Issue Forty - Summer 2022

Heartland Memorial Hospital

By K. Andrew Turner

When Nancy quit mid shift, we had to pick up “the slack” though we were all strung so tight already. Rosie, the head nurse, randomly assigned the now-unattended patients. Even with just one person gone, we all ran room to room, rushing and barely taking care of our charges.

No lunch.

No breaks.

Mr. Shingle, an ornery man at the best of times, started the uprising that night. “These damn nurses ignore us and don’t give two shits bout it!” One hand on his mobile IV stand, the other brandishing a plastic knife, he lead the charge at the nurse’s station.

He went for Rosie first, stabbing her and serrating her arm, and bowled over Adam while trying to engage the fire alarm. Mrs. Hines shoved Patty into a wall, breathing heavily as she did so.

We couldn’t face them alone.

So we retreated to the cafeteria—the most defensible position at the hospital—to plan our escape. Jerry, our favorite janitor, offered to provide a distraction. Armed with a mop, bucket, and a can-do attitude, he headed to the halls without a backward glance.

We leapt through the large windows of the cafeteria to the dark parking lot beyond.

Now free, we all thought that perhaps Nancy had the right of it all along. We ditched our badges in the shrubs, shucked our scrubs, and dispersed.

None of us knew what happened to Jerry.

Copyright Turner 2022