Medusa, serpent-goddess, executioner of men, scourge of Kisthene’s plain, stabbed a clawed finger in my direction. “Tell me the truth, human,” she hissed. “No more lies.”
I straightened my spine and fought the urge to rub my temples in a most unprofessional way.
Why did the gods have to be so dramatic?
Medusa coiled on the examination table in front of me, wearing a light blue open-backed gown. She stared at me, her eyes glowing red as her clawed hands shredded the white sanitary paper.
“I am outcast,” she said in a gravelly voice. Her rattlesnake’s tail swished, nearly taking out my free standing EKG unit. “I am the damned,” she declared, face twisted with fury. I held on to my clipboard as the examination tent vibrated with her power. “I am the destroyer!”
I nodded. Some patients took longer than others to adjust, but it didn’t change the facts.
“You’re also pregnant.”
“Impossible,” she spat, even though we both knew that wasn’t true.
I made a few notes in my chart while she threw her head back and let out a screech that shook the tent.
Ouch. I tried not to wince.
In my professional opinion, screaming often did help.
“Doctor,” she hissed, smoke curling from her nose. For a moment, she was unable to form the question. Her perfectly sculpted brows knit as she brushed a hand through the wild mane of snakes on her head. “How?”
I gave her my most reassuring smile. “The old-fashioned way, I assume.”
She should know. The gorgon was nearly three thousand years old. And from what I’d seen of the ancient Greeks, they certainly knew how to party.
She drew her hands slowly, almost reverently down her green-scaled torso to the perfectly flat stomach under her examination gown. “I’m cursed,” she hissed, “I’m barren. My body is poison!”
“Don’t be so hard on yourself.” Sure, my fingers went a bit numb when I was checking her blood pressure, but all in all she was far less dangerous than the ancient Norse dragon in need of an enema this morning.
That had taken us two doctors, three orderlies, a set of ambulance drivers, and Jeffe the guard sphinx. Although to be frank, all Jeffe did was warn us not to set the motor pool on fire.
I whipped out form 3871-K, which was actually a little slide wheel designed to help me calculate the gorgon pregnancy cycle. “I’d estimate you’re fifty-three days’ along, which is seven weeks and three days’ pregnant. Your gestation time is slightly shorter than the average human, longer than the average goddess.” I slipped the chart back into the pocket of my white coat. “Still, I don’t think we need to see you again until the end of your first trimester.”
I opened a drawer in the medical cart next to the examination table where we kept basics, including samples of prenatal vitamins. “Because you’re over thirty-five years old,” I said, handing her a pack, “we’ll want to do an ultrasound at your next appointment, along with a few other routine tests.”
The pale skin on her neck and arms flushed as she took it all in. She growled low. “My parents are going to kill me.”
Well, I couldn’t offer her any advice on ancient marine deities. Besides, the grin tickling at the sides of her mouth told me more than I needed to know. Once she recovered from the surprise, she’d be tickled pink. Or at least a light green.
“It’s just that”—her gaze wandered as she nibbled on a talon—“I haven’t talked to my mother since I turned her lover to stone.”
“About that,” I said, setting her chart on top of the medical cart. “You’re going to want to try to control your temper. Stress isn’t good for the baby.”
Medusa snarled at me, then caught herself. “I’ll try,” she muttered.
“Do,” I told her.
Ever since the cease-fire in the war of the gods, we’d converted our MASH unit into one of the premier (and only) supernatural clinics in the area. That was saying something, considering we were located in limbo, just north of a major hell vent.
We were known for taking in all patients, regardless of their origins or ability to pay.
Which was the way it should be. It was also why we got the interesting cases.
“Go ahead and get dressed. I’ll see you in five weeks,” I told the gorgon. “The nurse out front will set your appointment.”
I ducked out of the examination room and handed the chart to our charge nurse, Holly, who was one of the only full humans in our unit.
She tilted her head, flipping her blond ponytail to one side. She’d gone from red streaks in her hair to pink. I liked it. It softened her up.
“Rough one, Dr. Robichaud?” she asked.
“Nah, everything’s going to be fine,” I replied. “Even so, you’ll want to keep your eyes averted when our patient comes out,” I warned her. Just in case.
Flesh-to-stone injuries were painful and time consuming to treat. We needed Holly on her feet.
I followed her to the front, where she had her desk.
We’d converted the surgery recovery tent into a makeshift clinic, with curtained rooms running the length of it—eight on each side. At the front sat the nurse’s station, which was basically a red metal desk with a portable file cabinet behind it.
“It’s quiet around here,” Holly said, slipping behind the desk and starting a new file for Medusa.
“I like quiet. Quiet is good.”
Peace had broken out exactly three weeks, one day, and six hours ago. It was an uneasy truce. We all knew it wouldn’t last. Still, at the MASH 3063rd, we were going to take what we could get.