The Suspiciously High Temperature

‘Your results have come back,’ said the doctor.

‘And I’m fine, right?’ said the patient. ‘You called me in to say I’m fine? I’m definitely fine.’

‘I’m, well, there’s never an easy way to say this,’ said the doctor. ‘You’re on fire.’

The patient’s eyes lit up with relief and excitement ‘Like, metaphorically? Are you telling me I’m doing really well at life right now?’

‘No. In fact, I’m telling you the opposite in every possible way.’

‘But people are always telling me I have a healthy glow.’

‘That’s the fire.’

‘And I never get cold.’

‘The fire again.’

‘Even strangers like to spend time with me in the winter.’

‘At this point, it’s almost as if you’re accurately diagnosing yourself.’

‘There must be something you can do.’

‘It’s not that simple,’ said the doctor. ‘We’re in uncharted territory here. Medical science has no experience with people on fire.’

‘What about burn victims?’

‘Those are people who used to be on fire.’

‘What’s the difference?’

‘Well, the initial testing suggests that fire is incredibly contagious. Just touching you could be enough to set someone else on fire. In fact, it’s so contagious it can even infect inanimate objects.’

‘Is that why nobody has ever touched me?’

‘No, that’s because of your personality.’

‘Can’t you put it out?’

The doctor shook her head, grimly. ‘We’re doctors, not firemen.’

‘So what now?’

‘We’d like to study you, learn as much as we can about your unique condition. Are you free this weekend?’

‘I think so.’

‘Good. The other doctors and I have decided that the ideal condition to study you under is camping. Particularly at night. While telling ghost stories.’

‘What’s that the nurse has brought in?’

‘Just some complicated medical instruments.’

‘It looks like a bag of marshmallows and some sticks.’

‘Yes, complicated medical instruments can often appear that way to laymen. Now please hold still. The trick is to melt the insides without burning the outside.’

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