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Uncertain Spinach – Part 5

Less than 10 minutes later he was stood at a glossy red door. It was locked and the lack of an immediate response sent him into a panic. He was hammering hard on the door by the time it opened, slightly.
“Lee!” The frightened face peering through the crack relaxed as its tiny owner recognised him. “Just what do you think you are doing? I told you that I wasn’t able to see you today.” She shut the door. The chain rattled angrily on the other side before it opened again, properly this time. She looked him up and down. “What on earth have you come as? You look ridiculous.” She hesitated, “Where’s your life crystal?”
“Please, I know you’re busy, but I’m desperate.” He moved to push past her but she stood, feet apart and arms crossed as a childlike barrier against him. “Lily I know you think that I’m a hypochondriac but this is serious.” She stood, watching him with eyebrows raised. “You asked where my crystal was? A man took it off me. I probably have cancer now, I realise that, but I must know how long I can expect to live! My skin hasn’t gone black yet; there don’t seem to be any lesions. Is that a good sign? Please, I really need your help.” She gazed steadily into his eyes for a moment before glancing pointedly down at his hands gripping her arms. He dropped his arms to his sides and shuffled backwards, mumbling an apology. She stared for a moment longer before nodding curtly and turning to lead him into her private office.
“Take off your coat and shoes and stand behind the screen. I can’t give you much time right now, but we can see how much damage has been done and I can align you a new life crystal. You’ll have to come back to get the damage repaired, though. I don’t have time for it right now.”
“You don’t have time?” his voice was shocked and small, even his body seemed to have deflated at her words. “You mean you’re just going to let me die?” He began to move away from the screen, to collect his coat, but she stopped him with a delicate hand on his arm.
“Lee, relax, I said that I’d check you for damage. Besides, I studied the histories as part of my training and all the evidence shows that people could live for days with cancer. There isn’t even a real reason to suppose that you have it; after all we would have died out a long time ago if everyone without a life crystal caught it straight away. Let’s face it; we’ve only had the crystals for a few hundred years but we’ve been around for hundreds of thousands.” Her voice was gentle, cajoling as she guided him back to the screen like a dangerous mental patient who just needed talking to properly.

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