The Graveyard Shift

by E.V. Jacob on May 10, 2012

For Mark Lidstone.

My wife flicks through radio stations until she finds a song that I can’t stand.  She squeals in delight and turns it up.

“What, this?  I hate this song,” I tell her, but she’s already turned it back to the station and started singing along loudly.

I laugh in spite of myself as she throws some silly dance moves into the mix.  We’re enjoying a rare day off together, heading out for some lunch before the movie we’ve both been excited to see.  I feel more at ease than I usually do, even though it’s gray and rainy out.  This sort of weather usually leaves me grumpy, but I’m not going to let that ruin our day.

“Come on, dance with me!  Dancing is manly!” Sadie teases.

“You know, you are completely –”

I’m cut off by a violent impact that throws everything into a chaotic blur.  The entire world is a swirl of noise and movement and confusion.  Shattered glass flies by as the deafening screeches and screams echo through the car.

Then everything goes black.

~                             ~                             ~

I look around, confused.   What happened?  Where am I?

In front of me is a twisted, shattered mess of metal and broken glass.  Only when I see a tire attached to the senseless jumble do I realize that I’m looking at a car.  Two cars, actually – the crumpled front of one is buried in the side of the other, and both are so destroyed that it’s hard to see where one ends and the other begins.

For a frozen moment, I stand there stupidly, staring, unable to make sense of the scene before me.  It all hits me at once.  One of the crumpled heaps is my car.  The one I’d been driving seconds before.

“Sadie!” I cry, racing around to the passenger side.  She’s unmoving, eyes closed.

Don’t be dead, don’t be dead…I beg silently.

Then I see the person in the driver’s seat and my mind screeches to a halt.

Sitting in the driver’s seat, bloody and broken, is…me.

In my panic, I hadn’t even considered how I’d gotten out of the car.  I stare blankly at my own body.  I’m unharmed – not even a scratch.  An out-of-body experience?  A nightmare?

People are rushing over, panicking, shouting our location into their cell phones.  A middle aged woman approaches the car.

“Hello?” she calls out.  “Oh, God, they don’t look…they…911?  Hi, yes, there’s been an accident…”

She’s looking past me.  Through me, it seems.  She doesn’t even notice me.

I ignore her.  Time is being wasted, and regardless of whatever’s going on with me, Sadie still needs my help.

I don’t know if the door will open, but I decide to try anyway.  When I reach out to grab the handle, my fingers slip through it like smoke.

A horrible thought creeps into my mind, and I quickly reject it with a violent onslaught of logic.  I must have hit my head, that has to be it.  Head injury, excessive blood loss, something.  I’m hallucinating.  I’m dreaming.  I’m going crazy.

The crowd pushes closer now, and a young man goes to the door, opening it and touching Sadie’s shoulder tentatively.  “Ma’am?  Ma’am?” he asks.  Everyone is afraid, unsure what to do.

Sadie makes a weak groaning sound and relief floods through me – she’s alive.  I’m still not sure how bad her condition is, but alive is a good start.

I hear some gasps and turn to see what has happened.  The other car, the one that hit mine, is opening, and a man staggers out.  He vomits in the street and falls to his knees.  A few bystanders go over to help him, their faces white, eyes wide.

Without thinking of it, I begin moving toward the man.  I stop maybe ten feet away, staring at him.

Sirens can be heard in the distance now.  I don’t look away from the man who hit us.  One thought keeps running through my mind, over and over:

My light was green.

Flashing lights cast blue and red across the scene as the ambulance and a fire engine pull into the intersection.  Paramedics pile out, some tending to the kneeling, shaking man in the street, others going over to my car.

I rush back to Sadie and watch as they carefully pull her limp body free.  On the other side of the car, a large, loud machine is prying the two totaled vehicles apart.  I study the grim faces of the workers, desperate for an explanation.  They get my door open and check me over, shaking their heads.  Slowly, circle the car to stand beside them.

I see myself – I look so much worse from this angle.  My first thought is that no one who looks like that can be alive.

The paramedics begin pulling me free of the car.

“Hey!” I shout, taking myself by surprise.

