Samantha sighed loudly. Today absolutely sucked, on practically every conceivable level. She was tired, she was in pain, and worst of all, she was in a doctor’s office, which was probably the absolute worst place she ever wanted to be in. When she was eight years old, Sam’s pediatrician was arrested for taking videos of his examinations—an event which forever destroyed her trust in the men in white. Throughout the next seven years of her life, the girl had only been to the doctor twice—when she needed her immunizations update and when she broke her wrist in P.E. Otherwise, she avoided them like the plague, even going as far as to pass up on joining the volleyball team because that required a sports physical. Samantha kept telling herself that, unless she was dying or something, she’d never see another doctor again. Unfortunately, reality had other plans for her.

Last night was supposed to be the party to end all parties—her best friend Lucy’s parents were out of town for the weekend, and, just like any girl her age, she just had to make the best of it. A few dozen texts later, the house filled up with guests, the older of which brought plenty of booze to go around. Sam had the time of her life, catching up with old friends, playing videogames she’d never heard of and chatting up a few boys she deemed cuter than average. One of which had even left with her number, though who knew if he’d ever call. Still, all good things eventually came to an end. When dawn struck, most of the guests had already left. Sam stayed behind, fully intending to help Lucy with the clean-up, but as the alcohol rush wore off it was quickly replaced by a sensation previously unfamiliar to the teenager, one that the older kids commonly referred to as a hangover.

For the next day or so, Samantha kept throwing up while fighting a headache only comparable to having a knife stuck into her frontal lobe. She took some aspirin and drank lots of water, which was what Lucy had advised her to do, but it was useless—the headache only seemed to be getting worse. Under her best friend’s watchful eye, the girl ended up struggling through the pain for another day, until it got to the point where she could barely even stand up. Since she’d promised her parents that she wouldn’t touch a drop during the party, going home with the hangover of the millennium was not an option. Like it or not, Sam had to call her GP and ask for advice. The doctor’s words? “It could be alcohol poisoning. You need to get to the hospital.” Just great.

Lucy, who’d kept her drink just fine, ended up driving her best friend to the hospital and setting up her appointment. Soon enough, Sam found herself in an examination room, waiting for the doctor to come. Her headache was still there, but at least she wasn’t vomiting anymore. Her nausea was replaced by extreme fatigue, which was only natural considering how she hadn’t had a blink of sleep for two days and two nights, and one of those nights was spent partying. Honestly, Samantha felt like she could fall asleep right then and there, if not for the goddamn headache tearing her mind apart. The girl rubbed her forehead, but that didn’t provide even a momentary relief. She assumed that she was pretty close to passing out, but tried to convince herself that the doctor would give her something and she’d be on her way, without the need for a hospitalization or anything of that sort. Honestly, that would’ve made the worst day of her life all the more horrible.

Eventually, Sam’s thoughts were interrupted by a few loud knocks, which echoed throughout the mostly empty examination room. A moment later, the door opened to reveal the doctor who, presumably, would be conducting her checkup. The girl had to admit that he was actually a bit of a looker—his short, neatly trimmed hair stroke the perfect balance between blond and brown, and his hipster-ish glasses actually looked good on his face, which wasn’t something she could say about most of her friends with eyewear like that. Samantha lowered her head a bit, instinctively looking at his hands to check for any rings. That only made the pounding headache even worse, the pain slicing through her brain and causing her to moan out and press her hand against her forehead.

“Well, that didn’t sound good,” the doctor chuckled, approaching his patient as he glanced at the chart in his hands. “I’d scold you for your underage drinking, but something tells me that’s kinda the last thing you want to hear right now.”

“Yeah…” Samantha sighed. Ordinarily, she would’ve had some creative quip to show off her impeccable sense of humor, but at the moment the girl was way too tired and in way too much pain to come up with anything of the sort.

“Right, right. I’ll save it for later.” He smiled, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a small penlight. Next, the man placed his hand on the back of Sam’s head, pulling it back and pointing the light at her lips. “Open wide.”

The girl rolled her eyes and complied, her vocal chords giving off a faint Aaah sound. That was really all she could muster without throwing up.

“Good, good..." he commented, looking inside her throat. What exactly was so good about her situation, Sam would never learn. “I can see you’ve kept yourself hydrated. Your body is on its way to recovery. Another day of rest and you should be fine.”

“I can’t rest… Headache…” the girl motioned towards her head, closing her mouth despite the fact that the penlight was still pointed at it. She just wanted to get something for her head and be on her merry way as quickly as possible. Samantha wished she could somehow relate that urgency to the doctor, but all her body could produce were grunts and slow-motion movements.

“I assume aspirin doesn’t help? Have you tried ibuprofen or naproxen?” the man asked.

She shook her head slowly.

“I see. Well, if aspirin did nothing, chances are pills wouldn’t have been able to help either. Let’s try a shot. I’ve got something that just might be able to help.”

Well, great. A shot. As if just being at the doctor’s wasn’t bad enough. Samantha absolutely despised shots with all her heart, even more than she hated doctors. Sure, one could make the argument that everybody hated shots, but the young girl really had a passionate hatred for them, to the point where they had to hold her down, kicking and screaming, in order to update her immunizations a few years back. Still, Sam was way too tired and in way too much pain to argue at all, so she just resorted to her fate with a grunt just loud enough to inform the doctor that she wasn’t happy about this development.

