Dr. Leroy Sorenson is in for a horrific surprise after witnessing a surgery.
A Little Slice of Hell
Dr. Leroy Sorenson, Assistant Director of Surgery at Phoenix's Superstition Mountain Hospital, stepped into the darkened observation room in the hospital's surgery department carrying his usual tablet. On the walls were twelve 32-inch monitors, all switched off except one. Each displayed a red LED number in the bottom, right corner and were consecutively numbered one to twelve. The monitor for Operating Room 8 was designated for him. Inside, another doctor was perched in front of the monitor for Operating Room 2, but he didn't recognize who it was. His eyes still had to adjust to the dim light.
Leroy was one of many resident physicians who fought to secure this high-tech equipment. Their argument being that the cost of monitoring surgical procedures was far less than the cost of a malpractice suits because of a mistake. It took a little convincing, but the administrators eventually gave in and retrofitted each operating room with multiple cameras and microphones. Inside the operating rooms, teams could be monitored by external surgeons ensuring they followed a pre-determined checklist so that mistakes could be minimized. The low-resolution monitors hid the patient's identity, but the observer could still see what took place on the operating table.
As his sight cleared, he heard a chair squeak and turned toward the sound.
"Hello, Dr. Sorenson."
He recognized the clear female voice. "Dr. Crawford, it that you?"
"It sure is. I didn't know you were scheduled for monitoring this morning."
"Yes, it my turn today. What channel are you tuned to?" He liked to refer to each operation as an individual channel.
"Today, it's gallstone removal. Not too bad." Her monitor flickered. She whipped around to stare, tapped her tablet then turned back. "What's yours?"
"I little more complex than yours. I have an intestinal procedure. The patient has an unexplained growth in the large intestine and they're performing an exploratory procedure to discover what it is."
"Wow! That does sound interesting. Well, I'd better get back to mine. I'll talk to you sometime after yours is done."
"Sounds good. I hope it won't take too long."
He stepped forward and took a seat in front of the monitor for Operating Room 8. Grasping the remote, he switched on the monitor. Three nurses and the anesthesiologist, dress in their pale blue smocks and masks, were prepping the room. Dr. Sorenson gazed at his tablet. His eyes scanned screen then he stroked the pen upward to view more. He gazed up at the monitor again and watched the patient being wheeled in.
While observing all the pre-operative procedures, he tapped the tablet screen with the pen marking each box on the checklist as they were performed. He was proud of their new acquisition, and the hospital had already experienced better patient care and surgical room turnaround times.
Today would be a first for everyone participating in room 8. The patient was a found a couple of days ago passed out in the seat of his combine after spraying his crops with a new pesticide. When he was admitted, the emergency room doctors noted the swelling in his upper abdomen. Neither X-rays, CAT scans, nor MRIs revealed anything. The only way to uncover what it could be involved surgery, and they placed the man on life support until they could operate. Leroy had witnessed plenty of strange and gruesome sights in his thirty-five years of surgery, but he'd never happened upon anything like this. He found himself just as curious as those on the operating room team.
The anesthesiologist ensured the patient was under and that his vital were normal. Three doctors and three nurses gathered around the man's abdomen then, methodically, began their procedures. The head nurse scrubbed his abdomen with iodine then topped is by smearing on a second layer. Pale blue, sterile cloths were draped over his body leaving only an opening where the incision would be made. Because this was an exploratory procedure, an extended stay within the patient's upper abdomen wasn't expected.
Leroy watched the surgeons dive into their work. Once the initial incision was made through the epidermis and dermis, retractors were applied to hold the it back, clamps crimped the blood vessels, and a combination of irrigation and suction tubes were used to remove any excess bodily fluids. Leroy scanned down his checklist, marking it as each step was completed. His curiosity remained high.
What could cause his abdomen to swell and nearly kill him?
