??Pacific North West General Hospital (P.N.W.G.H.)
By Shaun Micheal O'Neal

??

??

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I start each day at work as I do every day, walking down the corridor and heading for the time clock. I punch in and get the mop and bucket. Another day of trying to keep this old place clean.

This is the Pacific Northwest General Hospital. It used to be called P.N.W.G.H. by the people that worked here. It was a good hospital in its day, one of the best. Good that is, until it was sold to a conglomerate health care organization.

The bottom line for the company was a simple one: Cuts cost and make more profit for the stock holders, board members and CEO.

That???s just what they did. The first thing to be cut was the quality of the food that was being served. Serving three day old bread was a lot cheaper than buying new.

Taking everything that was not eaten and throwing it into a soup vat. Ever seen French fries and scrambled eggs in soup? I have. Nothing was wasted.

It???s said that hospital food is bad but the cutbacks made it true and much worse.
The nursing staff was the next to be butchered. The staff was cut in half.
I can still remember the picket lines outside protesting. The nurses that were kept were given a raise in pay of course. Their patient load was doubled, sometimes tripled. Costs had been cut and the profit margin had gone up again.

Costs were being slashed in every department. Profit was at an all time high.

As you can imagine patient care was in ???critical condition???

The complaints poured in from the patients, their family's and the community. This place was being run just within the legal limits, There was no provable evidence of neglect, not at first.

Some people tried to bring suit for neglect. Some of them even got it into court. The lawyers for the company tied it up in the court system so long that no one ever got a dime.

Eventually people stopped coming here. People would rather risk driving 50 miles to the next hospital than come to this place.

The reputation of this once great hospital was ruined. Run right into the ground. All for sake of money.

When the money and profits were no longer good enough, everyone was canned and the doors were shut. The H.M.O. That owned the empty building used it as a tax ride off. It turns out for them even the death of a once great hospital can make them money. What greed!

The only piece of justice was that the administrator responsible for the cuts that ultimately closed the doors was the last person to die in the facility.

He lay in an old bed under a worn and tattered blanket with his heart failing. He died without as much as a nurse to hold his hand when he slipped away.

The heart monitor in that room quietly stopped and no one knew until it was too late. The monitor was on the list of things that needed to be repaired. A simple broken wire that led to the nurses station could have told of his passing. The administrator found out too late that all of the profit he had made for the company and the bonuses he made was just so much useless paper.

The city took over the building some years later after it closed. The donation of the building made the H.M.O. Look better. What it really did was gave them yet another tax ride off.

Now some of it is used for office space. Just the first floor is open for that. The rest of the building is now just rooms cluttered with boxes and files, storage mostly.

Old crutches, wheelchairs and gurneys scattered along the walls. The only sign of what the building used to be.

Beds were long ago stripped of their linens and now lay empty, cold and barren. The city tried to bring it back to live but failed. No even the city just lets it sit empty. Left alone to slowly decay.


Gone are the sounds of family???s crying over their dying loved ones.

Also long gone is the sound of laughter and relief as family and friends took loved ones home, healed and well.

All that is just a distant and faded memory now.

Only the smell of fresh bleach as I mop the dimly lit and baron halls and rooms. The only indication that anyone might still be here.

My name is Larry Shepherd. It???s my job to try and keep this place clean, and also to tell its??? story.

You see, with each room that I walk into and mop, I must relive the death that took place in there.

This I do in payment for causing all of the suffering felt by the people as their loved one???s withered and died. You see I???m dead too, and this is my fate.

Reliving the last days, minutes or events of the lives of the souls that have come to this place and died. In life, I was the administrator that cut all of those costs and made the company their huge profits so ruthlessly. Now I must pay the price for putting money ahead of caring; for turning my back on humanity.

I am compelled to go into one room after another. Drawn in. As I am sucked into each room I see and feel the pain and loss not only from the dying but from the family as well. I have no choice. I must walk into each room where someone died because of the cut back I made. If I could, I would leave this place. But I can't. With each room that I walk into, I relive the anguish leading up to and then die the death of the person that was extinguished there. I must experience all of their fear and all of their pain each time. Then everything goes black and I see and feel nothing. The next thing I know, I???m back walking down the hall to punch in.

