Day Seventeen!

Day Seventeen!

The Doctor on My Shoulder, Part One by Daniel Roth.

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The Doctor

It had been nearly four hours since Mason Valentin managed to convince his mother to let him stay home from school. Every moment since then seemed to tick away with the weight of eternity. He wasn't sick exactly. His fifteen year old heart though was very sick. Love sick, that is. Staring out the bay window, his thoughts wandered to Ana Comparetto, the American girl who'd only just transferred that year.

Since the first day Ana arrived, Mason drank in every detail about her: the streaks of purple that shocked through her otherwise long, brown hair, her unfettered laughter that rang above everyone else's, the incredulous way she would say "What!?" at even the least astounding of revelations. While she longed for something called "Swiss Miss" he longed only for her. She lived just across the way and, gazing towards her house, he ran through all the countless times he'd nearly spoken to her but never quite could. "Coward," he thought to himself.

Before he could dwell a moment longer, Mason caught a glimpse of something peculiar out of the corner of his eye. It didn't seem like much at first, just a few vans passing down the road, but a few turned into a fleet, a seemingly endless parade travelling along every street for as far as the eye could see, white, nameless, and all identical. That wasn't normal at any time, certainly not midday when everyone was at work or school. It was almost as if it were planned that way, something so strange in plain sight but only when no one was looking.

It wasn't long before several of the vans pulled to the side of his street. The drivers all filed out simultaneously with a synchronicity that was almost eerie. Fear growing in the pit of his stomach, Mason's instincts took hold as he dove from the couch, dashed up the stairs, and perched himself silently beneath his parent's window, his eyes peeking out ever so slightly from beneath the curtain. The obstructed view was a small price to pay for Mason to feign at least a hint more safety.

A few moments later, the sound of barking dogs began to ring out in the cold air. Unaffected by the cacophonous warning, the drivers methodically went from house to house, dropping a single parcel at every doorstep. Mason could feel the hair bristle at the back of his neck. As one of the couriers walked towards Mason's front door he instinctively drew in a sharp breath and held it. Mason waited, quiet as he could, for what might happen next. "What if the man tried to enter?" Mason thought. Casting his gaze away from the window, Mason looked to see if there was something he might use to defend himself. A lamp shade, a heavy book, a cricket bat, anything would do.

The sound of doors slamming snapped Mason out of his panicked planning. As the vans' engines revved, Mason clambered back towards the window just in time to see a few remaining cars slowly disappear around the corner. The entire bizarre event had ended almost as quickly as it had begun and, thinking it over, Mason felt incredibly silly crouched in the corner of his parent's bedroom. "No wonder I can't even work up the courage to talk to a girl. Scared of a few vans... I really am a coward," he moaned aloud. With that final, self-pitying thought, Mason crept back down the stairs to retrieve the package that had been left on the front stoop.

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