Saturday, September 7, 2013

Malled: A Tale of Revenge by Lee Tidball


Blood.  Lots of it.  Makes me kind of nauseous.

“Why would it make you nauseous?” you ask.  “You’re a trauma surgeon.  You’ve been on call half your professional life.  You’ve see it all; junkies overdosed, gangsters mutilated, accident victims maimed, abused kids, little old ladies all bloody when their wheelchair got rammed by some jerk that hadn’t seen them in the crosswalk.  What’s the big deal?”

I’ve never seen an angel all bloody.

That’s what gets me about this one.  Of course, she’s not really an angel; certainly no halo or wings or harp among her personal effects.  But there’s a glow coming from this 18-year-old, like she’s just descended from heaven or found true love or something.  Even as Frank puts her under, she wasn’t screaming or crying or carrying on, just smiling serenely, said something like “Don’t worry, I’m not dying tonight.”   I step back for just a second; the contrast between all that blood and that glow is just too stark.  Before I vomit, I assume my professional demeanor.

“What’s the story?”

“Gunshot wounds.  We've found two bullets, looks like more.”  Heather, the head trauma nurse, is already at work.  No one’s better at her job than Heather.  She could be making gazillions at Big City General, but hates the commute and the young buck interns that always hit on her there.

I check out the bullet wounds.  Both are remarkable in that they didn’t hit anything vital.  The first is a shot through the right bicep that missed the radial artery by a couple of millimeters.  Didn’t shatter the humerus either.  The other passed through the right deltoid muscle without touching the scapula.  I think maybe she is an angel, or at least has one watching out for her. 

“I found another one!  Aw, shit,” says Selena, the other trauma nurse on duty.  She’ll be as good as Heather in a few years.  She’s going to have to see a lot more blood before she gets there, though.  She still gets too excited.

I swing around the table and check on this wound.  Again, uncanny luck.  The bullet hit her in the left breast, but it must have been hanging ever so slightly down, because the bullet tore through the tissue in such a way that it hit nothing but the fat!  Just a centimeter or so in, and the thing would have taken out at least three major organs, including the heart.   “It’s just a boob shot.  She’s lucky,” I say without thinking.

Even Heather sneers at me for that one.

Thankfully, the bullet was a fairly small caliber compared to what we usually see in here.  Maybe from a cop’s boot revolver or some other such cheap .22 caliber pistol.

I start work on the right bicep wound.  The closure will be delicate—I’ll have to watch out for that artery.  “How’s she doing, Frank?”

Our anesthesiologist isn’t the best, but is certainly capable.  He checks his readings. “Stable…so far.”

I work on the closure.  If it’s tight enough, the torn muscle fibers should grow back together.  Maybe even as good as new one day.

We continue working.  Filtering through the door we hear Episode Number Uncountable of the continuing drama between our no-nonsense Head Nurse and her all-nonsense assistant, Nurse Jones.  Jones is the only true asshole in the whole trauma team at the Rural Town Hospital.  I suppose I should be thankful that there’s only one, but how can I?  Her grating voice is like skunk stench, permeating every corner of our department, making me suddenly want to regurgitate.  As if the bloody angel weren’t enough.

“We should call.  It's protocol.  You can't just not do it,” says the pudgy little pustule.

“Forget it,” announces the head nurse’s voice of reason.  “Look, the Suburbia cops got enough on their hands with that mall thing.  We'll call them later.”  She’s referring to some disaster at the Suburbia Heartland Mall, a place that’s become known for particularly grisly disasters of late.  Some diabolical killer is on the loose, they say, an invisible avenger feeding select young victims to the dogs, literally, and leaving what’s left of them out in various places to terrorize the throngs of shoppers during the Christmas rush.  Tonight, it seems whoever it is went on some sort of rampage, though details are sketchy.  It’s the reason we were all summoned; in case the hospitals in Big City and Suburbia become overwhelmed.   “He asked for the priest, for God’s sake,” continues the head nurse.  “They’re just a couple of kids.”

There must be a companion, I surmise.  Some brother or boyfriend, probably all freaked out and afraid the girl’s going to die, feeling guilty or maybe panicked at the thought of such an overwhelming loss.

“I’ve found another one—right shoulder!” says Selena.  Snaps me back to reality.

“Fractures?” It comes out of my mouth automatically, but I sense I’ve been distracted.  Such loss of focus can be fatal.

“Let you know in a minute,” she replies.

Suddenly, I notice my closure’s filling with blood.  Damn!  “Shit!  Sponges, ice, quick.”  Heather’s there.  We work together, she with the sponges and ice while I probe for the source.  It can’t be the artery.  It simply can’t be the artery.   I won’t be the first doctor to lose an angel on the table.


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Genre –  NeoGothic Horror / Thriller

Rating – R for violence & language

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