The Microbes of Zam Steepa.
Status: Awaiting Author’s Review
Zam Steepa has a problem with microbes. If there’s something going around, he’ll catch it. And even when there’s not, he still does. Which shouldn’t be a problem in the day and age of curing illness with colored light. But getting the cure means taking the swab, and Zam, he’s got an oversensitive gag reflex. Couple that with an overbearing Jewish mother, a loud mouthed stomach, no girlfriend and a shortage of mates, and he’s about to come to a conclusion he’s been trying to avoid all his life:
He is a social retard.
But a case of mistaken identity plants Zam smack bang in the middle of his eccentric CEO’s plans to enter and revolutionize the fashion industry. While this poses solutions to Zam’s newly recognized social standing, it leads him down a path towards his deepest, most microbe infested fears…
Chapter 1: The Swab
I strongly dislike taking the swab. I have a sensitive gag reflex. That swab touches anything back there in my throat and I’m gagging. And if the nurse isn’t quick on the pull out, I’m on gag central, choking on that swab until someone rocks up with a set of pliers and reefs the damn thing back out. Or they put me out with a general – anesthetic that is. That way when they retrieve the swab I’m nice and relaxed and they don’t rip the shit out my throat, or my larynx for that matter. Yeah, one time sans general it got stuck so deep it fiddled with my larynx and left me with a voice as deep as Louis Armstrong. Could have got myself down an album if I’d been able to sing.
So anyway, as usual I’m lying back in the surgical chair shitting myself as the nurse prepares the swab. My throat is killing me, which is why I’m here, but by shitting myself, my mouth has dried up and every swallow, my tongue is like sandpaper rubbing a layer of skin and stuff off my throat. It’s a shame that it doesn’t rub the microbes off. Then I wouldn’t have to be here at all. Yeah, if that were the case I’d be a self-healer. I’d just need to put myself in a situation to make me shit scared, and the self-healing process would begin.
Like, I could put myself in front of a moving truck. My mouth would go dry. I’d swallow, and self heal. Oh yeah – then jump out of the way. So no, something less dangerous to my health. Like, stepping in dog crap. God I hate that. Mouth goes dry. Swallow. Self heal. But no, that’s no good. I’d have to clean my shoe, and that’s a gagger.
Oh, I know! Have my grandma demand me a kiss, with those super pudgy, overly lip-sticked lips. Yeuh! Mouth goes dry. Swallow. Self heal. Yeah, that would be the one.
I shudder at the thought.
But anyway, it doesn’t work like that. I’m doing the sandpaper swallow but the microbes are still there multiplying and having a party in my throat. I can feel them creeping up towards my nasal region too. And they’re in my chest, working out where is best to put the speakers before they commence the break away party.
How this does work is that this nurse is going to take a swab of my multiplying microbes and is then going to turn them against the ones still partying in my body. She’s almost ready now. All she needs is the swab. She’s got her overly sized rump facing me as she digs deep down into the swab container, searching for the one that’s been there the longest, I’ll bet. The one that’s had the most time for the fluff fibers to break away from each other and stick out at best gag attack angles. She’s new, this nurse. I haven’t seen her before, or more importantly, she hasn’t seen me. If she had, it’s sure she would have refused to deal with me. You could say I’ve got a reputation around here. I’m known as “The gagger”.
Oh – she’s ready now. She turns around and comes at me with the swab, that long white stick with fluff on the end. And she’s chosen well! It’s surely the oldest swab that ever existed! There’s fluff stalks sticking out everywhere! They’re bound to set off my gag reflex.
“OK, open wide!” she goes, “This won’t hurt a bit.”
She doesn’t know the half of it. I feel a gag coming on already. The bacon and eggs I had for breakfast come to mind. God they were hard to get down past my pussed up microbe infected food tunnel. And they’re not fully digested given my higher than normal agitated state, thus are churning up a storm in my stomach. If she doesn’t get this right, I’m on the gag train for sure, and she’s a fair chance to be wearing my breakfast. I start to hyperventilate. The swab comes ever closer. I shake my head and cower back into the chair.
“Oh come on!” she laughs, “Don’t be such a baby! Look at all those kids taking their swabs!”
I look through the glass window to the next cubicle. There’s a young girl, maybe 5 years old sitting up on a stool, she’s not even lying in the surgical chair. She opens her mouth, the nurse puts the swab in, pulls it out and the girl jumps down. Not even a gag!
“Must be a good nurse,” I say. Then wish I hadn’t. Luckily, my nurse seems to have a sense of humor. She just smiles.