It starts all over again - going in to clean a new room. Pulled in, my will useless to stop it. The last room is always locked and sealed forever from me. Cold comfort, but the memory will haunt my mind forever.

Each new room is a new horror for me to experience. One I deserve.

I can never see what is happening in the room I???m about to walk into.

I only have the feeling of dread. Oh, sometimes I can hear crying or even praying from right outside the door before I actually enter. I still have to walk into that room, mop in hand to clean up another mess that I am responsible for.

??



Room 315.

The pain in this room will never leave me, more so than the others that I have had to endure. In this room lay a beautiful girl of 21. At least I think she was beautiful. Her face is now wrapped in bandages. I feel myself falling, falling into yet another place apart from the hospital.

This place is filled with laughter and loud music. The people in this room are having a party. I open my eyes.

Hey Holly? You zoning out on us or what? I find I am standing in front of a young lady. She???s holding out a beer for me. I see my, her hand talking it. I???m fine Loire, I just got dizzy for a second. So Holly, have you checked out the new guy in the history lectures? I think he likes you. Really Loire? Cool, he???s hot! I just saw him in the kitchen and he was asking about you. He was? Yeah I think he wants to, you know. Party with you. Play your cards right and you might get laid tonight. Come on Loire, that???s what most guys want anyway. He is cute though.
Told you, Holly. So go talk to him. All right I???ll go talk to him. Don???t wait up for me. Ooh you tramp! Just like you Loire. Kiss. Kiss.

And with a wink I was off for the kitchen. I walked in and there standing next to the stove was Chris, the guy Loire had told me about. He had a beer in one hand and a smile on his face that made me Ah her, want to have his baby. God he is so hot! You???re Chris right? I hear myself saying. You must be Holly, glad to meet you. My hand goes out to shake his hand and he kissed mine. Wow, a gentlemen! Great she not going to fall for this I hope.


??

I went deaf at this point and the room went black. The next thing I know I???m in a car driving down a dark street with this guy. The windows are down and a cool breeze is blowing through my hair. I can smell pot. He hands me a joint and I take a big hit. I can feel my head starting to fog in a little. The car stops. Suddenly and without warning, I feel a hard dull thud to my left temple. The force of the blow slams me against the inside of the car door. Dazed, I barely have time to look up as Chris leaps out and vaults over the hood to my side of the car.

He flings opens the door, grabs me by the hair and drags me out.

I feel his fists slam into my stomach and it knocks all of the air out of me. He hits me in the face with his fist. Again and again he pommels my face. He proceeds to rip open my blouse. I can feel and see every thing but I can???t stop it! He takes out a knife to cut my bra off, but in doing so, he plunges the knife into my left breast. Blood starts to pour from the wound. He sounds more excited now. I can hear now that he???s laughing. Again the knife comes down, this time in my face. The blade is ripping at my lips and cutting my mouth open. The pain is horrible but the taste of the hot gushing blood is worse.

He then rapes me and leaves me there to die. My body violated, broken battered and bleeding.
I don???t know how long I lay there, beaten and bleeding. I'm all alone. He has taken the car. I finally manage to get up despite the searing pain in my face, chest and groin. I stumble back to the road. I???m almost hit by a passing car, but it stops in time. The driver, seeing my carved up face and body, calls 911 on his cell phone. The pain and blood loss is too great and I pass out.

I wake up in room 315. IV???s are coming out of my arms and my face is pounding in agony. I can feel where they have stitched my lips and cheeks back together. I try to call out, but the pain is too great. Later a nurse comes in and she checks the IV lines. With a forced smile and a heavy sigh she looks down at me. She gives me something for the pain, she puts it in the i.v. The morphine clouds my head.

I can still feel the pain but I don't care as much.

