Wednesday, September 10, 2014

New Beginning 1031

The hospital reeked of blood. It filled Morcant’s nose even before the doors opened, pulling him from the shocked stupor he’d been in ever since he got the call from his son.

He lurched toward the reception desk, shoving people out of the way. “Where is she?” he demanded, his voice hoarse and broken.

The receptionist leaned away from him. “Sir, you can’t just—”

“My wife, damn it! Where is she?” He clenched his eyes shut, willing them not to turn silver.

“Dad.” Enid pulled at his arm. How could she be so calm?

A doctor came through a pair of doors. Mid-forties, African-American. “Morcant. Enid. I’m so sorry.”

In two steps he was in front of her, ignoring the stares of those in the waiting room. “Where is she, Helen?”

Sympathy filled her gaze. “Morcant, no. You don’t want to see her. The accident was ... It was bad. I thought Geraint told you.”

If Morcant’s heart could have beat, it would have cracked his ribs. Instead, his stomach heaved. “I need to see her.” 

The doctor sighed. "You would have seen her already if your eyes weren't clenched shut. Open them and look around."

Morcant's eyes, which had so far not changed into any precious metal, opened slowly and took in the waiting room. Now he understood why the place reeked of blood.

"She's right there in the corner," the doctor said in a gentle voice. "And on the ceiling, and a bit near the receptionist desk, and on what's left of the carpet."

Morcant's stomach heaved again. "You say this was an accident?"

"Well, drinking the gasoline was an accident. Apparently the bottle was mislabeled. Having her wait for treatment in a seat next to a dragon with hiccups was ... well, let's just blame Obamacare, shall we?" 

Opening: SB.....Continuation: JRMosher


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

His hands shook as he followed Helen past reception into the bowels of the hospital. He had told his wife not to let her cases get to her. They walked through the trauma area into a side-room, and there she was. Mentally prepared for the worst, the sight of his wife, in that state, still was too much to bear.

On her way to work, preoccupied with a patient's diagnosis, she had accidentally wandered into TJ Maxx instead of Bloomingdales and bought a polyester pant suit.


Suddenly, a soft voice could be heard throughout the hospital corridor.

"Spank me like that!" it said. "Snap the diaper!

Snap it!"

"Mom?" Enid suppressed his smile.

The doctor covered her mouth like a schoolgirl and giggled.

"What's going on here?" Morcant's chest swelled and bumped the opposite wall.

"Hehe," the doctor smiled, "playtime."

"Mom's involved in hospital fetish play. She--she's also bi," Enid said.

"Bi what?" Morcant was now clenching his eyes so tightly he could see a radiant blue Uranus.

"Your wife sir, had a little accident in one of our adult cribs. She's fine now. She'll have a cast on her arm for a few weeks," the doctor said, and licked her pen like a popsicle. "Care to join us?"

"Go ahead dad, de-stress. Mom has wanted to show you this side of her for years. Now you'll know," Enid gently pushed his father toward the doctor's open arms.

"I might as well try this," Morcant sighed.

"Lord knows you need it," the doctor said, and led Morcant through double doors as Enid smiled.


At that moment, the doors opened. Morcant could see a body lying on the table, covered with a sheet. He rushed forward, reached to touch his wife -- and she opened her eyes and bit him.

And then Morcant was a zombie.


Evil Editor said...

When you say: In two steps he was in front of her, I'm not sure you don't mean the doctor is in front of Enid. This can be avoided if you reveal the doctor's gender along with her race and age.

Of course, as Morcant later calls the doctor Helen, we see he knows her well, and thus would not have remarked on her race or gender upon seeing her. So instead of saying "A doctor came through the door," say "Dr. Helen Balfour came through the door."

I'd still say "In two steps Morcant was in front of her....

SB said...

The first anonymous one is my favorite (made me laugh), though the second anon is closest to what the actual continuation is (not that that was the game).

Do you think I should name the doctor like that even if she's not a very important character? I used some descriptors so the reader had a vague idea what she looked like, and I had him call her Helen to show that Morcant is at least on a first name basis with her (and because, since he is, that's what he'd naturally call her).

Actually, now I'm curious if you any general advice about how much physical description to give when first introducing minor characters. (Helen, in this case, is a minor character who recurs occasionally and might be used more much later.)

Evil Editor said...

We are seeing the scene through Morcant's senses. He's currently in no condition to pause and tell us what Helen looks like. If things are calmer next time Helen is around, the POV character may describe her in as much or little detail as you wish.

Dave Fragments said...

My recent experiences with Emergency Rooms do not match the arrangement of what you describe. I've been to the emergency rooms of four hospitals in the past year. A few more if I go into my past.
However, the scene does work for me as you describe it. I've seen emergency rooms of this small configuration in the past. IT is possible in a small hospital that the doctor would be merely a set of doors away from the waiting room. The ER's I've been in recently have individual rooms and almost no waiting area. The last ER took the deceased to a private suite that was two rooms - one for the body and the rest for the family with chairs to sit on.

I've never smelled blood in an ER. That wasn't real for me. The only time I have ever seen bloody messes in ER was on the TV program ER. Back 40 years ago, I didn't see bloody messes or hear about them in an ER. In this day and age with the knowledge of blood-born pathogens, no one gets near blood without gloves unless they are on TV and doing it for drama.

I had to think for a moment about who Enid was but I figured that Enid must be related to him - daughter or sister or at worst a good neighbor or coworker.

I didn't have a problem with the doctor's name.

SB said...

Ah, I see. That makes sense. Thanks.

SB said...

Thanks for the comments, Dave. I haven't been in many ERs myself (none that I can remember), so unfortunately I have to extrapolate. I suppose I could visit one, though I wonder if they'd just shoo me out. Hmm.

Incidentally, the blood smell is because he's a vampire (also hinted at with silver eyes and heart not beating). After the rest of the short chapter, hopefully the reader will have picked up on that.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

There is a point of view slip right here:

"...he demanded, his voice hoarse and broken."

No one thinks of their own voice as hoarse and broken, and we're in his point of view. Anyway, his attention right now is not focused on what his voice sounds like.

Other than that, I think it works okay.

khazarkhum said...

I figured he was a vampire. I also figured that either this was a monster hospital, where all the Dr & patients are lyncanthropes, vampires, or zombies, with the occasional human brought in for 'outreach' training.

Cil said...

Hi SB, the first paragraph made me think he was a patient in the hospital after a terrible accident. This was due to the hospital reeking of blood and it filling his nose.

The second time it tripped me up was the silver eyes. Is this a vampire trait? I thought he was possibly a doppleganger.

I agree with Dave, a hospital's emergency waiting room wouldn't reek of blood. But it is possible to have a patient who is bleeding rushing into the emergency waiting room. If the injury is bad enough for an ambulance they will enter through a different entrance, but if it is a small injury they might come in themselves through the waiting room. I once took a friend to the hospital who had ripped his hand open and we came through the emergency waiting room to see the nurse, needless to say they ushered him through immediately.

If you reverse paragraph 1 and 2 and make him push past someone who has an open wound it might make the scene make more sense.

I hope that helps.

SB said...

Hi Cil,

Thanks for the comments. The hospital reeks of blood to Morcant because Morcant is a vampire, and in this world, vampires can smell blood in the air like a shark can detect it in the water. Even a small amount would be evident to them. It would only take one person with a bad wound in one of the nearby rooms for it to be very strong to his sense of smell.

I put that in, and the silver eyes, and such things, early on to establish that Morcant is not human right away, to clue in the reader right off that he's a vampire (even if it takes a few pages for them to determine exactly which non-human being he is). This is me showing rather than telling.