“Look, there’s another one,” she says. And another kid hops up, same deal, no gag. Gets down to make way for another one. Shit! Must be a whole class infected with microbes. It happens. One kid picks up something and before you know it, the whole class has it. Microbes love kids. The way they’re always coughing and spluttering over each other! Trust me, I know. I’ve got a long history with microbes.
I sigh, take a deep breath and open my mouth wide.
“That a boy!” says the nurse and advances with the swab.
My fingernails dig holes in the vinyl armrests of the surgical chair. My eyes bulge big at the sight of the swab and its fluff bits.
“Couldn’t you use another swab?” I ask.
The nurse tuts her tongue and stops.
“How am I going to get this in if you’re talking? No. You can’t have another swab. They’re all the same. Now open up and keep it open!”
Oh-o. She’s getting grouchy. I open my trap back up, and close my eyes. I try to think about something else, something nice. Like my pet lizard Adrien I had as a kid. Yeah, I really loved that lizard. He was small and browny colored, and his little tongue was always flashing in and out. He liked to eat flies. Then my grandma sat on it. Killed it by slow suffocation – Oh no! Not my grandma! Those pudgy lipsticky lips!
I open my eyes and catch the nurse with the swab deep into my mouth. I stop breathing. Her face is close, staring me in the mouth that I can see bleached hairs sticking out of her nostrils.
“Don’t – you – dare – move – an – inch,” she says deliberately.
Which seems like a very reasonable request. So silly me, I go to nod my head. And one of the fluffy bits of the swab touches me right on the gag reflex. And I’m off. I’m in gagsville! Jumping on the gag train! Destination, gag central!
The nurse curses and twists on the swab, trying to get it out, but my tongue is all tensed up and holding it in there. And that keeps making me gag. And with each gag the swab is riding my tongue waves down towards my larynx. My bacon and eggs churn. The nurse puts one foot on the seat of the surgical chair and then the other, and pulls with all her considerable weight on the swab. I hold onto the arms of the surgical chair for dear life!
“Come on, come on! Damn it!” she’s muttering, and then she screams:
“GET SOME GOD DAMN PLIERS IN HERE NOW!”
And I’m gagging. And I’m desperately trying to keep my breakfast down, but still somehow I manage to shake my head and spurt out,
“No, please, not the pliers. Get me a general! Get me a general!”
But audibly, all that comes out is, “Urhg urhgh uhghg GAG, urghgh GAG GAG”.
Another nurse comes in, takes one look at me, turns white and drops a pair of pliers.
“Oh no not him! I’m not coming anywhere near him! Got a gag reflex so sensitive it can sense an earthquake in Japan!”
And she leaves. Then ducks back in.
“Pliers are no good, you’re gonna need a general to get that stick out!”
And leaves again.
“Thanks-very—much!” says my nurse, and then she screams, ”GENERAL! NOW!”
And finally an anesthetist arrives with his equipment. Tries to find a way to get the gas mask on me. Fat chance.
“FUCK THE MASK! INJECT! INJECT!” screams the nurse.
And the guy fumbles with a syringe, spraying a bit in the air, before plunging it into my leg.
I feel myself start to go numb, and the nurse lets go of the swab, falling to the floor, and as I black out with a last gag on the swab I think, why oh why won’t they give me this before they give me the swab?
When I wake up, I’m already in a treatment room, which means they got the swab out. Good. Not that it feels like it’s out, my throat’s killing me!
“Ah you’re awake!”
I look around and locate the owner of that overly happy voice. It’s the lab dude. The one who’s going to give me my treatment.
“I was just about to start your treatment,” he continues. “If you’d been out another hour or so you would have woken up cured. Doesn’t matter, now you get to see the light show!”
Great. Now I’ve got to lie through this too. Better than dealing with the swab though. And so anyway, this is how you get cured. By light. Colored light to be exact.
“From your tests,” continues the lab dude, “Your microbes like orange light, they multiplied with it. And they hate green light – “
He’s giving me the full rundown on how it works, like I don’t already know, I’ve been here so often.
“So it’s green light that’s going to eradicate your microbes!”
Great. Green light. Green makes me nauseous. The lab dude continues to talk away as he fires up the machine to spray me with green light. The machine is a long tubular thing, and I’ve already been rolled into it. I let him yap away. It’s his job after all. But I’m not really listening. I know how it works. I’m more concerned with the mighty hunger growing in my stomach, which makes me wonder if I kept my bacon and eggs down, but I don’t dare ask. I’d prefer not to know. Besides, I’m too worried about how my voice is going to sound. The lab dude finishes his creaking of the machine and flicks it on. A drone fills the room and green, sickly green light, shines down on to my chest, which by the way is bare. Oh, and would you look at that. Yes my torso is bare. Bare except for a large dark colored dingleberry so big it’s creeping out of my belly button!