No one notices.  I walk over to them and get right up in one guy’s face, screaming, “Hey!  Look!”


They lay my body on a black tarp in the street.

“Look at me!” I scream louder.  The shock is wearing off, and I’m starting to feel the edge of panic sinking in.

“Why won’t you look at me?” I roar.  I try to grab the man I’m screaming at by the shirt, but my hands slide through him, and he doesn’t notice a thing.

I hear a zipper and look down.  They’re closing up the black body bag around the dead man.

Around my body.  Me.

~                             ~                             ~

The rest of the aftermath passes me by in a blur.  I’m only aware of Sadie, clinging to life.  I stay with her, never leaving her side.  I keep trying to hold her hand – every time I can’t, I feel sick inside.  I refuse to think about anything but my wife.

Please let her live.  Please.

I stand beside her as the paramedics work on her, and as they rush her into the hospital.  I do my best to hold her hand as the ER doctors work to save her.

They manage to stabilize her, but she won’t wake.  The word “comatose” breaks through my haze as I sit stroking my wife’s hair.  Her face is a mess of cuts and bruises.  I trace my fingers along the swollen, purple flesh around her left eye.  She’s still so beautiful, even broken and battered like this.

I didn’t protect her – that’s all I can think now.  She’s lying here, and she still might die.  Even if she doesn’t she’s going to face hell when she wakes; her spine was injured, I don’t know how badly yet, but no one sounds very hopeful.

My wife is a ballet instructor.  If she’s lost the use of her legs…well…that would just be one more thing she’s lost today.

“I’m sorry, baby,” I whisper, clasping her hand in both of mine.  I’m not really holding her, not really touching her, but I like the gesture, even if it is pointless.

I stay for several hours, just watching her sleep.  Sometime past midnight, I get too restless for the small room.  I feel claustrophobic.  I brush my lips against where her forehead is – no contact is made, but it’s as close to a kiss as I can get.  I whisper to her that I’ll be right back and stand up, wandering out into the hall.

Nurses are ambling about, but the hospital is still rather quiet at this hour.  I head down the familiar hall, peering into the rooms.

It dawns on me that the other driver, the man who hit us, must be here.  He was injured, too – I try to remember if I saw him being put into an ambulance, but all I remember from the accident is seeing my broken body.

I need to find him.  I head down the hall, unsure how to locate him.  I have no idea how badly he was hurt, or what his name might be, but I walk the halls, searching in spite of this.

It dawns on me after a moment that I’m still acting like I have a physical body.


I don’t like that word.  It makes me uneasy.

That bothers me, too – how can I feel uneasy, like my stomach is churning?  I don’t have a stomach.  I don’t have adrenaline to make me jumpy, or veins for it to course through.  Are these phantom perceptions, like when a person loses a limb, but still feels sensations in the lost appendage?

The scientist in me can’t make sense of any of this.  How do my legs move without bone and muscle?  Where are my thoughts residing if I have no physical brain?  Why do I feel weary and exhausted when my body isn’t real?

I wonder if I can give myself a headache.

Distracted, I don’t step aside in time to avoid the nurse who is walking right at me.  I instinctively try to side-step, expecting a collision, but she walks right through me without breaking stride.  I watch her walk away, then look down at myself.  I appear solid, but it’s obvious that no one else can see me.

I reach out and touch the wall in front of me.  I can feel it, but I can also tell that I’m not contained by it.  It’s more like touching the surface of water, knowing that you can move past it.

I push through, my arm disappearing up to the elbow.  This gives me the creeps, so I quickly pull my arm back, flexing my fingers.  Now, I’m intrigued.

At the nurses’ station, there are various objects I can test this out on.  I go to wrap my hand around a cup of paperclips, but my fingers pass through it as if there’s nothing there.  I try again, concentrating harder on my simple task.  I can almost feel it this time – there’s the slightest pressure against my fingers.  This exhilarates me, and I try to move it, just slide it across the desk.

My focus is broken by a nurse reaching into the cup and lifting out a few paperclips.  Her arm passes right through me, and I’m so startled that I jerk back, passing through a seated nurse behind me.

This catches me off-guard, and in my already jumpy state, I lose all focus.  I keep falling – through the ground, down to the next floor.

