The Nightmare

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"You're early today."

"Well yes. Remember. I'm having an emergency. A relationship emergency."

"Of course you are. You're always having a relationship emergency." Snapped Doctor X.

Normally, anyone else would have been taken aback and upset by that kind of abrupt, sharp remark. But not Janie. Oh no. Janie was so far off down that long, dark path that was her own self-absorbed world, that Doctor X and his often cruel retorts flew fast and high over her head.

"As I was saying, Burt and I seem to be in crisis..."

"Who?"

"Burt." Doctor X shakes his head in confusion. "I'm sorry, who is Burt again?"

"The Satyr. Have you heard anything I've said for the last fifteen minutes?"

"Yes Janie. I just don't recall you mentioning a name." As the doctor said the word name, the sound in ears began to change causing his heart to palpitate.

Janie's voice began to sound tinny and then far away, as if she was echoing and at the other end of a long tunnel. Doctor X tried, but had a hard time focusing on her voice. He couldn't quite make out what she was saying. The room around him began to sway and his ears started to ring loudly. He felt like he was trapped in a fish bowl. It was the snapping of Janie's fingers that brought him out of it.

"Are you ok? You certainly aren't looking very well. Quite pale if I do say so myself. Shall I get you some water?"

"Yes. Yes. Some water." Doctor X began pulling at the collar of his shirt. He started to feel as if he was being strangled."

"There. There. Let me undo your shirt. I think you might be having a panic attack. Funny that I'm the patient and you are supposed to be the doctor. Yet, here I am..." Janie giggled as she loosened his tie.

"I'm... I'm ok now. Just had a rough night's sleep."

"Is it something you'd like to talk about?" Janie said as she handed him the glass of water.

"Well, it's just that I have this... wait! Wait! I'm the doctor here. Sit back down."

"Ok. Ok. No need to get so upset. But, you should talk about your issues. Because clearly..."
"Yes. Yes. Now let's get back to...." Just as he was about to finish the sentence the alarm went off signifying the end of their session. "That's our time Janie. I will see you on Wednesday."

As if nothing had happened Janie stood up straight, grabbed her purse and almost skipped out the office. Cheerily saying in a sing-song voice, "See you Wednesday!"

Once Janie had left his office and only after he heard the clicking of the door, did Doctor X slump back in his chair in a defeated position. He felt that he could have slid to the floor at any moment. Looking up at the clock he noticed it was fifteen minutes to one o'clock. His heart began to race again. He sat frozen staring at the clock watching as each moment passed.

Ten minutes to.

Eight minutes to.

Seven minutes to.

Five minutes to.

Two minutes to.

One o'clock.

One fifteen.

One thirty.... 

His one o'clock appointment was a no show. A no show! How? Did they get lost? Why didn't they call? Had they called his home number again and when he didn't answer decided not to come? It didn't make sense. Partly, Doctor X was relieved that the appointment was a no show and partly anxious. He didn't know what that meant. Was someone playing a cruel trick on him?

Doctor X does his best to focus on the rest of his appointments that afternoon. At quarter to two he would normally eat a quick lunch. A pre-wrapped sandwich he would have picked up at the cafe on the main floor of his building. Today, he couldn't stomach food, at least, not at that moment. He only had two more appointments to get through. Harold who was seven feet tall and only thirteen years old. He has low self-esteem and had to suffer bullying both at home and at school due to this gigantic height. The fact that he was still growing didn't help. Then there was Bart. If possible, a patient that annoyed him even more than Janie did. You see Bart is a werewolf who is having an identity crisis.

"My girlfriend thinks..." and here it comes the part the doctor hates the most... the crying... "SHE SAYS I'M TOO HAIRY!!!!!"

"Of course you're too hairy, you're a bloody werewolf!"

"What should I do Doc?"

"Date some else. Someone who is into hairy men... beasts. That kind. I'm sure there are lots of women out there who would appreciate your over abundance of hair or is it fur?"

Bart sits in shock and unsure what to say next. The doctor hands him a handkerchief and tells him that he needs to rethink his relationship. Bart loudly blows his nose just as the alarm goes off signifying the end of their session. Had the alarm not been sitting right beside the doctor, they both would have missed it. Doctor X sighs deeply and stands. Bart realizes his time is up, thanks the doctor and leaves. Just as he is about to go through the door, he realizes that he has the doctor's handkerchief and offers to give it back. The doctor gestures with his hand that Bart can keep it. Bart momentarily stares at the soiled cloth, shrugs his shoulders, shoves it into the front pocket of his trousers and leaves.

Exhausted from dealing with patients and his anxiety because one o'clock appointment didn't show up, Doctor X settles back into his chair again. He is done for the day, but too tired to walk the several long blocks back to his dank, one room apartment, not to mention, his wing back chair is much more comfortable than his creaking old bed. Within moments he is asleep, even dreams didn't have time to form.

Just as his body is almost completely relaxed, he was jolted awake by an unfamiliar sound. A noise coming from within the room. The door to his office automatically locks as it closes and a key is needed to open it from the outside. Could someone have gotten in? As he opens his eyes, the room is now completely dark, he had been asleep longer than he anticipated. The only light coming into the room is from the streetlights and the occasional automobile headlights bouncing off the walls. Then he sees it.

At first, he wasn't sure if it was a shadow caused by the ambient lighting from outside, that was until the shadow moved. Slow, smooth, inky and almost as if it was slinking, it moved towards him with a deadly gracefulness. The doctor is frozen in his chair, unable to comprehend what he is seeing or to form thoughts cohesive enough to get his body to move. His fight or flight had flown away.

Slowly, as if torturing him, it moved back and forth, inching closer and closer. The doctor began to hyper-ventialte. Why couldn't he move? What was that thing coming towards him? Just as those thoughts passed through his mind, automobile headlights shone into the room just enough that he could see the face of what was coming towards him. He screams as it lunges at him.

"Doctor X! Doctor X! Wake up!"

He struggles. Unable to open his eyes. He is being shaken aggressively as someone keeps screaming his name. Finally, when he was able to gather himself, his eyes open to Janie's face less than an inch from his own.

"Oh thank goodness. I wasn't sure what was going on there."

Still disoriented the doctor tries to comprehend what had just happened.

"I'm quite offended that you fell asleep during our session. I was getting something really important off my chest."

"I'm sure you were Janie. What... what time is it?"
"Well, our session is long over. It's taken me until now to wake you up. You must have been having quite the nightmare."
"Thank you. I had a rough night. I won't charge you for today."
"I would hope not! I will see you on Wednesday."
"It's still Monday?"

"Yes, you silly man. Toot-a-loo" With that Janie skipped her way out of the office.

The doctor had finally gotten his composure back, straightened his suit out and as he stood up, he looked towards the wall clock. It was fifteen minutes before one. The knot in his stomach returned. 

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