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The Applicant
by Michael Bard
Michael Bard -- all rights reserved

"I'm sorry, but you don't fulfill our needs at this time. We're really looking for somebody more experienced--"

"Oh. Well, thank you for your time."

The young doctor stood up and shook hands with the older man seated behind the desk. He just sighed as the young man left. Who'd have thought that looking for a senior doctor to oversee the administration of the surgery department at this teaching hospital would be so hard? They'd dragged him in from administration because they couldn't spare anybody. He'd tried recruiting from in house, but nobody had the time to devote to such a task. Or, oddly enough, the experience. All they did was give him a checklist to run through.

Sighing, he pressed the intercom. "Sandra, is the next applicant here?"

"Yes sir, he is--"

"Send him in please."

"But sir--"

"Is he there? If so then just send him in."

"Yes sir. Right away sir."

The intercom clicked to silence and he took off his glasses to clean them.

There was a moment of silence, and then the heavy oaken door opened, and the next applicant came in. His foot steps were loud on the floor, and he seemed to stumble as he walked. He hadn't washed either, there was a thick stench of horse that came in with him, filling the room.

What kind of senior doctor wouldn't even wash himself? Well, at least this interview would be over fast. He put his glasses back on and looked intently at the pages, shuffling through them until he brought up the applicant's resume. It was a thick one, almost twenty pages. Squinting a bit he read the name off the top. "Dr. Chiron?"

"That is what I've been called through most of time." The voice was deep and melodious, the sound an opera bass singer would kill for, except for the slight nasal overtone.

"Now, let's see-- According to this you've been training physicians. Is that correct? First name listed here is Asclepius. You state that you taught him, amongst others, on the slopes of Mount Olympus between 1400 and 1100BC. Is Mt. Olympus in Greece?"

"In what you now know as Greece, yes."

"I've never heard of that school. Is it accredited by the AMA?"

"The AMA didn't exist then."

"Just answer the question please."


"Well, that means nothing then. For all I know Asclepius was some sheep herder who knew how to stick a bandaid on. You'll probably tell me that he raised the dead or something. Next record you have is for Alexandria, Egypt, 210-90 BC. Awful large gap there. Were you sick?"

The doctor swallowed. "You could say that. It took me centuries to purge Heracles' poison from my system. Bleeding myself day after day--"

He really needed new glasses and had to concentrate to read the tiny text on the resume. In the background he could hear Dr. Chiron moving nervously, the floor creaking beneath him. "You can sit down if you wish."

"Thank you. I don't think a chair will work."

"Your choice then. Let me see if there's anything here that the AMA recognizes." He started leafing through the thick resume. "Head of medical school in Alexandria, Egypt, 210-90BC. Students included Galen. Head of medical school Persia, 840-900AD. Students included Ibn Riza. Specialized in concise descriptions of illnesses. Chief medical teacher in Damascas Syria, 1180-1200AD.

"You seem to have transferred a lot."

"It's often safer to relocate than to spend a century or two healing from mortal injury."

"Doesn't say much for your Hippocratic oath, abandoning patients for your own safety."

"Sir! I have never abandoned a student!"

"Well--" He leafed through more pages of the resume, moving through arcane latin descriptions, ancient European cities, working his way through the centuries. "Chief medical lecturer at the Institute of St Vincence de Paul in Alexandria from 1810-1892AD? Taught Florence Nightengale amongst others?! Sir! This-- joke has gone too far, and it is in very poor taste!"

"I assure you that it is no joke, just as I assure you that you will not find a better administrator or teacher."

"That is for me to decide Dr. Chiron, if that is your name!" Angrily he leafed through more pages. "And what school gave you your accredation? You say you were born with it?"

"Mr. Finley, I have had quite enough of your ridicule!"

"And Mr. Chiron, I have had quite enough of yours!" He slammed down the resume and, for the first time, looked at the applicant. Looked and stared. "Oh my God--"

Standing in front of his desk was a creature that was half horse and half man, but containing only the noblest elements of each. His hooves were black as night, polished to a high gleam. His fur, where it showed beneath his impeccably groomed pants, was a golden yellow, so bright that it seemed to glow with the light of the sun. His tail was a shining midnight black. And his human half, dressed in crisp white shirt and brown tie, framed a neatly groomed face lined by untold ages, and dominated by blue eyes of infinite depth in a face framed by thick curls of black hair that tumbled down his back to his-- to the--

"It's-- it's a costume--" he stammered out.

"Mr. Finley, I can assure you that I am not wearing a costume! I am here because this is where I need to be. And you will hire me."

"Mr. Chiron, this may be a joke, and you have gone far too far with it. Walk or-- wheel that suit out, and stop wasting my time!"

The creature sighed, loud and lonely and ancient. "I hate it when I have to do it the hard way. At least I did finally pick the trick up -- one can learn anything given the time."

Mr. Finley tried to speak, but suddenly found that he couldn't move, couldn't breathe. In fact he felt himself shrinking, turning in upon himself as he grew smaller and smaller, or the world grew larger and large. He felt himself pulled deep into Chiron's eyes, deep into their infinite blueness. The world grew larger, the colours changed, everything blurred, his clothes vanished. He couldn't breathe, didn't need to breathe. His felt his stiff limbs growing thinner, longer--

Chiron walked behind the desk, his hooves thudding quietly into the carpet. "Sandra?"

Reality wavered and changed as the new one spread out.

"Yes Dr. Chiron?"

"Are there any more students who wish to see me? I did have dinner plans for tonight."

The ruffling of paper came over the intercom. "No more. You really should spend more time on yourself you know. You devote all your time to teaching, I don't know how you can survive. I'm still not sure how we survived till you took over."

Chiron chuckled. "I admit, you weren't managing very well. You might as well leave, I'll see you tomorrow then."

"Night Doctor."

The intercom clicked off and Chiron pushed the desk so that he had room to settle his horse half down upon the mat that had once been a chair. He picked up the beautifully carved wooden sculpture of a new-born horse and put it on his desk.

"There you go Mr. Finley, you've gone and made a complete foal of yourself."


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