The East Wing – SHORT STORY

      hospital wards

      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…”

 

lion around 2

46 Comments

  1. Fascinating story! I loved where you went with this – what a cool concept. Your imagery here is spectacular, well done!

  2. I’ve heard of spilling blood for ink, but not the reverse, I really like that. Also liked the “The writing wasn’t on the wall, it was on the ceiling.” line. Nice work.

  3. Love this, Fionn! You have quite an imagination! You’ll never have to check into the CICU. I like the end too- love as inspiration.

  4. Great. Polystyrene ceiling tiles going brown – forgotten all about them. I think the last comment is referring to Don’t Let Me Go and if you’d told me that Ishiguro wrote this I’d have believed you, hope you don’t mind the comparison.

  5. Creepy. It could have gone anywhere, like futuristic or even not so scenarios of god knows what they can and could do to us – what is available. It worked well for me, I just took the black stuff like a willing puppy and a treat, and thought no more about it. So the end with its ink, imagination, really creepy stuff. Worked a treat! I saw a film once about people bred for organ harvesting, that was their life to be gradually harvested till there was not much left. But they knew nothing else. Was a happy farm lol.

  6. Where do I even begin with this story? You never fail to impress with your creativity and your knack to put a twist on something ordinary.

    I love the idea of ink being the blood, and the Creative ICU. Also, Mr. Patterson, eh? I wonder where that name came from 😉

    1. Thanks Jade, I really appreciate your feedback.
      It’s funny the name wasn’t meant to be anyone, it’s a Scottish name I thought of off the cuff. But maybe it could be analogous to a certain author 😉

  7. Quite an interesting one Lion. Kind of left me thinking…. Do you get creativity infused/transfused into you like that? Each word and that imagery gave rise to that! 😌😊

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