WAS THIS HOW it ended? fluorescence. Glowing tumours. That’s all I saw – barely conscious – knocking on deaths door and running away, pushed by medics along sodden corridors of bleach and antibiotics, a smell of familiarity unique to hospitals, sickness and death.
Only the pensive faces of white coats and green blotted my visual landscape of neon tubes on gritty ceilings. As the trolley wheels vibrated beneath my body, I felt, like your weekly shop, pushed and helpless, my carriage no more sophisticated, though I doubt the paramedics would be turning it wild in the nearest urban water source.
Fading, the scene was reaching its denouement, external dialogue flatlining, decarbonated, unedited or dramatised unlike episodes of ER or Casualty.
I was heading to the East Wing, my eyes still opening from time to time, signs accompanied by sharp turns, bumps, and pauses.
I trusted them. Those fleeting faces above me. Women and men; strangers in the night, latex gloved hero’s trying to save me, not knowing my past misdeeds, not caring, my heart one of many they would ensure beat strong once again; the vital organ, a romanced chunk of muscle, but the mind…was behind every death. And so I rolled into Ward 34, the CICU, the Creative Intensive Care Unit.
I was transferred to a soft bed, blue curtain drawn around me signifying the end of the act. I could see a balding doc calmly addressing a nurse; her: blinking, nodding – absorbing.
Out of sight she went, then reappeared, a drip in hand, hooking the plastic bag on the stand, then taking my arm, she rolled the cotton sleeve of my Oxford up, dabbing a cool liquid on my inner forearm before ghosting a cannula in, drip then attached.
Within twenty blinks, the black liquid snaked down the tube, seeking nothing, merely obeying gravity to bleed into me.
My attention drifted to the polystyrene ceiling tiles, each unique and a trace of brown staining, as if souls of the dead had escaped through them rapidly, singeing on the ascent. The writing wasn’t on the wall, it was on the ceiling.
The bag was still near full, black as fresh font. Who would think life came in such a thing?
I awoke to daylight chatter, immediately smelling food prepared in industrial vats originating from the underbelly of the hospital. The drip was half full. Recollections flirted with me offering tantalising glimpses of before times; white paper, blank screens and empty pens.
The curtain rail screeched. “He’s awake. Good morning Mr. Patterson!” A bald doctor grabbed the clipboard dangling at the end of the bed, scanning briefly. I sat up, my neck sore, finger tips calloused and tender. “I’m doctor Noli. How do you feel?” he said, stepping bedside. Lacking energy I conveyed I was ok through facial expression. “You have been asleep for two nights. It took four drips to keep your imagination going.” His face turned grave, tone sombre. “You nearly ran out of ink Mr. Patterson.”
I had to speak. Struggling, I moved my tongue, the insides of my mouth so dry but eventually I managed to rasp a response. “No…I nearly ran, out of her…”