“Dr Shiva Mukti, a psychiatrist at St Mungo’s, a small and down-at-heel general hospital situated – rather bizarrely – in the dusty pit left behind when the Middlesex Hospital was demolished in the spring of 2008, had, through various serpentine manipulations, got hold of his senior colleague Dr Zack Busner’s mobile phone number, and this he proceeded to call: ‘Who is it?’ Busner snapped. He was lying naked on his bed in the bedroom of the grotty first-floor flat he had recently rented on Fortess Road in Kentish Town above an insurance broker’s. His phone had been balanced on the apex of his sweat-slicked tumulus of a belly, and when it rang it slid down, slaloming expertly through his cleavage, bounced off his clavicle and hit him full in his froggy mouth. Mukti identified himself and explained why he was calling. Busner responded disjointedly: ‘Yes … oh, yes … Yes, I remember you – no, no I’m not. No – I’m not inter- For heaven’s sake, man, I’m retired, I don’t want to examine your patient no matter how novel her symptoms may be … What’s that? Not the first, you say – something of an emerging pattern …?
“It was too late – the older psychiatrist had allowed himself to be hooked, rocking then rolling off the bed he stood with the phone caught in the corner of his mouth. Then the call pulled him into his clothes, out the door, down the stairs (through the wall he heard things like: ‘Third party in Chesham, John?’ and ‘Better try Aviva …’), out the front door, down the road to the tube, down the escalator, through the grimy piping and up another escalator, until he found himself, landed and gasping below a flaking stucco portico beside a billboard picturing computer-generated luxury flats, 1,800 of them.”
Read the rest of Will Self’s brand new short story, iAnna, commissioned by the Guardian to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11, here.