Scene At The Hospital
I headed straight for the man who looked like he was giving orders. As I approached him I held up my hospital ID.
“The name’s Corbin St. Laurent, I’m from the hospital. Are you in charge?”
“What do you want?”
“As you get ready to march that group to the hospital, if at all possible separate the ones who have actually been in the trailer.”
“Is that all?” Something in the crowd grabbed his attention. He shouted into the bullhorn. “Somebody stop those kids!”
He took a couple of steps toward where the action was happening.
I decided I’d better make it easy for him to send me away. “Oh, and there’s a guy who got bitten in that crowd if you can identify him, that be just…”
“We’ll do what we can. No promises.” With that, he took off at a jog shouting instructions all the way.
I called after him. “I’m just going to head back and get a biohazard suit, OK?” He couldn’t hear me, but some of the surrounding policemen did.
I was a little worried that someone would stop me, but I suppose my show had worked, because no one said anything as I exited the circle of police. I walked briskly in the direction of the hospital, which also happened to be the direction of the bus stop.
With all of the commotion, no one noticed that I didn’t go to the hospital. No one noticed that I waited at the bus stop. No one noticed that I got on the bus.
I woke up late to find my bedroom uncomfortably warm. Summer was in full swing a little early, and my apartment on the third floor always caught the full brunt of the sunrise.
I stretched and looked at the clock. I was already a half hour late for work.
I took a thirty second shower, scrambled into a clean pair of scrubs, and threw my wallet, phone and jacket into my backpack. I ran out the door and down the stairs. I sprang into the lobby and stopped.
Andy and Tim were already watching TV on the big screen in the lobby. Tim was a dentist that lived on the second floor and had his office down here on the ground floor. He used the big central lobby as his waiting room, and often just sat around talking to folks while waiting for customers to come in. Him, I didn’t mind. It was Andy.
I was never quite sure what Andy did for a living, as anytime I’d ever been home in the daytime, he was staring at that TV. He was by far my least favorite neighbor. He also the dubiously amazing ability to sense who had entered the room without ever glancing away from the screen.
“Hey Core, is that you? Late for work again, aren’t ya buddy? Come check this out, I think these guys are related to you.”
A special news broadcast was showing pictures of four middle eastern men. The headline on the screen read “Botched Terror Attack”. A report was going on about how this cell of terrorists had somehow gotten hold of a viral bomb and had set it off while they were getting it ready to be hidden. They were being cared for in the Oasis Medical Center. A reporter was shown near the hospital, and several soldiers were walking by. “The Army has locked down the hospital, we believe to prevent any further terrorist attacks. It is also known that at least two more members of this terrorist cell are at large. They were attempting to spread this virus by giving fake flu shots from this trailer in the grocery store lot across the street.” The camera panned around to the the trailer I had visited the night before. “If you or anyone you know received an injection here last night, or have any information on the men who gave them, please contact the police.”
Andy turned slightly towards Tim, eyes still on the set. “Didn’t one of those pictures look exactly like Corbin here?” He always spoke just a little too loudly for comfort.
Tim shrugged and looked at me. “I, I don’t think so.”
Andy spun around to look at me. I think it was the first time I had ever seen him look away from the television. “Where are you from again? Iraq, somewhere?”
“I’m from Montana. We had this conversation once.”
“That’s crap Core. Nobody up there has skin like yours. I’ve been, you know. Plus its on TV all the time.”
I wanted desperately to bunch up a fist and punch him in the face. Instead, I closed my eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. “My mom was from Spain. My dad’s from Montana, where I grew up. He’s almost as big a redneck prick as you.” I hate it when stuff slips out like that.
“What did you just… ” Andy stood, with color rising in his cheeks. I had touched a nerve. He was a pretty big man. I had never really noticed that before, because in the year and a half I had lived in the Millers Crossing Apartments I had only seen him sitting, and in that same couch, too.
I figured I’d better not push my luck, so I just headed for the door.
Between obscenities, I heard him shout, “Don’t you leave like that, Mr. Corbin, uh, whatever-your-name-is!”
As I reached for the door, he hurled one last comment. “You turn around. Never turn your back on the offensive line. Offense will score a touchdown every time!”
I must admit, I really wanted to stay and figure out just what exactly that was supposed to mean. Instead, I left content with the knowledge that I had finally gotten to him.
* * *
The bus was detoured away from the hospital, and dropped me off a block behind the grocery store. That meant I was another five minutes late.
The scene on the street between the hospital and grocery store was alive with activity. The military had flown in overnight and set up a perimeter around the hospital. The trailer where I had been kicked had been covered with a tent. The police had barricaded the grocery store. Reporters, camera crews and onlookers were swarming everywhere, trying to get a handle on the situation.
I was overwhelmed by the sea of activity before me. What was in those syringes that could have possibly generated this kind of response? I flagged down a guard on the perimeter around the hospital.
I showed him my hospital ID. “I work in the emergency room. Is there any way for me to get in there?”
“No, sir. No one goes in or out.”
“Are you sure?”
He just scowled at me until I backed into the crowd.
On some level, that interaction relieved me. At least I won’t be fired for showing up late if I couldn’t get in anyway. I dug around my backpack for my phone and dialed the nurses desk.
Bridgette was still there. She informed me that the hospital was locked down by the police about an hour after I had called. The military had arrived shortly thereafter and army doctors basically took over the third floor. Everybody that had been infected with the pathogen had been moved there, and hospital staff was no longer being admitted. The doctors who had been treating the victims had told her they were pretty sure it was some type of virus. Before she hung up, she let me know that she thought the whole thing was getting blown way out of proportion, and that she didn’t know what all the stink was about.
I felt a little better due to her flippant attitude and began to wonder if the whole show wasn’t just a major overreaction. As I mulled the situation over my stomach reminded me that I hadn’t eaten yet. I figured there would be no point in arguing with it, so I might as well get some breakfast.
As I turned to leave, I collided with someone. A very cute someone. Some one that looked vaguely familiar. Someone who had just been knocked on her butt.
I extended a hand. “I’m so sorry. Are you OK?”
“Fine.” She smiled. Her brunette ponytail bounced just a little as she got to her feet. “I was just going to tell you how funny it is that we should run into each other here. I guess this just makes the joke all the funnier.”
I couldn’t help but smile back. “I’m still sorry, but, how do we know each other?”
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Oasis is copyright 2006 Bryce A Beattie. Ads In association with Amazon.