I don’t remember much; what I know I get from researching my own life.
As far as I know…it all started with my parents’ death. It must have. My life was normal before this.
Frankly speaking, I don’t remember much before that day when I was discharged from the hospital, that’s why I’m here. That’s why I need your help, Milna-jo…
The doctor had to be the ugliest specimen she had the displeasure of seeing in her whole life.
Even after seeing him twice a day for a week straight, she still couldn’t get the impression out of her head.
Every time she began to doubt the reality of the situation she found herself in – waking up in an amnesiac, crippled body on Planet Unknown in a galaxy far, far away – one look at that hideous mug, and she’d be slapped back to ‘yeah, it’s real alright.’
There was no way, now how, her limited imagination could ever conjure such…exoticism.
“We have done all we can to cure the aftereffect of the – of Ling-sa’s conditions. Keep her away from strong medications and control her food intake according to the prescribed diet, she should be fine in a few months,” the ugly alien said, disinterest stark on an elongated face that looked like a giraffe with two pairs of toad-like eyes on each side of his head.
Beside her, a man, completely human-like, gripped her hand under the table, offering a comfort she didn’t need. The feel of six fingers gripping her normal five-fingered hand reminded her that yeah, her companion also had alien blood in him. Then again, if the six fingers with green fingernails had not clued her in, the steadily darkening orange eyes would have.
This man, a close friend of the family he said, was the only reason the doctor even bothered to go through the ‘release procedure’ instead of just approving her papers and let her loose.
The purple-entity continued his monotonous droning, citing data that she had
And he concluded with a blithe, “We have not identified the reagent found in her bloodstream just yet, but I am positive it will not take long.”
“It only takes one test to find out,” her companion almost growled out. And by that, she meant literally growled out.
She gripped his hand back, a futile attempt to curb her bristling companion.
“Not when the reagent is a compound, or an obscure element, Mun’ahsa-jo,” the purple giraffe said with a characteristic slow drawl, swiveling his head towards her in faux-anticipation, “Unless Ling-sa could inform us what exactly she ingested?”
“I don’t remember,” she replied, the familiar phrase came out of her mouth with practiced ease.
She had lost count how many times that phrase and its parallels made an appearance in the past week.
“What’s your name?”
“I don’t remember.”
“What date is today?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you know where you are?”
“Do you remember what you ate today?”
“I don’t rememb – oh wait, that – no, I don’t remember.”
So yes, she had made it her default answer to the inane questions asked by the purple-doctor. Though aliens might be a novel concept, she was not blind to the dutiful-yet-unwilling attitude from the ugly doctor. Or to prejudice.
Spending a week with a creature that treated his robot nurses better than his own patient clued her in pretty fast on this front.
And what she managed to catch, her companion had as well.
Kajakh Mun’ahsa narrowed his eyes at the doctor. “When will we receive the report then, doc?”
Purple-giraffe closed all the holoscreens floating over the table, each one titled ‘May Ling’ in this planet’s strange glyphs.
The alien steepled his four-fingered hands together. “My colleague will be taking over the investigation,” he informed them. “While treating internal injuries fall under my specialties, identifying dangerous substances is not.”
Then, though his cadence did not change, Purple-Giraffe still managed to project an air of gratification at not having to deal with her anymore.
It made her seriously entertained the fantasy of leaping over this table and wringing the doctor’s (short, unlike a giraffe’s) neck.
“However, he has only just arrived from the Capital so I expect it will take a few more days.” After a brief pause, he added, “at least.”
Only May Ling’s quick grip on Kajakh’s arm prevented him from standing up and made her fantasy a reality. Though May thought a broken nose (muzzle?) would only improve the racist – or was it speciest? – bastard, she preferred not to deal with the hospital security, or any equivalent of lawsuits that would follow.
Kajakh’s arm felt as tense as iron cords in her grasp, while the hand gripping hers tightened uncomfortably, but if it helped him rein his temper, it was a small sacrifice to make.
“You are her doctor,” Kajakh gritted out, orange eyes flashed menacingly. “Can’t you show more responsibility towards your patient?!”
Four toad-like eyes swiveled as the doctor sighed, as if commiserating his fate for having to deal with slow-witted creatures below his notice. “Her case is no longer under my purview,” he stated languidly. “It is for the best, Mun’ahsa-jo; Terran anatomy has never been a strong suit of mine.”
Nor did it fall under his interest, it would seem.
Fair enough. She wouldn’t want a doctor who only invested a perfunctory effort in curing her either.
If Kajakh had any trace of canine-like race in him, she bet her non-existent money he would be growling right about now.
“Is there anything else I should pay attention to, doctor?” she asked, taking it upon herself to close the session before it devolved further.
“Just remember to rest well, Ling-sa,” he advised in an unexpected bout of compassion. “Your condition is good for someone who recently had to be revived and just woken up from a three-week coma, but your brain will need a lot of time to regain its optimal functions. It would be a shame to ruin a top-notch regeneration procedure we’ve done on it due to carelessness.”
…never mind. A bastard could never change his bastardy stripes.
