Gone were the days when a doctor had need to poke and probe. Mona simply stepped, fully clothed as she was, into a cabinet and the surgeon closed the door upon her. Beneath a battery of radiations, predominant amongst which were X-rays, every detail of her physique was reflected on to screens. Meters and gauges automatically showed respiration, heartbeats, and blood pressure.
Finally the surgeon switched off, unlocked the cabinet and Mona stepped out to find him considering his notes.
“I’ve seen a few healthy young women in my time, but few like you,” he commented, smiling. “You check up in every detail, Mona—and with a heart like yours, you ought to live to be a hundred and fifty.”
“You’re not—just cheering me up, doc?” Mona asked, seriously.
“Why on earth should I? I state facts as I find them....” The surgeon put down his notebook and frowned at her. “What are you worrying about, girl? This machine does not lie, and it says you are in perfect health. Your fainting spell was purely the attenuated air of that Observatory; I’m sure of it.”
“Yes—I suppose so.” Mona reflected for a moment, and then she gave her sunny smile. “I’ve never been the worrying type, so I suppose I shouldn’t start now. It’s not the faint that has me worried, doc, but something else. The feeling of awful revulsion I had when I looked at Sirius in that reflector mirror. It was as though I’d looked at something indescribably obscene.”
The surgeon shrugged. “Can’t help you there, Mona. It’s a mental reaction and a psychiatrist’s job: I only deal with the body....”
He broke off, alert and listening. Mona, too, detected at the same moment a distant bass rolling sound. It only took her a second or two to interpret it—the same dreaded note she had heard in many a stricken city—
“Earthquake!” she gasped. “No doubt of it....”
She flung herself to the doorway with the doctor immediately behind her. The instant she reached the corridor the earthquake arrived in all its shattering