A Security Escort
A nursing ghost story to get us in the mood for Halloween! In this tale, a well-liked, efficient nurse has to make a creepy trip to the morgue. Hospital policy is that a security guard has to accompany staff to the sub-basement, and Michelle winds up chatting with the security guard who has been sent to accompany her.“Good morning, good morning!” Michelle called cheerily as she approached the nurse’s station. She was met with a couple grumbled good mornings and eye rolls. Most of the day shift staff weren’t “morning people,” and the night shift was definitely not in the mood by 7am. But Michelle always tried to have on a cheerful face when she came in. It just made the day better from the start. She checked the board and then approached Rosa for report. It was a busy day, but not too bad; besides, busy shifts went by faster. And she knew most of her patients from previous shifts, which was always a plus. She went room to room, writing her name on the board (sometimes with a smiley face). If the patient was awake, she did her best to spend some time chatting with them, despite the busy morning tasks looming. After that, it was time to ready meds and check blood sugars before breakfast. Jessica stopped her on her during her rounds.
“Hey Ma-Belle,” It was Michelle’s nickname on the unit, born of the Beatle’s song and a reference to Michelle’s tendency to act like a mama hen to her patients. “Mr. Jenkins in 4C is refusing his heparin again. Would you mind giving it a shot?”
“Ha! Nice one.”
“Give it a ‘shot.’ Heparin. Get it?” Jessica rolled her eyes and grinned at Michelle’s corny joke. “No worries Jessica, I’ll see what I can do.” Michelle had a great bedside manner, and usually even the most difficult patients yielded to her warmth and compassion. After administering meds to her own patients, she stopped in Mr. Jenkin’s room and, after taking the time to explain the importance of the drug and making suggestions for ways to minimize the bruising and discomfort he was experiencing, he finally agreed to the injection—if Michelle herself administrated it.
“You’ve got the magic touch girl; I don’t know how you do it.” Jessica smiled from the doorway as Michelle gave the injection with perfect skill and ease.
“Nah, it’s different for everyone. There are definitely patients who give me a hard time.”
“That’s a lie, but thanks.” Jessica said with a grin. And the two women laughed as they snuck into the breakroom for a quick sip of coffee.
Around 3pm, Michelle finally was ready to take her break. She was running a little bit late, because she stayed to help a PCA give a bedbath. It was a beautiful day, and Michelle smiled toward the sun as she walked down the block toward her favorite café. “Hi there, Michelle! The usual?” Called the man behind the counter.
“Hey Louis. You got it. I’ll be in the seat by the window.” She sat down and started to read the novel she had brought with her, but it wasn’t long before she found herself just staring out at the sunny day and watching people walking by. Louis brought her a chicken salad sandwich and iced coffee, and she thanked him warmly. After about 45 minutes, she started heading back; she always took a little less time on her breaks than everyone else. As she crossed the intersection back toward the hospital, a car ran the light and almost hit her—she had to jump back to the curb.
“What the heck?! Watch it, scumbag!” She yelled after him as he raced away. Her heart was pounding. This was just the kind of person Michelle was—sensitive and empathetic. Nothing upset her more than to see someone being reckless or callous. It’s what made her a great nurse. And despite the fact that the driver was totally in the wrong, Michelle felt bad for yelling at him.
When she got back on the floor, things were quite busy. Luckily, most of her patients were either napping or off getting tests done. She had only one assessment to do, and the patient actually slept through the entire thing. Michelle chuckled and decided to let her sleep. She went back to her computer and began charting. At one point Jessica walked by, but the two women were each so busy, that by the time Michelle glanced up to say hello, her friend had already passed her. Michelle started to get up to ask her if she wanted to grab a cup of coffee in the break room, but the nurse manager caught Jessica’s arm and asked to speak with her privately. Michelle started to sit back down, hoping Jessica wasn’t in trouble.
“Michelle? Michelle Muir?” A voice stopped her before she even finished sitting.
“Yes? I’m Michelle.” She turned and saw a tall man from Security at the nurse’s station. Yikes, now she was hoping she wasn’t the one in trouble!
“I’m Sam. I have to transport a body to the morgue and was told to ask you for assistance.”
“Um. Ok, did one of our patients expire?” Michelle was wide-eyed. Had one of her patients died while she was on break? Had she done something wrong?
“No, no!” Sam said reassuringly. “No one from this floor. But you see, I cannot go to the morgue without someone accompanying me. It’s the rules.” That was true. Hospital policy called for one member of the security team and at least one member of the hospital staff to accompany all bodies to the morgue. But it was strange to have someone pulled from another floor. Whoever had been accompanying Sam must have gotten called away before they made it to the sub-basement.
“I just have to let my manager know. We’re pretty busy.”
“It’s already taken care of. I know you’re busy, but I’ve been assured that you have time.” Michelle glanced hesitantly toward the manager’s office. She could hear Colleen talking inside; she sounded upset. Maybe better not to interrupt. Besides, it would only take a few minutes. Michelle logged out of her computer and walked with Sam to the security elevators, where the covered gurney waited.
“I don’t think I’ve ever met you before, Sam.” She said, eager to make small talk to distract from the corpse.
