The bright fluorescent light is blinding. Pain in his eyes, pain in his limbs, pain in his head make it hard to think. A man in a white lab coat comes into focus.
“Follow the light for me. Good. What’s your name?” The doctor asks.
“I….um…I can’t remember.” Loki says.
“Any head pain?”
“I’ll order some tests and have psychiatry come and talk to you. I need to ask you some basic questions. What year is it?”
“I…I don’t know.” Loki fear ticks up with each question he fails to answer.
“Who is the President of the United States?”
“I don’t know.”
“You sound foreign…maybe British or Australian. Are you from this country?”
“What country is this?”
“Yeah that’s not a good sign.” The doctor says. The hospital is over capacity with the injured and dying. It has been 48 hours since the attack on the city and people are still pouring into the ER. “Look, you were found in an alley, dressed in strange clothes, and covered in blood. You have extensive injuries that look old too, like you were tortured. The whip marks on your back are deep, extensive, and couldn’t possibly have been self-inflicted and from what we know of the aliens we don’t think they did this to you either. The police are involved in your case because well, they think you were being held captive somewhere and the attack on the city somehow freed you. Do you remember anything at all?”
“No, I don’t and based on what you’ve told me I don’t think I would want to.” Loki looks at the doctor with big vulnerable eyes. “So what happens now?”
“You need rest, food, and more evaluations. I’ll have social work pay you a visit.” The doctor says. Loki is left alone in his room. Afraid and confused and tries to sit up, but his body hurts too much. Food comes and Loki eats all of it, bland as it is. Nurses come in and check on his catheter and pain meds but leave quickly to tend to other patients. More nurses come and he is wheeled down to radiology and put before machines and on tables as devices whirl around him. It distracts him. He needs distracting.
Who am I? What is my name? Do I have any family? What happened to me? What will happen to me? Is anyone going to claim me? What if no one does? What happens then?
After the tests he is returned to his room. The police come and ask him a bunch of questions which he cannot answer.
“We’ll put in some inquiries with some of the embassies. Find out if anyone recognizes you.” An officer says. They take a picture of Loki’s face to show to others.
“Thank you for helping me. I hope you can find my family. I need to find out where I belong and who I am.” He says earnestly. They leave and again Loki is alone.
For two days barely anyone says anything to Loki, not even the staff. The hospital is so overwhelmed with critical patients that Loki is quickly forgotten until things settle down. For two days Loki eats hospital food and watches news footage about the city and about a group of people called the Avengers that apparently saved the world from alien invasion. Loki can only assume he was injured during the attack and that is why he doesn’t remember anything. With each passing hour that he is unable to recall his life his unease grows. He has never felt so powerless…he thinks…maybe?
“Hi there! So you’re my John Doe. You’re a very handsome John Doe.” A very pretty lady in a red suit, blonde hair, and bright blue eyes is standing in the doorway.
“Is that my name? Did you find out who I am?” Loki asks like a frightened child asking if Santa Claus is real.
“No. No I’m sorry to confuse you like that. John Doe is an alias we give to people when we don’t know their real names. You’re not faking are you?”
“No.” Loki looks at the woman before him. Something about her appearance is comforting and familiar.
“My name is Tiffany, Tiffany Sanders. I’m your case worker. I’m here to try to help you. The police are working to try to find out who you are so we can return you to your family. I’m here to find resources to help you while they carry out their investigation.”
“What kind of resources?” Loki asks.
“Your physical wounds are healing and you no longer require hospitalization. The CT scan of your head showed no trauma. However, because of your amnesia they have kept you here on a psychiatry hold, but that hold is coming to an end. The hospital wants to release you, but you will need a place to stay, food, and money. I’m here to try to arrange those things for you.” She says with mock confidence. The homeless shelters are overwhelmed and without his identity, getting him things like food stamps, welfare, or other assistance is going to be next to impossible. She doesn’t voice her fears out loud, but she is doubtful as to how helpful she can be to him. Beyond forcing the hospital to keep him for as long as possible her hands are tied. Once he is released he will be on his own without a penny in his pocket or a name to give to others. She fears for him, and prays the police figure out who he is, or that his memory comes back.
“Thank you. That puts me at ease. I was wondering what was going to happen to me.” Loki’s relief and gratitude radiate from him. His body language relaxes a bit and for the first time since waking he feels a sense of calm. Tiffany feels guilty for it.
“Normally I’d ask you to tell me all about yourself but you can’t do that. What do you remember?” She asks.
“Waking up here with the doctor flashing a light in my eyes. Before that, nothing.”
“You sound British.”
“Yes, the doctor and the police commented on that as well. They are checking the embassies to see if they can find a record of me.” Loki says.
“I think it would be prudent if we had the local news flash your picture on television for the public to see. Hopefully someone will recognize you.” She says.
“That would be wonderful. I thank you my lady.” Loki says without an ounce of theatrics.
“Yeah, you have to be British with the way you talk.” She pulls out her phone and takes a picture of Loki.
“What is that thing you are holding in your hand?” Loki eyes the cellphone curiously. “I’ve seen one before. It appears to be very versatile.”
“Oh this? You don’t know what this is?” Tiffany asks with a touch of fear in her voice.
“No I’m afraid I do not.”