Well, at least you???re going to make it. We used to have a psychologist on staff for rape crisis cases but with all the cut back???s??? Hang in there kid, your lucky just to be alive. I would stay with you but we are so short that I just can???t. But I???ll be back as soon as I can. She puts her hand on my arm and gives it a squeeze.

With that the nurse turns and leaves the room.

I lay in bed with the pain and the memory of the night playing in my head. Over and over I see the face of my rapist laughing and spitting on me as he does unspeakable things over and over again.


It is much later when again someone walks into room 315. A shadow is cast across the dimly lit room as the figure pauses in the doorway. As they walk in, they shut the door behind them. I can hear the sound of shoes on the floor. Thinking it is just the nurse coming back to check on me, I do not look up, as if I could. Then I hear a voice through the haze of morphine and bandages that I am swaddled within. The voice shoots a bolt of terror into my heart. The pain and fear snap me back to full coherency.

???So bitch, you didn???t die in the road.??? ???Too bad your heart is about to give out now, huh???? He laughs quiet and sick.
I try to scream but the stitches in my mouth and the bandages on my face only serve to muffle my cries for help. My arms are too battered to move and have been restrained for all the IV???s. I do have the call buzzer in my hand I push the button again and again.

???Too bad for you. ??? ???I???ve heard this hurts like hell.??? You being pre-med and all you should know that. You stuck up bitches are all the same. You think you are so much better than the rest of us, too good to go out with a jock.

I watch helplessly as he unplugs one of the IV tubes and puts it to his lips. I watch in horror as he smiles and waves goodbye and blows air into the tube. I feel the bubbles crawling up my arm and then feel a searing pain as my heart stops. I taste her fear of death as the room starts to spin then it goes black.

I open my eyes to find myself walking down the hall, heading for the time clock.

Another door has been closed.

It is time for me to punch in again.



Room 211
Again I punch in. Again I grab the mop and bucket and head for a room. I never no what hell I will walk into. I have no choice. Hear I go again.

As I walk into this room a see and old man quite tall laying in a bed all alone. He has tubes and wires running everywhere. He is so week he can barley speak. I can feel his live oozing out. It makes me sick. His liver is giving out from years of being an alcoholic. I am pulled inside him.
He is so weak that the only way the nurses can get food into us is a tube in our chest.
I lay there for a time feeling the desperation and fear this man has. His life wasted from the booze and excess. I can sense the man is regretting his life.

Not going to his sons football games. Showing up drunk for a high school play his son was in. He never even went to his sons wedding. Getting fired time and time again for drinking. He knows its just a matter of time and he will die.

The sadness and pain is overwhelming.

A young man in his thirty???s walks in. I can feel the young man. This is his father. This young man knows his dad is going to die. Nothing and no one can stop it. Something strange about this young man. He has resigned him self to the impending death of his father. There is no love loss between them either.

The son goes and sits next to the old man. He does care for him. I can here the son ask if the old man wants his son to pass on a message to his wife. His mouth moves without a sound. The son puts his ear to the old mans lips. Straining to her the words. I can???t here what is being said. Maybe it's just as well.

I can only feel the desperation of the old man.

With a tear in his eye the son forces a weak smile. He reaches down and gives the old man a hug and kisses him. He walks out of the room without a sound.

Outside the room I can see the son talking with the doctors. One of the doctors hands him a pen. With his hands shaking he signs a stack of papers.

As he does I feel one of the most terrible feeling from the son. The son has just signed the paperwork instructing the doctors not to try and resuscitate the dying man.

This was the hardest thing the son has ever had to do. I can feel his pain and sense of loss.
The finality of signing the papers for the son is almost like killing the old man himself. The son walks back to the door and says his good byes.

Leaving the old man in the bed he is to die in sometime later this night.

The room grows dark. Day has turned to night. I'm now standing next to him. The old man is asleep. Suddenly the hart monitor wavers. It???s time. For the old man his death is a quick one. For me I can feel my heart stop yet again. Blood no longer pumps. My whole body cramps and I fall to the floor.

