Please Don't Let Go

Edited by Kate Dollarhyde

Copyedited by Chelle Parker

September 2020

2177 words — Reading time: around 10 minutes

Listen to this story, narrated by Hollis Beck:

IN THE COURT OF SESSION

XM/8891/30

Collins, Collins, Beal & D’Arcy Solicitors & Solicitor Advocates

Solicitor for Pursuer

Lex Sux

Solicitor for Defenders

Introduction

I have been asked to write a medico-legal report in connexion with injuries sustained by Ms. Julia Khan, known also by her professional moniker, Ms. Wolfboy, on 23/02/2100 (called hereafter, “the index injuries”).

Examination of Medical Records

I have examined Ms. Wolfboy’s medical records. Please note that I have been unable to consult the Galactic Health Organisation file on Ms. Wolfboy, the existence of which the GHO can neither confirm nor deny (see correspondence appended as Appendix 5).

Ms. Wolfboy’s available medical history is, however, rather extensive. It is also, frankly, somewhat exotic. For instance, it is difficult to judge what sequelae (if any) might have proceeded from Ms. Wolfboy’s forcible transposition, at the hands of the Yellow Prelate on 04/09/2098, into a set of bright living panes within a parallel stained-glass ‘cosmos-brane’, or indeed from Ms. Wolfboy’s subsequent shattering on 05/09/2098 of this entire alternative stained-glass-based ontology, as the medical literature in this area is rather limited. I offer this episode as an indication of the broader uncertainties surrounding Ms. Wolfboy’s case.

Nevertheless, on the balance of probabilities, it is my professional opinion that Ms. Wolfboy suffered no preëxisting condition affecting her hands or upper limbs prior to the index injuries.

Summary of Ms. Wolfboy’s account of the index injuries

In the course of routine duties, as an investigative and security operative in the employ of League of Sentinels GmbH, Ms. Wolfboy was assisting three colleagues, Mr. Slug, Ms. Hollybrook, and Mr. Ash, in lowering an adamantium obelisk, inlaid with platinum runes, into the core of an artificial planet. The artificial planet comprised 1,000 3D-printed concentric spheres. Although this was the first time the team had lowered an adamantium obelisk into the core of the artificial planet, Ms. Wolfboy states that she had previously undertaken “that kind of stuff.”

Ms. Wolfboy and Mr. Slug were drilling towards the core using adamantium steel wrist razors and corrosive secretions. Ms. Hollybrook was suspending the index obelisk on a telekinetic shield, approximately one mile above Ms. Wolfboy and Mr. Slug. There is no suggestion of negligence on Ms. Hollybrook’s part; however, I am given to understand that there was an element of time pressure.

Whilst carrying out her duties, Ms. Wolfboy’s colleague Ms. Hollybrook was “tickled” by a bundle of crystal “mind-flaying” tendrils. These tendrils, which were extruded by the Yellow Prelate, who I understand to have taken a different view regarding the correct placement of the adamantium obelisk, caused Ms. Hollybrook’s telekinetic shield to dissipate.

At this point in time, the fourth member of Ms. Wolfboy’s work team, Mr. Ash, was “surfing” the obelisk to the planetary core with a view to discouraging Psychogoblin interference. Following the dissipation of Ms. Hollybrook’s telekinetic shield, Mr. Ash informed Ms. Wolfboy of the obelisk’s approach in a timely fashion. Ms. Wolfboy then personally interposed herself between the giant obelisk and Mr. Slug, allowing Mr. Slug to move to a safer area. Ms. Wolfboy assures me this was standard working practice.

At this stage, both of Ms. Wolfboy’s hands became pinned between the obelisk, which weighed c.12,500 tonnes, and one of the planetary “floors.” Ms. Wolfboy requested assistance from Mr. Slug and Mr. Ash. Her coworkers pried up the obelisk using pincher bars and gravity dampening fields and proceeded to administer treatment.

Autodoc Diagnosis

Autodoc diagnostics were run with collective intelligence augmentations enabled. Initial Autodoc diagnosis, which was “THATS WHAT U GET BITCH DICKE FOR WANDERING HANDS LOL,” and treatment, which was “YELL-PRELL SHOULDA PUT THE HAIRY SIDE STR8 ACROSS HER CHOPS,” were judged to be unacceptable. Mr. Ash was able to install an Autodoc DNSBL plug-in (see Appendix 9) and, in consultation with Ms. Wolfboy, re-run analysis with Dan_Elter99’s The Best Psychogoblin Blocklist activated.