I shout in alarm, but of course no one hears.  I continue to fall, going down yet another level.

“Stop!  Stop!” I yell, starting to panic.

To my shock, I do.  I stop, hovering in the air.  I drift slowly to the floor, where I want to land, turning so I place my feet on the ground.  I can “feel” it underneath me.

I kneel down, pressing my hands against the floor.  They go through it when I push, but when I look at the ground and think of it being solid, I can rest them on the floor like normal.

I play with this for a while, wishing I understood my new existence better.  People walk through me here and there, but I’m starting to feel a little less disturbed by that.  I half-listen as they pass by.

“He was in a car accident this afternoon,” a nurse said, catching my attention.  I look up and see her talking to a doctor, handing over some files.

The odds of this being my guy are slim, but I follow the pair anyway, listening to their conversation.

The room they go into houses two men, neither of which I recognize.  They are in less serious condition than Sadie, though.  I wonder if he might be on this floor.
I start going through rooms, initially heading to the hall, but then remembering that I can simply pass through the walls.

Walking directly toward a very solid-looking wall is unnerving.  Part of me still expects to just crash into it, but I pass through easily.

The next room is quiet, no doctors or nurses, just the two occupants.  Neither is the man I’m looking for, so I keep going.

When I finally find him, I can almost feel the breath escape me, though I haven’t inhaled in almost eighteen hours.

He’s asleep – I keep forgetting how late it is.  I look at his chart:  “Sid Daniels”.

This is the man who killed me, I think.  His right arm and nose are broken, and he’s covered in bruises, but beyond that he seems fine.  I stare at him, a quiet hatred flaring up inside of me.

“I’m dead,” I blurt out, glaring at him.  I’m seething and fuming.  “I’m dead because of you, you son of a bitch!  My wife might die because of you.  And you’ll heal and walk out of here and go on with your goddamned life!”

“Whoa, that’s rough.”

I whirl around, almost falling through the floor again, but catching myself before I lose my grip.

There’s a young man standing behind me, looking right at me.  He smirks at my panic, but not in a mocking way; he just seems, in general, amused.

“Who are you?  You can see me?  What’s…who are you?” I demand.

He holds out his hand.  “Bobby.  I’m a ghost, too.”

I look down at his hand and he chuckles.

“Come on, I’m not gonna bite you.”

I reach out and shake his hand.  I can feel it, which is a bit shocking after hours of being completely removed from the world around me.  It’s not like a human hand, though – not warm flesh.  It’s more like a field of energy.  His hand pushes against mine in a way that reminds me of magnets with the same polarity.

“Adam,” I say.

He nods.  “Good to meet you.  New to the ghost life, huh?”


“You mind me asking what happened?” he inquires, glancing at Sid.

“I was in a car accident.  He must’ve run a red – he…” I’m struggling with the words.  It’s harder to say than I thought it would be.


I try to remember.  “A little past noon, I guess.”

He shakes his head, “I’m sorry, man.  Awful.  How’s your wife?”

“Coma,” I manage.

“Well, they got good doctors here, I bet she comes out just fine,” he assures me, jamming his hands into his pockets.

“Yeah, I know…” I don’t mention that I used to be one of them.  I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that I’m talking to a ghost.  I am a ghost.

“How…when did…?” I attempt to for a question.

Luckily, Bobby understood me.  “Been here twenty-five years.  Died at the ripe old age of seventeen.  Break-in, ugly stuff,” he says nonchalantly.

I do the math quickly and realize that this makes him my senior by eleven years, though his baby face makes that hard to accept.

“I’m sorry,” I say automatically.  Part of me wants to know more, but I silence myself.

Sid is still lying there, and my eyes drift back to him.  The rage starts to bubble up inside me again, but I don’t know what to do with it.

Bobby shrugs, grinning.  “Hey, shit happens.  You stop being angry after a while.  Most move on eventually – go haunt somewhere else, or disappear.”


He nods.  “No idea where they go, just poof! Gone!” he says, wiggling his fingers.  I stare at him and he laughs.

“So, where’s your wife?” he asks after I offer no response.

“Two floors up.”

