Anyway, I wrote a short story that I posted on the site. You can read it below, or you can read it on the No Sleep page. I hope you enjoy. Leave a comment, and let me know what you think.
He Won't Stop Banging
My night shift in the Emergency Room began just like every other night shift. The waiting room was filled with the typical “emergent” runny noses and sore throats interlaced with the occasional true emergency of a chest pain, sports injuries or a patient potentially having a stroke. It always amuses me how the patients that truly are having an emergency are always so pleasant and thankful, while those that abuse the system regularly can be some of the meanest, nastiest and ungrateful people on the planet
As I was attending to a patient that came through the door clutching his chest, exhibiting all the classic symptoms of a heart attack, one of the obese frequent flyers grabbed my lab coat. Her filthy fat fingers tugged on my sleeve, almost spilling her 1 liter bottle of diet Coke as crumbs from her Popeye’s chicken fell from her disgusting mouth and down her purple sweatshirt.
“Doctor, how much longer do I have to wait?”
I replied impatiently, “Like I told you the last four times you were in here last week, I’m not a Doctor, I’m a Nurse, and if you have to ask how long you have to wait then you don’t need to be here. Now if you don’t mind, I am going to take care of this actual emergency.”
I ushered the chest pain patient into the back, before the purple Tele-tubby drinking her diet Coke could respond. I got the gentleman settled into a gurney, got his shirt off and started working on an IV while the ER tech began placing the leads on his chest in order to obtain an EKG.
Now you see, I work in a small rural ER. We have one doctor and one nurse per shift, about four ER technicians and two Emergency Medical Technicians. So you can probably imagine how quickly we can become busy and patients can get backed up. Especially when a true emergency comes through the door.
As the doctor and I were attending to, and treating the gentleman with chest pain, we got a call from our regional call center to dispatch an ambulance for an attempted suicide.
“Great! It’s going to be one of those nights” I thought to myself.
As the EMTs where heading out the door and getting in the rig, the lead EMT called out to me.
“Mike, I’ll call you on the radio as soon as we get on scene and let you know what we’ve got.”
“Ok Tyler. Thanks.” I replied.
We got “chest pain” dude stabilized and transferred over to the cardiac-cath lab. No sooner did we get that done when Tyler called in on the radio.
“EMT-1 to ER, come in over.”
“ER, send your traffic, over.”
“Uh, ER…. we have a 23 year old male with a self inflicted gun shot wound to the head. No current signs of life, over.”
“Roger that EMT-1. We’ll see you back in a few minutes then.”
“Uh Mike,” Tyler said, “It ain’t that simple.
“Whaddya mean?” I asked.
“Well,” he began, “The Sheriff says that the ME is two counties to the north workin a case up there.”
“Yeah, so what’s that have to do with us?” I asked.
“Sheriff says that Doc J. has to pronounce the victim dead since the ME isn’t here.”
“Well, I can’t let Doc leave.” I responded.
“Yeah I know.” said Tyler, “That’s why we’re bringing the body back there.”
“Yep, we’re bringing him back.” Tyler stated, matter-of-factly.
I paused for a few moments thinking about where we would put our new “Patient.”
“Roger that. We’ll put him in the trauma bay.” and we ended the conversation.
It was 10:30pm by the time Tyler and Scott got back with the body. Our trauma bay was only big enough for a single bed. We kept our adult and pediatric crash carts in there as well as our Pyxis medication station. I decided to close the bay doors to keep the looky-loos from getting too curious as Doc J. came into the room.
“Put the five lead on him just so we can say for sure.” he said.
I put the leads on the patient and turned the monitor on. The monitor showed no electrical activity, which was no surprise to anyone.
“Okay,” Doc J. said, “let’s make time of death 2235.”
“2235 it is.” I replied. “Okay Melissa, you can take the leads off now.”
Melissa took the leads off and I pulled the sheet over the patient’s head.
I then began the daunting task of getting a hold of the nursing supervisor so that she could call in the histology technician. Since our hospital was so small, our histo-tech also doubled as the morgue custodian. It took over an hour to get a hold of the tech, and she said that she was out of town, but could be there in an hour and a half.
