Humanism.

Two: Liz


Registered Nurse Liz Niell strapped an emergency respirator onto the face of the unconscious Human male lying on the stretcher, and she thumbed the breath-assisting device's activation nub on one side. As she and a paramedic reached their destination with the stretcher the paramedic, a young Human man with short dark curls, began explaining to the receiving nurse at the Critial Emergency Treatment room that the unconscious man had been the victim of an assault by a Xeltan. An unknown number of poisonous Xeltan spines were now embedded in his flesh. Their voices faded as Liz fast-walked back to the recieving dock where another ambulance was pulling up.

As she took control of the next stretcher and prepared another auto-respirator, she looked over the male patient that lay on it, groaning. This patient was covered in bruises and cuts on most of his visible skin. As Liz dropped the stretcher off at CET with the receiving nurse, she heard the paramedic explaining that he had been assaulted by multiple Exans. The next stretcher bore an Exan patient who had multiple wounds from energy beam weapons, related to "gang activity," clarified the paramedics.

At her shift's two hour mark, Liz got her first break. Stretcher-running duty was exhausting, so nurses were only assigned for two hours at a time, then rotated to another position. She yanked open the bag of snacks she had bought and sat in the break room scrolling her portable. Pulling up the duty roster, she skimmed the names on the left side and found her own. Next up for her was lab duty. "Oh good," she thought, "something boring. Finally."

---

"Anything interesting today?" Asked the lab supervisor, Dr. Zad, a Mondan exobiologist.

"Well, stretcher duty," Liz replied as she lined her tubes up in the centrifuge.

"Ah," replied Dr. Zad, "the old Chinese curse, 'may you have an interesting life'..."

"Yeah, exactly," agreed Liz, "I'm living proof of that." She poked idly at her portable while waiting for the centrifuge to finish.

"What was that you're working on again?" Asked the Doctor as he scrawled notes with a stylus on the screen of his medical pad.

"Oh, it's the blood samples from the poisoned Terran from a few hours ago. I'm testing for Xeltan venom to verify."

"Ah. Right." Dr. Zed fell silent for a moment and focused on his pad screen. "I'll just... I'll just mark your chart for you."

"Huh?" Liz cocked her head and raised one eyebrow. "I'm not even done the test. We should wait for the centrifuge, just to be absolutely sure."

The Doctor cleared his throat, "Eh... we better not, Nurse. If we medically verify too many of these types of attacks, we could lose funding. I'll just write that the test was overall inconclusive."

Liz couldn't believe what she was hearing. "Doctor, that's--"

Dr. Zed cut her off, "Liz, just trust me, we don't want to go there."

The centrifuge finished. Liz tapped her pad screen. "POSITIVE," said the screen, "X TYPE BIOTOXIN DETECTED".

"Doctor, the results..."

"Liz, I get it. I'm a scientist. I want the truth, too. But in this instance, it's just not worth it. Trust me."

Liz let out a pointed, exasperated sigh. "Then why am I even working in the lab today?"

She stormed out of the lab and took a left, toward the vending machine. She needed another snack, pronto. As she passed the CET waiting room, she saw a Xeltan, definitely over two meters tall and nearly as wide with bulging muscule, who was pushing and slapping a human who looked as though he would rather be anywhere but in this room. His cranial spines flexed and glimmered in the harsh hospital lighting. She couldn't quite make out what he was saying as she attempted to look like she wasn't listening, but she was able to discern the words "human," and "humanist," as well as a Xeltan curse that she couldn't pronounce (for lack of the proper vocal anatomy). She moved out of sight into the alcove where the vending machines were, and called emergency on her portable. When the call was done, she walked as fast as she could inconspicuously walk toward the front waiting room.

A short wait later, a short, muscular, clean-cut Human patrol officer, whose badge said "Miller," arrived. She raised her hand and got his attention, "Officer, it's this way."

She led him back toward the CET waiting room, scanning her portable to open the security door. "An Exan was starting to get pretty agressive. I called as soon as I saw things start to go south between him and a human patient." She made a left through the doorway. The scene had gotten uglier, and the Exan was getting more physical.

Officer Miller leaned over and said in a hushed tone to Liz, "Why don't you, uh, just go back to the lobby and wait for my backup to arrive, huh?"

She did, and when that duty was done, she shrank back into the vending machine alcove to watch inconspicuously. She was surprised to see the first officer walk past her alcove to leave, looking frustrated, and the second officer, a Mondan woman, release the cuffs on the Exan, say something to him she couldn't make out, and begin to arrest the Human victim. The exan, looking grumpy but somewhat deflated, slunk out, looking embarrassed.

Liz stepped forward and spoke to the officer. "Ma'am?"

The officer's head whipped around and she raised a hand to Liz, "Stand back, Miss. Keep your distance. Do not come any closer."

Liz raised her hands in a gesture of surrender, "No, no, it's okay! I'm just... I saw what happened, it was actually that Exan that--"

The officer interrupted, "Miss, unless you want to be arrested for hateful conduct and interfering with an enforcement patrol officer, I suggest you fuck off." She cuffed the human.


top