“It’s a cellphone. I can make phone calls, take pictures, listen to music, send text messages and search the internet on this.”
“What is the internet?”
“Oh man…” Tiffany takes a seat on Loki’s bed and spends two hours talking to him about everything under the sun. It is clear to her that he is a very bright and intelligent man even though he has no idea what things are. He is a beautiful man and his voice is like silk. She notes the mask of strength and confidence he has on, and the bubbling insecure and needy man beneath it. He knows his position is precarious and he is frightened.
“Well I better get going.” Tiffany says, trying to escape before she breaks down and cries in front of her patient. “I have other cases I need to work on.” Loki reaches out and places his hand on top of hers.
“I thank you my lady for spending time with me.” His gentle voice and soft touch sends a tendril of attraction up her arm and her heart clenches with worry for him.
“It was my pleasure. I’ll see you soon.” She leaves the room and runs to the elevator as a tear falls down her cheek. Unless a miracle happens that gorgeous man is going to be shoved out onto the street with nowhere to go.
Dr. Hassan stares at the CT scan and x-ray images of John Doe’s body. The images of the head appear normal; but everything below the neck is wrong. This man cannot be human. His heart is on the wrong side of his chest, he has four kidneys instead of two, there is an extra organ in his abdomen whose function the doctor can only guess at and the layout of the man’s sexual organs is completely unique. If he can even be called a ‘he’.
He has a penis, testicles, and an anus. At first glance Dr. Hassan thought he also possessed a second colon, but it is in fact a womb complete with ovaries. John Doe is a hermaphrodite and his anus is also his vagina. The single opening on the outside splits off into two passageways on the inside. He wonders if it is fully functional.
“Dr. Smith, please come to my office. There is something you need to see.” Dr. Hassan texts his colleague who is managing the John Doe case.
“Hey, whatcha got?” Dr. Smith sips on his coffee as he peers at the computer screen. “What the fuck is that?”
“I don’t know, but your patient is not what he appears to be. I don’t think he’s human.”
“Hermaphrodites are a medical oddity but that doesn’t mean he’s not human.”
“He’s got four kidneys, and what the hell is that?” Dr. Hassan points to the extra organ located next to the liver.
“It looks like a filtering organ of some kind.”
“Yeah but it’s not filtering blood or urine. What is the fluid that is in there?”
“Maybe we should do a biopsy.”
“Maybe we should call the cops.” An overhead page goes out summoning Dr. Smith to the ER.
“Walk with me.” Dr. Smith says. “Look he’s not the first patient I’ve seen with double organs. It’s rare, but that just means he can donate a kidney and still have an extra to spare. Don’t go getting all paranoid thinking everybody with weird anatomy is an alien.”
“Oh come on Dan! If it were just the sex organs or just the kidneys or just the extra weird organ that would be one thing, literally. But for him to have all those oddities inside his body going on makes me think he’s not from planet earth. It would explain why he’s a John Doe and nobody has come looking for him.”
“Look, I’ve met the guy. He’s frightened and vulnerable and aside from his inner plumbing he’s fairly normal. I don’t think…” A man enters the emergency room with a gushing head wound and a sawed off shot gun. The doctors see him and though their instincts scream at them to run they are surrounded by other injured people. Women and children scream and scramble. The doctors throw themselves in front of their patients as the mad man takes aim.
“KILL ALL THE ALIENS! KILL THEM ALL! AHHHH!” The gunman opens fire killing both doctors and several other people before being shot by killed by police himself.
“Hey! Sis! What brings you to the slums of New York, eh?” Tommy says to his older sister Tiffany.
“Tommy I need your help.”
“What is your car giving you trouble? Bring it over to the shop, I’ll take a look.”
“No, no Tommy it’s not my car. I have a patient and I don’t know what to do for him.”
“What going on? What’s wrong with the guy?”
“He’s an amnesia case. He has absolutely no memory of who he is or where he is from. He’s got a British accent but the search of the embassy’s databases found nothing. No one recognizes him and the local news has only shown his picture on T.V. a couple of times and nobody has come forward to claim him. With all the injured people from the attack local hotels have hundreds of reports of people skipping out on paying their room bill or never coming back to pick up their luggage. But none of the staff recognizes his face.”
“Wow that sucks. So what are you going to do for him?”
“That’s the problem. The homeless shelters are overflowing. He’s got this accent that makes people assume he’s not an American citizen, which we don’t know if he is or not. So I can’t get him welfare, or housing, or food stamps or anything. He doesn’t even know his own name and the hospital is discharging him tomorrow.”
“Fuck. Well, I’ve got the room in the attic open. I was going to rent it out but I’d be more than willing to help out the guy.”
“I can’t. I shouldn’t do that. If I get caught it’ll be my license. I’m not supposed to get personally involved like that and if my boss finds out I’ll get fired.” Tiffany says, clearly conflicted with her own sense of self preservation and her need to reach out and help her fellow man.
“Is it the right thing to do?” Tommy gently grabs his sister’s arms and looks her in the eyes.
“Yeah, yeah it is.”
“Bring him here. Does he know anything about fixing cars?”
“I had to explain to him what a cellphone is.”
“But he’s smart. He really is, you’ll see. He just doesn’t remember what things are.” Tiffany says.
“I’ll take him to the shop and see what he can do. You keep looking for his family, alright?”