The Clinic Chapter 7

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It was mid-morning, and a few figures walked through the forest. “So why are you here?” Brian looked at Adrian, “Uh, what was your name?”

“Adrian. I’m here because we’re friends.”

“Oh. I don’t remember you.” It wasn’t a dismissal, but merely a statement of fact. Brian didn’t remember him. “Hmm, you don’t shake hands? And we don’t talk with other people around?”

“Pretty much.”

The leaves on the forest floor crunched under their feet for a while, before Sam finally spoke up, “So… why am I here? I would like to point out that I’m not particularly fond of holding hands with other men.”

Brian continued almost dragging him along by the hand, “You’re here because you don’t really complain that much. I need someone to help me remember what I’m doing, and umm… Adrian can’t help with that. So, it’s you.”

“What are you doing?” Sam asked, then glanced at the axe in Brian’s other hand, “Chopping firewood? We’ve passed a lot of trees already the past couple of hours. I could point out some good ones.”

“Don’t be silly. We’re going to rescue someone. There’s an orc camp nearby with a human captive. So, I’m going to go rescue them.”

Adrian frowned, “Another reason I’m here is to be the voice of reason. It seems that going to fight a bunch of orcs with an axe you don’t know how to use is suicidal. Perhaps we should go back to North Star? Assuming we haven’t lost it already.”

“I know how to use the axe. I also know the way back. I’m not planning to fight them, though. I’ll just… sneak in or something.”

“Uhh…” Sam started to speak carefully, “I just realized. You seem to know an awful lot of things for someone with a bad memory. How do you even know what you’re doing? Have you been here before?”

“No, I’ve never been here. You don’t have to come with me, you know.”

“I don’t think that’s true. Regardless of whether I can retrieve my hand without… getting axed… I don’t know the way back. There are a lot of trees here.”

Adrian spoke next, “I would like to second the question about how you know where you are going. How do you know?”

“This world has orcs,” Brian said as if that were somehow an explanation, “But maybe I don’t know where I’m going, in which case none of this is real so we’ll be fine.”

“… Right, I’m pretty sure this is real though,” Adrian stated, “Among the people at North Star, I think I’m actually one of the least crazy. However, I do remember the way back. How much further to this orc camp?”

“A couple of hours… a bit less, I guess.”

“Very well. If we do not find this camp, we’ll head back. Maybe we’ll even make it back for dinner.”

—–

Kanon saw a patient crouching low as they went through the hallway. Since handling the patients was part of her job, she went over to him and crouched down whispering, “So, where are we sneaking to?”

“I’m going,” Ken raised his voice to a normal level, “I’m going to Brian’s room. I’m not sneaking. I just… don’t want to see out the windows.”

“Okay. Brian Coburn? Why are you going to his room?”

“Because he didn’t show up today, and he always shows up, at least close to on time. Today, he didn’t, and nobody’s seen him around either. I even went into the cafeteria and talked to the lady there, and he missed breakfast. He wasn’t even in the… greenhouse… and I don’t think he’s outside.”

“Okay, we’ll check his room. Maybe he’s just feeling sick today.”

When the two of them checked his room, they didn’t find him. “Umm, miss… nurse, can you… look outside for him? I can’t… I don’t…”

“Okay, I’ll check outside. Can you wait in the lobby?”

“… I guess. Can I wait in the hallway nearby? That one doesn’t have many windows.”

“Alright. I’ll check outside and see you back there.”

It didn’t take Kanon long outside before she found a security guard and asked him, which quickly led to her finding out he was truly missing, and hadn’t just wandered off a bit. That left her in a predicament of what to tell Ken. The truth would make him panic, and lying wouldn’t be right either. Besides, any falsehood wouldn’t be believable. If Brian was anywhere on the grounds, there would be no reason Ken couldn’t go there as well. Finally, she decided to take another route inside. She couldn’t decide what to do, so she would ask someone. Any of the doctors would be able to provide good advice. Finally, she ended up in Dr. Crocetti’s office. He was the head doctor and also the one primarily in charge of Brian’s treatment.

Dr. Crocetti sighed when he heard the situation explained, “I was hoping nobody would notice, at least until we had some real idea of what was going on. Brian has… few friends. Of course, I expect Miss Howe will come looking for Adrian quite soon. As for Samuel…” Dr. Crocetti shook his head, “People won’t notice, because we have no power for the fire alarms anyway, so they won’t be going off weekly in any case.”

“So… what should I tell Ken?”

“Send him to me. I’ll talk to him. Though I have no actual reason to believe that Brian knows what he is doing and will be able to return… I can still hope. Unfortunately, I don’t think we can keep up the relatively peaceful state we’ve had for much longer. Perhaps a few days. The stress of not knowing is getting to people. Perhaps we should take walks nearby… it will at least make people feel less trapped. Nobody likes to be trapped.”

“Ken won’t even take a single step outside.”

“Even so. I’m sure he would love to have more places he can go. Now bring-”

The door slammed open. “Where’s Adrian?”

“Ah. Miss Howe. Come, sit down and we can talk.” Dr. Crocetti nodded to Kanon. “If you could bring him…” He turned back to Grace Howe, “I know you won’t like it, but my answers for you are limited. I hope you understand.” Given Dr. Crocetti’s experience, she wouldn’t understand. Nobody understood things when upset. Even he himself had issues when things were personally stressful, but he tried his best.

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