Derek studied the chart of his next patient.

Ms. X had presented with intermittent pain in her right side and digestive problems. Her blood panel suggested hepatitis and her doctor had scheduled a liver biopsy to confirm.

“Good morning, Ms. X,” he said as the patient was wheeled into the room. “My name’s Derek and I’ll be the radiologist conducting your procedure today.”

“Why don’t you just call it what it is?” the woman demanded. Spittle flew from her lips and landed on her blue gown, the droplets soaking in and coloring the fabric a dull gray. “You’re going to probe me. Just like the aliens.”

Derek barked a laugh, then tried to cover it with a cough. “Actually, I’m going to use a needle. We’ll have you out in no time. And probe free.”

“It’s a little late for that,” she muttered, tugging on a lock of frizzy hair.

Derek shot a questioning look at the nurse steering the wheelchair. She responded by flipping open the chart and pointing out the admitting doctor’s signature. Dr. Clark was in Mental Health. Then he read the last line, which he’d missed the first time through. Patient symptoms consistent with diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Ah. Derek snapped the chart shut and exchanged a sad smile with the nurse. He’d have to tread carefully with this one. Biopsies weren’t a pleasant experience under normal circumstances. He had no idea how someone suffering from severe psychosis would perceive the procedure.

“We’re just about ready. I’ll have Nan help you up onto the table here, and then I’ll explain what we’re going to do.”

He waited until she was settled before he began to clean the area around her breastbone. “This is an antiseptic. After that, I’ll numb the skin with a local anesthetic. That way, you won’t feel anything when I make the incision.”

“I feel everything, pretty boy,” she said, squirming on the table.

Derek tried not to preen. She might be crazy, but there was nothing wrong with her eyesight.

“This is the needle we’re going to use,” he told her, holding it up. “We’ll make the incision here,” he touched the spot, “but you probably won’t feel anything until we get to the peritoneum. That’s where you might experience some discomfort.”

“Discomfort?” she snorted. “You don’t know discomfort until you’ve had a rectal probe by a disgruntled extra-terrestrial.”

He wasn’t sure how to respond to that, so he didn’t try. “I’m going to need you to hold still,” he said as he guided the needle through her abdominal cavity.

“It’s in there,” she muttered, gripping the metal table. “I can feel it, moving around. Making itself to home.”

“Relax,” the nurse murmured. “That’s just the needle. It’s an odd sensation, but perfectly normal.”

“It’s not normal. It’s an alien life form using my body as a host.”

“I’m not sure…” Derek trailed off and motioned for Nan to stop the ultrasound over the liver. “We need to get this to oncology.”

She squinted at the black spot on the monitor. “That’s not a tumor.”

He realized Nan was right. It looked more like an egg sac. And it was hatching.


# # #

Liver Today, Forget Tomorrow by Shannon Schuren
originally published in the Winter 2011 print edition



three children. Her work has appeared in Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, Howls and Pushycats, and Big Pulp, among others.

For more of Shannon's work,
visit her Big Pulp author page


This feature and more great
fiction & poetry are available in
Big Pulp Winter 2011:
Interrogate My Heart Instead

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