The Invisible Parasite

Dwelling on my sanity's budding existential crisis wasn't exactly how I wanted to be occupying my mind, and it probably wasn't good for whatever stability I was supposed to have gained, but at least it was something to think about. I paced the floor a little more, eventually stopping to stare at the space between the top of the door and the bottom of the ceiling. I've been here to get better; I didn't know anything was wrong with me before coming here, but I must've been in denial, I thought. That's what Doc Esco's said, he assured me that sort of thing happens more often than most people realize. I've been here, and he's been working with me, and he's been trying to help me get better. So I should feel better.

"So why don't I feel better?"

"Beats me."

I jumped. Dwayne had appeared in my doorway, trying to look as bored as usual. A nervous laugh escaped my throat in spite of myself; perpetually unenthusiastic as he and his brother often looked, there was something else behind that boredom. Something gloating, maybe even sadistic, that always made me shrink a little.

He rolled his eyes at my laugh, but a smirk twitched the corner of his mouth at the probable fear etched in my eyes, if not scrawled all over my face. "The Doc wants to see you."

I knew Doc Esco often stayed late, but it wasn't like him to meet with patients after dinner. "What's the occasion?"

"Ask him. Come on."

Monosyllables. He was clearly not amused.

But when was he ever?
- - - - - - - - - -
I thought I could hear the Doc through his closed office door and down the hall. Of course this furthered my confusion. Dwayne opened the door for me to reveal Doctor Escobar worriedly looking at two glasses of soda on the desk, then giving his chair an accusatory look.

"Evening, Doc," I began hesitantly, trying not to startle or interrupt whatever he might've been doing, to little avail.

"What?" He started a little, relaxing slightly on seeing it was me, but still giving his chair nervous looks. "Oh, Connor, yes. Have a seat." He indicated the chair on the opposite side of the desk, as usual, but he gave that an unusual look as well.

After studying the chair myself for a moment, finding nothing amiss I asked, "Something wrong with it, sir?"

"Hm? No, it's fine, just watch that you don't sit on the panda…"

The chair warranted another look; as expected, it was panda-less. "The panda, sir?"

"Did I say panda? I meant papers."

There were no papers on the chair, either. I sat down gingerly on the edge of the chair, in case I was sitting on papers that had somehow escaped my notice. The Doc still hesitated to sit. After a moment and another rather harsh glare he sat down in his own chair.

"You wanted to see me?" He made a noise as if he didn't hear me, so I repeated myself.

"Ah yes, I did want to see you. Sorry, you were a little echo-y."

Was I? I thought I'd spoken normally.

"I've been going through your file again recently," he began, indicating the familiar manilla folder sitting on his desk apart from the rest of the occupying chaos, "and looking over your progress during your time here."

"And what do y'think?"

"Well, that's what I wanted to find out from you. How do you think you're progressing?"

I was about to start answering when the two glasses of soda caught my eye again. Now why would he need two? Doc Esco must've followed my gaze, because he pushed one of the glasses towards me.

"I thought you might like something to drink," he said. "Heaven knows /he'd/ like some, the parasite." A harsh glare over my shoulder accompanied this last remark. I turned to see who he meant, but no one was there.

More baffled than before I turned back to face the Doc. I glanced at the two glasses again. The one he'd pushed before me had at least a healthy swig or two less than the other one. The nonexistent moocher became less of an issue than the question of why he would offer me what was probably his glass.

I shook my head. "No thanks, I'm good. I'm not a huge fan of soda, anyway."

"Oh. Alright, if you're sure." He slid the glass back towards him, keeping an eye on whatever (or whoever) was supposed to be in the back corner. Returning back to me: "So, how do you think your progress is going?"

"Truth be told, Doc, I haven't a clue. I didn't feel like anything was wrong in the first place--I think I've told you this--but now I feel more off-kilter than ever."

He nodded. "You're probably more aware of your condition since it's been brought to your attention."

"Right, we've talked about that. But that's the problem: it seems to be getting worse. You've had me try all these different things, but I don't think they're working. The most they've done is make me feel awful in some way or other."

"The unfortunate nature of side effects," he added.

"But those are the only effects I've felt. Truth be told, I just feel crazier now than I did when I was first brought here."

The End

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