02 Jun

The Orderly Take Three

Another in a series of experiments in tone and scenario-establishing. Based on a premise thought up by my little bro.

I’ve been working here for two years, and in that time, I’ve stolen a couple hundred bags of blood. Until yesterday, no one’s come close to catching me.

I wasn’t even supposed to be in the cooler, much less examining a bag of O+. Shelley jolted me from my salivating when she shouted, “What are you doing in here?” She stood with a hand on her hip and her eyebrows raised.

I had an urge to say, “It’s not my fault,” like I used to do whenever Mom caught me cutting the back of my hand. Instead, I said something even more idiotic: “It’s my birthday!”

Shelley didn’t move. “Congratulations. And what does that have to do with your holding a bag of blood?”

I could have blamed a lazy nurse, but I didn’t want to get anyone in trouble, so I opted for the truth. “I’m a vampire, and I wanted to treat myself to a bag of AB positive.” Most of the stuff in our blood bank was O positive or A positive, and I was getting kind of sick of them. It being my birthday and all, I decided to treat myself to something finer.

“Funny.” Shelley held out her hand, and I gave up my treasure. “Which one of our hard-working staff members put you up to this?”

I hate pawning off my lies on others, but sometimes it’s necessary. You learn to blame the people who are a little scatter-brained, the ones who don’t always know for sure what they did an hour ago. In a sense, that’s what my life is all about — figuring out who to prey upon while causing the least harm.

And now that I’d just lost my blood for the night, someone else was going to have to pay the price.

01 Jun

The Orderly Take Two

An experiment in tone and scenario-establishing. This is the second attempt. The credit for the premise goes to my bro.

I smell death.

Each new patient who gets moved up here brings with them a steady stream of visitors. The visitors bring flowers and balloons and get-well cards. They bring their we’re-gonna-beat-this attitude. And after an hour or two, they leave to go back to their normal lives, where they don’t have to think about blood transfusions or cancerous growths or compromised immune systems. They don’t have to ponder how it is that our bodies turn against us, how we decay from the inside out.

But I’m different. I ponder it every day. I go into those rooms every day. I bring them towels and bed sheets. I change their dressings, fill their cups with water, feed them. I turn them over when they’re too weak to move themselves. And when I’m that close, I can smell death upon them. That’s when the craving hits me strongest.

It’s a complicated urge. The Romans, during their various victory celebrations, used to whisper to each other, “Memento mori” — “Remember you will die.” It made the party better. But of course, no one wanted to die during the party.

When I smell death upon those poor souls, I love them and pity them. I envy their fragility. But I also want to sink my teeth into their necks and break them.

31 May

The Orderly Take One

An experiment in tone and scenario-establishing. A few more of these will be coming. The credit for the premise goes to my bro.

I don’t know much about the patients. My contact with them isn’t all that intimate. There’s Mr. Gillespie in 321; I know he got crushed under a pick-up truck. And the old lady in 340 has lung cancer. Jackie, the pretty girl in 329, has AIDS. But most of them, I have no idea what they’re suffering from. I just change their bed sheets, clean their bathrooms, give them fresh towels. Once I get some more seniority, I’ll be asked to do other stuff — stuff like grooming, changing dressings, feeding. Then I’m sure I’ll get to know more names.

Until then, I only know the ones whose death is so inevitable I can smell it. I mean that quite literally. Ever heard those stories of cats in old folks homes who consistently choose to lie next to patients who then die two days later? Whatever those cats have, I have too.

In fact, I want to do exactly what they do — go in and lie next to the poor souls, curl up against their frail bodies, and purr. I want to lull them into dreams of better times, transport them to a cherished memory — a seaside vacation, a backyard barbecue, or a cozy winter evening by a fireplace.

I also want to bite them in the neck. I guess the cats don’t do that.