I Stared At The Ceiling
rating: +20+x

This was all that I had left. The last, twisted scraps of a purpose.

I stared at the ceiling. I hadn’t slept well, over the past few weeks- as of late, things had become harried and stressful at the clinic. Almost too harried- and certainly too stressful, if this kept up. But life moved on- the Foundation moved on faster- and the needs of the Foundation proceeded at an impossibly brisk pace. The ceiling would provide no further insight, I felt- so I instead stared at my coat, and did not break line of sight until I was nearly upon it.

It bore several significant discolorations. They had accumulated over a period of several months- patients with a bit too much blood, phlegm, or simply an overabundance of liquid in their systems often found it a convenient destination for an ill-timed discharge. These marks remained after several uses of my personal laundry quota, and one of a very dear friend’s- either the stains themselves were anomalous, or the Foundation used very cheap detergent. Either was possible.

As I slipped it over my shoulders once more, a familiar feeling filled me- one of dread, but also faint possibility. Very faint. Impossibly faint, in fact, after weeks of highly repulsive “possibilities”.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-66545

Summary: Gunshot wound- lower left thigh.

Treatment: Bullet removed, wound sutured. Bandage applied. Patient given a two-week supply of aspirin.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-55496

Summary: Laceration- right side of torso.

Treatment: Wound sutured. Bandage applied. Patient given a two-week supply of aspirin.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-35988

Summary: Left leg severed approximately 5 cm. below the knee.

Treatment: Wound bandaged. Patient taken into long-term care- duration, three days.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-98755

Summary: Severe burns- right arm.

Treatment: Wound cleaned- bandaged. Request submitted for skin grafts- patient given four-week supply of aspirin.


This was all that I had left. The last, twisted scraps of a purpose.

I stared at the ceiling- and then to my clock. The time was approximately half an hour after the time sheer deprivation had overcome me the night before- and approximately three hours until I had earned myself the reward of a fresh slate of patients to gawk and weep at.

My coat- heavy and firm- still sat upon my shoulders. Why remove it?

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-10595

Summary: Patch of skin roughly 12 cm wide and 5 cm tall on lower torso scraped away. Self-inflicted- patient stated that they were “getting the flies out”.

Treatment: Wound bandaged. Patient referred to mental ward- duration, two days.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-56504

Summary: Painful rash on several toes- left foot.

Treatment: Patient given one-week supply of aspirin.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-60495

Summary: Middle/ring finger on left hand severed.

Treatment: Wounds bandaged. Patient given two-week supply of aspirin.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-65954

Summary: Flesh entirely stripped from lower left arm below the elbow- nothing but bone visible. Patient retained control over the movement of said bone, but reported extreme pain. Stump, although not closed off, demonstrated no bleeding.

Treatment: Patient given one-week supply of aspirin.

The worst dreams came after the self-inflicted wounds. They triggered something- some long-forgotten spark of empathy, entombed deep within my subconscious. It turned this sympathy into weakness- and then plunged the knife ever-so-slightly deeper than the night before.

I stared at the ceiling, wondering which would haunt me today- the things I saw, or the things I thought.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-56504

Summary: Necrosis on several toes- left foot.

Treatment: Affected regions amputated. Patient given two-week supply of aspirin.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-77565

Summary: Vocal cords severed. 6cm by 6cm cubical hole in neck.

Treatment: Patient expired before treatment could be administered.

He shook as I held him.

I tried, desperately, to listen to his last words.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-106456

Summary: Influenza.

Treatment: No treatment given.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-66546

Summary: Characters “ADYGEA IST TOT” carved into chest. Area around wounds burned.

Treatment: Wound bandaged. Patient taken into long-term care- duration, two days.


The final few steps before I arrived in bed were unsteady. There was a tingling in my foot- a certain stiffness that I did not recognize. I had probably strained myself with one of the heavier corpses.

Jonah was gone. Either they’d discovered that he’d unofficially stored some “reserves” of painkillers (for personal use, of course) when the department moved to weaker stuff, or they’d figured out why nobody sent him female patients anymore.