Can I sue him? Claiming mental damage from passive-aggressive speciesism should net me quite a sum, yes? Ugh.
Reining in her own temper, May gave a cursory smile. “I’ll wait for the toxicology report then,” May said. “Who should I expect it from?”
“I’ll have my nurse send you the details,” Purple-Giraffe said, turning his attention to a screen beside him, a clear dismissal. “Have a pleasant day, Ling-sa, Mun’ahsa-jo.”
“I shouldn’t have let him take your case.”
May turned her head away from the city skyline visible outside of the descending elevator, fixing her gaze onto the tired-looking man standing opposite from her.
Wan and gaunt, Kajakh’s face betrayed just how little rest he must have had lately. Pale skin served to highlight the dark bruises under his orange eyes. He clenched his jaws tight, nerves twitching as he tried to contain his anger. Though he was crossing his arms and his poncho-like mantle went down to the mid-hip, the tense muscles of his shoulders made her suspect that he might be balling his fists tight away from her view.
Clearly, the poor man took the doctor’s tasteful parting comment to heart. Being reminded that yes, the person he held dear had truly died once would not do anyone’s mental health any good.
“You asked for the best,” May tried to distract him. “He is the best in internal organ reconstruction and nerve damage recovery.” Or so the rumors said.
He glared at her briefly before transferring it out towards the city. “I had hoped intelligent sentients like him would be above petty, small-minded prejudices.”
Prejudices against Terran. Which, apparently, was a thing on this planet.
Like she didn’t already have a lot on her plate.
“Hope springs eternal.” May shrugged, unperturbed. Unjustified discrimination was not a new concept to her, even before getting shanghaied into this situation.
The frown on his face tightened. May sighed, then closed the distance between them, touching his arm through the poncho. “He did his job well; I’m as good as I can be now, Kajakh.”
As well as she could be with permanent damage ranging from organ-level down to molecular-level, a weak heart, reduced muscle mass, shortness of breath due to reduced lung capacity. Apparently, they had to cut some of it out when caustic reagent escaped from her stomach onto her innards. Though the missing pieces had been regenerated, they would never be as good as the original one.
The list would have been longer, but those were the ones she managed to find out before Kajakh blocked her from asking anything about her own condition or the cause of it.
Doctor Purple-Giraffe, whose heart was as ugly as his mug, infuriatingly agreed, citing that in the event of patients’ unstable condition, their primary medical proxy had the right to make decisions for them.
As May’s medical proxy, Kajakh exercised his rights extensively, including but not limited to extending her stay in the wards even when May was ready to be released five days after she woke up. To be fair, she did suffer an attack that the doctor attributed to the aftereffect of the strange compound.
“The new doctor may be better,” May tried for an optimistic approach. “Once we know what’s swimming in my veins, they should be able to give me proper medicine.”
Without knowing exactly what she had, Dr. Purple-Giraffe wisely did not dispense any medication once her condition stabilized. While waiting for the results, she had been given a not-to-do list and limited dietary requirements.
Kajakh uncrossed his arms to put a hand on her shoulder. “Are you still in pain?” he asked, carefully watching her face.
His grip tightened when he caught her hesitation, so May decided not to lie, “Yes, but only just. It’s nothing serious.”
‘Only just’ understated the constant pain that had been her constant companion since she got regained consciousness. Though it did not debilitate her, the ache settled in every part of her body, a perpetual reminder that it could fail her at any given moment.
The man nodded, sliding his hand off of her. Sensing that he might need more time to recoup his mental fortitude, May observed the view outside, noting that they almost reached ground level. At this height, she could only see the hospital’s complex instead of the city skyline, a wonder in itself as each of the hospital’s building resembled an ornate skyscraper, to her Earth-bound imagination.
Orange eyes kept stealing glances at her, their owner looked visibly torn. Before Kajakh could say anything, however, they had arrived at their destination. Shaking his head, he gestured for her to follow.
“I’ll take you home,” he stated. “Father would like to be here too, but we can’t leave the company unattended at the moment.”
The company that May Ling would have inherited if it wasn’t for her youth and inexperience. May had no idea what the company was about, nor its current status, only that for now, it operated under Kajakh and his father’s gentle care.
Even without knowing the details, she knew Kajakh must not have an easy time with it. Except for the first day when she destroyed his hopes –
“Do I know you?”
“You – you don’t remember me?”
– he had been visiting every night without fail to accompany her. She watched as he got more tired each day, even if he tried hard to hide it from her. Watching him watched her with concealed hope and dread, she began to understand what devastation meant.
Poor dear, May thought sympathetically, observing the barely-hidden defeated slump of his shoulders as she followed him out of the hospital. I hope he never finds out the truth.
Kajakh Mun’ahsa cared more about May Ling’s life than ‘May Ling’ herself.
And as long as she had a say in this, she would never let this fact see the light of day.
She still had to find out what exactly happened to her and, disturbing or not, playing the part of an ‘amnesiac family friend’ gave her the most resources to do so.
So yes, until she found a way back to Earth, she would shamelessly hijack this body until she couldn’t anymore.
The poor dear.