After a flash fiction hiatus, Chuck Wendig is back with a genre mashup challenge. I used a random number generator to select “Superhero” and “Medical Thriller” from the list.
“Dr. Jameson to the ER. Dr. Jameson to the ER.”
“Really?” Burying my frustration, I redo my ponytail and snatch my cup. No time for cream. The announcement echoed through the halls before the last drips left the Keurig. At least I had a minute to get it started this time.
I take a sip as I hurry down the hall. Blech. Who would willingly drink black coffee every day? My need for caffeine outweighs the desire of my taste buds, however, so choke down a few more swallows before I reach the Emergency department.
“Linda, what have we got?” I ask the nurse leaving the desk, where I abandon my coffee.
“GSW to the abdomen. Ten-year-old girl. Got caught in the crossfire during a domestic dispute. Her mom’s dead.” Almost running, she leads me down the hall towards Trauma Room 2.
The gross coffee churns in my stomach. A kid? This part of the job never gets easier. “Are they prepping her for the OR?”
“They don’t think she’ll make it that far. They need your magic hands.”
I offer a sarcastic laugh. My coworkers think my past “luck” with saving the worst cases is just that – luck. They have no idea how it happens or what it costs me. If they did, they might not call me down to save anyone’s life, even if the patient is a ten-year-old girl. To me, there is no option.
I wash my hands and burst through the door of Trauma Room 2, where another nurse slides a robe, latex gloves, and a mask on me.
“Anna, thank God.” Dr. Weiss stops suturing inside the girl’s belly. “I can’t get ahead of these bleeders.” He ties off and raises his hands, allowing me to take a look.
The nurse applies suction to the girl’s liver and the area surrounding it – whatever weapon had been used in the dispute was not designed to leave survivors. That this girl made it to the hospital is a miracle.
If they hadn’t called me, she would have bled to death here, in Trauma Room 2.
“Okay.” Without taking my eyes off the wound, I hold out my hand.
The nurse places tools in my open palm, and while Dr. Weiss separates tissue that obscures more damage, I get to work.
The first bleeder is deep inside the organ. As the nurse applies more suction, I lean over as much as I can. The other surgeons think I like to work at weird angles – they even joke about it. The truth is this way, they can’t see what I’m doing. Or rather, not doing.
I don’t stitch and I don’t cauterize. I don’t make new incisions. The tools are just for show.
Holding my hands and the tools over the trauma and blocking out all sound, a prickly warmth moves from my core to my fingertips. I can’t see the energy working, but I know it does.
With a bit of a burning smell, which supports my claim that I’m simply skilled at cauterization, the energy binds tissue, closing the bleeders. A slight jolt hits me when one is finished, and I move to the next.
“She’s flat lining! Anna!”
My concentration breaks and my focus moves to Dr. Weiss, then to the monitor.
Oh God. I turn back to the open wound. I’ve already healed two bleeders but there are more.
“Anna! We have to shock her!”
“No! I need to finish!” It will only take a few more seconds, and stopping might let the bleeders do their work.
Dr. Weiss steps back, releasing the superficial tissues and blocking my view. I can heal her anyway, but everyone will then know my secret.
Swallowing, I drop the tools onto the floor and hold my hands over the wound. The shouts around me muffle. Dr. Weiss wants me to move.
Jolt, jolt, jolt. Three more bleeders. The deep ones are finished.
A shock. I fall back and land on my butt. My vision fades for a second, and when it clears Dr. Weiss is there, standing over the girl, paddles in hand.
“Okay, she’s back.” He replaces the paddles and takes the suturing tools back from the nurse.
Grabbing the counter, I struggle to my feet and stumble to the table.
“What the hell were you doing?” Dr. Weiss explores the girl’s liver. The place he’d been suturing is healed.
“What you called me here to do. You didn’t have to shock her. And me.”
“You wouldn’t move. And you weren’t doing anything anyway.”
“Do you see any bleeders?”
After a few more seconds of him poking around and glancing at the monitor, he lowers his hands. “She’s stabalizing.”
“But how? You weren’t . . .” He cocks his head, glaring at me.
My gloves are contaminated, so I examine my work with my eyes. She’s out of danger. “Can you close her up, Dr. Weiss?”
His slow nod evolves into a rapid one. “Yeah. Yes.” Straightening up, he clears his throat, as if remembering why he’s there. “Thank you, Dr. Jameson.”
Weary, I let the nurse peel the gloves and coat off of me. Ripping off the mask, I trudge back to the nurse’s desk. My coffee is waiting for me. I take a sip. It’s still gross, but at least it’s cold now.
I head back to the lounge for a properly made cup, dreading how I’ll feel in the morning. The girl took at least five years from me – maybe enough for people to notice. I’ll have to take a sick day, both to recover and to find a new job.
All of my previous cases were less severe, but collectively, my healings have added up to me donating around twenty years of my life. My coworkers think I’m in my upper forties. Too bad my parents are that age.
I dump the cold brew into the sink and start a fresh cup. As I head to the fridge to get the creamer, an announcement echoes through the halls.
“Dr. Jameson to the ER. Dr. Jameson to the ER.”