By Natalie E Evans
It was upon a midnight clear when the three discovered each other. Awakened from their slumber by the whispers of wind which breathed their way through the fronds of palm trees. The one with the stethoscope round her neck awoke first – or so she thought.
Her last memory had been of playing hangman in Active Learning – but suddenly she had sand beneath her feet and night’s cool embrace upon her skin. In front of her lay another – an individual whose face was hidden from view by the cloak of night. She tentatively took a step closer when she felt someone push from behind. Suddenly her face was in the sand and a foot was planted firmly on her back.
A voice came out of the dark.
‘State your name – whoever you are.’
The one with the stethoscope wriggled out from the foot, heaved herself up and said with a salute,
‘My name is Laura Jacobs and I’m a first year medical student at Monash University. I don’t know why I’m here but I was probably asked by a GP to take your medical history or perform an examination or jab you with a needle. Don’t worry though, everything we discuss will be between yourself and myself and your doctor –’
‘Spare me the spiel.’ said the disembodied voice. ‘I thought you might have been the one who dumped me here but obviously we’re in the same boat.’
‘And who are you?’ said Laura.
The other stepped into the light.
‘I’m a law student.’ Silence, then –
‘Need I say more.’
Laura let him have his moment of significance and then interrupted it with an obsequious flourish of her hand,
‘Perhaps your name my lord?’
Laura noticed the Paul wore something strange.
‘Oh – this?’ Paul touched his head, ‘It’s a wig. I sometimes wear it when I’m at home studying to make me feel more motivated.’
The two students fell into stilted silence as they surveyed what was visible of their landscape in the darkness.
‘What do we do about –it?’ said the Paul eventually.
‘The one still asleep?’ said Laura, turning around.
The third one had disappeared.
‘Where did they go?’ said Laura
‘Well I don’t think it’s in our jurisdiction now to do anything about it.’ said Paul, ‘The – individual – has moved off to where it’s someone else’s problem.’
‘Like whose?’ asked Laura.
Before the two could begin an argument ripe with the fruit of bitter conflict they heard a shout and then a thump.
‘Quick, we’d better help.’ said Laura.
‘No – not our problem any more, remember?’ replied Paul.
‘It’s not in my code of ethics to leave someone to die,’ Laura continued, ‘Beneficence, justice, non-maleficence, those are my divinities.’
Laura tore through the undergrowth, stumbling over ferny tendrils and occasionally splashing through black pools of water. Paul reluctantly followed, slapping at any stray vines that attempted to mess with his wig. In a small clearing lay the third – the moon illuminating her curled up silhouette.
Laura stopped about a metre away – Paul nearly crashing into her.
‘Well? Aren’t you going to fix her? What’s the diagnosis?’
Laura’s fists unconsciously curled up.
‘You think I can treat her? I don’t know anything about anything!’
‘But you do med,’ Paul snapped back, ‘therefore you’re basically already a doctor.’
‘I can recite the contents of the femoral triangle and the popliteal fossa but that’s not going to help us here!’
‘But you have a stethoscope around your neck.’ pointed out Paul.
‘I only used it once in a vital signs assessment but the assessor was so busy trying to get the Wi-Fi to work she didn’t even see I was doing it right!’
‘Help!’ said the one sprawled on the sand.
‘What brought you in to see the G- I mean, what happened?’ said Laura.
‘Well, I was fake sleeping before, and heard you two plotting against me so I ran off. Then I ran into this palm tree here because I couldn’t see.’
‘So you didn’t dump us here either.’ said Paul, stroking his chin in contemplation, ‘How curious. I wonder who did.’
‘Can’t you just help me?’ said the one on the ground.
‘Of course.’ said Laura, bending down. The other slowly sat up, and rested against the offending trunk of the palm tree.
‘I do arts. What about you two?’
‘Law,’ said Paul, ‘she does med, hence the stethoscope.’
Laura started palpating a few anatomical landmarks.
‘I don’t suppose anyone knows how we got here?’ said the arts student.
‘Well then – I might just head to the beach and write a distress message in the sand. I’ll do it in the phonetic alphabet too – put that linguistics to good use.’
‘What’s your name?’ cried Laura, hurrying after the arts student.
‘Name’s are of trifle importance at a time like this,’ called back the arts student. A wind rippled through the trees, ‘what matters are our values, our talents – our creative enterprise which shall save us from this dystopian land.’
‘Have it your way then,’ mumbled Paul as he struggled to keep up.
‘But,’ continued the arts student, her words tossed about in the air as if they were ships upon an ocean, ‘if you wish to refer to me by name, Theodora de la Roule is the one to use.’
Once Laura and Paul caught up with Theodora she had already scrawled a number of messages in the sand. Her handwriting was curiously elegant and loopy.
‘Are you sure any would-be rescuers would be able to read that?’ said Laura, peering at the cursive script.
‘I don’t know, but I love it. I squish all my university commitments into two days so I do lots of random stuff the other five days of the week. Calligraphy is one of my hobbies.’
‘Hobby. Maybe I should get one of those.’ said Laura.
But her thoughts were cruelly tossed aside as a horde of helicopters descended overhead and landed on the churned up sand. Bright yellow lights winked and sparkled as three individuals came striding towards the sorry party of students.
They were the three heads of faculty – each wore a steely glare.
‘You have failed us.’ boomed the first.
‘I am especially disappointed in you,’ the medicine faculty head (that would be me) exclaimed to Laura, ‘I assumed a medical student would be able to foster good interfaculty relations. But no – you stand back and critique handwriting!’
Laura hung her head in shame.
‘And you forgot to palpate the tibial tuberosity!’
‘Hey, wait a second,’ said Paul, pointing to the cowering arts student, ‘I think you are to blame for this after all! You’ve been acting strangely this whole time! I bet your name isn’t even Theodora de la Roule!’
The arts student broke down.
‘They told me I had to participate, and feign ignorance! They threatened to cut arts funding again!’
“This Monash University experiment is deemed a failure.” said the law faculty head.
‘And you’re right about the name,’ said the arts student between sobs, ‘I’m really Jessica Smith.’