Great! Whoever took my shirt off must have seen that! How embarrassing. I lift my hand, pluck out the offending fluff and stick it in the pocket of my pants for later disposal.
And I turn my attention to the light, which immediately begins to make me feel nauseas. Why did it have to be green light? Why couldn’t my microbes hate red light? Red light’s ok. Red light reminds me of warmth on a winter’s night, an oversized setting sun, of pansies and other exotic flowers. Flowers? Now come on, get a grip! I open my eyes again and peer at the light. It’s glowing slightly warm.
“What’s happening is that the light’s attracting all your microbes.”
The lab dude is still explaining. What he means is, the microbes are leaving the party in my throat and nasal passage and joining the breakaway party in my chest, which is reaching a climax as they dance under the green light. The green light – it’s like their drug, they love it, but they don’t know they’re going to overdose on it. They’re all gonna be down there partying away and then suddenly one of those pus fiends is going to say,
“Wait! Maybe all this green light is bad for us!”
And the pus ball next to him is gonna go,
“Nah, what are ya talking about man! It’s fucking great man! Soak it up! Chill out! This is the best party ever! And all thanks to the green light!”
And the worried microbe, he thinks fuck it! The green light feels so good! And he gets back into the swing of things.
“Party!” he yells.
“Party ON!” says his companion.
And that’s what they’ll do. Party on as the intensity of the green light grows, gradually, but surely, sending them into such a frenzy they burn themselves out and die. Leaving me microbe free. And cured! It’s a modern miracle of medicine! We have eradicated the need for antibiotics. We cure by light! And I know I’m sounding a little sarcastic about that, but really, it is a miracle. I just wish they’d find an alternative to that damn swab!
I feel my throat and nasal passage clear of microbes and my chest pound away for a while. I go a little wheezy as my microbe activity reaches a climax. And with the ever-increasing green light working in combination with my growing hunger, I’m at the point where I want to say,
“Stop! Stop! This green light is giving me nausea!”
But still I’m worried about how my voice is going to sound. So I hold my breath and stay quiet. And then suddenly the machine stops. The treatment is over! I’m cured! Microbe free. I give a little cough. My throat stills hurts, compliments of that damn swab, but that’s all.
“You’re all done!” says the lab dude cheerfully, way too cheerfully for how I feel. “Your microbes are eradicated!”
I roll out of the machine. I get up and take a couple of deep breaths, trying to get my nausea under control. I see my shirt on a chair and go and pick it up and put it on. The nausea continues so I sit back down on the bed. The lab dude comes around from the back of the machine. He’s carrying a dark polished wooden box. He stands in front of me and opens the lid, not revealing the contents to me. Then, with fingers flicking slowly over the contents, says,
“Ok, now how many rooms have you got in your home?”
I think for a second, then raise 4 fingers hesitantly upwards. I’m not overly keen to test my voice till I get out of here. Don’t want to attract any more embarrassment than I already have today. The lab dude finds it amusing.
“Ok – 4,” he says and raises the same 4 fingers that I did.
Take note! The geeky lab dude is mocking me! I am so low in the hierarchy of this place! Then he pulls four light bulbs from his wooden box. Green ones. Damn! I’d forgotten about the light globes. He puts them in a cardboard box that he folds out.
“Ok, you’re cured, but we’ve got to make sure we get any microbes still lying around your home so they don’t re-infect you. As soon as you get home, screw one of these into the main light of each room and leave them on for a week.”
Great. I’m gonna be living in nausea central for the next 7 days. I hate green!
“Ok you’re all set to go!” says the lab dude, still too cheerfully.
I jump off the bed.
“Thanks!” I say.
And damn it! My voice is high as a kite!
“You’re welcome!” mocks the lab dude in a high voice and laughs.
Man, I am so low!
I turn my back on him and head out the door to find my swab nurse standing there arms crossed, smile on her face with a couple of her nurse mates. I pause and look at her. I still don’t know if I regurgitated my bacon and eggs. I wait for her to tell me I did, but she says nothing. So I guess I kept it down. Well that’s one plus for the day! I turn and head for the main doors of the clinic.
“Feel like some bacon and eggs dear?” she calls out in a high-pitched voice.
I stop in my tracks.
Damn! I threw it!
Then to the sounds of the nurses’ laughter I hurry out the doors.