It has been a long day, so many people in and out of the E.R. It is crazy how working twelve hours can make you look and feel years older than you are. The traffic through the emergency room has been constant for the last couple of hours, finally started to slow down. Cases ranging from toddler’s with the flu to car crash victims and everything in between.
“Hey Larry, I’m going to check in on Mr. Kane in room six, then I’m taking my lunch I need a nap.” Sarah said walking past the nurse’s station, pulling a file from the patient organizer on the desk. “Anything new? His friend didn’t seem to stay long. Larry, are you listening? Oh, sorry, I didn’t see you on the phone.”
“Mr. Kane, how are you feeling?” absentmindedly going about her business, she walked to the cabinet. Looking over her shoulder toward the bed, her face went flush and her eyes widened in confusion. “Larry, where did Mr. Kane go? He’s not in his room. Was he moved?”
“What are you talking about Sarah; no one has moved anyone from the E.R. in the last thirty minutes.” Larry said more than a little irritated at being bothered. “You just went in there, then his friend came and left after about ten minutes. No one has been in room six since then.”
“Drew Kane is gone! His I.V. and monitor leads are lying on the bed, the pillow and blankets are pushed aside. The window is closed and nothing appears to be missing. His clothes are still on the counter.” Great, no nap for me. Now I’ll spend the rest of my shift searching and trying to explain how I lost a patient! Here’s to another long day. Wait a minute, is that a drug remote? “Hey Larry, when did pain management come in? There’s a self-medicating remote on the side table. Did they take him somewhere?”
“Sarah, how many times do I have to say the same thing? No one has been in room six, if there was pain meds hooked up to the auto system it was done when he was brought in.” Larry finished speaking then went back to his duties at the nurse’s station.
Well, gotta find this guy, he couldn’t have left the hospital on his own. Picking up the phone, Sarah started reading Drew's medical file. Not a lot of information, just the ambulance crew’s observations, initial assessment at the hospital and a note stating additional medical information available upon request at the Veteran’s Hospital on the other side of town. “Hello, security, yes this is Sarah in the E.R. I need some help. No, it’s not another hostile patient. We have a missing patient, I need a couple of officer’s to help search the hospital. Right, description, his name is Drew Kane, he’s about five foot nine short cropped hair cut, he has a pretty significant bandage on the right side of his head. He may be under the influence of pain meds. Thanks, I’ll give additional information when ya’ll get down here.”
“Well now Drew, let us continue. Have you anything to confess?” The voice spoke from every corner of the room all at once. Not threatening, but oppressive. As if every word spoken took up physical space in the room. Again it’s dark, why is it always dark, where am I?
“I don’t know what you’re talking about; I was just in the hospital, where did you take me?” I said, trying not to sound fearful, but not being able to sound genuinely strong either.
“The sooner you quit acting stupid the sooner our business will be complete. All I want is for you to admit your guilt, so we can move on. Don’t you want to move on?” sounding sincerely apologetic, but yet no less condemning, the voice seemed to speak and move without wavering.
There is nothing for me to lock onto. There is no light, no physical form of anything. I don’t feel the floor, a chair, not even the movement of air. Where am I? I just want this to be over, what is he talking about?
“Drew, listen I’m going to leave you for a little while. I want you to take a long look into yourself, try and find your guilt, name it, own it…love it! I’ll be back and I hope to see some improvement.” There in front of me I can see, those eyes, again.
“I don’t know what you want! Please leave me alone!” I said as assertively as I could manage.
“STOP! You whinny puke! I’m tired of listening to you cry! You are trying my patience, I will not play this game forever.” With the sudden outburst, I could feel the hate claw at me with each word. I could feel my flesh split apart with every syllable. What had such a dark power? I looked down dreading what I would find; I was relieved and terrified to see I was not injured. How could this be, I must find a way to escape!
I shook from head to toe, not from fear, but from an instantaneous cold that surrounded me. It engulfed me then passed through me. I felt I would freeze, and then it was gone. I opened my eyes and I could see again. But what I saw instantly filled me with a raw fear I had felt before. I was no longer freezing in pure darkness, surrounded by hate. No, I was in the desert, surrounded by death and hate. How was I here again, the same as it was not so long ago, but yet very different.
I looked out to my left, confused and in disbelief. But I was somehow back in Camp Fallujah…I was back in Iraq!