A nurse walks and checks the old man for a pulse. I try and scream. ???Can???t you see he???s dead??? but she can???t hear me. No one can hear me. I am alone as this dead man. The nurse pules the sheet over the mans head.

I feel the room start to spin???

Time to punch in.



??

I have no urge to walk into any room yet. Just mopping the halls. waiting for the time I must enter. This time for me is no rest. My mined starts to wonder what is next for me. What death will I walk into next.

A lot of people died in this place. Some were inevitable, it was just there time. Others, like the old man, it was his time. No counseling was suggested or given to the young man. Not even a nurse was there to hold anyones hand.

I have tried to walk into a room where the door is closed. It's no use, the door won't budge. Not as much as the door knob even moving. Looking under the door all there is in the room is blackness. No light at all. I know there is light out side I can see it from the skylights. I have even tried to walk into a room where the door is open. I never make it past the threshold. Something holds me back.

Perhaps no one died in that room. Maybe there is an order I must endure.


Trying to get out of this cursed place I have rushed a window. Trying to break the glass and throw my self out of this hospital of pain. I bounce off like it was rubber. I can't break or even smudge the glass.

No one outside can see or hear me either. I am trapped.

Each time I punch in it's the same. I know what will happen but I can't stop it from happening.

The floor I'm on is random as well. Sometimes it's the 2nd and sometimes it's the 3rd . I go down to the morgue from time to time. I don't die in there. But the suffering from the family lives on. It has no real end for me. Pain upon pain heaped on time after time.

Sometimes as I walk by the nurses station I think I see one of the chairs moving. Spinning slightly as if some had just gotten up. I'm dead and I still think I could loose my mined in here. I don't. it's just more torment for me.

There are times I find a note on the bucket telling me to go to a specific room and clean up. That dose not happen much. I never see who leaves it and I'm not sure I want to. The pain of those rooms, It's like going to hell when your in hell. I don't want to talk about it.

This hall is clean and I go to reload my bucket with clean water and bleach. As I get to the closet I see a note on the sink. It says only one word. ???Morgue??? I know I must go but I am dreading it. I know what will happen someone has died and I will feel all that they have lost.

I try and not even go to the elevator, but what or whoever is running this place wont give my any peace. I dump the old water from my bucket and fill it with new. I throw a cup of bleach in. All of a sudden the door behind me slams shut. I'm breathing hard, the lights go out.

I spin around to try and find the door. Just as I do it splits in the middle and I find myself standing in the the elevator looking out in the hall to the morgue.

The door is closed but there is light coming from inside. I can see it. I see figures moving through the translucent glass panel. I don't want to go in, I have no choice. I am drawn to the door as a moth to a flame. My hand reaches the doorknob I start to feel the pain. But this time it's different.

It's not just pain, it's fear as well. I open the door and I am sucked in. As I do a rush of fear hits me in the face like an icy wind. The fear, so strong it's choking me. I'm shaking all over I can't breath. There in the room is a woman standing over the body of her mother.

The woman on the gurney is very old, her face contorted with age.

She has no teeth, her eyes wont close. The body stares blankly at the light over head. Pupils opened wide.

All the tubes are still in her, an IV and a breathing tube, her gown has been riped open and I can see a slight burn mark on her chest where they tried to shock her back to life. Tears start to flood down my face. My eyes are stinging. I'm hyperventilating! The daughter is feeling so much fear that for an all to brief moment I forget about the pain. Now both are eating at me like a million fire ants covering every inch of my skin.

??

How can she endure this? How can I? She and I drop to our knees. I can feel the hard tile floor smash into my knee caps. There is so much pain at this point I don't really feel it.

A daughter loosing her mother, I can tell the daughter has given her whole life to talking care of this old woman. Now I feel more than pain and fear. Anger is rushing in me. How could you have demanded that. I waited on you hand and foot for all those years! Why did you do it. Mom I love you, please don't go. Please, please.
The fear, anger and confusion are too much for the both of us. We pass out on the cold acrid floor.

