Kindred Clinic

Click here to download a free ePub version of this story


 

Here at Kindred Clinic, we want you to feel safe and welcome while we provide the very best healthcare services possible. From our fully automated staff to our zen lobby, we do everything we can for you, our cherished client, to be satisfied. Waiting rooms are an anachronism. We pride ourselves on not having any. Reserve your operation from our company app and when you arrive your appointment will begin immediately. Simple, efficient, and clean. Rated #1 by our clientele and verified by third-party. Official GovCare partner. “Don’t be timid. Reserve a visit at Kindred Clinic within a minute!”

Beethoven’s Für Elise echoes throughout the dim hallway, playing at a lethargic, waning tempo. A mouse scuttles across the linoleum floor. In a corner of the room, it gnaws on a white cable protruding from the main cabinet. A nearby machine whirs and clicks. A muffled beep soars through the room and trails off as if dying a slow, painful death. The piano stops. Without delay, a noiseless tracer laser obliterates the rodent before its fifth bite. No sign of it is left. The song continues. In the adjacent room, a multi-faceted surgical machine cleans its station. It removes all stainless-steel tools from its trays and places them in the deodorizing Sans unit, eleven in total. Its patient lies on the operating table; chest slowly rising and falling, peaceful. A few specks of blood lay on the floor. A cylindrical DeckBot trundles toward the nonessential matter, sprays a solution, and its underlying bristles remove the impurity as it jerks back and forth over the area. The bot then retreats to its charging bay. The surgical machine’s post-op cleanup is now complete. It releases Wake™ particles into the patient’s respiratory cannula. The patient’s eyes begin to roll around and flutter. He quickly attempts to shake away the perilous dream he was having. The conceptual images in his mind fade away as if they had never existed; out of reach. For a brief moment, he forgets where he is. After his prefrontal cortex returns to full capacity, he realizes he’s done with his auto-surge. He scans the blindingly white operation room, pristine. His jaw is numb and his abdomen is sore. He notices drool crawling toward his ears and away from his lips. A screen jolts out from what could be the head of the surgical robot and hovers over his face. It’s suspended horizontally as is he. A paragraph of text appears.

Patient 033Post-Op Diagnostics

Four Root Canals: Completed

Two Wisdom Teeth Removal: Completed

Sleep™ & Wake™ Products: Free of Charge

Error Processing Payment…

Patient 033 squints in confusion at the last line of text. They had my Finanstrip account linked and I made sure I had enough to cover this, he thinks to himself. The text fades and a new, longer paragraph appears.

Cred Account: 0

GovCrypto: 0

All linked accounts have a remaining balance of zero.

Immediate non-payment by patient results in initializing Code 212A.

212A states that in the unlikely event of non-payment a procedure will take place wherein an organ is surgically extracted. The organ chosen is based on pending operational costs. These costs are covered via market rate analysis of organ donor demands.

Patient 033 jerks upward but notices his biceps and ankles are securely fastened with black nylon restraints. Shaking, he shouts expletives and his stringy saliva splatters the screen. His frantic gyrations make his abdomen ache even more. His yellowish eyes shoot southward and widen like two polished amber stones. He spots a line of clear stitching near his right oblique, thirteen stitches. “Did you,” the man sputters through his teeth, “take one of my kidneys?! I’ll sue your whole company! Manager, manager, I want to speak to the human who runs this place!” The man is beet red and uses all of his strength to loosen the restraints. No luck. A new message appears on the hovering screen.

Consent required for non-disclosure agreement. This NDA ensures that both parties remain silent concerning any extraneous operations hitherto not agreed upon. Your electronic signature will be verified via thumbprint analysis and logging provided courteously by CarbonCop™, the National Police Force’s print database. You will be visibly and audibly monitored for one decade. If this NDA is violated, the offending party will be executed. No questions asked. Thank you.

An arm detaches from the surgical machine with a dermal reader and forces itself against Patient 033’s hand. Fingerprints taken. The arm zips back into the machine and uploads. “Thank you for my consent? I didn’t consent to nothin’! You can’t do this to people. This is wrong!” says the patient. “Oh, look. Another goddamn new message.” The patient scoffs before beginning a labored, maniacal laugh.

Sir, your blood pressure is highly elevated.

My personality scan also reveals that you are experiencing negative emotions with a high possibility of violent behavior. We here at Kindred Clinic pride ourselves on customer satisfaction and a tranquil operating environment. Please, hold still.

Before the patient can yelp, an application dart shoots from the surgical machine into his knee with a stainless-steel cable attached. It’s a fast-acting cocktail of new anxiolytic drugs. It rapidly retracts into the machine. The operating table tilts forward and the restraints gradually withdraw.

We here at Kindred Clinic pride ourselves on being #1 with customer satisfaction. Please nod to confirm your 5-star rating.

And thank you for choosing Kindred. Don’t be timid!

Patient 033 smiles and nods ambiguously. He dreamily saunters through the clinic and toward the zen lobby. At the front counter rests a green bottle of Xylobin-Q. Quantity: 300. The patient stuffs the pharmaceuticals into his duster pocket and exits the building. He takes the nearby stairs to access the Holorail. After finding a seat, he plops down in exhaustion. His eyes are watery and a smile is carved into his jagged face. He thinks to himself, Gosh, they take such good care of us all.

 

 


If you enjoyed this story and would like to contribute to future stories, you can do so through these means:


Wish to get notified when I post my next short story, article, or book? Join my email newsletter by clicking here. I will only send out emails once for each new piece.


Rate this short story on Goodreads

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s