The Vector Race: Chapter Two: Purposeful Exposure

“So tell me again why you are volunteering if you’re not interested in the medical profession?” The pretty young nurse asked Jack as they walked down the long corridor leading to the linen closet.

“I just like to help people.” Jack answered smiling but not making eye contact with her, not wanting the friendship that he knew would come easy with her.

“There are a dozen ways to help people, cleaning up after sick people are one of the least desirable.” She said her light green eyes looking at him suspiciously as she opened the closet door. “This is where you will find all the clean linen, bed pans, and etcetera. Do you have any questions?” She asked gesturing inside the organized closet.

“No, I think I have it.” Jack said still avoiding eye contact.

“Okay, well I suggest that you get started, even if your volunteering Dr. Randerson will light your ass up if you fall behind.”

“Thanks for the warning.” Jack said unable to keep the smirk off his face. The nurse, Jennifer was her name, looked entirely too innocent for even a minor curse word like ass, and Jack caught himself thinking it was adorable. Jennifer narrowed her eyes at his smirk and opened her mouth partially as if to say something more and then walked away. Jack shook his head more at himself than anything and went to work.

Four hours later Jack was ready to go home, if he didn’t catch something from his shift today he certainly would within the next few days. It took some doing sneaking a peek at charts without being seen, but he had managed to expose himself to three different flu viruses and one unknown sickness that presented like the flu but had tested negative for all known strands. This was the one that he had ensured he had exposed himself to. That was something else he had to be sure no one saw him doing or he would likely end up in the mental ward. He had used a cotton swab on the patient, who to Jack’s delight was sleeping, swabbing the mouth, nose, and eyes and then rubbing his own with the contaminated tip before ingesting the cotton. The thought would make most people sick but Jack had learned the best ways to expose himself to viruses, daring them to take him out. Jack knew that logically his way of thinking was just as sick as the viruses he was exposing himself to, he also knew that any psychologist would have a heyday with him. However, he had been doing this for ten years and would do it until the day he died, which he doubted would be from natural causes. He smiled at Jennifer as he walked past her to leave. He cussed at himself, no friends, no ties whatsoever, they would die just as everyone else in his life had, including Tessa.

“Jack.” He heard a voice behind him say rescuing him before his thoughts turned dark, as the name of the only women he had ever given his heart to echoed in his head. He turned to find Jennifer walking up behind him, “You should really wash your hands more often. Being in here will make you sick if you’re not careful.” She said, seeming a little unnerved as he looked her in the eyes for the first time.

“I have a pretty strong immune system, but thank you for the concern.” Jack said turning to walk away.

“I uh, just wanted to say that you did a pretty good job. It’s the first time I have gone an entire shift without hearing Dr. Randerson bitch about the candy stripers.” Jennifer said trying to continue to conversation.

“You shouldn’t curse, it’s very unbecoming.” Jack heard himself say.

“What?” Jennifer asked staring at him in disbelief.

“And who uses the word candy striper anymore.” Jack said, his voice demeaning, he knew what he was doing, pushing her away to protect himself.

“I do, and you don’t need to be an ASSHOLE.” Jennifer said ensuring she emphasized the curse word before she turned and stormed away. Jack sighed, partially from relief and partially from the unending loneliness that he forced upon himself. He looked at the time on his phone and then threw it in his back pack, he would have to push hard, but he could make it home and be in bed on time, he had to keep his schedule.


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