Thursday, June 20, 2013

Prompt: Stumbling through the doorway

Rachel found peace in the busy pace of the hospital. She didn’t have time outside of work to do much more than tumble into bed and take the occasional walk in the park that stretched between her apartment building and the hospital. And watch Dr. Nazu. He knew it, too. He was polite and distant, but she often felt the shiver that meant he was watching her too.

So they danced carefully around each other. Was he trying to figure her out? Because she sure as hell didn’t understand him. Or what he was doing. That first cancer patient had gone into full remission after their late night visit confrontation. Since then, she had seen Nazu go into several patient rooms at odd hours, when no one was around to observe him. They were never his patients, and they always went home a day or two later. She never caught him doing anything like with that first one again. She still didn’t know what she had seen that night, and it bugged the hell out of her, chasing its tail around and around in her mind.

She’d worked an extra couple of shifts to cover other nurses who got nailed by the bronchitis epidemic. Fortunately, Rachel never seemed to get sick. But she worked more hours than the hospital allowed and found herself with a long weekend and nothing to do. With the apartment freshly cleaned and all the laundry put away, she wandered outside and through the park, feeling restless. Twitchy.

She stopped to watch the three teens performing aerial acrobatics on their skateboards. They were loud and beautiful, losing their gangliness in their jumps and flips and turns. Until one flipped upside down and lost his skateboard, crashing down into the pavement head-first. Rachel felt that shift she took for granted in the ER, as her whole awareness focused on the boy sprawled at awkward angles, with blood already seeping from under his head. Before his friends reached him, she was sprinting across the concrete pad, shouting, “Don’t touch him! Wait! Don’t move him!” They looked up at her charging toward them, and both jumped on their skateboards and fled. She swore, spitting a few choice words with her choppy breath as she reached him.

Pulling out her phone to call 911, Rachel swore again. Great. No signal. The boy had obviously broken his left arm, and there was an alarming amount of blood from his head wound. He was unconscious, and she was afraid to move him without any support. As she watched, his skin was turning gray. She looked closer. What were those white lines appearing along his arms? She touched his shoulder and flinched at the heat. How could he have spiked such a fever so quickly? She’d never felt anyone with skin so hot to the touch.

Standing and holding her phone up in a futile quest for a signal, Rachel turned and froze at the sight of Dr. Nazu racing toward them. He pushed past her and dropped to the boy’s side. But rather than any accepted emergency medical practice, he flipped the boy onto his back and lifted him into a two-armed carry, the boy’s head dropping down and dripping blood onto the concrete. Rachel stood, dumbfounded by his carelessness. He glared at her. “Throw your water on the ground,” he snapped.

She glanced down at the bottle tucked in her bag. What? She shook her head in confusion.

“Please, Rachel. I don’t have time…he can’t stay here. Please throw your water on the ground.”

Why did she pull out the bottle? Open the top and splash water at his feet? Something in his face, his eyes. She thought he was crazy. She thought he might be killing this boy with his careless treatment. And yet, she remembered the yellow sparks fading into the patient’s dark room.

He stepped onto the water and looked up at the sky. “Engur! Ninazu!” He shouted. Rachel felt another shift and looked down to see the damp patch of concrete spread out, water rising under Nazu’s feet and splashing across hers. She screamed as they dropped down through the sudden pool.

Water splashed around them on the tiles of a brightly lit hallway. Nazu shouted again, in a language that Rachel didn’t understand. It was harsh and guttural, not like the poetic Hindi she often heard Indians use. She was trying to catch her breath and her balance when the hallway shifted again. She blinked and stared. It was a rock cavern.
The boy thrashed in Nazu’s arms, and the white lines flared along his skin. It looked like they broke him open, spilling out like a pumpkin thrown on the ground at Halloween. Huge yellow membranes spread out from his arms. Wings. He lifted into the air and flew stumbling around the cavern.

Nazu shouted up to him. Rachel realized he was still speaking that other language, but now she understood his words. She shoved that thought away, as she heard him calling to the boy. Or whatever that was flying above them. “Come down! We didn’t hurt you! We’re going to heal you. Come down before you bleed all over my hospital!”

The boy, and Rachel still saw the boy under the grey skin and yellow wings, landed, crouching a few feet closer to Rachel than Nazu. “Good,” Nazu. “Rachel, please move very slowly. Step toward him and hold out your hand. When you reach him, put you hand on his shoulder and rub it gently.”

Rachel stared at him, but he nodded to the boy. “He trusts you, that’s why he landed closer to you. He’ll let you approach. Won’t you?” He turned his head slightly to the boy, who remained motionless.

Two steps closer, and Rachel raised her left hand, holding it flat in front of her like she would for a wild animal. The boy watched her with unblinking solid green eyes. She saw the blood running down his head and along his left wing. She reached out slowly and put her hand on his right shoulder. He trembled but did not move. She rubbed his shoulder gently, and he…purred?

“Very good, Rachel,” Nazu said in his calm voice, walking over to kneel on the other side of the boy. “You’re a natural with the vorgrath. Just keep doing that, and he’ll let me heal him now. Then, I think, we’ll have to talk…”


Dogs in house:
Time writing:
~ 1 hour
June word count:

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