“No, I doubt you would have.” Sam answered. “I’m from a special security department in the hospital. They only call us when they need us. That’s why our uniforms are different.” Michelle realized now that he was indeed wearing a much darker, blackish-blue uniform, compared to the light blue of the normal security staff. As they rode in the elevator, she marveled at how tall he was. He was super skinny too. The nurse in her began assessing, and she decided he was likely anemic, or at least at-risk. His skin was pale and fragile-looking, and it didn’t look like it had good turgor. His eyes were a startling icy blue.
“You look like you’re sizing me up for a fight, Ms. Muir!” Sam’s voice startled Michelle. She laughed.
“Eh, I think I could take you, Mr…” She squinted at is name badge. “…Mr. Eyell.” They both laughed as the elevator reached the sub-basement.
They made their way to the morgue, both of them clearly familiar with where they were going. The morgue was not one of Michelle’s favorite places, but she had been there a few times and understood it came with the territory. Sam punched in the security code and opened the heavy metal door. Michelle wheeled in the gurney and pulled off the sheets. The plastic body bag lay zipped underneath. She came back out into the main area of the morgue, where Sam was waiting.
“There’s no tag on the body bag.” Michelle informed him. I’ll have to fill one out. She grabbed a tag from the drawer and sat at the small desk. “Do you know the patient’s name?”
“I have it in her chart.” Sam answered, his voice strange, and he handed her the binder.
“Hmm. This chart is different from the ones I usually see. Where is the patient from?” Most of the floors had light green charts, but this one was jet black.
“She came from ER, but you’re right. These are special charts, used only by my department. We need to be able to differentiate them.”
“Wow, do you guys get different holidays too?” Michelle joked as she opened the chart.
“Hey, wait a minute. What’s up with this Sam? This isn’t the patient’s chart. It’s just a list of names.” Michelle flipped through the pages, where name after name was written in fine black ink, with dates listed to the right.
“Yes. That’s how our charts work. The patient’s name should be on the last page, at the end.” Michelle flipped past the pages and ran her finger down the list until she came to the last name on the list. Her blood ran cold.
“What is this, Sam? Some kind of prank? What… what’s going on here?!” Staring at her, in the same cold, black ink, Michelle saw her own name—Michelle Muir—written in perfect script. Today’s date was next to it.
“No mistake,” Sam said, a little sadly. “My department is immensely methodical.” Michelle jumped up, panic closing in on her. She was clearly trapped in the morgue with an insane man. The chair squeaked behind her as she stood.
“Whoa. Like this place could get any spookier!” A new voice rang into the room, as Gary the mortician walked in with a doctor.
“You get use to it, doc.” Gary said. “Lots of weird noises around here, and things echo like crazy.”
“Oh my god! Thank god you’re here!” Michelle cried. “Please, this man is pretending to be from Security! He lured me down here and I think he means me harm. I need a real security guard!” But neither of them even turned toward her, and Sam just shook his head sadly. Gary walked up to the body bag.
“So what happened here, doc?” The doctor sighed and began to clean her glasses as she answered.
“She works in Cardiac Stepdown. From what I heard, it was a hit and run. She was on her break when it happened. She expired on the scene. Based on the injuries, I think it happened so fast, she probably didn’t even realize it.”
“Yikes.” Gary said. “And one of ours. That’s a real shame.” The doctor nodded.
“I’ve alerted the nurse manager on the Stepdown unit. She’s informing the staff now, and a counselor is heading up. I think family is on the way. I should get back upstairs actually.”
“No!” Michelle screamed. “No! You can’t go! What happened?! I need answers! I need help!” She grabbed the doctor as she turned to leave. Her hand went right through the doctor’s coat. Michelle screamed and fell backward. The doctor gave a shudder. “Eesh. This place really is creepy. And close the fridge, Gary. I can feel the cold air!” Gary smirked and escorted the doctor to the elevator down the hall. Michelle, eyes wild, turned back toward the gurney, sitting alone in the cold dark room.
“Ms. Muir…” Sam began. But Michelle shoved him away—she could touch him easily—and stumbled up to the body bag. She stared for only a moment before yanking the zipper down. She screamed and screamed. There it was, her own face, bruised and swollen, but definitely hers. “No! Please no! It’s impossible!” She fell to her knees, sobbing.
Sam was kind enough to allow her a few minutes. But finally, he walked in and zipped the bag up. She felt his hand drop on her shoulder.
“Ms. Muir, I’m afraid the time has come for me to escort you from the building.” Michelle stood wordlessly. She felt numb. As Sam led her out, she stopped at the desk.
“The toe tag… I never finished it.”
“Don’t worry Ms. Muir. It’s someone else’s job now. You’ve done all the nursing tasks you need to do today.”
They stepped back into the elevator and eventually reached the first floor. Sam kept his hand on Michelle’s shoulder as they walked toward the exit.
“Sam, where am I going?” Michelle asked.
“I’m afraid they don’t give me that information, Ms. Muir. I’m just the security escort.”Last edit by Joe V on Oct 31, '12
I'm a nursing student in New York City. I love writing and Halloween!
From 'Cape Cod, MA'; 31 Years Old; Joined Jan '10; Posts: 196; Likes: 119. You can follow anashenwrath on LinkedIn