The next time Tom saw Death, she was wandering the ER holding a clipboard. There had been a nasty accident with multiple victims. He groaned inwardly when he saw her. Someone was not going to make it to morning. He hated it when that happened. He followed her, noticing suddenly that none of the other doctors on duty appeared to notice her. Were they better at hiding it or was he the only one to see her? That was his question. Maybe he was just going insane.
Death finally settled between an infant and his mother. Tom’s heart dropped to his shoes. He’d worked so hard on that child. He moved to check the kid’s monitor. The numbers didn’t look good.
“Tell me you are here for the mother,” he pleaded out of the side of his mouth. “I can’t lose a kid.” He didn’t really like losing any of his patients.
“Tough,” she said. “I take who I’m told to take. I can’t change it.” He glanced at her, hoping people would think he was looking at the adult patient. Even if he was hallucinating, he didn’t want anyone to see him hallucinating.
“I think I knew that,” he sighed. “No one else seems able to see you.” He gestured towards his colleagues. “Why me?” He no longer felt privileged to see her. He didn’t really want to know which of his patients would die.
“No idea,” she reached out to touch the mother’s forehead. She didn’t disappear though. The mother flat-lined and Tom worked with the other doctors until they gave up and let her go. He turned toward the child. Death still sat beside him.
“You’re here for both,” he said. Death reached out and took the child but didn’t vanish.
“Among others,” she replied. “that’s two. Three more and I am on to my next stop.” Even as he worked over the child, he watched to see where she went next. She seemed to be waiting beside Doctor Melendez, his supervisor. What did that mean?
He signed the death certificate for his infant patient and as he turned, Doctor Melendez collapsed. Death stood by, waiting.
“Crash cart!” Tom yelled as he ran to his boss. “Anyone know if he has had a prior heart condition?” No one did. Death took Doctor Melendez a few minutes later.
“Two more,” she said. Tom began to wish he couldn’t see her. It was too depressing.
Two cops entered the ER following an ambulance with a suspect in serious condition. Tom worked on him, wondering who else was going to die. Death was still hanging around, making him nervous. She hovered by the suspected burglar, a kid with greasy hair and pimples. Thankfully, he wasn’t Tom’s patient. He kept stealing glances at the patient. Death took him a few minutes after his arrival.
“One more,” she said, crossing to stand next to him. “You look tired.”
“I’m exhausted,” Tom muttered.
“You’ll be fine.” She told him and touched his forehead. “I never take anyone early.”