The cameras zoomed in as the surgeons proceeded to cut into the patient's fascia, the layer of tissue, just beneath the dermis. Again, more retractors, irrigation, and suction tubes were used. On the monitor, the protrusion finally came into view. It was dull grey once I was dried. He could not detect any blood vessels running through it so it wasn't being fed by the patient's body.
The lead surgeon gazed up into the camera along with two nurses before going proceeding. Leroy sat forward as the camera zoomed in a little closer. The head nurse handed a scalpel to the surgeon, and with a delicate touch, he made a long incision. Leroy could see the grey mass split, but not enough for its contents to be viewed. The team members glanced at one another, and Leroy could tell there was confusion taking place in there. He was concerned himself. That incision should have opened the mass. Following his original cut, the surgeon sliced again. This time black fluid bubbled out and everyone stepped back. Leroy gasped at the sight.
What could it be?
The team moved forward to contain the flow of fluid. One nurse's head snapped to one side and those standing next to her stared. Leroy thought she just sneezed. Then the assistant surgeon next to her jerked and raised his arm to his mask. The lead surgeon looked over as if to check if they were okay. The second nurse jerked then snapped her head. Leroy became concerned about the team.
Within a minute, the entire team had backed away from the operating table, seemingly overcome with involuntary movements. Their heads snapped and extremities flinched. Some rubbed their eyes while others pulled down their masks and gasped for air, gross negligence on their part.
Leroy jumped from his seat. "Dr. Crawford, hurry over here." He heard her chair squeak and footsteps approach.
He pointed at the monitor. "Look! Something's happening in the operating room."
"They've removed their masks! What the hell are they doing?" she asked.
"I don't know. It all started after making an incision into the mass in the patient's abdomen."
Suddenly, one of the nurses charged at an assistant surgeon knocking him into some equipment and sending him to the ground. The anesthesiologist jumped toward the two tussling and pushed the nurse away. At the foot of the table, the head nurse attacked the lead surgeon sending him to the ground. The third nurse jumped on the head nurse's back and began biting at her neck. Pandemonium had broken out in operating room with everyone attacking everyone else.
Leroy dashed over to the phone and called for security to scramble to the operating room. When he returned to the monitor, the team had begun using the surgical tools as weapons, slicing and beating one another. Pools of blood spread on the floor and sprayed over the equipment. Anguished faces cringed as the team tried to dismember one another. Soon, those hurt the most dropped to the floor and remained motionless. Those still alive continued struggling without any self-discipline.
Normally, the microphones inside the operating room were switched off, but Leroy switched them on. He could hear grunting, screaming, and equipment crashing to the floor. Unintelligible words spewed from their mouths. Then two security guard charged into the room and immediately covered their noses with their arms.
One shouted, "My god, the smell! The smell!"
They tried to break up the remaining team members, but soon the guards began twitching and jerking. They joined the fray attempting to destroy the team members and each other. Leroy watched helplessly as anyone who dared enter the operating room was overcome by the smell of whatever the patient had in his body.
One of the infected security guards disappeared from the screen. Leroy heard screams in the distance. He and Dr. Crawford ran from the observation room and down the hall towards the screaming. It became louder and louder as other voices joined in. As they arrived at the doors to the corridor, they stopped. Through the windows, they saw a crazed mob attacking one another with anything they could grasp. All their humanity lost. It was kill or be killed.
"We've got to get out of here and sound an alarm. This place needs to be evacuated and locked down! We can't let that smell leave this hospital!" Leroy shouted.
He grabbed Dr. Crawford's hand, and they scurried back down the hallway without looking back.
"Everyone, get out of the building now! There is something in the hospital causing people to attack one another. Cover your noses and get out now!" Startled hospital worker and visitors froze, stunned by the announcement. He couldn't stick around to give them full explanations.
"Come on! We'll take the stairwell. It will take longer for the smell to get inside there."
As he shoved the door open and let Dr. Crawford pass, he turned back. The hallway became flooded with screams now. The people that didn't leave were infected, and the frenzy of death had begun.