1. Part One
Steve opened the door and peered round.
“How’s it going Jean?”
“Ugh, same old. Two migraines a bad back and an upset stomach. Plus I've already had four patients already.”
“Oh you are a comedy genius Jean.”
“I'm here all week. Well apart from weekends.”
“Well, us GPs need a break from prescribing bed rest and paracetamol. I was going to go get a coffee do you want one?”
“You’re my hero Steve.”
“Don’t you forget it.”
He closed the door, Jean smiled to herself that he didn't need to ask how she took her coffee; it had become a daily ritual between them. Nothing was ever going to happen – Steve was a married man after all – but there was nothing like a little harmless flirting to start your morning. She looked at the clock and saw her next appointment was due soon.
Any minute a stranger would unceremoniously open her door, explain their vague symptoms and nervously justify their decision to come see her. She never knew why some were so reluctant to come see their GP, she was getting paid after all; besides anything that reduced the strain on the NHS emergency room nurses and doctors was fine by her. Being the daughter of a nurse certainly did well to teach her what illnesses require which services. With that thought her door gently opened a thin, heavily sweating man entered her office.
“Hi, please have a seat.” Jean gestured to an uncomfortable blue chair near her desk.
“So what’s the problem?”
“I don’t know. I'm sweating through my clothes, my sheets, and I haven’t eaten in three days. I'm so hungry but it’s like I don’t like any of the foods that I used to.”
“I see. Are you sleeping?”
“Go no. I have … nightmares. I haven’t slept since I got sick.”
“It sounds like you've just caught a nasty bug. All I can really recommend is a lot of rest, keep trying to eat and if you still feel bad in a few days then come and find me and I can see what more I can do.”
“Oh. Okay. That’s fair. Thank you, I guess.”
“Remember – try as hard as you can to eat. Try some dry food like toast or crackers. We wouldn't want you starving now would we?”
He gave her a weak smile and go up and left. As soon as the door clicked Jean let out a heavy sigh. Bed rest and dry food. She felt like a broken record sometimes. If only they taught basic self-care in school, it would save everyone a lot of time. Though then she’d be out of a job.
She heard a creak and looked up to see her door open. She was about to thank Steve for being her knight in shining armour but the words faded in her throat as she saw it was her sweating patient.
“Help! God help me!”
He collapsed to the floor, he was crying blood and convulsing wildly.
Jean got down to cushion his neck with her blazer. She shouted for help as she made sure he wasn’t choking on his tongue as best she could. He suddenly stopped and calmed, passing out just as Steve came rushing in.
“Fuck Jean, what happened?” He knelt down next to her.
“Hell if I know. He’s just finished seizing. It just seemed like a bug but then he was bleeding from his eyes.”
Steve reached for her hand to comfort her, he was worried about her, but as he did it the patient awake and bit hard into his hand.
“What the fuck?!”
Steve tried to pull his hand away but the patient was too strong. Jean grabbed his arm and yanked it, Steve screamed as a chunk of his palm didn't follow. The patient gave it a satisfied chew and as they looked on in horror he screamed a guttural scream and died.
“My fucking hand. Jean, fuck. What? What are you staring at Jean?”
She got up and backed away from him, frantically grabbing her porcelain phrenology head as she did.
“God Steve I'm sorry.”
“Your eyes. They’re bleeding.”
“That’s it. That’s all I can tell you.”
“Are you sure there’s nothing else Miss Carter?”
“I told you, call me Jean”
“Okay Jean. Are you sure there are no more details you’re forgetting? Any little clue would help us.”
Her fists slammed the metal table she was sat at.
“No you fucks, I told you that’s it!”
“But Patient Zero is the cure, the end to all of this.”
“For the last time his name was Steve! The man used to bring me coffee! He was married for 20 years, he had two children and I don’t know why he hurt those people okay.”
She hit the table harder as a tear rolled down her cheek.
“I told you okay. I wasn't there.”