I awake to find my self in the utility room filling my bucket.

That last trip was so bad I don't remember punching in. My eyes are still stinging from all the tears.

No it's the fumes from the bleach that hurts my eyes as it mixes with the hot water that's all.

I start moping the floor of the main hall. This is were the nurses station is. As I go by I could swear I saw, just for an instant, someone sitting writing in a chart. This can't be I'm alone in the hellish place. Could this be a new way to torture me, the forgotten hope of company. A voice not in pain. Someone I could talk to!

I pass room 211 that door shut to me now. At least I will never have to go back in there again. 212 is open and dark. I can't even see light out the window.

That's how it is for me utterly dark until I walk in and suffer another life and light going out. 213 I feel a pull and there is a light on.


I can see my bucket being drawn in as if an invisible hand was pulling it. I feel myself being sucked in stronger and stronger until it becomes so irresistible I can no longer hold back. I have to go in, this is the next room.


Room 213

As I walk in something feels strange as if I should know what is going to happen next. Other than dieing, I never know what to expect. Still this feels different.

Lying in the bed is an old woman, she is on a morphine pump. At once I feel the pain steadily growing inside. It's cancer and my body is now riddled with it. Breathing is next to imposible, it's in my lungs. My belly is distended it's in my liver, everywhere. I can feel my blood turning to poison it's just a matter of time.

??

My temperature is bouncing all over the place. Hot, cold. A wave of nausea washes through me. My head pounds, that's the morphine. A man walks in the room. I know him! This is the same man who's father died down the hall. Now he's older. For him years have passed and now his mother is dying in this bitter place. There is anger and concern in him. The woman is in so much pain that the son has to sit there and push the button to dispense the drug at an even faster rate.

It's no use. The machine is only set to give just a little at a time. Not enough to diminish the agonies, the exquisite pain we both feel. The woman now starts to cry the pain is to much for her. I fall to the floor writhing. The son picks up the phone and makes a call, he is calling the doctor. He can't get through.

In anger he calls the nurse.

After 30 minutes the nurse walks in. She looks almost as bad as the dieing woman. What can I do for you she asks. The son responds I can't get a hold of the doctor and the drip is set to slow. Can you please increase the drip rate my moms in agony. The nurse looks at him shaking her head. I can't with out the doctors orders, I'm sorry the nurse turns and leaves.

The son looks for a way to open the key lock on the pump and help his mother.

No use, at least something here works like it's supposed to.

In desperation he picks up the phone again and calls the doctor one more time.

This time he get through.

Doctor please, my mom can't take it anymore.

Do what ever you have to to make her comfortable. On the other end of the line the Dr. says, ???I can't give her any more morphine, it could kill her.???

The response from the other end of the phone echo's in my ears.

I can hear, see and feel not only the dieing woman but the son as well.

The son in desperation says to the doctor, shes going to die anyway please just make her comfortable! The doctor gives in. I'll call and give the order.

Thank you said the son and hung up the phone.

He reaches down and takes his mothers hand. It's coming mom.

He keeps pushing the button for her. It takes over two hours for the nurse to come back. With the machine changed the pain in the old woman drops, but the cancer is doing unspeakable damage. Poisons increase and breathing gets harder. The pain spikes to a new level my liver has shut down and it's swelling at an alarming rate. The woman is in so much pain all she can do is lie there and moan, ???Oh God, oh God please make it stop.??? Over and over and over she cries out. I join in this death knell. Both our abdomens are so large now. Our skin has turned to a sick orange color and our tongues are swollen and bright red. It's getting dark outside. The son has to leave now but he wont. Hours of writhing have taken their toll. On the old woman and the son.

Latter that night the woman slips into a coma.

Knowing thats all he can do the son kisses his mother good by.

He walks out of the room tears streaming from his eyes. For her the pain is over.

For me the pain still builds. I now have to wait to die. There will be no coma for me. The pain is so extreme I can't think, I can't even scream. My liver is so large now I think it will burst. One last searing jolt like a red hot poker running the length of my body. The room spins out of site.