As the waiting room started to thin, I had to go into the trauma bay to pull meds from the Pyxis. In my line of work, I’ve been around many dead bodies but, the hairs on the back of my neck stood straight up. I tried to rationalize it as just being tired. I grabbed the meds, and left the room. About 15 minutes later, I had to get more medications. I was facing the Pyxis with my back towards the body. Again, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I could have sworn that I heard the sheet that covered the body rustle. I quickly turned around to look at the body. His right arm was hanging over the edge of the gurney.
“Did we put both arms under the sheet or not?” I asked myself. I couldn’t remember. Either way, I was starting to get really creeped out. Every zombie movie that I had seen and every zombie book that I had ever read came flooding back into memory. I put his arm back back on the gurney and under the sheet, and then I high-tailed it out of there. I was sitting at the nurses station about a half hour later when I realized that I forgot to do my pre-shift crash cart check-offs because of how busy we were. “Shit!” I mumbled under my breath. I really DID NOT want to go back in that room. I reluctantly got up, and headed in to do my checks. I was totally psyching myself out. As soon as I entered, I got that feeling again. The hair on my neck was standing straight up and so was the hair on my arms.
“Knock it off” I told myself. I walked over to the crash cart and started performing my checks. I had my back to the body and I could have sworn that I heard that damn sheet rustle again. I quickly turned around, but everything was as I had previously left it.
“See” I said out loud, “You’re just imagining things.” I turned back around to the crash cart and the door to the trauma bay flew open. I literally jumped and may or may not have let out a little squeal. Tyler walked in and said, “Hey boss, the histo-tech is almost here.” he said laughing. “Man, you should have seen your face. Quit being such a pussy.”
“Fuck you!” I said to his back as he walked out laughing. I was almost done, and then I could get the hell out of this room. As I turned my attention back to the task at hand, I felt something brush against my butt and I jumped. I turned around thinking that I had probably just backed into the gurney. I felt all of the blood drain out of my face and was frozen with terror. I heard a low, almost inaudible moan coming from the body and the arm was out from under the sheet again.
“Fuck this!” I said out loud as I bolted through the door. Tyler looked at me and started laughing again.
“What’s the matter boss? You and the “patient” have a nice conversation?”
“Something like that” I mumbled as I rapidly headed to the nurses station.
“What?” Tyler asked chasing after me.
“You’re freakin serious” he exclaimed.
“It was nothing man” I replied, “Just my fucking imagination.”
“Yo, you gotta tell me what happened man” Tyler said excitedly.
“It was nothing” I shot back tersely. “Don’t you have vital signs to take?” I snapped at him.
“What ever man. You’re losing it bro” he shot back as he turned to walk off.
The histo-tech finally arrived around quarter after one in the morning. She walked into the trauma bay to survey the body. I purposefully stayed out. I didn’t want to go back in there if I didn’t have to. A couple of minutes later she came over to the nurses station and said, “I’m going to need help bringing him to the morgue. I can’t move him on the morgue gurney by myself. Also, can you come help me roll him? I have to get the body bag underneath him.”
I sighed heavily and said “Sure. I’ll be right there.”
I walked into the trauma bay and helped the tech put the body bag under the body. I stood on the side of the body and rolled the front side of it towards me. When I rolled him, blood oozed out from the exit wound on his head.
“Take it easy pal.” It came from the body.
I instinctively let go of the body and stepped back. The body rolled back towards the tech.
“Hey, what the?” she exclaimed.
“Did you hear that?” I asked incredulously.
“Hear what?” she asked.
“He told me to take it easy.” I explained.
“Who” she asked.
“Him” I pointed to the body.
“Ha ha” she said, “Real funny.”
“Jesus Christ. I must be losing my mind. Let’s just hurry this up and get it over with.” I said. We finished rolling the body and zipping up the body bag. As we were going out of the door heading towards the morgue, I grabbed a radio and shouted to the crew, “I’ll be right back. I’ve got the radio if you need me.”
As we pushed the gurney down the hallway, I depressed the transmit button on the radio.
“Radio Check.” nothing but static. “That’s unusual” I thought to myself. Our radios are digital so there’s never any static over the network. I shrugged it off, and kept going. As we got closer to the morgue, more and more static was emitting from the radio. I tried to call back to the ER, but there was no response. The tech unlocked and opened the door.
“That’s weird” she said and stopped in her tracks.
“What’s weird?” I asked.
“Well, I purposefully left the lights on when I left because I knew that we were coming right back down. Now they’re off.”
