My lab coat and scrubs -- Samir धर्म 11:07, 7 ...

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Get Your ‘sneak-peek’ here.

I keep my eyes glued to El Oso’s back as I inch the fingers of my good hand up the staff door, trying to feel for the handle. I find it and turn the knob. It doesn’t budge. The door, it seems, locks automatically from the inside and the bar-code scanner bolted to the wall is useless. It requires an employee’s name badge and mine is in my lab coat. In my car. Far from here. The bar-code starts shrilling its displeasure at my attempt to gain no-access entry. I turn myself around in horror and note that El Oso is only a few meters away and staring at me. Before I can duck, El Oso pops off two shots at me, thankfully missing. I cover myself and dash around the corner before I even recognize I’m moving.
This side of the old brick hospital building is murky, with only spare lights scattered here and there. I run flat out toward the main road that lies beyond the two big hospital buildings. I notice a short downward flight of stairs and fright pushes me toward them. The stairs are almost completely masked in the darkness by the thick hedge surrounding it. I reach it fast, grasp the protective railing and catapult myself over the top. I touch down a few feet below and head for an exterior door that is almost completely hidden by the inky night. I try the handle, but this one too is locked. Fortunately for yours truly the door looks like it might be original to the old building. The wood surrounding the simple lock is badly splintered. I move back to the edge of the stairwell and chin myself up to peek over the top. I squint and peer off into the darkness and spy El Oso. He’s only a maybe three meters away and the motherfucker is firing at me again.
I drop back down, head for the dilapidated old door and crash unceremoniously into it. The feeble lock splits on impact and I find myself toppling over packing boxes and painting materials in an unlit, abandoned surgical staff lounge.
The whole floor of Surgical One is being renovated, along with Two. The other surgical units on the third and fourth floors are absorbing all the surgical cases until the construction work is complete.
I haul myself up and attempt to re-gain my bearings in the thick gloom. I can hear El Oso limp down the stairs toward me. He’s slower now that I’d junk-punched him, but still gaining on me like a vengeful mummy. I bolt for the inside door that leads, hopefully, to safety. This door opens easily. I enter and race through the pre-op section and then through a pair of double doors. The small hallway adjacent to the trio of surgical suites is completely vacant. I push open the swinging doors of each suite, trying to confuse my pursuer. Lame, I know, but I can’t think of anything else and I’m not ready to lie down and die. Not just yet.
I exit the hall and enter the recovery room. Despite the ongoing renovation, the recovery room still has gurneys lined up like sentries all along the back wall. Six of the seven gurneys are empty. The one at the front of the line, near the nurse’s station, is cradling a transient.
The old guy appears to be in a very deep sleep. He’s got a conquered twist top bottle of wine lying between him and the protective rail. I immediately recognize him. Gus is a hospital regular. I’m on him in an instant, shaking him violently.
“Gus,” I call out to him softly while snapping a quick look over my shoulder for company, “It’s Dr. Arellano, Gus, from the ER. C’mon, man, wake up!”
Nothing, fuck!
Gus doesn’t respond and I don’t have the time to mess around. I remove the blanket from the lethargic transient’s chest and a stiff arm falls free. A large blood-filled syringe is imbedded in it. I do a fast check for a pulse and can’t locate one. Gus has been dead for a while now.
“Drugs, Gus?” I whisper, my disappointment looming. “You dumb fuck. How many strikes against you do you need?” There’s nothing left to do for poor old dead Gus, so I bring the sheet up to cover him. “At least you won’t feel it coming.” I’m through the outer doors in an instant, distancing myself from Gus as fast as I can.
Now I’m in the part of the square surgical floor that holds the post-operative patient rooms. The rooms all have double occupancy and they appear to be in the beginning stages of overhaul. I realize I’m in the last leg of the square, so I plan to make my way back to the staff lounge. Once there, I can get to the busted door and back outside. Hopefully this will fool El Oso. Maybe I can get to Third Avenue and flag a cop down, get some help.
I hear two quick spits from El Oso’s gun. Poor old Gus. I trip over a bucket in my haste, giving up my location like a real dumb ass. After all that!
El Oso’s grunts his approval of my folly and begins his shuffling approach. I peer off toward the staff lounge and realize that it’s too damn far for me to reach. Not in time, anyway. It will leave me wide open and dangerously exposed.
I reach down and grab hold of the nearest solid object that I can get my hands on. I heave the glue-gun at the window, all the way down at the end of the hallway. The crash is deafening. At the same time I back into the closest door. I find myself in the last patient room in the recovery area of the Surgical unit.
Restoration supplies are scattered everywhere about. There’s a half-dozen tarps, a stack of drywall sheets, buckets of paint, rolls of wallpaper and ladders.
I go to the window and discover that it’s been painted shut, many times over the distant past. I try, but it’s impossible to open. To make matters worse, I can hear El Oso heading toward the window I’d broken at the end of the hallway. He’s going to see me not there and make his way back here.
I grab a hold of one of the tarps and toss it flat over a grouping of discarded wallpaper and paint cans in the corner of the room. I turn back to the door. I quickly go there, hell bent on making a fast escape, but I hear El Oso coming back. I can hear him opening doors. He seems to be only a few rooms away.
“Oh, Dr. Arellano,” El Oso calls out in a sing-song voice to the darkness, “I’m gonna get you; cut off your poquito chilito and stuff it down your throat. Whatcha think of that, eh?”
Panicking, and not knowing what else to do, I jump into a nearby wardrobe closet. There is nothing more I can do now but wait for El Oso to find me. I close softly the wardrobe door and poise myself to pounce on El Oso when he enters the room.
I hope El Oso’s attention is diverted toward the tarp-covered paint cans. Maybe the killer will be fooled, even briefly, into thinking I’m hiding there. If El Oso does fall for it, I will listen for the inevitable gun shots spits, and choose that moment to launch my pathetic, surprise attack.
I lean in close to the shuttered closet door. Gently, I place my finger-tips on the smooth wood finish. I can hear the killer as he approaches; kicking open doors and mumbling obscenities. I can feel El Oso getting warmer.
I slump into the wardrobe closet door, awaiting a situation to be played out that is completely beyond my control. I’m amazed that I will surely be meeting my demise right here and, most likely, right now.
And then slowly, ever so, I notice a subtle change in the darkness surrounding me. The dark has lightened up a touch, a shade or two. Enough, in fact, that I see the dimmest outlines of my own fingers. They are tensed and ready, pressed as they are against the still shut door.
The tiny hairs on the back of my stiff neck are sending me telling messages. Urgent warnings are screaming at me. These messages serve to caution of a new threat to my life.
Danger lies not only taunting in front of me, just beyond the weak safety of the closet. There is also a brand new threat. This one is unseen and behind me in this supposedly empty stand-up coffin. I can feel someone in the wardrobe with me.
How can this be?
I swallow hard. I glance down and I can see the fuzzy criss-crossing of the laces in my running shoes. I stand immobile and trapped. The Bear waits somewhere outside the closet door with a gun he’s not shy to use. And behind me, whatever the hell it is; has caused the dark to fade. The muscles in my tense neck ache with the strain.
Something grabs my ankle from behind. It clenches and I can feel as it begins to tug hard. I fall to my knees, still too frightened to cry out, the blood, I’m sure, has escaped my face.
Still, it tightens its hold and pulls me through the back of the closet where a dim light is melting the darkness.
I no longer think of El Oso, but only of the threat that’s dragging me backwards. I want to cry out in terror, but I find that sound has escaped me. I simply cannot.
Oh, good Christ, no.
And still it pulls…