Necrolepsy

by Joseph DeRepentigny

 

His description was easy. Pale skin, so pale it was almost transparent. Dark lips and blackened eyes like you would see in some zombie movie and hair badly in need of combing. Top it off with an odor like rotting potatoes and you had this man to a “T”.

Walking into the medical offices early in the morning, he saw no other patients. This was as he planned. He had grown tired of the stares and the children saying things like “what’s wrong with him Mommy?” Knocking on the glass, he got the attention of the twenty-something girl in charge of the appointment book. Her reaction was standard.

She gasped and stared for a second before regaining her composure. “Yes, may I help you?” she asked with a fake smile.

“My name in Larry Johnson. I have an appointment for 6:00 a.m.” Larry said in a hollow voice.

The young woman looked at the book and saw the name. It was annotated as self-insured. This meant fast money for the doctor’s office. No paperwork or long fights with his provider for pay out, this guy would pay that day with cash, check, or credit card.

Gushing not at him but the idea of a profitable day, she said. “Have a seat, sir, the doctor will be right with you.”

Larry figured the wait would be a minute or two. He was wrong, it was several seconds. The door opened and a man in a smock appeared.

“Mr. Johnson, please come in,” he said. Then he stared for a second and smiled. “I’m Dr. Baum.”

Ushering Larry into the first examination room he asked him to take a seat.

Opening the file he smiled and looked at Larry. “Mr. Johnson, you have been diagnosed with narcolepsy.”

Larry shook his head and said, “No, doctor, I have necrolepsy.”

“What? I thought that was a misspelling.” Dr. Baum said. He turned toward a nearby PC and typed in the word as it was spelled in the man’s records. The PC was on a website that maintained all known ailments. In a few seconds it came back with “definition not found.”

Turning back, he said, “I have no medical definition for any such disease.”

“Of course not. None of my previous doctors had the nerve to enter the affliction into your database,” Larry said smiling. “I was hoping you were different.”

Dr. Baum nodded, “What are the symptoms of this ailment?”

“Let me explain… Narcolepsy is a disease that has a number of symptoms. One of them is when the patient becomes nervous or shocked they become catatonic. Necrolepsy is similar. When I become agitated I die.” Larry said matter-of-factly.

Dr. Baum made a face. “What is this, a joke?”

“No, let me finish. I die for short periods, anywhere from five minutes to an hour. Then I self-resurrect.”

“Yeah, right. This is one of those hidden camera shows right?” the doctor said, looking around for a hidden camera.

“No, I’m serious. Doc, help me, the situation is embarrassing. I can’t remember how many times I’ve come back in the back of a coroner’s van or on a morgue slab. One time they were preparing to do an autopsy on me,” Larry said with tears in his eyes.

Dr. Baum saw the tears and thought that this guy was a good actor. He decided to do a standard interview for paperwork’s sake. No need in incurring the wrath of this guy’s lawyers. Just in case he was for real.

“Alright, sir. I’ll try to help.” Dr. Baum said smiling. “How often do your attacks occur?”

“Randomly, doc. Whenever I get angry or scared.”

“Do you feel anything when it is about to happen?”

“No sir, I just blank out. When I come back I am confused as to where I am.” Larry said calmly. “It’s like watching a bad video and it suddenly skips forward. One minute I’m here the next I’m somewhere else.”

Nodding, the doctor asked, “How old are you?”

Larry made a face. “Are you asking how long since I last died or how long since I was born?”

That was it as far as the doctor was concerned. This had to be a prank. “That should do for now, Mr. Johnson. Go to the receptionist and make an appointment with her for a full examination.”

After Mr. Johnson left the doctor said aloud, “Very funny guys.” He was certain his old frat brothers or some TV show was behind this gag. Whatever it was he was sure to be rid of Mr. Johnson after he saw the bill.

Then he heard a scream. Rushing out to the lobby, he saw Mr. Johnson lying on the floor clutching a piece of paper.

“What happened?” Dr. Baum asked.

“I heard these stories but I never believed them,” the receptionist said between tears.

“What?” Dr. Baum asked.

“He took one look at the bill and dropped dead.”

Fifteen minutes later a stretcher arrived to take the corpse to the morgue. Dr. Baum had issued the death certificate himself. As they were rolling it out a voice came from under the sheet: “Where am I?”

After all the confusion, Dr. Baum had his patient back in an exam room. He cancelled all his appointments and gave Mr. Johnson every exam he knew. When he was done, he asked his patient a simple question.

“What is it you want me to do? I can’t stop you from dying, everyone dies.”

“I know doc, I want you to stop me from coming back.”

 

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