He was one of the more efficient doctors. For a split second, I feared what my new workload would be- before the relief at fearing such a mundane thing faded, and the memories returned.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-99540

Summary: Influenza.

Treatment: No treatment given.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-96485

Summary: Influenza.

Treatment: No treatment given.

I was, perhaps, the sole figure remaining in their lives that they could- truly- trust. I didn’t lie to them, lead them to death, or worse- my motives were pure, and my actions- almost universally- beneficial.

And I looked them directly in the eyes- and told them that there was nothing I could do.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-109645

Summary: Painful rash on several fingers- right hand.

Treatment: Patient given one-week supply of aspirin.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-105934

Summary: Characters “ICH WARTE” carved into chest. Area around characters burned.

Treatment: Wound bandaged. Long-term care full- patient given two-week supply of aspirin.

My foot felt sensitive. It didn’t hurt on its own- but any bumps or taps produced a jolt of pain.

It had been my birthday, yesterday. It had been my birthday- and I had forgotten.

I stared at the ceiling, and took several deep breaths. They needed me. In a sense- I needed them. But they needed me a lot more than I needed them.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-106456

Summary: Influenza-induced pneumonia.

Treatment: Patient given two-day supply of antivirals.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-109645

Summary: Necrosis on several fingers- right hand.

Treatment: Affected regions amputated. Patient given two-week supply of aspirin.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-69584

Summary: Triangular chunk of flesh removed from right thigh.

Treatment: Wound bandaged. Patient taken into long-term care- duration, 24 hours.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-98595

Summary: Lower left foot partially turned to glass.

Treatment: Affected area amputated.

It hurt, now- it really, truly hurt. But I wasn’t going to look. There had to be a few bottles of Jonah’s stashed somewhere.

I stared at the ceiling- and wished that it would swallow me whole. I wished that the walls of squalid, cramped room that had been my home for so many unbearable months would close in on me, and compress my flesh into an infinitesimal cube. I wished that the floor would swing wide open, and for me to fall into an endless abyss from which I would never escape.

I wished that I could go home.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-56504

Summary: Necrosis on lower left leg.

Treatment: Affected areas amputated. Patient given one-week supply of aspirin.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-66544

Summary: Several gunshot wounds- lower left torso.

Treatment: Patient expired before treatment could be administered.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-66365

Summary: Skin removed from

My hands trembled.

Summary: Skin removed from lower left leg and foot. Extreme pain reported.

Treatment: Affected area bandaged. Skin grafts requested. Patient given four-week supply of aspirin.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-09555

Summary: Myocardial infarction.

Treatment: Patient expired before treatment could be administered.

Tonight, I could not sleep for a different reason. My foot screamed and howled in pain- my opiated haze doing little to reduce the effect. What little I could still feel felt wet- too wet.

Work had to go on. They needed me.

I stared at the ceiling.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-109645

Summary: Necrosis on lower right arm.

Treatment: Affected area amputated. Patient given one-week supply of aspirin.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-66432

Summary: Left lung cleanly removed. 39.6cm by 12cm hole in left torso.

Treatment: Patient expired before treatment could be administered.

Doctor: M. Blake

Patient: D-69688

Summary: Arms and legs cleanly severed from body.

Treatment:

I stood up- to do what I did not want to do.

I tripped, and the pills I was not meant to have spilled out of my coat- and out of their bottle. My foot- little more now than a spongy mass of decaying flesh- slipped out of my shoe. Fearing what I may see- knowing only that utter and total revulsion could follow- I nigh-involuntarily glanced at the dismal remnants of my former limb.

My skin- from ankle to toe- was unbroken, albeit covered in a slick sweat. The pain vanished. It had all been just- a dream. A hope. A wish- a pointless desire that foundered upon the rocks of a dull and oppressive existence.

Treatment: Patient voluntarily euthanized.

If only I could have mustered such an escape.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License