Angels Children's (Part 2: Little Miguel)
Previously on Angels: A new nurse Jen in a large pediatric hospital meets Hanh, a mysterious co-worker. She gets lost one night in the "cursed corridor" and has a frightening experience. Was it her imagination? Or, is the corridor truly cursed?Announcement
A Full-Scale Disaster Preparedness Exercise will take place on March 25th, 2001. Exercise areas include 5 West, 4 West, ED, and Nuclear Medicine.
We appreciate your cooperation as we prepare for the event.
If you have concerns or would like to volunteer, do not hesitate to call us.
Exercise Planning Team, ext. 4166
"So, does that mean our unit will be emptied out for the Exercise?"
"Yup. Starting next month, February, we won't be getting new admits and many of you will be floated to 5 East or 4 East. I know it will be hectic, but I expect your full cooperation. Apparently, it will be big - LAPD and the fire department are on board as well. Oh by the way, everyone, EPT is looking for volunteers to act as patients. Spread the word. It might be fun. Alright, back to work!"
As everyone resumed their business around the station, I heard the charge nurse calling my name.
"Radiology's on the phone, line 2," she yelled out through the noise. With a groan, I picked up the phone and mumbled into the receiver, "This is Jen."
"Hi, Jen. Just wanted to let you know we're picking up Miguel, room 5114. Is he monitored?"
"Yes, and please bring a sliding board. He's in a lot of pain."
"Okay. The transporter will be up there in about fifteen."
Thank goodness, I did not have any meds due until 2100 and my other kids were stable and would not be needing me for a while. I quickly drew up a syringe of morphine and trotted down the hall.
"Hola, Miguelito," I greeted softly as I entered. "You awake?"
"Uh-huh," a small voice answered.
As my eyes adjusted to the darkened room, I saw the boy's huge eyes peeking out at me. Eyes that seemed too old for a boy who was only approaching his 5th birthday, and glistening with moisture more than usual.
"I'm giving you a medicine so you won't hurt so much. And we're going to take a trip across the bridge to take pictures of your body, okay?"
A tiny nod.
The kid rarely spoke. Even when his young mother came at night after work, she would sit by his bed stroking his head gently, and he would either sleep or quietly watch cartoons. His reserved but sweet nature had won over the hearts of all staff members, and over the long length of his stay and multiple admissions, we had become fiercely protective of the quiet boy. Of course, beneath our protective love for him was a silent outrage at the circumstances which brought him to us - multiple fractures, old and new, kidney complications requiring a lot of attention which the family could not seem to handle. How often I suppressed the urge to grab his mother and shake some sense into the young, passive, tired woman. "You're an adult. Stand up for yourself and your son!" I had wanted to say.
I shook my head to chase away the unpleasant thought, and dug out his IV lines from under the sheets. As the medication coursed through his vein, his eyelids grew heavy, and transporter and I were able to slide him onto the gurney effortlessly. With his Foley bag and portable monitor well-secured, we wheeled past the nursing station from which the charge nurse blew him a kiss.
"We have to go to the lower level. The bridge is closed," the transporter said with a grunt when we pushed ourselves into the elevator.
"Why? It's only eight."
"I know. But they're fixing some electrical wiring there."
With disappointment, I pushed the lower level button. I was looking forward to showing Miguel the outside view from the bridge. They had not removed the decorative tree lights after festivities of the New Year's yet.
Oh well, he seemed too drowsy for a sight-seeing anyway. Then my heart skipped a beat as I realized an unpleasant fact: the corridor.
I dismissed the thought quickly. I had gone through it a few times since that December night and nothing had happened. Aside from a chilly draft and the low, unsettling hum of electrical equipment, it was just a lonely, weird passageway. Nothing more.
The elevator doors opened with a ding, and the transporter and I continued on, chatting. The transporter's name happened to be Miguel as well, and I was making lame jokes, calling him Tío Miguel - the sleepy boy only smiled politely at that. As we pushed past the pharmacy and turned around a corner into the long corridor, with the steady beep of the monitor keeping rhythm of our footsteps, I was completely absorbed in our chatter, barely feeling the frigid air.
I was still talking incessantly when little Miguel shifted with a groan. But it was the sudden acceleration of the beeping sound that made me look down with an alarm.
"Frío..." Miguel whispered weakly. His lips were pale.
Heart rate 158. Respirations... what the... Am I seeing his breaths?
The corridor was always cold, but not that cold. I was about to reach out to touch him when he continued.
"Is she taking pictures too?"
