Hey The Relayers, doing something a little bit different this week for the Endeavour fiction post. This week we will still visit the SS Gregory but you’ll have to wait til next week to find out what happens to Dannet and crew as they check out the plague ridden Orion, sorry :) I hope you enjoy my little addition to the exciting Endeavour series
The Misadventures of the ‘Non-Essential’
First off, I’m the best doctor and surgeon aboard the Gregory, not to mention, at 19, the youngest to be recruited to join the the best of the best on this modern, spacefaring hospital
“Hey kid, they’re ready for you in surgical suite 3. Get a move on it.”
I nod in acknowledgement and push my lev-cart of supplies ahead of me, entering the well lit surgical suite. The doors silently swish closed behind me as I survey the work ahead of me. Before I can begin the porter pops his head in, “Don’t forget any of your equipment, one of the docs almost broke his ankle tripping over your mop the last time.”
Ok, so some of that first statement isn’t true. I’m not a surgeon, or a doctor. But I am one of the youngest people to be recruited to this post, so I didn’t outright lie to you. And besides, I play a vital role to this crew and am irreplaceable. I get called in to clean up after the crisis is over.
I survey the damage left over, the floor is slick with blood, bootprints and slide marks intersecting through the mess like a macabre painting. Discarded gloves and surgical waste dropped haphazardly on the floor and across the trays. Selecting a pair from my meticulously organized cart I pull the gloves on, securing them up over my sleeve cuffs.
I disengage my mop from my cart, uncoiling the steam hose and attaching it to a water access in the far wall. I do so enjoy watching my mop work. The scalding steam generated sterilizes and loosens anything off the floors that won’t come off on it’s own. Have you ever touched semi-dried blood? The stickiness mimics syrup, or some sort of heavy molasses. Bloody hard to get out without the right tools, pardon my pun.
You should have seen the last Vanduul attack. The surgical suites were like ruptured arteries bleeding rivers of blood down the corridors. A trail of bodies being triaged or waiting their turn outside, the endless moans filling the enclosed space, beckoning the doctors with urgency.
Normally I wouldn’t have been allowed access to the area in such a crisis, but the docs were having a hard time staying upright, slipping in the fresh blood that refused to dry or congeal, every new body delivering a new dose to an already saturated work space.
I tried to concentrate on my work at hand but it was hard with the chaos going on around me. At one point I caught myself swiping my mop across the same space of floor over and over, mesmerized as I watched Dr. Dannet move from patient to patient, injecting much needed pain medication into every one of them, treating their burns and wounds to the best of his ability.
There was this one young marine, and this memory will be etched in my mind for the rest of my life. He didn’t look to be much older than me, a strongly built young man. His belly was a gaping hole, his innards shredded into mulch. Dr. Dannet had been efficiently working his way down the line of wounded, his movements swift and sure, not even pausing for a second. When he reached this young man…..he hesitated.
The marine’s hand lifted off the bed in a beseeching gesture, shaking uncontrollably as he reached towards the doctor. Approaching the bed he injected the boy with the pain concoction, a small measure of relief crossing his face as the meds took effect. Dannet reached down and laid his hand on the boy’s shoulder, giving it a comforting squeeze. The shaking hand locking around the doctor’s arm.
It was written in Dr. Dannet’s eyes, and I could read them from where I stood. ‘The boy is going to die’, they said. The only thing they can do for him now is keep him comfortable until his time comes, which isn’t long. I see wet trails tracing down the marine’s dirty cheeks, a clean trail left behind as the saltwatery tears wash away the grime. To Dannet’s credit he keeps his facial features compassionate but detached, watching as this young life slowly slips away. The hand that strongly grips his arm suddenly drops back to the bed, fingers hanging over the side. The teary eyes now a blank stare as the marine’s chest refuses to rise again.
Dannet lowers his head for a moment, releasing the boy’s shoulder he signals one of the porters and then walks away. The porter rushes past me, white sheet in hand. He flaps the sheet open with a snap but then almost tenderly drapes it over the still body.
I watch the sheet as it settles and melds to the body, scarlet patches almost immediately appear marring the pristine, white surface. His hand is the only thing that breaks through the illusion of what they’re trying to hide, or maybe forget for the moment. Concentrate on the many that can still be saved.
Blood is slowly dripping off his fingers mingling with that on the floor. I think of all the moaning, writhing bodies around me and the still one laying under that sheet. When one bleeds, they all bleed.
I glance down at the one spot I’ve been cleaning for the last half hour. It’s the only spot on this floor that gleams back at me brightly, unsullied. The bleak scarlet of the surrounding floor almost seems offended by the cleanliness. Curls of color skitter around the edges of my clean spot, bloody curlicues invading the damp.
As I watch this meshing of death and hope I come to two conclusions. First, everything will once again go back to normal, it might just take me awhile to get it there. Second, I don’t know how I’m going to do it or how long it’s going to take, but dammit, I’m going to be a doctor.