“Can I meet her?”

I consider this for a moment, and can’t think of a real reason why he can’t.  “Sure,” I say with a shrug.

“Two floors up?” he asks, taking hold of my elbow.

“Uh, yeah.  Why –”

Before I can ask what he’s doing, the world around me becomes a disorienting blur.  It stops after just a second, but rather than feeling woozy, as I would have when I was alive, I feel fine.

We’re not in Sadie’s room.  I try to remember where she is, heading out into the hall to get my bearings.

Her room is on the other side of the building, I realize.  My first thought is to follow the hall around to where she is, but I feel silly doing that with Bobby watching, so I walk straight through all the obstacles, wincing slightly at how strange the sensation is.  Beside me, Bobby is completely untroubled.  I wonder when I’ll stop feeling so out-of-sorts.

“How did you get us up here like that?” I ask as we pass through rooms crowded with doctors and patients and medical equipment.

“You just kinda think about what you want to do – go down or up or whatever – and then you just go.  You’ll get the hang of it soon.”

I nod, pausing as we reach Sadie’s door.  There are so many things missing – I’m not heaving a heavy sigh, my stomach isn’t clenching up at the thought of seeing her in this condition.  I feel a shadow of it, but I’m starting to suspect it’s more psychological than anything else.

I shake myself out of trying to scientifically analyze my current state.  That’s the wrong way to look at what’s happening to me.

“This is her room.”  I walk right through the closed door, and Bobby follows.

Seeing her makes me feel tense.  I go over to her and sit at her bedside.  I try to hold her hand again, but all I can do is place mine over hers.  I can almost feel her, but it’s not enough.  Not even close.

“Pretty.  What’s her name?”

I’d forgotten Bobby was even there.  Without taking my eyes from her face, I say, “Sadie.”

We’re quiet for a time as I sit, running my thumb along the back of her hand.  Or at least, pretending to.  There are so many old habits that I’m starting to realize are pointless.

“She’s going to be fine,” Bobby says with absolute certainty.

I chuckle weakly.  “I wish I were so sure…”

I’m silent for a while longer, and Bobby finally decides to excuse himself.

“I’ll let you be for now, I know how hard this is.  If you need me, just call me, I’ll hear you.  For now, though, I have some ghostly business to attend to,” he says, clapping me on the shoulder.

I can’t resist.  “Ghostly business?

He grins.  “You know, moving things out of place, pushing things off shelves, making noise in empty rooms, making people feel cold, leaving cabinets mysteriously open.  All that.  Gotta keep the legends alive.”

I chuckle and say goodbye.  When he’s gone, my attention returns to Sadie, and I sit unmoving for hours, willing her to heal.

~                             ~                             ~

Sadie has begun to improve.  She woke after three days, and I stood by as her mother gave her the hugs and reassurance I could not.  I stood by, helpless, watching as she cried over me, and over her legs, and over the near perfection that had been snatched away from her.

She sleeps often, leaving me far too much time to think.  When she’s awake, I’m absorbed by trying to communicate with her, but when she sleeps, all the fire goes out of me.  I’m lucky to have Bobby there to break the monotony.  I spend my days practicing holding Sadie’s hand, practicing grasping objects, and learning about my new existence with Bobby.

I’m getting rather good at moving things – I’ve even scared a few nurses, which makes me oddly proud.  He’s helping me learn, as he’s rather good at it himself, and he even fixes things around the hospital sometimes.  I laugh, because we used to joke that there was a friendly ghost looking over our patients and staff.

“Why are you so intent on being able to move things?” Bobby asks again one day.

It’s been a week since my death, and we sit in the ER, watching the drama of hospital life unfold.  This is a hobby of his, and I’ve taken to joining him when Sadie’s asleep.

“It just bothers me that I can’t,” I say, as I’ve said every time before.

We watch the patients enter the hospital, watch their injuries and illnesses unfold.  It’s rather depressing, actually, and I find myself getting more and more frustrated with the whole thing.

“That woman is probably going to have an aneurism.  See that blotch on her X-Ray?  It’s small, but it’s there.  They should operate,” I grumble.

