“Hello, come in.” The assistant welcomed the patient into the surgery. The patient nodded to acknowledge the greeting and edged towards the long chair that dominated the tiny room. “You can pop your coat on the hook,” she offered but the way the patient hugged himself suggested he would prefer to keep his trench coat on.
The dentist turned from the monitor he was consulting and offered a gleaming smile of welcome. “I’m Steven. Get yourself comfortable and let’s have a look at you.”
He waited while the patient lay back and slithered into position before lowering the head end of the chair. The patient gripped the arm rests as though afraid of sliding off.
“Pop these on for me,” the assistant held a pair of tinted spectacles towards the patient. “You’ll think you’re in a 3D film!” She laughed; the dentist didn’t – he’d heard that joke hundreds of times. The patient donned the glasses.
“Now, it says in your records,” the dentist adjusted the overhead lamp, “that you’ve been abroad recently. Anywhere nice? Any medication?”
The patient’s lips twitched in a shrug.
“And you’re a marine biologist! That must be fascinating. I’d like to do something like that. Where did I go wrong, eh?” The dentist laughed. The assistant tried to.
“I think we should take more care of the oceans, don’t you?” the dentist continued. “It’s disgusting what goes on. What we chuck in there every day of the week. Not just the rubbish and all the plastic. There’s chemicals and pollution and radioactive waste and – Well, you must know all about that kind of thing.”
The patient nodded.
“Now, let’s have a look. Open, please.”
The patient did as he was told. The assistant let out a squeak of disgust. The dentist was more professional. He examined the patient’s teeth with the tip of his probe – and there were plenty of them, an inordinate number in fact. The dentist had never seen anything like it – outside of a horror film, that is. This extraordinary patient had row upon row of sharp, triangular teeth.
Like a shark’s.
The assistant was peering at them in horror. The dentist urged her to use the vacuum to suck out the saliva that was dripping from those monstrous fangs. The assistant snapped out of her fascination and applied the instrument. The patient turned his head towards her and snapped, biting her hand off at the wrist. The dentist backed away but he was too late. The patient sat up, batting the overhead light aside. He sprang at the dentist, opening his jaws impossibly wide until he bit off Steven’s head.
Clutching her spouting stump the assistant whimpered in a corner. The patient shed his trench coat revealing shiny smooth skin all over his body and limbs that were part-arm and part-fin.
The patient bore down on her; the plastic glasses fell off; his eyes were wide and round and black. Inhuman.
The assistant curled into a ball. She closed her eyes and waited for the inevitable.
There was a slap as the patient hit the floor. The assistant opened an eye and saw him flapping and floundering, fighting for breath. She watched him dispassionately until the last gasp of air was out of him.
She struggled to her feet and activated the intercom.
“Er, Janet?” she addressed the receptionist. “Cancel Steven’s appointments.”