ii | John Doe
Time passed before my eyes. People buzzed in and out of the trauma bay flashing by in blurrs of slowed time. The mans words rang in my head, over and over again until it was the only thing I could think of. The eerie combination of the threat that left the man’s lips and John Doe’s piercing green eyes in his unconscious state, left me with more questions than answers and an uneasy feeling in my stomach that this night was far from over.
It wasn’t too long after the seemingly empty threat that the ER staff had managed to stabilize “John Doe”. They pounded units upons units of blood into him. At least ten empty bags of saline hung on the IV pole next to the pressure cuff they used to quickly dump fluids into his slowly withering body. The staff stuck needles into every vein they could find. Every extremity had some form of equipment attached to it. Blood had spilled onto the floor from his chest, leaving small pools of blood disterbed by the foot prints of staff who cared more about the man’s life than their precious nike shoes. Wrappers littered the floor. The garbage bin overflowing with contents. The yellow trauma gowns spilled out of the linen bin. Bright blue gloves scattered every other inch of the ground under the boxes that hung on the wall. It was like a war zone had gone off in the small room. And by our standards, it had.
His recent vitals still blinked on the monitor letting us know he was still well below the standards, but stable enough by trauma protocol to take him to surgery. It didn’t matter how much effort we kept giving; how much blood, how many fluids, how much pressure we exerted onto his wounds. It would never be enough to completely save his life. If we wanted him to live, we needed to pass the torch to the surgical team. All we had to do was keep him stable until they got here.
He lay motionless under my touch. His body had become more covered in blood than it had when he first came in. My heart throbbed knowing which of the two outcomes his soul was closest to, and it wasn’t living.
Every nurse has seen it. It doesn’t matter what floor you work on, what hospital you work in or how many years of experience you have under your belt. You can always sense when a soul is barely hanging on. You can sense when a soul has left the body. No matter how hard you try; no matter how much effort you put into saving someone. Once their soul is gone, it won’t come back.
You can start their heart again. You can beat yourself up over and over each time you code them because all you want to do is save them. But eventually you come to realize that just because their heart beats does not mean their soul lives. Their skin no longer holds the warmth you’re used to. The feeling you get when you touch them, a gentle hand on their arm, leaves you feeling empty and shallow. You can feel that their presence is no longer with you. Their eyes no longer gleam at you with a little sparkle. Their lips become dry and cracked. Their body eats away at itself, leaving pockets of bone held together by flesh. The air around you becomes cool and stagnant, like death doesn’t just wash away the soul in the person itself but the atmosphere around them as well.
That’s how he felt. Uninviting and dark. Cool and stagnant. Like Death himself was peering over the man’s shoulder in his black cloak and scyth patiently waiting for the right time to take him. If he didn’t get into surgery soon, his bright green eyes would never open to see the light of day again.
The surgical team had finally come, running into the simmering commotion of the bay. They didn’t care what we had done. They didn’t care what his last set of vitals were. They only cared about him, and just how dire he actually was.
They quickly slammed the rails of the cart up into place, clamped the fluids running full bore into his vein and pushed the cart into full speed, maneuvering effortlessly out of the doors.
My arms crossed over my chest as I stood in the now empty room. It was like the stale air had lifted the minute he passed through the doors. Now all that surrounded me was the growing smell of wet iron wafting off the pools of the vibrant scarlet painted floors and the dead silence of the once vibracious room.
For some reason the butterflies fluttering in my stomach never stopped, not even as I stood in the middle of the room, alone. I shouldn’t even call them butterflies. My stomach churned in a way it never had before, twisting itself into knots that I couldn’t untangle even if I tried. It wasn’t like when you’re getting ready for a first date. No, more anxiety than that; more fear. Like a little voice inside of my head was telling me to run away as fast as I could, but my feet were glued in place unable to move in the quicksand that was currently sucking me in. It was a mix of feelings that I was having a hard time processing.
My feet were finally able to move, but my brain never stopped turning. Slowly I removed myself from the trauma room. My feet were leading me without a second thought. I was out of my own control, physically present but mentally a million miles away.
I sauntered in through the doors towards the waiting area in search of the two men that had brought the man in forgetting that my white fitted scrub top was now completely drenched in blood. I knew the situation was already dire as it was, but the vision of my blood soaked body made the situation look worse. I looked like I had just come from a slaughterhouse after a long days work. Unfortunately I was already staring the men in the face across the room. It was too late to turn back now.
I held my head high, pulling my shoulders back towards my spine and moved my feet towards the two men. They stood, adjusting their shirts in the process. Their faces contorted at my appearance as they prepared for the information I was about to share with them. They had a look of concern, desperation, fear, and... rage, I think. All of them continuously spinning in their eyes like a cardex full of information. I don’t even think they knew how to process their own thoughts, their own emotions.
My hands began to tremble with nerves and partly due to the adrenaline crash. I hadn’t realized until that moment that I was nervous to speak. Any words that wanted to escape my throat, lodge themselves in place forcing me to continue to swallow in an attempt to push them back down. The feeling in my gut twisted once more causing a sharp pain to register. It was trying to tell me something wasn’t right. Telling me to run. I felt like I was going to vomit before I could even get a word out to them.
