A man and his headaches
He could hear the whispers of hushed voices. They were talking about him, of that he was sure. All of the obvious signs were present, such as the furtive glances in his direction and the subtle finger-pointing. Some of the people in the waiting room even took the opportunity of momentary confusion to hustle out of the room. Mac wondered how they could read the thoughts in his mind. He hadn't said a word or even acted out of sorts. His attire was casual with jeans and a tan flannel shirt, but still, they stared as if catching a glimpse of a two-headed monster.
Mac focused on what had brought him to the office and continued his stride towards the receptionist. He ignored the other visitors waiting to see the doctor with their many maladies. He tried to convince himself the commotion had nothing to do with him. Mac had made an appointment with his doctor because of the intense headaches he had been having for the past three days. With each step he took, the people skirted away from him whispering to each other as they made their exit. The receptionist, a petite blonde dressed in green, backed away tucking herself far into the makeshift greeter's window, as he approached. Mac couldn't refute the fear in her eyes.
He stopped two feet short of the desk, turning to look around the office that was now empty. He could feel the building of intense pain starting at his temples. He couldn't concern himself with the receptionists fear or the fleeing patients. If the pattern of the past few days continued once the headaches started he had only moments before they would render him unconscious. He had to see the doctor immediately.
"I need to see the doctor, now!" he screamed at the woman behind the desk, trying to keep his voice free of panic but failing miserably.
Curling into the fetal position the receptionist retched violently onto the floor, crying uncontrollably between gasps for air. "Please, Please don't hurt me," she bellowed from her puddle of lunch remnants.
"I just need to see the doctor, please! There is something terribly wrong with me!" he said, as he steadied himself against the wall so that he could deliver a calmer message than the script that echoed in his head.
Very frightened, the girl stumbled on her words thinking only of her safety caught in her unsafe booth. She spoke softly not wanting to rile the man, in a tranquil voice as she could muster, "The...doctor still at lunch...not back yet. What do...you need?"
He glared at the girl on the floor. His anger was not directed at her but for the absent physician. He fought the tremors that throbbed as pensive and growing waves of explosive pain in his head. It was a blinding ache that crashed hard with the force of a hammer on the head of a nail.
"Headaches...I have been having massive headaches. They hurt so bad... They make me pass out. I'm having one now. I don't know how long I have before it overtakes me. Brain tumor... or something," he writhed in his personal agony as he spoke. "Tell him, please," he said in a whispering moan, as he slid down the wall falling into the overwhelming weakness.
Cautiously, the girl rose from the floor peering at Mac as he landed on his knees. Fear caused her to pause but empathy for his obvious pain won the battle. She exited her booth and entered the outer office. She went as close to his side as she dared. She jumped as his body started flopping in seizure-like convulsions. He twitched and jerked in uncontrolled motions like a fish stuck on the unfriendly shore. His eyes rolled back and forth resembling a slot machine trying to line up the icons in their respective sockets. A green foaming froth drizzled from his tongues and wide flaring nostrils. Mac lay on the floor spent from his ordeal in a semiconscious state.
Tossing her fear aside the woman knelt beside Mac as her compassion and training took over. "My name is Anna. I'm going to get you help. Hang in there with me," she whispered in a soothing voice.
She suctioned the froth from around his mouth. Grabbing the portable oxygen, she placed the air mask as best she could on Mac's face. She dialed 911 and requested help just as the doctor returned to the office. Shock plastered the physician's face as he came upon the scene.
"Anna, quick, come away from that!" Doctor Mathus screamed.
"No, he needs help. I don't know how... or...why he is like this but he is suffering. Please help him."
The doctor scooted into the room, nearer to the patient, and fitted the mask to the man's mouths better framing it around his mandibles. He steadied his hand trying not to recoil in revulsion as Mac's antennae touched him. Mac's hand or leg, the doctor was unsure of which body part to call it, patted the physician's hand as he repositioned the mask. He instructed Anna to pull the crash cart out of the office and into the waiting room. He could see the labial pulps of the bug threading back and forth as it consumed the lifesaving oxygen. Mac's twitching stopped and Doctor Mathus could feel his patient relax. He assumed it was a good sign as Mac's chaotic and frenzied fight for life had calmed. He was resting comfortably.
"Anna, what the hell is this? Why did I just save a two-headed cockroach?" he said, as he turned toward the woman. His glassy-eyed stare suggested that he had just woke from a nightmare.
"I don't know. He came in complaining of headaches. It scared everyone in the office. They all ran out. I couldn't just leave him. He was putting messages in my head about the unbearable pain. It was like he was screaming in my head and I could feel what he was feeling, but I think he was just whispering. I could hear his thoughts," Anna cried with her simplified explanation.
They both turned back toward Mac as he started to squirm. They watched in awe as their patient transformed slowly into a man in jeans and a tan flannel shirt. The antennae receded into his skull and were replaced by sandy blonde tufts of hair. Mac's mandibles curved to form lips. He inhaled one last gulp of oxygen and knocked the mask from his face. He rose up on his two human feet, revived. The doctor and receptionist could only watch in disbelief.
"Doc, you gotta help me. I got bit by some kind of bug a few days ago and I've been having horrid headaches ever since," Mac muttered trying to adjust his speaking volume to a normal level.
Doctor Mathus shook his head trying to adjust his focus of the newly created scene. He was still skeptical about what he had just witnessed.
"So I heard, son. Maybe you better step into my office. This might just take some research to get you fixed up!"
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