Better Than Blood
By Nomar Knight
The hall was full of sick people, infested with an unknown virus. Doctor Casa couldn’t recall the last time he felt this overwhelmed and useless. He spotted a little boy with lesions on his face. A dark liquid escaped from the child’s mouth, nose and ears. He had but moments left to live. An elderly woman stroked his hair with one hand and coughed black phlegm on what was once a white handkerchief.
Some of the patients raised their arms toward the doctor as he zigzagged around them, careful not to make contact with the doomed souls. A uniformed police officer, lying on a gurney, cried out, “Doctor, help me!” The black liquid dripped from his fingertips. The thick, ebony substance oozed out of his eyes.
Doctor Casa hurried past him, opting not to knock on the hospital administrator’s door. Instead, he quickly entered, slamming the door behind him.
His female boss, sporting salt and pepper hair, sat behind a mahogany desk. She held a phone in her hand and signaled for the doctor to wait. “Do you have the results of the first autopsy?” Doctor Casa assumed she addressed the coroner. With raised eyebrows, she said, “Are you saying it’s not something that’s airborne? Then how the hell did all those people get sick?”
She paused to listen. The doctor heard the tail end of the conversation from where he stood as the irate coroner yelled, “Bloody hell! I’m doing the best I can.”
Hearing a distinct clicking sound, Doctor Casa said, “Miss Hastings, we need to know what’s going on. Those people are bleeding from their extremities, only I have no idea why the blood’s so dark and thick.”
She hung up the phone and muttered, “The blood work is back on the first victim.” She opened a drawer and pulled out a pint of rum.
“Come on Miss Hastings, I need to know how I’m going to treat those patients.”
She took a shot, drinking the alcohol as if it was water. “Here’s the thing, doctor. The Feds are taking over. What I’m about to tell you must not leave this office.”
Doctor Casa sensed the news would be horrendous so he sat down on the chair to her left.
Miss Hastings continued, “That black stuff that’s leaking out of every crevice in their bodies isn’t blood.”
“What? That’s impossible.”
She shook her head, “It is petroleum. Apparently, all these patients are avid seafood eaters.”
Doctor Casa took the bottle of rum and took a long swig. He tried to gather his thoughts. Everything he was taught in medical school did not prepare him for the insanity unfolding before him.
Miss Hastings said, “Here’s the kicker. The government has ordered us to drain the patients since the human body isn’t made to sustain oil. At the moment, they’re worth more dead than alive.”
Doctor Casa put his hand flat on the desk, “What do you mean?”
She swallowed the last of the rum and said, “The President is afraid that the company responsible will ask for the oil back since this mess was created by them.”
Doctor Casa pounded his fist on the desk, “Damn it! To think I voted for this guy. I’m going to find a cure if it’s the last thing I do.”
Miss Hastings opened another drawer and pulled out a pistol. “Are you sure I can’t get you to reconsider?”
Doctor Casa’s hands shook, “Are you going to shoot me?”
“You have two choices.” She said with a smug look on her face. “Help us keep the patients alive long enough to produce more oil, or become another casualty of the oil company’s crimes against this country.”
“If what you said is true, I’ll never get the disease.” The doctor rose from the chair with pride. “I’m a vegetarian.”
She pulled the hammer back on the gun and aimed it at his family jewels.
Doctor Casa gulped down saliva and said in a high voice, “I guess I’m now working for a morbid oil-rig. You better let me go, time is money.”
Miss Hastings smiled, “Now you’re talking.”
He was about to turn to leave, when he noticed something dark trickling down his boss’s nose.
She instinctively wiped it with her fingers. When she saw it was black liquid, she looked at Doctor Casa with pleading eyes.
He said, “I take it the government’s orders no longer apply?”
“I swore an oath to save lives, yet I understand that not all of my patients will be saved.”
She took a tissue and wiped her bleeding nose. “Doctor, don’t let me die like that.” She offered him her pistol.
He stared at her wide-eyed. “You want me to shoot you?”
She nodded as oil dripped out of her eyes and slid down her pale cheeks.
Doctor Casa took the gun and pinned it against his belt. “Being that you’re still alive, I take it you’re not worth much yet.”
He turned to leave when she yelled, “Please Doctor Casa, kill me!”
He stopped and gazed at her, stunned at how quickly her body was deteriorating. “I’ll tell you what. If you can get the President of that damn oil company here before you die, I’ll kill you soon after I send him to hell.”
He went back out to his patients, feeling more helpless than before. But this time he lived with the hope of someday getting even. His thoughts of vengeance gave way to something he surmised years ago. Man had messed with Mother Earth for too many years. He understood that sooner or later, the planet would fight back.
Standing in the middle of a crowded hospital with nurses and patients calling his name, Doctor Casa knew that the population would dwindle significantly. Amidst the chaos, he felt completely alone.
- 971 words
© Copyright Nomar Knight 2010. All rights reserved.
A Knight Chills presentation.