The Infirmary

A man wanted to live and work in the infirmary, but the admitting nurse would not allow it. All of our patients and staff are sick, terminally sick. In order to live and work here, you have to have our sickness. You have none of the right symptoms. The man complained of how exclusive and medieval the infirmary was. The admitting nurse said that if he really thought of it as a vocation, then he could be injected with the pathogen. The man would have none of that, even when the hypodermic was freely offered. It was not sickness that he wanted—was that not obvious? The man departed. Along the way, he happened to come across some scrubs. He dressed in the scrubs and got back into the infirmary by stealth. For days and nights, he worked as a clerk, typing charts, requisitions, prescriptions and reports, for he had always been a good bureaucrat, and he even noticed that his mere presence was good for the infirmary. Although he saw little of the patients, he heard from an orderly that there had been a few miraculous cures. One day, the admitting nurse found him, and announced his immediate expulsion. The man remonstrated and argued. Were patients not getting better? Some are, the nurse admitted, but more are dying, for you have brought your own sickness into the building, the wrong kind of sickness, and they have no immunity to fight it. Were there no other hospitals for men with your illness? It was too late. The disease was spreading fast, and within a few years, the infirmary was only remembered for its vast and ornate cemetery.

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