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.