“Well,” I started, “They’re probably on motion sensor. If there’s no movement, they shut off to conserve energy like the rest of the hospital.”
“No,” she replied, “We haven’t received those upgrades yet.”
So, as much as I didn’t want to, I walked into the pitch black morgue, and turned the lights on. I walked into the other two rooms inside the morgue and turned those on too.
“Nobody here.” I said.
We wheeled the body in and the tech went over to the refrigeration unit and pulled out the morgue’s gurney. All of the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck were standing up again. I looked at the tech and said, “Ya know, I’ve been around a lot of death, being in Afghanistan and working in the ER, and it’s never truly bothered me. But…Something about tonight is really freaking me out.”
“You’re probably just tired. You’ve been working a lot of nights lately.”
The radio squawked. I picked it up and pressed the transmit button.
“ER, this is Mike, over.” No response other than static. Lots of static. In fact there was continuos static as if it were a “hot mic”. The tech and I looked at each other. I shrugged and said, “Let’s hurry this up.” We moved the body onto the morgue gurney and from the radio through the static I heard, “Not yet.” It came through as a whisper.
“Did you hear that?” I almost screamed at the tech. All of the color draining out of her face and her shaking hands told me that she had. We both simultaneously went to the gurney, and hurriedly rolled it into the refer and slammed the door shut. We both just stared at each other breathing heavily for about thirty seconds. The whisper from the radio became louder and louder until it became a yell.
“not yet.” “Not Yet.” “NOT YET!” and then the radio went silent.
THUMP. We both jumped. The thump came from the refer. We were both paralyzed with fear. Then the unmistakeable sound of a zipper being zipped, or should I say unzipped came from the refer.
Now I swear to you. I’ve been in several fire fights, and ambushes and I’ve NEVER been frozen in fear. But this, this was different. This was something I hadn’t been trained for or experienced before.
BANG! The tech and I both jumped. The bang came from the INSIDE of the refer door. BANG! There it was again. It was strong this time. You could actually see the door move from the strike. The banging continued, rapidly, not stopping. The tech and I exchanged a quick glance and then we both hauled ass out of there. She went out first, and I followed, slamming the door shut.
“Lock the fucking door” I shouted frantically. Her hands were shaking as she did. We both ran as fast as we could back to the ER. We went to the break room, both out breath. Tyler looked at us and chuckled.
“Why you guys out of breath? Gettin freaky in the morgue?” He looked over at us trying to see if maybe he was right and we must have looked pretty bad because he got real serious, real fast.
“Holy shit, are you guys ok?” he asked. “What happened?”
The tech started to speak, but I cut her off. “Nothing” I said sternly. “We just kind of psyched each other out is all.” and I shot her a quick look as if to say, “Don’t say a fucking word.” She almost imperceptibly shook her head.
I left the break room, went to the nurses station and called the nursing supervisor. When she answered, I said “Listen, I need you to get down here right away.”
“What’s the matter?” she asked groggily, clearly annoyed.
“Just get down here” I said, and hung up the phone.
When she walked into the ER, she looked pissed. She came up to me and was about to read me the riot act and then stopped. She looked at me and said, “Are you ok? You look pale.”
“No” I said, “That’s why I called you down here. I’m very sick and I have to leave.”
“Well,” she began, “You can’t leave until I get someone in here to cover for you.”
“Look,” I snapped at her, “I’m not asking for your fucking permission.”
I grabbed my keys and headed for the parking lot. I must have been doing at least 80mph on the way home. I ran to my front door, put the key in the lock, opened and went through the door. I quickly slammed it shut and made sure that it was locked. I went upstairs, pulled out the 12 gauge and loaded it with slugs. I took it with me and went down into the kitchen, took out my bottle of Jack Daniels, and took a long pull from the bottle. It burned like hell, but soon after, my hands finally stopped shaking.
I went back to the front door just to make sure that it was locked. I went back upstairs, and turned all of the lights and the TV on.
I laid down on the bed with my shotgun across my chest, and then started laughing. Slowly at first, and then hysterically. “What the fuck is wrong with you?” I said out loud. “You know you just imagined that shit.” I guess I dozed off because I woke up with my heart beating out of my chest. It was quiet. Almost too quiet. And then I heard it.
BANG BANG BANG, coming from the front door. I’m scared shitless. I don’t know what to do. I’m too scared to move from my bed.