13z: We can’t find Ayn Rand

Lunch again with Mattie and Nick. My mom had sent me a small steamer/rice cooker and we were eating mandu from Super Asia Fast Mart.

Nick has already finished up his paper, apparently. He’s going to send it around to us. I guess I’m second author, which is totally fine by me. It’s likely to be pretty high impact. That said, Nick doesn’t really have huge amounts to report. Apparently, my blood, spit, urine, hair, poop, skin and mucus membranes showed no unusual analytes. The zombies themselves show every evidence of instantaneous conversion to normal humans, reaching normal body temperature in 4 seconds with immediate resumption of EEG and EKG activity. About 80% of them have to go to the ICU after conversion, and about 70% of those survive. So, not bad, not great.

Mattie just got back from New York. Dr. S really liked the idea of revivifying the zombie of Ayn Rand. He made some phone calls to a friend at the revenant unit at Presby, who in turn checked around and learned that after Rand became a zombie, she was warehoused at the St. Genevieve of the Undead Revenant Care Facility. Unfortunately, St. Genevieve’s soon closed after funding was cut under Reagan, and she was then moved to the Bronx Zombie Unit. Mattie made the trip out to the BZU, which was a completely unorganized shambles (“worse than LaGuardia airport”), only to find, after consulting moldy, coffee-stained records dug out of the back of some linen closet, that Rand had been transferred years ago to the Bernard B. Kerik Zombie Complex (aka ‘The Tombs’) in Lower Manhattan.

So Mattie tried The Tombs, again with no luck. It was actually less organized than the BZU. They had records of Rand’s arrival, but she had been stored in a unit that no longer exists (The Tombs underwent some rebuilding a while ago) and no one knew which unit she was in.

Mattie spent two days going over decaying, illegible paper records. Even sitting with us, she seemed a little traumatized by it. “I coughed every time I turned a page. These records, they had a smell…I can’t describe it. I found a mouse skeleton in one of the boxes. And do you realize I was checking floppy disks on an old Macintosh Classic?”

Nick perked up at that: “Oh, wow, it still worked? Was it a Classic or a Classic II? Or was it an SE? How many drives did it have?”

Mattie shook her head. “I don’t know. Didn’t take pictures of it. I’m sorry. But the point is that I couldn’t find anything about Rand. But then I was eating in the cafeteria, and this other cryptothan fellow walked up to my table and asked: ‘Are you looking for the zombie of Ayn Rand?’

“I told her yes. She asked me to meet her at a bar across the street in four hours, after her shift got off.

“So I met her there and bought her a beer. She looks around, really conspiratorial…” Mattie imitated her, looking dramatically from one side to the other, switching hands with her pink flavored water as she did so. “And then she tells me this story: ‘One night, many years ago, Allen Greenspan came to The Tombs, searching. He was Ayn Rand’s most famous acolyte, and he wanted to find her zombie. A group of black-clad Federal Reservists were with him. They extracted Rand’s zombie, placed it in a gold-plated steel box with green dollar signs emblazoned on it, and took it back to Washington.

‘I’ve heard it said that Ayn Rand’s zombie still remains deep within the bowels of the Eccles Building. Ben Bernanke tried to get rid of it in 2008, but there was the subprime mortgage crash and everyone insisted that she stay around for good luck. They say that as long as she remains in the Reserve, the nation will never face an inflationary crisis.’

“So I gave up the search. I think we are just going to have to find another celebrity zombie.”

Nick was nodding thoughtfully. “I’ve heard a version of that story as well. People say that Greenspan was a strong believer in the efficacy of the Invisible Hand of Capitalism.”

Ah, yes, the Invisible Hand. An urban legend of government. Supposedly, the hand of Ayn Rand’s zombie is kept in a silver box on the desk of the Chairman of the Reserve. It’s consulted as a kind of oracle, tapping out answers in response to questions about interest rates.

I laughed. “The Hand of Rand is just a story, Nick. It’s totally ridiculous. Ayn Rand knew less than nothing about monetary policy.”

Nick shrugged. “Maybe so. Anyway, the needs of Dr. S for ego gratification and of the Institute for more money and recognition shouldn’t concern us right now. We have our own problems.”

True. But I really wish that they would figure out how it is that I am able to revivify zombies, replicate it, and let me go back to my life as a resident. I haven’t had the energy to read a journal in weeks, even when I am off. ACGME ensures that they are pretty careful about not making me work more than 80 hours per week – in fact, I work less than that, much of the time – but I am so destroyed at the end of each day that I barely have energy to eat a carton of Thai takeout and go to bed. But the thing about residency is that it pretty much just sucks, no matter what hours you work or how many zombies you cure.

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