Thursday, June 13, 2013

Prompt: New life, new home, new job, new surprises

Rachel hadn’t expected the offer from Mercy, and she had to look up Des Moines on a map, but she didn’t hesitate to take the job. She didn’t really want to stay in Boston after Rob got so ugly about their breakup. Seeing him at the hospital every day had been making her miserable for weeks, anyway. So with her newly minted RN license in hand, she didn’t hesitate to give notice at Mass Gen and pack her pathetic belongings in her sister’s Volvo.

Three days later, she drove into Des Moines and found Mercy. From the minute she walked in, she loved the place. The buildings were new and full of light. The people were so friendly, it was a little unnerving. The HR lady walked her up to Cardiology and introduced her to the head nurse. One of the nursing students showed her around, including the staff lounge, where there was a rooming board. She took notes and made a few calls and had a place to stay by dinner.

Within a matter of days, Mercy was home. Rachel knew how the system worked at Mass Gen, and she had expected a similar pecking order here. She was astonished by the friendly attitudes everyone displayed. Everyone. Including the doctors. Seriously. Was it a Midwest thing? Why had it taken her so long to discover this?

That’s why Dr. Nazu was such a mystery. Tall, Indian, handsome, and unrelentingly unfriendly. And the best cardiologist at Mercy—one of the top ranked in the country—so everyone acted like he walked on water. Rachel had never seen him even smile. No question he was good at what he did, but his bedside manner was completely nonexistent. There was just something…off…about him, and it bugged Rachel whenever she saw him.

Which is why it caught her attention to see him stop in front of a terminal cancer patient’s room after midnight, look up and down the hall, and back into the room, closing the room behind him. She was just coming back from a Starbucks run for the night nurses, balancing two hot drinks and a frappacino. She didn’t think Nazu had noticed her in the elevator. She looked around and saw no one else nearby. His manner bothered her enough to set down the drinks on a gurney against the wall and walk quietly to the door, resting her hand against it and debating whether to go in.

She took a deep breath and pushed open the door, just in time to see sparks of yellow light fading from all around the patient’s body. She gasped, and Nazu’s head snapped up. His hands were held out, one hovering over the man’s head and one over his chest. He snatched his hands away and pushed towards her agressively.

“What are you doing in here?” he demanded angrily.

Rachel stiffened. “I was about to ask you the same thing, Doctor. And what the hell was that?” She pointed to the patient.

Nazu didn’t look back. “I don’t know what you mean. The patient is sleeping. I was checking on him…for a family friend. Good night, Nurse…?”

Rachel held open the door. “Good night, Doctor.” She didn’t give him her name. He could easily find out, if he meant to report her. For what? She hadn’t been doing anything. And what had she seen? She looked over at the patient as Dr. Nazu passed by her in the doorway.

“Good night, Rachel,” he surprised her with a deep, quiet voice. Rachel looked up, and he smiled. She stepped back in shock, and he brushed past her, keeping eye contact with unnerving intensity. She watched him all the way down the hall and thought about that smile. And about the sparks she had seen over the man in the bed. What had just happened?


Dogs in house:
Time writing:
40 minutes
June word count:


  1. Prompt: New life, new home, new job, new surprises

    Mary dropped her bag behind her. She resisted the urge to turn back and pick it up, to keep its rainbow exterior from marring the perfect tidy beige of the apartment: this was her home, now. A fresh start.

    She crossed to the window. The city dropped down below, vanishing into perspective before she could make out the street below. Aircars crept by, slowly; they must be far below. The fact that aircars were disallowed between the fiftieth level and the tower tops asserted itself in her mind. Ah, so she knew that. Had she lived here, or was that a typical city ordinance?

    No. Everyone said wondering about the past was a waste of time. She would fill up her new life with new experiences, just as she filled up her new apartment with the colour of her existence. Already, the Centre was fading from her mind. _In a few years, you won't even know you were different_, she had been promised. The human mind is an amazing thing. No memories need be implanted; she would fill in a life on her own, her mind weaving the world around her and expectation into a coherent story, far more complete than any artificially constructed past could be.

    _Victim or criminal?_, she wondered. But it didn't matter. Whoever she had been was gone, and Mary had a new life to build.

    A repeating buzzing came from the kitchen. She walked towards it as her subconscious supplied the information that the pattern signalled an off-planet call. She tapped the screen. "Hello?"

    The screen stayed blank, but static replaced the buzzing. "Maria, gawds, it is you," said either a child or a woman. Coughing. "Don't believe, Maria. Whatever they tell you. You can remember! You can!"

    Mary -- Maria? -- froze. She should hang up. But instead she squinted at her reflection on the screen, willing it to show her her caller.

    "Get a dog, Maria. Promise. A dog?"

    "A dog?" she repeated.

    "Good." The phone panel beeped. Connection over.

    No one had said her past might call her. And ask her to get a pet.

    Time writing: 20 minutes

    Last one from me for a while! I'll join you again after my internet holiday is over.

    1. Love love love it! Great world building- feels old and gritty somehow, but w/aircars. Leading to the memory issues...and "get a dog!" Funny touch, whether intended or not. Might not play out with a humorous tone, but it's in there if you wanted to build on it.

  2. Oo, very interesting! I really liked the smile at the end. Can't tell if he is going to be a positive character or not.