“Ah, Mr Probert, come in, come in.” The radiographer welcomed the patient into the consultation room. “Pop your coat on the chair and then lie on the bed for me.”
Mr Probert shrugged out of his anorak and shuffled to the bed. He tried to position himself on it without disturbing the paper sheet that was protecting the upholstery.
“Just lie back,” the radiographer smiled behind her surgical mask, “and lift up your jumper for me?”
Mr Probert did as he was told.
“Now this might be a bit cold on your tummy,” the radiographer warned. She applied gel to Mr Probert’s exposed midriff. Mr Probert, ever the stoic, lay still, focussing on the ceiling.
“Right,” said the radiographer, “Let’s have a look-see.”
She pressed the scanner to Mr Probert’s belly and moved it across the pale surface, keeping her eyes on the monitor to the left of Mr Probert’s head. “Hmm,” she said. And “errr…”
Mr Probert lay still, fearing the worst.
“There’s definitely something…” the radiographer murmured to herself. She did a second pass with the scanner. On the screen, the image became clearer. Something beneath the surface gave a sudden movement, like a fist beneath a rubber sheet, stretching Mr Probert’s skin. The radiographer sprang backwards.
“What the hell is that?” she cried, unprofessionally in Mr Probert’s view.
The thing inside Mr Probert continued to cause ripples and stretches. The radiographer watched, transfixed in morbid fascination.
The skin split. The thing shot out and attached itself to the radiographer’s throat. The radiographer flailed around, colliding with equipment and furniture as she failed to dislodge the thing that was gnawing through her flesh.
When it was over and the thing, now sated, returned to its hiding place, Mr Probert rose from the bed. He popped his burst belly closed and donned a set of scrubs and a surgical mask. He replaced the protective paper with a fresh sheet.
He opened the door and popped his head into the corridor.
“Who’s next, please?” he grinned.