“OK, that’s like, the thousandth time you’ve said something like that.  How do you know any of this?  I’ve lived in this hospital for twenty-five years and I don’t know half what you do,” Bobby demands.

“Well maybe if you were paying attention instead of checking out cute nurses and spooking patients, you’d learn something,” I say with a smirk.

He shoves me lightly, laughing.  “Seriously, Adam, how do you know all this stuff?”

“Alright, alright,” I say in a defeated tone.  “I watched a lot of doctor shows when I was alive.  Especially House.  And Scrubs – I learned the most from Scrubs, to be honest,” I admit, completely serious.

Bobby pushes me right off the counter.  It’s so strange how I feel almost nothing when I slip to the floor.  I jump up and pull myself back up to sit beside him, unable to keep from laughing.

“OK, fine.  Fine – I used to be a doctor.”

Bobby raises his eyebrows at me, “Really?”

I nod.

“Where’d you work?”

I’m quite for a moment before I answer.  “Here.  This was my hospital.”

Bobby laughs.  “Damn!  Ironic!  I like that.”

We hop off the counter and wander the hospital – he tells me about the break-in that killed him, I tell him about the accident that killed me.  It sounds morose, but it’s oddly cathartic.

As we walk, I spot a little girl, standing in the doorway of one of the rooms, looking completely devastated.  This isn’t out of the ordinary in a hospital, but I notice her because, as I watch, a doctor passes directly through her.  She twitches, but beyond that seems fine.

“Hey, another ghost,” I say to Bobby.

“Yeah, they’re all over this place.  Most of them like to hide, though, or keep to themselves,” he explains.  “She looks sad.  Hey!”

The girl doesn’t look at first, but after we get closer, she glances over at us, eyes wide.

“You can see me?” she marvels.

I nod.  “You’re a ghost.  So are we.  I’m Adam,” I say, holding out my hand.

She looks at it with the same uncertainty that I had when I met Bobby, but she shakes it, and again I experience the strange sensation of feeling another ghost.

“Bobby,” he says with a little salute.

“My name’s Darcy,” she replies.  She smiles up at us, and I wonder how long she’s been all alone, coping with her death.

“When did you die, Darcy?” Bobby asks brightly.  I give him a look and he shrugs at me.

“A few days ago… My brother and I were walking home from school, then…then I woke up here…only, I wasn’t…” she looks down at herself.  She’s only ten or eleven – far too young to die.

“I’m sorry, Darcy,” I say.

“The nurses said there was a drive by shooting…I guess we got hit…” she says, glancing back at the room she was standing by.

“Is that your brother’s room?”

She nods.  “My dad is here, too.”

Bobby whistles.  “Dreadful luck, then, huh?” he comments as he heads into her brother’s room.

Darcy and I follow him.  The boy on the bed is quite small, perhaps six or seven.  Darcy goes over to him and tries to touch his hand, the same way I have been with Sadie for the past week.  She looks like she might cry, but I don’t even know if she can.

“Do you think he’ll be alright?” she asks.  “He’s barely woken up…”

Bobby turns to me.


He elbows me.  “Dude!” he hisses.

I clear my throat.  “I think so, yes.  I…here, let me check…”

I move closer and study him.  I examine the bandaged bullet wound on his left shoulder.  Severe damage – he’ll probably never regain full use of that arm, but he seems stable enough.

“Oh yes,” I assure her.  “He looks bad now, but remember – he’s certainly lost a lot of blood.  Plus, you have to take into account the trauma to the body, it was very severe – it causes…” I trail off as I see Bobby, who rolls his eyes at me.  I glance over at Darcy, her brow furrowed as she stares at me.

“Um…he’s just tired.  He needs his rest.”

“He knows this sort of stuff.  He was a doctor when he was alive,” Bobby says, patting her on the back.

She nods and looks down at her hands, trying to clasp his.

“I was supposed to protect him,” she says in a small voice.

“I bet you did, doll,” Bobby says gently, placing a hand on her shoulder.

“He survived, didn’t he?” I ask, tapping her chin up and smiling at her.

She smiles, then looks up at me.  “Adam?  If you know this stuff…will you tell me how my dad is doing?  The doctors…I don’t like being around them…” she says, looking away.