"What do you mean, Miguel?"
Then my confused brain registered a new sound. Faintly but surely, I could hear it - a crying child. The memory of icy fingers touching my skin on that December night, which I had successfully suppressed into a deep recess of my brain returned vividly with a full force.
"What do you mean, Miguel?" I almost shrieked, shivering, hoping against hope that I misheard him.
The boy opened his mouth but no sound came through the clattering teeth. Instead, his eyes widened, unfocused stare into the space. I shivered uncontrollably now although not from the cold. The echo of the cries came nearer and filled the corridor from all directions.
"Do you hear it?" I hissed. The transporter only gave me a puzzled look.
What started like a weeping sound of a lost child then grew into a vicious howl of a banshee. I covered my ears instinctively, but a voice screeched inside my head.
<Hate you Hate you Hate youuuuu>
"Mami..." Miguel whimpered.
<Mommy Mommy Mommyyyyy!>
The howling voice reverberated inside me and all around me. I felt tears streaming down my face as I struggled not to faint from the overwhelming fear. I could not hear anything other than the screeching voice, but my blurry vision caught the unmistakable shape of PVCs on the monitor, dangerously getting closer and then a run of V-tach...
"Run!" I screamed.
I pushed the gurney hard, almost knocking over the clueless transporter. The ground shifted under my feet and I almost stumbled. I could see the double door to the Imaging Center afar, but the length of the corridor stretched further and further with each step.
The shrill voice in my head, the alarm of the monitor, and I even thought I heard Miguel's ragged breaths... We ran through the corridor for what seemed like minutes stretching into hours. Time and space all twisted like a cannabis-induced hallucination.
After what seemed like eternity, we burst through the double doors, and I fell on my knees, my heart still racing. Before I could even catch my breath, however, firm hands shook my shoulders.
"Miss, Miss, Look at him!"
It was only then that I realized the beep of the monitor had turned into a piercing alarm. I shot up to my feet, crying, "No!"
Miguel lay on the gurney unmoving, eyes half closed.
"No, no, no! Please!"
I frantically tapped his cheek. When it elicited not even a blink, I grabbed the monitor and shook it, unable to believe the jagged line it was showing me. No way, there's no way. This cannot be happening! I looked up, searching for any guidance, and saw the transporter looking at me in return, equally as lost. I cried out in despair. I was supposed to be the one who knows what to do!
CPR. I should start CPR.
My trembling hand hovered over his chest, but my body would not move. I could not take my eyes off his glazed eyes. I was paralyzed.
Someone shoved Ambu bag into my hands. I fumbled and dropped it.
"Get out of the way!" Someone shouted.
I felt my body pushed aside. I stumbled against a wall and slid down. Crumpled on the floor, I watched, in a daze, the frenzied activity as the code team swarmed around the cold body of Miguel.
This is Jen. Please leave a message. Beep -
"Hi, sweetie, it's Carol. Just wanted to know how you were doing. You have nothing to worry about here. You just let us know when you're ready to come back, alright? I'm here for you. You take care, baby." Beep -
"Hey, it's me, Amy. Umm... How are you? Well... Um, listen. I'm really sorry. I don't know what to say, but I'm really sorry... Okay, bye." Beep -
"Hello Ms. Johnson, this is Anthony from payrolls. We're missing a form in your file. Please call me and arrange a time to come in to complete this as soon as you can. Thank you." Beep -
"... Hi. My name is Hanh Tran. We worked together a few times. I would like to talk to you. Could you call me please? 818-428-9906." Beep -
Voice mail box full. Please erase messages. Beep.
I could not remember how long I spent hiding. I hid from the world, bundled in my sheets as if for protection.
Protection from what? - From people's eyes, people's talk, people's judgment. But most of all, from my own thoughts. If I tried to think, it only circled around and if I tried to search for a new trajectory of thoughts, my head filled with a screaming of a child.
I only crawled out of bed to use the bathroom or to quench my thirst. When it came to a point where my stomach cramped painfully with hunger, I ate peanut butter and washed it down with gulps of milk. When the milk turned sour, I only ate peanut butter.
I forced myself to sleep the rest of the time because every waking moment was agony. I tossed and turned, plagued by half-lucid dreams of a never-ending corridor and the mournful wailing of a girl that would not leave me. One night, I woke up to a crushing weight on my chest, which turned out to be a gigantic cardiac monitor, with the jagged teeth of V-fib twisting into an evil Cheshire grin laughing at me, laughing at me... Gasping for breath, I tried to push it off my chest but I could not move my arms. After much heaving and grunting, I woke up drenched in sweat, realizing what felt so real was in fact a dream. Since then, I forced myself to stay awake, for endless loop of crazy thoughts were better than the crushing weight of an evil monitor heralding death.
