By the time that I reached the helicopter, clamoring quickly into the cabin with the door shutting behind me, I had already pushed it all aside in my head, and the safety of my mental walls was already securely in place.

* * *


“You’re late,” my specialist observed as I strolled into his office. I had run all the way down the halls, slowing to a casual pace only fifty feet outside. “And you look like you’ve just rolled out of bed. You do realize I have other patients, correct? I understand that you’re rich, but so are the rest of my clients, and they are less forgiving than you.”

“I arrived as quickly as I could, but I am terribly sorry about the delay,” I mumbled groggily as an apology.

Doctor Greene’s office was small, yet tastefully modern. This was a man who could have had his pick of half the offices on the floor, and chose the modest one with the striking view of downtown New York City. It was a wise decision, I’d found, and told me a little of his priorities.


“Yes, well. Be that as it may,” he grumbled, standing up from his desk to rummage in a nearby cabinet.

I flicked the button of my blazer open as I took a seat in one of his guest chairs, afraid that I might need to rely on the positioning. Swallowing my concerns, I glanced casually out the window, although my own view was not particularly exquisite from this angle. It was the doctor, after all, with the good spot.

And despite my success and all my wealth, I was willing to switch spots with him in a heartbeat…of which I found myself limited, so it would appear.

“Let’s see…” He flipped through files in the drawer.

I was well aware that he not only could have pulled this information up prior to my arrival, but that it was likely stored in digital format on his computer. Growing impatient, I bit my tongue again – why is it that everyone around me insists on these grand, sweeping gestures? First, it was Alphonse…then this morning…

My tolerance was at its limits when he finally pulled the folder free, closed the drawer, and stepped back over around to the desk. “Yes, we’ve got the lab results in now,” he murmured absentmindedly, reviewing the folder as he sat down across from me.

“When I was here last week, you said that the treatments were no longer responding. You also gave me a time frame for my…expiration.”

“This is true,” he agreed.

“But you had some tests performed anyway,” I pressed. “Surely, you must have thought there was something else…perhaps something that was overlooked.”

“Correct,” he confirmed again.

If this man doesn’t start giving me some answers soon, I’m going to strangle him with my bare hands.

“So…give me the news, Doc.”

Doctor Greene sighed, setting the folder down. “There might be a way…but it is a last resort, and a highly improbable one at that.”

“Will it save my life?”

He took a deep breath. “There’s no guarantee.”

I processed this information while he continued.

“And it’s going to come at a cost.”

“I can afford any cost,” I chuckled bitterly.

“There are costs that money can’t cover,” he told me. “You’re not going to be able to snap open your checkbook and fix this one…the disease is too rampant now.”

“So, what are we talking about here, doctor?”

He sighed, whipping off his glasses and looking me in the eyes. Finally. No more bullshit. My doctor’s gaze was resolute, but stained along the edges with something akin to pity.

“Your lungs are in almost critical condition. These international flights of yours are only degrading them further – cabin pressure, altitude changes, you’re not doing yourself any favors. I have access to an experimental drug trial out being run by Parapharm, but to have a hope of qualifying you’re going to require a double lung transplant.”

“Double?”

“It has to be both. Otherwise, the infected tissue filling the native lung will simply compromise the fresh lung. With both lungs swapped, you might just escape this thing – swap out one, and you’ll have bought yourself not even months, but weeks.”

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