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The Attendant
Beyond Rainbow Bridge #1
July 4, 2041, 8:00 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, Pittsburgh, PA, Children’s Hospital
The man appearing on the Clarity View at the visitor’s gate, on the unwatched screen in the security round, had a kind, elderly and yet incongruently muscular face, framed above by a shaven skull of a pale hue, ancient freckles and fresh age spots mixing into a complexion that might seem motley. Below his close-cropped silver beard, attached by a corded neck, his kind, somewhat worried visage was offset by the hardened body of a 20-year-old athlete under sleek, form-fitting yoga leotard of blue—the same color as his wistful eyes.
The man was holding a pink teddy bear, a stuffed companion bedecked in a white fedora decorated with an emerald green feather, a hand-stitched dreamcatcher suspended from its fluffy neck, above plaid overalls and black leather, silver-buckled shoes.
The automated attendant announced: “Welcome to Children’s Hospital, your name please?”
The man shuffled nervously, “Rick, ah, Richard Wayne Pensky.”
The attendant droned, in a gender neutral voice: “Greetings, Richard. Please state the nature of your visit.”
The man shuffled again, “I’m here to see Dandelion Machi.”
The attendant suggested, “Richard, please extend your hand for safe check.”
The large, thin-skinned but unwrinkled left hand extended as the other held the teddy bear. An electric eye moved near on its rubber stalk through the galvanized steel bars of the gate and illuminated the Universal Person Code on the back of the man’s pale, spotted hand. The eye retracted and the man’s face was oddly cast in a state of wanting wonder, a face curiously un-indented by a mask, a face that, should the man be viewed by any sociologist, would suggest a lifetime of non-compliant criminality.
The attendant droned, in a now feminine voice, “Please Richard, await the safety officer for a manual reading of your safe code.”
The man looked around nervously, and asked, “Can I just drop the bear off for Dandelion Machi?”
The tinny female voice of the attendant droned for compliance, “Shah Ali Khan, await the safety officer. You have been cited for use of an assumed name. Failure to accept citation may result in the issuance of a medical warrant by the attending physician.”
“I just want to see my little niece! She’s sick. She should not be all alone. I’m not sick—look at me. I’m healthy!”
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ShepMar 18, 2021

My instincts tell me that Richard/Shah will soon be dealing out the pain.
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