So here I am trying out another genre of creative writing. I guess you might call it science fiction.

The computer control slowly dialled in Frank’s true reality. Once more he felt the fatigue of the end of a working day, the throbbing in his head and the ache of joints beginning to wear out. “I really must stretch out that scar tissue in my calf”, he thought again knowing that soon the tightness would be lost in the routine of daily life.

The computer blipped and a message flashed across his closed eyes; “beginning recovery period, please remain still for a few minutes”. “As if I have a choice”, he thought. The computer ran a continuous full body scan of his nervous system comparing it to his baseline signal and waiting until his body was within normal parameters; normal for him anyway. It asked politely for him to remain still, but it could completely paralyse him if necessary and sedate him too if it felt he needed it. Complete sedation had only happened once so far in his career and that had been deliberately done as part of his formal training to test how far he could be pushed. He had received only a tenth of the experience of the patient dying from bone cancer before the machine took control, gently reducing the signal strength so as not to send him into neural shock and sedating him for good measure to calm his rather over reactive autonomic nervous system.

His patient would be long gone by now, wheeled back to the ward by one of the ever kind orderlies. The cleaners and the orderlies had once disappeared out of hospitals supposedly to reduce the spread of infections the government said, but most ordinary people thought it was really about saving money. It had taken years of self-funded research by a few dedicated doctors to show that these posts actually helped people get better sooner (by 23% on average) because their cheery banter and happy demeanours increased patient’s resilience over and above the minute increase in cleanliness achieved (infection rates decreased by 0.01%). It did mean that people applying for these posts required to pass a psychiatric assessment so not all of the former employed got their jobs back, but on the whole people accepted the findings (a change in government helped) and the hospital was better for it.

Having finally been released by the computer, Frank got himself a cup of full strength caffeinated coffee (that certainly hadn’t changed since his student days) and a couple of chocolate digestives (unfortunately all the hobnobs had been nabbed by his biscuit adversary Steve) and returned to his desk. He tapped the virtual screen that had come to life when he sat down and spoke the requested password phrase. The system analysed both his voice print and the words spoken near instantaneously and granted him access to the hospital resources and his patient’s records. Frank dictated his preliminary findings and the system attached them to the patient’s meta-record. He then called up the computer analysis of the patient’s nervous system and the real-time recording of the Central Nervous Transmission Graph (CNTG) or signalogram in layman’s terms. The system automatically synchronised the CNTG with a video of the patient’s movements (internal and external) so that Frank could slow down the playback to examine certain highlights in detail. The computer was very good at giving a general diagnosis but it took Frank and other doctor’s like him to finely tune the diagnosis through actually experiencing themselves what the patient was experiencing.

Frank was pretty sure that this further analysis wasn’t really warranted in this particular patient who appeared to be suffering from psoriatic rheumatism, but he needed to fulfil his quota this month to keep his license and one never knew if the pain caused by the psoriasis might be covering up something else. The patient was still in a stable state so Frank recommended keeping with the same treatment regimen until the correct antigen therapy could be developed. However something odd did catch his eye in the brainstem; some of the neuron transmission potentials were looking a bit weak. It might be an early indication of the onset of dementia, though if he was correct, it would be years before the degradation started to become obvious. He flagged the patient for his colleague specialising in this area to take a look at the highlighted scan.

After dictating to the system that his initial findings had been confirmed by analysis of the CNTG, Frank told the system to log him out and swigged down the remaining, now cold, coffee. Pushing his chair back, he stood up and brushed off the biscuit crumbs from his trousers. There had been nothing dramatic about the day really, but he felt satisfied that he had eased the suffering of a dozen or so patients. He grabbed his coat and briskly left his office. The door slammed shut behind him automatically turning off the office lights. He was looking forward to his holiday.