I nod.  “Sure, absolutely.”

She grabs each of us by the hands and the world blurs again.

“Hey, you figured that out all on your own, huh?” Bobby asks, smiling at her.

Darcy beams, then heads into the room.  We follow her in, and I almost fall right through the floor in my shock.

“This is my Dad,” she says, touching Sid’s hand.  Her fingers drift through his.  He sits, quiet, staring blankly into space.

Bobby looks over at me quickly, but says nothing.  I stare at Sid, unable to do anything.

“Do you think he’s going to be OK?” Darcy asks, leaning over her father.  She hasn’t noticed how upset I am.  I force myself to get a grip – whatever he did to me, there’s no reason for me to upset Darcy.

I clear my throat.  “Um.  Well, he’s actually doing just fine…”

“He just…he seems so sad…” Darcy says.  She’s so concerned, but all I can think is how this man killed me, injured my wife.  I think of her parents – my sisters.  I think of everything we had planned to do, everything we had wanted.  It’s gone now, because of him.

“What happened to him?” Bobby asks.  I look at him, wondering what he’s getting at.  He knows exactly what happened to Sid.

“He crashed his car.  He was coming to see Max and I…he had just heard we’d been shot…and he was driving fast, I guess…and it was rainy…”

I hear her words, but I can barely process them.  Bobby is watching me.  The room suddenly seems very small, and I’m itching to get out.

“He’ll be fine.  He’s going to recover just fine.  I…have to go see my wife, check on her, make sure…excuse me…”

I rush out of the room, but I don’t go to Sadie.  I disappear into the familiar maze, passing doctors and nurses I know – people who were once my friends.  I avoid their eyes as I push my way through the halls.

I drift up to the roof and sit on the ledge.  I had always been too afraid to even go near the ledge when I was alive, but now, I dangle my legs over the side of the building and look down at the hundred-foot drop.  This would have given me vertigo when I was alive.  I consider jumping off, just to see what it’s like.

Eventually, Bobby finds me.  He sits beside me on the ledge.

“You OK?” he asks after a moment.

I nod.  “Yeah…sorry about running off…just…” I shake my head.

“Pretty crazy…” he glances over at me.  “You still gonna kill him?”

His question startles me.  I never told him I had any intention to kill Sid.  I can’t deny it, though.

“How did you know?” I finally ask.

Bobby laughs, but it’s a dark, humourless laugh.  “You think I didn’t do the same damn thing?  Think I didn’t boil with fury when they got off easy?  You think I didn’t hunt down the bastards who killed me and raped my sister?  Of course I did.  We all do, in one way or another.  If someone else is responsible for our death, if someone robs us of our life…we take something from them.”

His face is twisted and grim.

We’re quiet for a while, watching the day move into night.

“I don’t think I can kill him…his son…”

Bobby nods.  “I’m sorry, Adam,” he says with a sigh.

“I want to…”

He nods.

I put my head in my hands and close my eyes.

As darkness settles over the city, I get up.

“Alright, I’m going back inside.  I haven’t seen Sadie in a while…and I feel bad for leaving Darcy like that.”

We head back down into the hospital, and I sit with Sadie for a time.  I introduce Darcy to her – at least, as best as I can.

“She’s so pretty.”

“She’s a dancer.  Do you like ballet?”

Darcy nods and does a little twirl.  “I always wanted to go to ballet class, but we couldn’t afford it.”

I chuckled.  “My wife would have loved to teach you.”

“Can we go see Max?” she asks, still twirling a bit.

I don’t have the heart to tell her I’d rather stay with Sadie, so I get up and go with her.  Bobby hangs around, following us wherever we go.  I get the feeling that he’s bored, glad to have company.  I haven’t encountered any other ghosts, except for a few random glimpses of them watching me from where they lurk.  Apparently, not all ghosts like to be social.

A nurse named Sonja is tending to him, giving him an injection and checking his monitors.

Darcy stands watching him.  I find we sit less as ghosts – we don’t get tired standing.

“I really just want to get my hands on a smartphone,” Bobby says.  “They look fun.”

