. Illucination or not, I don't just let things bite me, so I smacked the danged thing. I mean, if it's my immagination, I should be able to swat it if I want, right? And I figured that the tech was probly takin' a nap anyway.
Well, the machine got on through with me and shut down, the tech came to help me up, and I was ready to go when the tech suddenly starts to scream like a girl, and he's pointing at this green smear on the paper table cover. And I look, and there's the little guy and his drill and seeds, all just a grease spot now. I leaned close and then shook my head and left. Never saw no halucinatin that lasted after you was done with it. Must be some new tech or something.
Now I'm the only one left on the station. This odd looking ship came and it was making a noise that sounded a lot like the MRI did, and all the people onstation just lined up and got on that ship, except me. I hid until it was gone.
Now I wonder, do you think the bosses would mind if we have the ersatz ham again this week instead of the fish?
You are visitor number 822