Generally I was a relatively well mannered speaker towards grieving and emotionally triggered family members in a variety of given situations. I had an extraordinary ability of shutting off my emotions when I needed to and flipping them back on when I needed to show more of a human side. I could always sense how to handle each and every family member, analyzing them before I catered my words. But now... now I had no idea what the hell to do. Either way my intuition told me there was no right or wrong way to speak to them. That the outcome of whatever words crossed my tongue was going to be the same.
The emotions that came across the men in waves continued to make my stomach churn, flipping over itself. Flashbacks started to pour into my mind. I’ve seen these types of emotions before, from him. Those types of emotions usually resulted in punishments, bruises, and blood. These men looked no different than him. They had the same build, bulky, full of muscles. They looked like they weren’t afraid of acting on whatever emotion they were feeling regardless if it was a man or woman standing in front of them. And I’m sure if I said one wrong thing they would easily snap.
I needed to proceed with caution. I needed to think about what to tell them and how to tell them to try to make the best outcome for myself. I swallowed hard, attempting to stand tall and stand my ground. There was still a job that needed to be done, regardless of the emotions coursing through my veins.
Everything seemed to slow down, seconds passing like they were actually lifetime giving me a chance to breathe through my anxiety and assess each of the two men.
The blonde haired man had a split lip and bruising to his face just under his eye on his cheekbone, nothing some ice wouldn’t heal. His hair was shorter on the sides than on top and somehow still neatly parted to the side. If it weren’t for the blood splattered across his shirt and the wounds on his face I would have never guessed he was in any kind of an altercation. His pale grey eyes had a look of sadness and concern but as I neared the two men that look quickly changed into a harsh and murderous one.
The brunette next to him seemed quieter, meek and more submissive than the other. He had already taken off his suit jacket and the sleeves of his shirt were rolled up showing off his muscular forearms that were covered in tattoos of all colors. Swirls of colors, patterns and various words in a language I couldn’t read took my mind off the present situation for a millisecond.
His black tie around his neck was now loosened, and the first button of his shirt undone showing off a little of his chest. His facial hair was thick against his skin, yet neatly groom and short. It made him look older than he actually was. He couldn’t have been more than 20. His dark, almost black hair, was similar to the blondes. It was slicked back near the top and faded neatly down to shorter hair and eventually transitioned to his neck. His eyes were a dark brown, almost black, blending in seamlessly with his pupil. His eyes were flat, emotionless; causing them to have an unnatural, ominous feeling.
Both men were strikingly handsome. They both held similar features. They both held sharp jaw lines and similar bone structure. But the closer I neared to them, the less my brain could focus on their features and the more I realized just how heavy the tension in the air had become. My heart rate began spiraling out of control. I felt like I was going to puke. I felt like running, if only my knees would stop buckling. Eventually after a few seconds of a panicked stare down, the blonde was the first to speak up.
“Tell me he’s alive. He better be fucking alive,” the blond haired one half yelled at me with such forced I instinctively took a step back.
“Please, sit. It seems you two have had a rather long night.” I could practically cut the tension with a knife. Before I had a chance to say anything further he took a giant step forward taking my shoulders into his grip.
“If I wanted to sit down, I would have already. NOW TELL ME HE’S FUCKING ALIVE.” If he didn’t look completely sinister and insane before, he did now. With each word he shook my tiny frame forward towards him.
“He’s alive, in critical condition, but he’s alive. He’s been taken to surgery. Two of the bullet wounds were minor flesh wounds to say the least. The third one, the one closest to his heart requires surgery to stop the bleeding and get the bullet out. Now please just try... try to remain calm. I know this is a lot to handle. Just...tell me what happened.” As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I knew I was going to live to regret it. With his hands still gripped tightly on my shoulders the blonde man took away any personal space that was left between us, his hot breath hitting my face as he towered above my short stature, his nose practically touching mine. I could feel the color in my face drain away as if he had already taken my life from me.
“You’re telling me that he is in critical condition and you’re out here why?”
“I-I only do the trauma part of it, the in-initial part of it sir” I stuttered. “The surgical team takes over from here,” I half whispered squinting my eyes shut trying to keep the tears welling under my eyelids at bay. Remaining calm was a torturous endeavour for me. I didn’t want to show them how weak I really was. Even when my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest and my extremities were now shaking like a leaf ready to fall during a windy fall day.
As the words rolled off my tongue his hands dropped off my shoulders. Still tense I briefly opened my eyes to see his beautiful grey eyes go black and cold, colder than they were previously. I didn’t think it was possible. But the look I saw, the man was out for blood and I was just another sorry excuse for a human standing in his way. He grabbed something from behind his back. Before I knew what had happened I felt the cold metal of his gun aimed directly at my heart.
“I could give two fucking shits less what you do and who took over. You are to stay with him and ensure that he stays alive. IF HE FUCKING DIES YOU DIE BITCH. DO YOU. FUCKING UNDERSTAND. ME? OR IS THAT TOO HARD FOR YOUR UNBEARABLY SMALL MIND TO FUCKING COMPREHEND?”
“Y-yes, sir...” scared out of my mind I stutter to respond. I pushed any bile that rose in my throat down.
His voice dropped back down to a normal tone. A wicked, sinister smile crept over his lips.
“Good girl. Now, be a doll and show my brother and I here to the OR. Go the back way. We don’t need your little friend over in the nurses station getting all heroic and calling the cops, do we?”
“Good, turn around and lead the way.”
A/N. Sorry again for the short chapters. Keep reading. I promise they get longer.