The doors of the old elevator creaked open. The fourth floor was certifiably the worst location for an apartment, but as a young medical resident of New York, Allison would take what she could get. New York smelled like life, when those old doors were finally open to the reception area of the complex, a wave of smells and emotions filled Allison’s nose. She felt bombarded with vivacious energy the moment she stepped onto the marble floor, and saw the bustling city through the rotating glass of the front door.
“Good morning, ma’am,” nodded the doorman, with his usual smirk. The smell of his after shave and breakfast of pancakes smacked Allison’s nose like a familiar blanket of comfort as she passed. His brunette hair was tousled to the side of his face in a slick swoosh of elegance, a single strand hanging from order, just barely grazing his bronze skin.
“Why, good morning, good sir,” Allison teased back, blowing a kiss behind her as the revolving door spun open for her. She pushed the door forward, spinning until she reached the outside air, scarf and chestnut hair catching the wind. She loved cold urban moments like these; the sound of birds chirping in central park across the street and taxis desperately battling for passengers, horns aggressively honking.
With the leg of her skirt lifted, Allison hailed a cab, her bronze skin cringing in the way of the brisk wind. After a few moments, she’s spotted by a familiar yellow vehicle, which screeched to a halt at her side, a cloud of dust at its wake. She fell into the taxi cab, feeling the plush fabric of the back seat against her.
“Where to, miss?” Asks the cabbie, resetting the fare from the previous trip. His hands absentmindedly tapped the steering wheel anticipating a response.
“Metro City Hospital, please,” Allison requested, leaning her head against the window. She watched the immense city flow by. Her bronze skin pressed against the cold glass, her hair a mess from the wind. Her eyes slipped shut for just a moment- any opportunity for rest before hospital rounds was taken with great appreciation. Her eyes snapped open as the taxi jerked through the chaotic New York traffic, horns blaring and pedestrians dashing across the streets. The car halted to a skidding stop at the Metro City Hospital, where Alison was welcomed by the sound of ambulance sirens.
“Dr. Stewart, I am so relieved you’re here!” Gasped the first response nurse aid, climbing out of the ambulance, following a stretcher. The patient was draped underneath a white blanket and appeared not to be moving. “We have a patient coming in with traumatic wounds to the chest cavity, we’re going to need you in the OR stat!”
That was all Allison needed to hear, with a nod she dashed after the stretcher, grasping onto the end of the bed, helping the nurses push it through the automatic doors of the emergency room. The stretcher sped down the hallway at lighting speed, patients and doctors dashing out of their way, looks of shock spread across their faces. The swinging doors of the operating room spun open, wheels of the stretcher squeaking to a halt as its carriers scrambled to assemble the equipment needed for an operation. As the nurses and aides frantically checked vitals and inserted IV, Allison swapped her long green trench coat for a blue operative coat and sanitary mask. She snapped on her gloves and dashed to the side of the crashing patient.
The OR room was silent as the cardiac monitor rang a flat tone. Gloves slipped off of disappointed hands and masks fell down from sullen faces. The wheels of the stretcher squeaked with rust as the patient was swiftly taken from the room by the hazard team.
“You did all you could, doc,” sighed Allison’s assistant Dr. Smith patting her softly on the back, long brown hair falling in his face as he removed his hair net, “come on, let’s go.” He grabbed her shoulder and guided her out of the operation room, down the hallway towards the on call rooms. He flashed his key card in front of the sensor of room #8, turned the handle to the door, and held it open for her. Allison stumbled into the small, dark room and fell onto the bed in a heap of exhaustion. She let her head hit the hard pillow and closed her eyes. Dr. Smith draped a frail medical blanket on top of her and made his way towards the door without a word.
As the door clicked shut behind him, Allison snapped up from the hard bunk and raspy blanket. Shad never lost a patient. In her four years of residency, the thought had never even crossed her mind that she may not be able to save a life. For some reason, something about this case hadn’t seemed right. The procedure had went flawlessly, the patient had no troubles and their vitals remained normal and constant, yet they still managed to crash into cardiac arrest with no response to any attempt at resuscitation. Even more peculiar, Dr. Smith had seemed ominously calm and collected about it, almost as if it were premeditated. With a stone-cold face, he had guided Allison away from the scene of the death and had not shed a single tear or shown any sign of remorse. She looked across the room and had a sudden realization- this was not her on call room. There was no portrait of her and her mother, no knicknacks, no filing cabinet. There was only a bunk bed, kitchenette and bathroom. She dashed across the room towards the door and pulled the handle, but it was locked. She began to panic, her chest tightened and her palms began to sweat. Dr. Smith had locked her in this room, he had killed that patient and she had a feeling she was next.
With a click, the intercom in the room projected a static noise throughout the room. A raspy voice revealed itself within the static, “You’re never getting out of here, Allison.”
“What do you want from me Dr. Smith?” Allison screamed to the ceiling. The temperature in the room seemed to be increasing- a pool of sweat was building itself upon her forehead and lower back. She gasped for air, but it felt as if her lungs were closing in.
“You know what I want from you Allison, I want you to admit what you did,” breathed Dr. Smith, his voice barely audible. “You know what you’ve done.”
“I don't know what you’re talking about! Let me go! Someone please help me!” She dashed across the room to the door and began banging, scratching at the wood, pleading for help. “Why can’t anyone hear me?!”
“No one is coming Allison, it’s just me and you, until you admit to what you have done,” the doctor whispered once again.
She collapsed in a heap on ground in front of the door. She could hear the bustle of the hospital just beyond the door, but no one was coming to help her. She could hear the tapping of the receptionist’s fingers on the keys of her computer keyboard, she could hear the footsteps of doctors and nurses running along stretchers, wheels screeching along with them, but no one could hear her- screaming, struggling. The room felt suffocating, the walls felt as if they were coming in towards her and her vision was blurred. Dr. Smith had surely put something in the ventilation system to kill her. She knew what she had done but she would never admit to it, she promised him she would never tell anyone. She promised her dad she would never tell anyone.
“Just admit it, Allison…” The voice whispered. As her nails scratched the door, it felt as if she were slowly slipping farther and farther from reality. She could feel herself slipping, her consciousness diminishing. She dug her nails once more into the soft wood of the door, dragging them slowly down until they came to rest at her side. Her head fell into her lap, and she slipped away.
“ALLISON!” Yelled a voice, strong hands gripped her side shaking and pushing her side to side. “Wake up! You’re going to be so late!” The voice walked towards her with heavy, authoritative footsteps and she felt it breathing over her.
She slipped one eye open. She wasn’t in the on call room, she wasn’t in her apartment, she wasn’t in the hospital. She was in a bed- tucked in, groggy, and disoriented.
“You and your friends really must have had a rough night at the bar then?” asked the voice. Allison looked to her side, to find the voice was none other than a disheveled, newly awaken Dr. Smith.