Grace had clean up the dead girl’s ward. Her back already cricked from the strenuous activities she was engaged in today. Stench and death ominously encapsulated the hospital. She rolled a stretcher past a group of people seated at the waiting room as they struggled to shield their nose from the fetidness.
She didn’t blame them, she thought. Only if they knew this putridity was soon their fate at their demise, they would have learnt to put up with the smell.
The young lady who had died on the stretcher she now wheeled claimed she tried to force out her pregnancy as suggested by her boyfriend, but the baby died in her womb and was stuck there.
The doctors had said she needed an urgent surgery to take out the dead feotus because it was already rotten in her womb. Her boyfriend fled the hospital under the pretense of raising money to foot her bill.
As it was against the hospital’s policy to start treatment without initial payment, the young lady who gave her name as Edet was abandoned in the stretcher.
When she was brought in, she was said to be smelling as a result of the dead baby in her womb so she had to be left alone in a ward and the doors closed.
People had described her as a beautiful and fair girl with attractive nails and well styled hairstyle.
It wasn’t until this night she was discovered to have died already since morning. She was swollen and black all over.
She needed to soak and wash the stretcher with disinfectant and hypochloride to silence the stench.
In her experience as a cleaner, nothing have come to scare or irritate her anymore. She had seen so many people die and often wondered how vain life was.
It was another world outside the four walls of a hospital, only if people stayed here for a week, they would be reoriented about life and its vanity.
Grace thought of what chore she had in her to-do list. Ah! Yes, the changing room. She needed to launder the soiled scrubs and patient’s gowns.
She walked briskly into the laundry room and began sorting through the clothings. She thought of John her husband to ease the stress she was already feeling. They had a date tonight and she couldn’t wait to be there after her shift.
Lost in her train of thoughts, she heard the curtains close. She jerked backwards and asked, “Who’s there?”
When she got no reply, she ambled towards the curtains and jerked them open. Nothing, she thought.
It must have been her thoughts. Then the lights of the laundry room began flickering. On and off. On and off.
Could the bulb be bad?
She instinctively reached for the switch and switched on and off watching the lights. When the light was back to normal she returned to her chores.
She gathered the clothes into the basket and stood up to meet her image in the mirror which hung on the tiled walls.
Horror struck her.
Dr. Jason stood, looking at her. His coat was bloodied with stab wounds and his stethoscope hung loosely around his neck.
He wasn’t smiling just staring. She muttered silently and made the signs of the cross on her face. This must be a bad dream, she thought.
She closed her eyes and opened them again, he was still there in her reflection on the mirror, he was mouthing something to her.
She screamed as much as her windpipes could muster. But he was still there, mouthing those words. Soon, a nurse rushed in. She was pointing to the mirror on the wall.
“But there’s nothing there, Grace?”
“I…I… I saw him. He was there, looking at me. I swear it I saw him.”
“Who? But no one is there!”
She wept, fell to the floor hugging herself into safety, whispering to herself “I saw him there” “He’s there.”
Mrs. Annie woke up on a bed in the hospital. Her daughter was on the bed beside her sleeping soundly.
This must be a dream! Emma was dead. She is not real. She clambered down from her bed, slowly walked towards where Emma lay and touched her daughter.
She felt her daughter’s warm flesh and heard her soft breathing.
What is going on here? How could she be alive?
Her daughter was not on tubes anymore, she noticed. Then this must be a dream because Emma had difficultly breathing on her own.
She shoved her gently and whispered her name. Emma turned sluggishly and fluttered her eyes open.
“Is this a dream, Em? Am I dead too? This is a beautiful dream. Now we can be together, always.”
“Mum? He was killed. He was murdered.” Emma was crying.
Her warm tears fell to Annie’s hands. Do people feel tears in the spirit world? Annie wondered.
“Who was killed baby?”
“You both are awake,” came a voice of reality. A female doctor walked in, smiling. “I’m Doctor Jane. How do you feel Emma?”
“I’m fine,” Emma replied.
“In my years as a Doctor, I have not once come across this kind of miracle. We’ve run several tests on your daughter who was confirmed dead a few hours ago, but is now alive, nothing is wrong with her. Even the cancer seemed to have disappeared.”
“The… cancer? Disappeared? How Doctor?”
“It’s same thing we are asking ourselves too. I would say this is a chance at life again,” she winked.
Yes a chance truly. It was all too surreal and impossible. She heard of miracles but had never experienced one herself.
“Did you hear that Em? You do not have cancer!” she said, holding her daughter’s hand. “Doctor? How soon can we go home?”
“Tomorrow as soon as the other results are out.” She looked into Emma’s eyes “Everything seems to be okay.” Grinning from ear to ear, she exited the ward.
“Mom we cannot leave! I promised to help him find his murderer.”
“Calm down dear. Don’t be hard on yourself please.”
“No mom, you don’t understand. I promised him I would help when I was been sent back here. He said he had saved my life once and it’s time for me to return the favour. He was a doctor in this hospital. He saved me that same night and we both died that night at the same time, mom! He’s stuck, he cannot pass and cannot rest. He wants his murderers brought to judgement. And I promised to help him do that. Do you understand, mom?”
Mrs. Annie nodded. “Yes, we would help him. I heard he died, he gave back to me what ought to have been my last moments with you. But it was rumoured he died because he slumped in the changing room.”
“No mom, he was stabbed. I saw the fresh stabs myself. Someone is trying to cover their tracks and I need to find out who. Mom? I need your help please. I promised to meet him tonight.”
“How are you supposed to do that?”
“He said when the time comes, I would know.”
“Okay, rest your head my dear.”
This was all too risky, Annie thought. If they could kill Jason, they could kill them both if they get an air that they were been sniffed out.
They needed to be careful now.
“Mom?” Emma called, tapping her mother gently. “It’s time he says.”
“Who says?” Annie asked, awakening from her sleep.
“Jason! He’s here!”
Annie sprang from the bed, sitting up straight. “He’s here? Where?”
Emma pointed at the door. Annie looked at the door to find no one there. “I can’t see anyone?”
“He’s there mom. He says it’s not time for you to see him.”
Jason entered the room, bloodied. The grace which once adorned his face was dent with pallor and anger.
He walked to Emma’s table, gesturing her towards the neat arrangement of beverages. Emma signaled her confusion, but Jason pointed specifically at an open box of cornflakes.
Emma reached for it and spilled the content on her bed to reveal a nicely folded paper. Jason nodded. “What’s this you’ve shown to me?”
“Open it,” Jason said.
“Are you talking to him?” Annie inquired.
” Yes, mom but you can’t hear him too.”
“Oh! Great,” she chuckled nervously.
She could feel the sudden chillness in the room, other than that nothing.
“Oh my God!” Emma exclaimed!
“Mom? There are a lot of unlicensed doctors and nurses in this hospital. Their names are contained in this document. Someone has been faking their licenses for years now. These doctors in this hospital treat patients through trial and error. It says here in this document that the hospital couldn’t afford licensed doctors, therefore quacks were employed. Mom, do you know what this means? This hospital would be shut down. They’ve been siphoning money off poor patients and treating them by the books.”
“Good grief! No wonder you condition deteriorated rather than improved.”
“Jason was going to expose this, that was why he was killed.”