The girl watched the man in white as he opened one of the medical cabinets next to the table she was sitting on, then retrieved the ordinary items one would use when administering an injection—a rubber band, a bottle of alcohol, a piece of cotton, and of course, a packaged syringe complete with a needle that looked to her like it was made for elephants, despite the fact that it was probably just a centimeter or two long. Alongside all of that, the man also picked up a small bottle with an etiquette in Latin containing a transparent, yet somewhat muddy liquid. He threw all the items into a small kidney-shaped tray and brought it to the girl, placing it nearby.

“Lie down,” he instructed her. Samantha sighed.

“Do I need to?” she asked. At this point, she was so tired that she wasn’t sure she could even stand up afterwards, especially if the medicine helped with her headache. The doctor’s silence answered her question, and with another grunt she pulled her bare feet up on the table and lied down, placing her head on the rather uncomfortable pillow. The man took her hand by the wrist, turning it around and running a finger across her veins, which were clearly visible through her pale skin. Sam averted her gaze and closed her eyes, feeling her nausea returning. The fear of the shot made everything that much worse for her, and it didn’t help that the doctor seemed to be taking his time in tying the uncomfortable rubber band around her biceps and selecting the appropriate vein for the injection. Every second felt like an hour to the poor girl, and with each passing moment she felt worse and worse. When the man in white drenched the cotton in alcohol and began applying it to her veins, Samantha’s anxiety had already reached the point where she believed she’d be better off without the shot.

“Um… I don’t think I want to do this…” she spoke quietly, not too sure of herself.

“What are you talking about? This will relieve the headache,” the man retorted as he inserted the needle through the cap of the medicine bottle and filled the syringe with a carefully measured dose of the murky liquid.

“I… I just…” the girl sighed once more, too ashamed to admit that she was afraid.

“Hey, don’t freak out on me now, okay? It’s just a little sting, that’s all. You’ll barely even feel it,” the doctor assured her. “Are you gonna be alright? I can call a nurse to hold your hand if you want.”

Sam shook her head. Being treated like a little kid who had to be distracted for a shot would’ve somehow made the whole situation that much worse for her.

“Just do it…” she spoke through her barely open lips.

The girl closed her eyes, her left hand’s fingers clenching tightly. The doctor appeared to take forever, but when his needle finally pierced her skin, she felt every agonizing second of it. A tiny whimper escaped her throat as the injection began. Even though it probably wasn’t true, Sam could swear that she felt the uncomfortable liquid travel into her veins and towards her heart. Finally, the medic pressed the alcohol-drenched piece of cotton against the insertion point before pulling the needle out.

“There we go! See, that wasn’t too bad!” he chuckled patronizingly, untying the rubber band from her biceps.

As soon as she felt it was over, Sam attempted to push herself back up, but was quickly stopped by the doctor’s hand on her shoulder, which gently pushed her back down on the bed.

“Hey, hey, why are you in such a hurry? Just rest for a bit, let the medicine do its thing. You can leave when you’re feeling better.”

Sam inhaled deeply, trying to calm herself down. Really, the only thing in the world that she wanted—even more than feeling better—was to get as far away from this place as possible. Unfortunately, it seemed like she was at the doctor’s mercy on this one. She was far too weak to fight back and storm out of there, after all… And even if she would never admit it, she could use the rest. Surprisingly, Sam’s headache began to subside mere moments after the injection. Whether it was the relief from the end of the uncomfortable procedure, the placebo effect or simply the miraculous medicine circulating in her veins, she didn’t know, nor did she care. All that mattered was that, for the first time since the party, Samantha was starting to actually feel like her normal self. Within the next 60 seconds, the nausea had become a memory of the past, and the headache was on its way to joining it. Before long, the young girl’s head cleared up almost completely, with only the faintest sensation in her forehead indicating that there was ever something wrong.

Sadly, the medicine couldn’t do much about the girl’s fatigue. Now that the pounding pain in her head was gone, the tiredness began taking over, quickly clouding her mind and demanding its due. Sam tried to fight it, once again attempting to lift herself from the bed, but her legs wouldn’t respond to her at all, and her arms felt… somewhat foreign, like she hadn’t used them in a very long time. Her eyes kept shutting themselves closed against her will, and her body desperately tried to tell her that she wasn’t strong enough to walk out of there on her own. Lacking the energy to fight, Samantha lied back and relaxed. Five minutes. All she needed was a five-minute power-nap, and then she’d be out of there and straight home. Just five minutes…

A few knocks echoed throughout the examination room, followed by the quiet screeching of the door. The doctor turned around to face his nurse, who closed the door behind her and smiled at him.

“Are you all done?” she asked him, glancing slightly at the girl on the examination table.

“Yep, just finished up. Is our patient here?” he spoke.

“Not yet, I’m afraid. There’s been a mix-up with the helicopter. She might be a few hours late,” the nurse explained. The doctor only shrugged.

“Well, our donor isn’t going anywhere. Just make sure to take her to the morgue until the patient arrives.”