“I Have Placed My Sickness Upon You” by Karin Tidbeck, Strange Horizons
This great story by Karin Tidbeck in the speculative fiction magazine “Strange Horizons” introduces into the lexicon (or my personal lexicon, at least) the concept of a “Sadgoat” – a literal scapegoat for all your troubles.
Dr. Andersson was in the office already. She took a chair in what was supposed to be the cosy corner: two armchairs, a little table with a box of tissues, a vase of flowers. On the wall hung a painting of a moose cresting a hilltop. Dr. Andersson looked like she usually did. Today, her bowl haircut and shapeless green muumuu were complemented by a necklace of wooden zebras. She was holding a leash. At the end of the leash, standing beside her chair, was the goat. It was small, reaching up to my knees, and jet black with floppy ears. It was nibbling on the armrest. I sat down in the opposite chair.
“This is your new treatment,” said Dr. Andersson. “It’s the latest in experimental therapy. I thought we might let you have a try, seeing as you’re a bit hesitant about ECT.”
“I see,” I said.
Dr. Andersson adjusted her glasses. “Do you know the origins of the word ‘scapegoat’?”
“Sure,” I replied. “Old Hebrew stuff. A goat sent out into the desert for everyone’s sins.”
“Exactly.” Dr. Andersson scratched the goat behind the ears. “This is a Sadgoat.”
I looked at the goat. It looked back at me, its horizontal pupils narrowing.
“I’m confused,” I said.