With few cars in the Clinic parking lot, Lennie parked near the entrance. The receptionist smiled in greeting. “Hi Lennie. It’s been a while since you’ve been here.”
“Yep. Which is a good thing, in my opinion. Is Dr. Mays free? I’m a Keeper and my charge here needs to get checked out.” Lennie reached behind and pulled the reluctant Nickie forward. “This is Nickie Atlan.”
The woman checked the computer screen. “Yes, Dr. Mays is available. You need to fill out some forms first.”
“Of course.” Lennie accepted the clipboard, and waved for Nickie to take a seat. “We’ll fill these out as best as we can.”
Nickie wrinkled her nose. “Okay. Why do Clinics and hospitals smell funny? Makes my nose itch.”
Lennie filled out the information under the Keeper section. “Do you know the first names of your parents?”
“Mitchel and Jennifer,” Nickie replied.
“September thirtieth, 1995.”
“How long were you living on the streets?”
“Two years,” Nickie said.
Lennie read off the list of possible diseases that might run in families, Nickie answering the best she could. By the time they finished, an hour passed. “That’s it. You need to sign this.”
Nickie accepted the clipboard and pen. “Now what?”
“Follow me.” Lennie returned to the receptionist, handing over the clipboard. “All set.”
“Thank you, Lennie.” She looked over the forms. “Nickie, follow me.” The receptionist headed for a door behind her desk.
In the examination room, she sat on the table, swinging her legs back and forth. I hope this doesn’t take all day. I don’t like how this place smells. When the door opened a few minutes later, she jumped. The woman who gave the young woman a reassuring smile.
“Good morning, Nickie. I’m Dr. Elizabeth Mays.” She pulled over stool. “I understand this is your first visit to the Clinic. You’ll be having blood tests, x-rays, and a weigh-in. Basic stuff. We also need to check your blood pressure, and listen to your heart and lungs. We rarely do complete physicals unless The Archive specifically requests it or something turns up in the x-rays or the blood tests.”
“I’ve been living on the streets until Lennie became my Keeper,” Nickie said. “I think I’m a bit underweight.”
“Since you have a proper place to live, you will soon gain weight,” Dr. Mays assured her. “Are you having any problems? Any aches or pains?”
Nickie shook her head. “I feel pretty good. A little nervous though.”
Dr. Mays scanned the forms. “I see you spent some time at one of the Centers. I understand why you are nervous. Let’s get started with the examination. Then on to the x-ray and blood tests.”
When the door opened, Lennie looked away from her notebook. “All set?”
“Yep. Even got the required shots that an Archivist needs. My left arm is really sore. Tetanus shots hurt!” Nickie handed over a sheet of paper. “The blood test results will be available in two days. Dr. Mays wants to see me in a month.”
“We’ll make the appointment now.” Lennie took care of that small matter and then signed the sheet for The Archive records. “Let’s go, we have shopping to do.”
Once outside, they lit cigarettes. “Dr. Mays gave me the ‘you shouldn’t smoke’ speech. I could tell she didn’t mean it.”
“She’s a smoker, too.” Lennie unlocked the car. “Let’s head to the Electronics Bazaar and buy a cell phone, laptop, camera, and iPod for you. Then more clothes and last but not least, grocery shopping.”
“What about lunch?” Nickie rolled down the window.
“We’ll eat after the Bazaar. Oh, before I forget, I need to give you some spending money.” From her pocket, she pulled out seven hundred dollars in various denominations and handed it to Nickie. “Try not to spend it all in one go.”
“I’ve never had this much money before in my life!” She shoved the wad in her pocket. “Can I buy whatever I want?”
“No alcohol, no drugs. If you want, you can buy a game console and some games. Or books if you prefer.”
“Game console, definitely. Will I get this much every week?”
“No. About half that amount.Think I’ll get you a TV and a Roku for your bedroom. I get Netflix, HuluPlus and have the best cable package available.”
As she drove down the road, the event from the day continued to plague her. What the hell was that creature and why did Nickie say it had a human shape inside? “Nickie, before we go to the Electronics Bazaar, I want to stop at The Archive to put in the application for exploring the building. I also want to see if there’s a larger office available, since you’re going to be my Apprentice Archivist. I filled out most of the documents needed while waiting for you, but there’s a couple I need to at the Archive.”
“Do you think I’ll make a good Archivist?”
“Yep. You’re smart, you’re observant, and you have me as your mentor. You’re batting a thousand, Nickie.”