When I was on the verge of madness from lack of sleep, the doorbell rang. I ignored it because I could not tell whether it was real or a hallucination. Then I heard knocking. Not loud, but persistent. I crawled out of bed, trudged across the floor of my small studio. I flung open the door and squinted at the sudden flood of light. I squinted harder, trying to make out the face of the person who stood in front of me. My blunted mind slowly processed the familiar face of Hanh.
"I am so sorry to intrude like this. I left a message but you didn't call. I asked Amy where you live. I am so sorry but I had to talk to you."
"About what," I croaked.
I slammed the door, but he wedged his foot before it could shut. I pushed at the door and he winced.
"I believe you!"
I stopped pushing. "What?"
"I believe everything you said about what happened down there!"
I flung open the door again. The man stood in the light, feet firmly planted that conveyed he was not going anywhere. My detached mind wondered if this was the same timid person I knew from work.
Work. Angels. Oh god...
I covered my eyes, remembering why I was here, cooped up alone for days, too ashamed to talk to anyone, too afraid to acknowledge that what happened was real. And this person, with whom I barely even exchanged words before, was forcing me to stop hiding, with audacity to tell me that he believed me... when everyone else, including Carol, could only give me the patronizing "It wasn't your fault." But I knew there were glances, whispers.
She just blanked out. It was the transporter who had the sense to page the code.
A new grad. What do they teach at school these days?
Did you hear? That girl went cuckoo, rambling nonsense.
I shook my head. I can't take it I can't take it...
"It wasn't your fault, Jen."
Somehow, I knew he meant it. Even though he spoke the same words I heard before, the sincere conviction of his voice surrounded me with warmth that I desperately yearned for. Crushing weight of the doubt, the unbearable guilt, and the fear seemed to lift a bit, and I could breathe. I took in a shuddering breath, trying to keep in control. But the gate had cracked open. Like a torrent of an overflowing dam, tears came flooding. I sank to the floor and bawled like I never did before.
I sat on the couch, feeling embarrassed that I could not stop the hiccups.
Hanh emerged from the kitchenette with a steaming cup of tea. Exhausted from such an intense emotional outburst, I gratefully wrapped my numb hands around the ceramic. With experienced hands, he wrapped a fleece throw around my shoulders. I snuggled with a sigh, and watched him settling into a perch on the ottoman. Leaning forward, hands clasped between his knees, he waited.
"I thought... I think I've gone crazy," I finally spoke, and hated the way my voice trembled.
"And you say you believe me," I continued. "That means you're crazy too."
I let out a shaky laugh. He smiled, but his eyes were rather sad.
"That may be so," he replied. "But it's not likely. You heard something that I also heard. Two people, separate occasions, same experience. Would you say that's coincidence? Also, if it's true that Miguel was able to see her too..."
"Dear god... you're truly serious...?"
Incredulous, I searched his face. The sense of relief from earlier was replaced by dread, apprehensive of what he would utter next.
He only nodded, steady gaze holding onto mine.
"Who...what is she?"
"I've been trying to find that out in the past years. She is so angry, unlike others..."
"Others?" I choked. "There are more?"
I was trembling again, and I had to grit my teeth to keep myself from screaming.
"They're not like what you think. Some children... they just linger. It's as if their memories, their longings, and feelings imprint onto the space where they physically used to be..."
Hanh's voice faded into the background as a strange giggle escaped my throat.
After all those years of study, never losing the sight of my goals and aspirations, how proud I had been when I graduated, when I aced the interview, when I put on my RN badge as I stepped through the rainbow-colored entrance of Angels.
I felt tears welling up again, and the giggle became a pitiful weep.
Never could I have imagined, that my nursing career would end before it even truly started, in a haunted hospital!Last edit by Joe V on Nov 10, '12
About tokebi, MSN
tokebi has '11' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Hem/Onc/BMT'. From 'California'; Joined Mar '10; Posts: 416; Likes: 867.1Nov 11, '12 by tokebi, MSNSo glad you're enjoying the story!
I can't wait to finish this. It's been so much fun -- currently fleshing out the last installment. But work is getting in the way...
It looks like the conclusion will be ready to be submitted by Wednesday. See you then, fellow horror-lovers!