A Pint Of Milk

“Heads will roll…” the doctor said.  He broke off from the conversation for a moment, covering the phone with one hand and coughing loudly into the other.  “…But if they are caught quickly they shouldn’t get too far… Yes, it’s happening here too… I know… Yes, I’m fine… Look, I should go.  I have rather a lot of patients to see.”  The door to his practice, a basement office down a short staircase, was firmly shut and had been for days.  He had locked the door and wedged a hockey stick under the handle as an extra security measure.  As he coughed hard again he tried, and failed, to remember how there had come to be a hockey stick in the corner of the room.  This made him laugh which should have been a nice change from coughing but wasn’t because he had seen these symptoms before.  He heard the thud-thud-thud-bash of another human head bouncing down the steps and hitting the door, before landing amongst the other heads that had already fallen there.  They all started up their wailing again and the doctor started laughing again.  All these people –  coughing then laughing then sweating and then their heads falling off and no one with any idea what was causing it to happen.  The phone rang again and when the doctor answered he had to shout to be heard over all the wailing.  “Yes, hello again…  It’s pretty manic here too… I said, It’s pretty manic here too.”  He took his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the sweat from his forehead – it was getting terribly warm in there.  A bad sign.  “Maybe you could try freezing the heads as soon as they fall off,” he said.  It was something he had been thinking about ever since the epidemic began.  “I don’t know… It could work, I mean what is there to lose… If we freeze the heads we might be able to re-attach them later… It’s a long shot.”  The doctor continued to explain this idea to his colleague and then made an excuse and rang off.  He started to think about his own situation.  He did not have a freezer in his practice – he had a hockey stick but no freezer.  This should have been funny.  He got up from his desk and found that he was soaked in sweat – he had finished coughing and laughing and now he did not have much time to find a freezer.  There was a shop on the corner of the street which had a large freezer full of ice-cream.  If he could get there… He removed the hockey stick from under the door handle and opened the door to a pile of heads which rolled and bounced past him and into the practice.  They got under his feet and he slipped and fell amongst them and then scrambled up the steps before going back and grabbing a couple – after all, he was still a doctor and he still had a duty to look after his patients.  He made his way out into the street and ran as fast as he could, a head under each arm like a rugby player involved in two games at once.  He crashed open the door of the corner shop dramatically, one of the sweaty heads slipping out of the sweaty crook of his arm.  “I need your freezer!” he exclaimed loudly.  The shopkeeper was at the till, serving a customer who was buying a pint of milk.  They were both red in the face and their skin was shiny, wet with excessive sweat.  As they turned to look at the doctor, their heads fell off with a crunch, dropping casually onto the counter and then rolling onto the floor.  The doctor squealed in dismay, his head feeling more and more loose with every second.  Where was that freezer?  He dropped the other head and set off towards the other end of the shop.  His head was still where it should be but becoming a perilous balancing act and as he hunted for the freezer he moved quickly yet carefully, as if he were in an egg and spoon race.  There it was!  His heart leapt as he moved towards it, quick and careful step after quick and- THUD.

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