Following recalibration, Autodoc diagnosis was “open fracture of the left trapezius, with displacement of about 0.5cm and several medially comminuted fragments, as well as stable fractures of the left hamate and right trapezius, extensive soft tissue damage, and severe swelling in both hands.”

Treatment

Injuries were treated conservatively with servo-powered exoskeleton, elevation, and cold compression. Ms. Wolfboy returned to fulfil her day’s work, relying mainly on butterfly kicks and biting.

Ms. Wolfboy states her bony architecture healed within twenty minutes of the index injuries, consistent with her status as a Class II regenerator. On examination at Amazon A&E the following morning, flexion remained limited on the left side. Wrist razors were fully extensible to 25cm. Bruising had healed. Swelling had reduced appreciably. She was admitted for observation and scientific experiments.

The second morning following the index injuries, Ms. Wolfboy’s swelling had completely subsided. Flexion was normal. Esper scan indicated displacement of the left trapezius had self-corrected and comminuted bone fragments were extradited. She was given exercises and advice on pain management. She was discharged.

Approximately five weeks after the index incident, Ms. Wolfboy attended her GP. At this time, Ms. Wolfboy was reporting persistent discomfort in both wrists. She was referred for physiotherapy. Following some initial relief, Ms. Wolfboy’s symptoms plateaued (GP records, 18/08/2100). At this point, Ms. Wolfboy had already initiated her worker compensation claim for injuries sustained in the course of work. She was continued with physiotherapy and also referred to the Pain Management Clinic in Dundee for acupuncture.

Examination

I had the pleasure of examining Ms. Wolfboy on 15/10/ 2100. Ms. Wolfboy appeared generally well. Her left leg was missing from an unrelated accident. She did not seem unduly troubled, joking that she was “hopping mad.” She expected to be “back on [her] feet in a couple of days.” She demonstrated some flatness of affect and mood volatility. She called me “doc.”

Callosities and slight scarring were present over the volar aspect of both of Ms. Wolfboy’s hands. There were no colour changes, no muscle wasting. Her hands were not sweating, were warm, dry, and well-perfused. Ms. Wolfboy had good musculature bilaterally, with good muscle bulk. Differential grip strength was consistent with left-hand dominance. She was able to make a normal fist. There was no evidence of chipping or blunting, and elongation and retraction were normal. There was a normal web space. Tendons were intact. Median, ulnar, radial and blade nerves were normal. X-rays and esper scan showed no abnormalities.

She stated that she experiences intermittent wrist discomfort, especially during heavy lifting and shearing. She also stated that her grip strength is weak and her cutting ability is “not up to scratch.”

Effects on Work

Ms. Wolfboy has refrained from heavy lifting, striking, and shearing. Ms. Wolfboy stated, “These were supposed to be warrior’s hands.” Ms. Wolfboy is eager to return to normal duties but is apprehensive that this may prejudice recovery. She has therefore modified her working patterns. For instance, Ms. Wolfboy recently infiltrated the Atmospheric-Mix Admin Chalet of a complex of toadstool habitats laced by pressurised walkways and raised the ambient helium ratio, distorting the voice signature of Pantegral Droidmaster and causing his colleague-minions to blast him with ion-cannons. Ms. Wolfboy states that, prior to the index injuries, she would have “just kicked ass.” She admits she has also been more reliant on colleagues and states that since she has been on light duties, seven new worlds have fallen under the Yellow Prelate’s thrall.

Effects on Leisure Pursuits

Ms. Wolfboy stated that she does not have any appreciable leisure pursuits. “I was a warrior once. Nothing else.” When pressed, she admitted that she “sometimes enjoys walking and climbing trees.” These pursuits are not materially affected.

Caveats to Prognosis

You have requested I ascribe causation percentages across the categories of physical sequelae, psychological sequelae, preëxisting psychological disposition, and any malingering component.

I must firmly decline. Frankly, these are financial considerations masquerading as medical and health policy considerations.

In my view, the level of precision requested by lawtech in recent years, in the main arranged actuarially and to reflect the priorities of the private health insurers and Autodoc APR developers, has driven expert witnesses uncomfortably close to speculation.

Second, complex causation literature recommends comparison with “the closest possible world” in which the index injuries did not occur. Again, things are more complicated here. Such a comparison may be compromised by the invasion of “evil” Ms. Wolfboy from an unspecified alternate timeline in 2094, and their subsequent merger or time-space “stitching” by the Internecine Necrotech corporation, or by the Hex Tournament of 2099, in which Ms. Wolfboy was coerced into killing over 500 copies of herself drawn from parallel universes.

