The gurney rolled like a freight train down a dimly lit corridor, shepherded along by a medical emergency team of five individuals dressed in green scrubs, one of whom - a man with a salt pepper beard and gold rimmed glasses - rode on top of the gurney, straddling a limp figure beneath him. He was shouting desperately at his colleagues as he pumped the chest of the young man who lay lifeless on the gurney. The young man's skin was a pasty white. His clothing was dirty and damp. Everyone was damp. One mother of a storm was brewing outside and the team had barely made it indoors before being thoroughly soaked. Stringy, greasy, vomit stained hair covered the young man's face and chest. There was blood spatters everywhere but no-one had determined yet where the blood was coming from. Nor had anyone had a chance to work out who he was. At this point, all they knew was that he was about 25 years old, was found unconscious at some sort of rave party in the north of the City and that drugs were involved.
Yet another dead shit drug addict.
A non-re breathing mask concealed his mouth and nose as a nurse named Selwyn forced air into his lungs. A doctor named Kost opposite Selwyn struggled to secure a newly inserted intravenous cannula in the man's ragged arm – to replace one that had failed in transit. A transparent bag of fluid hung from a pole and as Kost checked a small chamber below it he saw, with great relief, a rapid, steady drip, drip, drip inside it. The infusion was working.
The medical team fairly burst through a set of double doors and into a fully equipped trauma room. Lightning flashed through a window somewhere nearby. Already, additional staff were ready and waiting with emergency equipment set to go. The doctor astride the patient glared decisively at a young woman - a nurse named Ruddiger - who was holding two familiar looking paddles. He instantly leapt from the gurney, nearly losing his glasses, as myriad hands went to work, applying lines to the young man's chest and abdomen. Another intravenous cannula was quickly stabbed into the young man's opposite arm. In the overt brightness of the trauma room the nurse jabbing at the arm noted, curiously, an inscription tattooed there.
Satisfied the line was secure, a second flask of intravenous fluid was hastily commenced, the flow rate thrown wide open. Large pads were slapped down onto the man's chest and for a moment all eyes in the room turned towards a monitor above the victims head. An erratic green line squiggled it's way across the screen accompanied by several other, different colored lines that were equally chaotic.
Lifting his glasses so that they were perched just above his brow the doctor grabbed the defibrillator paddles from Ruddiger beside him and shoved his dog tags, identifying him as Ellis, down the inside of his scrubs. Nodding to Selwyn, still manning the non-re breathing mask, then to Ruddiger beside him he adjusted his grip on the paddles and approached the young man on the gurney. Another crackle of lightning flashed nearby, seemingly closer this time.
Ruddiger turned a dial on the defibrillator and listened to a high pitched whine emanate from within. Her eyes met Ellis and she nodded. Everyone stepped back from the gurney on Ellis' command and he positioned the paddles on the chest of the young victim before him. As he did so an shrill alarm sounded from the monitor. Flatline!
Though he had done this hundreds of times before Ellis felt the same gout of nausea ripple through him every time he shocked a patient. Forcing the sensation from his mind Ellis thumbed the triggers on the pads sending electrical current streaming into the patient before him. The young man bucked sickeningly on the gurney, his muscles spasming and holding their tetany for a moment before he slumped back on the hard surface of the gurney again. Everyone in the room looked back to the monitor again.
Moments ticked by...
The green line remained stubbornly flat.
As if reading Ellis' thoughts, Ruddiger immediately dialed up a higher charge on the defibrillator and nodded to him again. Ellis pressed down on the paddles and pressed the triggers again. The victim bucked wildly on the gurney lifting a full three or four inches into the air...
Electricity crackled through his darkened mind, briefly filling his consciousness with a blinding white light. The light dissipated and, or a moment, there was nothing again. He was gripped by sudden panic. He tried desperately to move his arms and legs but couldn't. Wherever he was he was totally and utterly trapped.
'How could it have come to this?'