“They’re alright, I guess.  Mine was always ringing for work, though, so sometimes I kinda hated it,” I answer with a laugh.

“Adam?” Darcy cuts in, sounding a little frantic.

I look over, and immediately I know the problem.  Max’s monitor is blinking frantically, but there’s no sound.  There’s no mistaking the readout, though – this is an emergency.

“Do something!” Darcy begs.

“I-I can’t!”

I’m watching his levels plummet, watching him die.  He’s having an allergic reaction to one of the medications, and it’s severe.  He won’t last until someone comes to check, he’s dying now.

“Please!” she sobs.

I don’t know if I have any chance, but I have to try.  I go to the drawer where they keep syringes.  I focus intently on the handle, wrapping my fingers around it.  It slides open, and I get so excited that my focus breaks momentarily.


I grab the syringe loaded with adrenaline.  Now comes the hard part – I open the syringe packet and go over to Max, delivering the injection as quickly as I can.  My eyes fix on the monitors.

After a few tense seconds, his levels start to return to normal.

As soon as I see him even out, a wave of exhaustion hits me.  Bobby is at the machine, doing something.  It finally sounds its notification – Max is recovering, but still needs attention.  The beeping picks up, and Sonja immediately appears.  I drop the syringe inconspicuously in the trash and sink into a chair, feeling like I might fade right out of existence.

“You OK?” Bobby asks, watching me closely.

“What?” I look down and realize that I’m somewhat translucent.  I laugh shakily, and look up at him, grinning broadly.  I’m all out of energy, but it’s entirely worth it.  I had felt almost alive again.  And Max will live.

“He’s OK now?” Darcy says, sounding very calm.  She even smiles.

“He’ll be just fine,” I say.  I close my eyes for a moment, savouring my victory.  That was exhilarating.


Bobby’s tone startles me.  I open my eyes and see him staring at a shimmery cloud that is quickly dissipating.  It hangs in the air where Darcy once stood, then all at once, it’s gone.

“Darcy?” I whisper.

Bobby shakes his head.  “She’s gone.”

“Gone?  Where?”

He continues to star at where she was.  “I don’t know.  Wherever we go after we’ve resolved our business.”

I sit, watching Max.  His sister is gone, and though I’m not sure about this, I doubt there’s a mother in the picture – Darcy never mentioned her, and Sadie’s mother has been at the hospital every day, fussing and fawning over her daughter.  Sadie is thirty – Max is six, but I haven’t seen his mother once.

My hands are starting to look normal again.  I’m glad – it’s creepy when they’re translucent.  I look down at them, then back at the little boy.  Sonja is still tending to him, and he’s beginning to wake, asking about his father.

I can’t rob this little boy of his father.  And I can’t kill a man, even if he killed me and crippled my wife.  I took an oath, after all – doctors save lives, they don’t end them.

“Doing OK?” Bobby asks me, trying to sound casual.

“Yeah…yeah, I’m fine.”

“Wanna get out of here?”

I nod.  “Why not.  We can see if anyone else needs help, huh?”

“That really jazzed you, huh?” he says with a laugh.

I get up and look down at myself.

“I’ll be right back – I have to do something.”

I head up to Sid’s room and watch him as he sits, depressed.  I don’t know what to make of him anymore – I still hate him, that’s for certain, but part of me can’t help feel that he’s suffered enough.  And that he’s going to suffer more.  I don’t need to punish him; he’s lost his daughter, and will face a lot of trouble for his reckless driving.

Sid is a mess.  I surprise myself by reaching out and patting him on the shoulder.

“I forgive you, you stupid bastard,” I mutter.  “You better take great care of that little boy.  I’ll be checking in.”

He shivers and looks around, and wonder if my words might have reached him somehow.

“Oh, and drive a little more carefully, OK?” I add.

And with that, I walk out of the room.  I have a wife to look after, a hospital to keep in check, and my whole afterlife ahead of me.


  • Mark

    Love this story. How can you go wrong with a story that stars a ghost?! It’s an honour to have my name on it and to be your first comment. I’m looking forward to reading more of what you plan to post.

    • Elena Victoria Elizabeth Jacob

      I’m very happy that it pleases you :)

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