Author: Chris Parker
God bless modern medical technology, of course.
The EMT, level-headed and a credit to his profession, had defib paddles on Eric’s chest just as soon as the dramatic monotone of the EKG shattered the initial calm of the ambulance’s interior.
All Sarah could do was watch, dully aware that the last conversation they might ever have concerned some stupid moon.
THUMP. Eric’s body lifted into the air under the current of the AED.
It’s like a TV show, she thought, detachedly. They do this on House or Grey’s Anatomy.
THUMP. His head flipped into an awkward position and, automatically, she reached out and righted his head while the AED recharged, her cool fingers slipping around the fevered flesh of his neck.
Weird. She felt something. A bump, like an ant bite or something. Before she got the opportunity to investigate, the EMT had the paddles ready and placed on Eric’s chest. She nodded, and pulled away.
THUMP. Apparently, as the saying goes, third time’s the charm. His EKG readings picked up a reasonably regular heartbeat and the EMT gave Sarah a reassuring smile.
“He’ll be fine. We’ll be at the hospital in three.”
Minutes? Seconds? Hours? She hated that. Hated the brevity that seemed to pervade American language. No, she was stressed and nervous and angry and a whole ball of other unfathomable emotions tangled up in the unconscious, shallowly breathing man on the gurney beneath her.
As it turned out, the EMT meant three minutes.
Nerve wracked, coffee drenched hours later, Sarah found herself standing over Eric as he slept. The white bandage over the wound in his chest was unseemly on a man so young. It wasn’t right. She didn’t have much time to reflect on the inadequacies of the human body, as Eric’s surgeon entered the room.
She nodded, mildly annoyed, as if “girlfriend” wasn’t a good enough reason to be here.
“Alright. Mr. Neith is, as far as we can tell, comatose. We found no reason he ought to have a heart attack, unless there’s something you’re not telling me.”
She frowned. “Excuse me?”
“We found a needle mark in his neck. Some drug overdoses can cause myocardial infarctions… heroin, methamphetamines, cyanide—“
“Oh, good God. You did a drug screen, surely. Look at him. Drug use. I thought that thing on his neck was a bug bite.”
“No. It’s a needle mark, ma’am. And yes, we did do a tox screen. We’re basing our theory on some other evidence.”
Sarah frowned. “Wait a minute, did you say cyanide?”
The doctor, however, wasn’t listening. He’d turned away from her, to the door, nodding at someone unseen. Someone who turned out to be a uniformed police officer.
“Ma’am, you’ll need to come with us.”