Beams of light then stabbed through the darkness, somewhere nearby, yet not close enough for him to grab their attention. Steady beams of a torchlight. Were they searching for him? He tried to scream but he couldn't fill his lungs. No air!! Panic again!!
But it didn't last. The panic melted away suddenly and was replaced by an enveloping peace. The beams of light continued to work their way closer to him. He was floating now...
The green line on the monitor failed to budge. Ellis spat an expletive so loud his saliva stippled the patient. Ruddiger dialed up the defibrillator once more. It was all or nothing now. Ellis slapped the paddles down and discharged them immediately. Kost, beside him shuddered, nauseous.
Blinding white light again. Where was it coming from? He became aware of a taste in his mouth now. What was it? He wondered. No, it wasn't a taste at all. It was a smell. He let it fill his nostrils - he had accepted now that he couldn't breathe in.
Mint perhaps? Yes that's what it was. Mint. Yet there was something else. Something he couldn't quite put his finger on. A plant of some sort. A herb. His grandmother used to use it in her cooking. Goddamn, what was that!? An oven door opens. Roasted meat, lamb. She had sprinkled some sprigs on it. Rosemary sprigs!!
Rosemary and mint...
Why would I remember that?
The oppressive blackness parted now, slowly but surely, replaced by shades of gray. There was movement and shadow, texture and something else...What was it? The texture was incredibly soft. Skin perhaps? Soft skin, a cheek bone, the cheek of a woman. A familiar woman? He couldn't be sure. A single tear trickled down, over the cheek and down. A single tear, perfect...
'This is not over'
Ellis and Selwyn barely leapt back in time as the patient suddenly vomited a thick stream and began thrashing wildly on the gurney.
"WE GOT HIM!"
Selwyn tossed the mask assembly aside and grabbed a suction catheter as the victim was quickly rolled onto his side to prevent him from choking.
Ellis leaned in close stifling his sense of smell against the odor of vomit, alcohol and blood coming from the kid.
"We got you! We got you! You're alright! You're safe!'
The young man coughed and spluttered and wretched over and over while Selwyn sucked out the offensive detritus from his oral cavity. Kost came in with another mask and positioned it near to his mouth and nose. He tried to resist but Ellis held him firmly.
"Just relax. Relax. Let the air wash over you"
Ellis expected the kid to continue thrashing but strangely, a calm came over him and he let his body go limp.
"What's your name son? I need to know your name!"
My name? What's my name? I can't remember?!
Through a phlegm filled throat came a single utterance.
'Andy!? What the...?'
"Andy, my name is Doctor Ellis! You're in the hospital. You were brought here in an ambulance!"
'Ambulance?? What's with the weird accents?'
"Can you hear me Andy?"
Andy attempted to nod against the hand that was holding his head down and succeeded - somewhat. Ellis nodded to the other team members who were holding him. They relaxed their grip and stood back. Satisfied they had him under control Ellis began issuing orders to all present. Bloods, chest film, CT, ECG, IV antibiotics, catheter.
'Catheter!?!? Not again!'
An hospital orderly entered through the double doors holding a small, clear plastic bag. One of the trauma room staff took it from him and casually inspected it. Wallet, keys, cell phone, a couple of what looked like guitar plectrums, a pack of cigarettes. Some foil wrapped objects the size of a nickel. She alerted Ellis who took the bag and rifled through it, plucking the foil objects out. He tossed the bag on a nearby bench and hastily unwrapped one of the foil objects. Inside was a single white pill. He flicked it over with his finger and saw a small, vicious looking skull imprinted in purple on it's surface. He eyeballed Kost beside him and handed it over. They shared a knowing glance at one another.
The kid was coming to more and more now. He remained calm and submitted to their care without protest. He was, potentially, in a lot of trouble and he should know it, Ellis thought. These addicts were cast from the same mold. It was as though he knew he was defeated and no longer cared. His eyes turned upwards towards the ceiling and fixed on a spot there. They appeared glazed but in truth they were fixed hard and fast.
Ellis knew it and it unsettled him...
Copyright © 2009 Dean Mayes