Prognosis

Ms. Wolfboy made an excellent recovery following severe crush wounds to both hands. On clinical examination, her hands appear normal. However, she continues to experience discomfort during heavy lifting and shearing, and weakness of grip strength.

As I can find no physical basis for these sequelae, I can only suggest that they are psychological in origin. On the balance of probability, they will not resolve.

In this connexion, two items in the GP records are of interest.

05/05/2097

Ms. Wolfboy was trialled on medication in order to access the dreamscape of THEVALE, a deity from the Epsilon Erinyes star system, along with several colleagues. In the course of their on-site activities, Ms. Wolfboy’s colleague and then ex-romantic partner, Ms. Jeanette Taylor, entered the margin of influence of the Infinity Index, the major divinovascular system of the dreamscape, and was caught by Ms. Wolfboy as she flew past at superreal velocity. In response to Ms. Taylor’s request, “Julia, please don’t let go, please don’t let me go,” Ms. Wolfboy is noted as having responded, “I’ll never let you go…. Never.” Ms. Taylor subsequently was torn from Ms. Wolfboy’s grasp and assimilated into the jungle deity’s consciousness. I think it is reasonable that some of Ms. Wolfboy’s anxiety regarding her grip strength may relate to this incident.

01/19/2017

Addendum to otherwise routine follow-up subsequent to a nanite exorcism. Practice Nurse recorded, “Stress ++. Q[ue]ry depr[ession]. More harm than good. Advice on relax.[ation] ex[cercises].”

It is unclear to what the phrase “more harm than good” refers. It may have involved, for instance, a recommendation Ms. Wolfboy consult her GP about starting on antidepressants.

It is also possible that Ms. Wolfboy was simply referring, in rather general terms, to herself.

Treatment

Medical literature attests that uncompleted litigation may prejudice recovery where symptoms possess a rich psychological component. Following your letter of clarification dated 26/11/2100, I understand that, in addition to the ongoing worker’s compensation litigation, the Yellow Prelate and many of the Psychogoblins have filed counter-claims against Ms. Wolfboy and her colleagues, individually and severally, seeking compensation for damages to person, property, and loss of brane karma. There are also complex class actions underway, of both classical and robo-litigant swarm kinds, involving the inhabitants of the index 3D-printed artificial planet, whose concentric civilisations had previously existed in ignorance of one another for many millennia. To these various civil actions we must add ongoing insurance investigations and criminal and cosmological trials. Whilst this milieu is hardly the ideal setting for Ms. Wolfboy’s recovery, I cannot recommend treatment be delayed until all legal issues are resolved. That may take millennia.

I therefore recommend three possible courses of treatment. Ms. Wolfboy and I have agreed that all three options are worth exploring. I have also discussed the most appropriate timescale for treatment, and here Ms Wolfboy was rather emphatic in her preference for a shorter lead-in period, particularly as regards the third option.

First, I recommend immediate referral to psychotherapy. Second, Ms. Wolfboy could revisit acupuncture, this time using adamantium steel needles. I suspect that Ms. Wolfboy’s Class II regenerative tissue may have interfered with her first course of treatment. Finally, Ms. Wolfboy may wish, in her professional capacity, to confront the Epsilon Erinyes jungle deity THEVALE, with whom her colleague remains partly melded.

It seems that Ms. Wolfboy’s attachment to Ms. Taylor was extremely strong at the time of Ms. Taylor’s assimilation. As it is still possible that Ms. Taylor survives intact as a personality substructure of the jungle deity, a personality substructure which may be torn free by a professional with an unusually strong grip, I feel that Ms. Wolfboy may have some unresolved psychological issues in this respect.

In this connexion — and also as regards your recent correspondence dated 13/11/2100, enquiring after up-to-date contact information for Ms. Wolfboy, and that dated 13/12/2100, seeking any information whatsoever as to Ms. Wolfboy’s current whereabouts — I believe that it is likely, on the balance of probabilities, that Ms. Wolfboy has taken matters into her own hands.

I hope that you will find my report satisfactory. If there are any points requiring further clarification, I will be happy to oblige, at my usual rate.

© 2020 Jo Lindsay Walton

About the author

Jo Lindsay Walton is the author of lots of poetry and the fantasy novel Invocation. Some of his other recent short fiction appears in Big Echo and Gross Ideas: Tales of Tomorrow’s Architecture. He co-edits Vector, the critical journal of the British Science Fiction Association, with Polina Levontin. You can find him on Twitter at @jolwalton.