??

As my sight comes back I'm standing. I can see a long hall a head of me, and at the end there is a time clock, back to work.

I don't want to clock back in.

There is only one door I can see, it's next to the time clock.

Down the other end of the hall only darkness.

I don't know how far it goes it looks like it goes on forever.

??

I walk towards the time clock, this time, this time I will not clock in!

I try the doorknob, nothing, it's like stone. I can not turn it. I take my fist and pound the glass in the hope that it will break. Nothing happens.

The glass wont even flex. Wait, I can hear something coming from the blackened hall. I turn and look.

I can't see a thing. The sound, low and dark. I start to walk down the hall away from the time clock.

I think it's getting louder. Now I'm running down the hall trying to find it. After several minutes I stop, the hall is truly endless with no doors on either side. I can just hear it, it's, it's. I can make it out now.

I scream from the discernment of what it is. A thousand voices screaming in pain. And a loathsome sound of a whip tearing into flesh. I's coming up the hall, it's coming for me!

??

I turn and run as fast as I can. Pushed on the by the unholy sound of claws scratching the tile floor getting closer to me each each second. I can see the time clock ahead I grab my card and fumble trying to jam it into the opening, just as I get the card in there is a sound of a whip and I feel it rip into my back.

I slump to the floor. Exploding in pain and fear, I can see blood splatter the wall forming a surreal out line of my body.

As the clock stamps the card. I'm standing. There is no pain and my back is fine. Only the memory of flesh being torn from bone.

??

Time to start mopping.

I push the mop and bucket down the hall dreading the next room.

Some days I don't go in any room just mop the floors. For some reason the door to the elevator is open. This is how I know I have to go to another floor. I push the bucket towards the open elevator. As I step in I hear the bell give a single chime and the doors close. I feel the small box suspended on cables shake and descend. It stops and the doors open. I start to feel a little sleepy and drugged. My chest hurts, it's like my heart wants to give out. I walk into a room with bright lights. It's the operating room. What can I feel in here? Frustration of the doctors?

That can't be I feel drugged. Then I realize, I am feeling what the woman is feeling on the table. I hear the doctors say they are going to start now. The room spins as I am put out. I can see the gown being talking off and the breathing tube going down my throat. I should not be feeling this.

The room is cold and I hear the surgeon ask, Is she out. One of the other doctors looking at the old equipment. She's out. Suddenly I can't move. I feel the straps holding me to the table. I can feel panic! The woman is not out she is awake! I can feel the surgeon marking my chest. I try to scream. Nothing happens the drug to keep me still has done its job, but I am awake. I hear the doctor ask for the scalpel. I can't even take a deep breath and brace my mind. The blade cuts into my chest. I don't know what's worse the feel of the pain or knowing what will come next.

I hear the doctor ask for the bone saw. No, please! See that I am awake and I can feel everything. The saw does it's horrific job cutting my sternum. The pain is unreal. I am praying for death. I will not get it. Rib spreader comes next.

Their going in to my heart. I can't even tell you the pain and fear, it's all to much. Why can't they see that we are still awake. The old equipment reports that I'm out and safe. They could not be more wrong. Open heart surgery and I feel everything. The room starts to spin. I'm not sure any more. I hear the doctors yelling something is wrong. I know what it is. The shock and agony of being awake has ended my life, a blessed release from the horror. I can feel them try and shock the heart back to life. More pain it only prolongs the inevitable. Life slips away again.

Blackness fills my eyes this time I'm standing over the sink. I vomit and scream. Sinking to the floor, crying I just let go. All the pain all the fear.

All the money I made for the company, the suffering I caused.

It was all worth nothing and now I have to pay.

I hear voices outside the door. That can't be. I have never seen anyone in the place, but there they are, voices. I get to my feet as fast as I can and open the door. I look down the hall. Nothing and no one.

Wait I can see in the nurses station. A chair is moving as if someone has just gotten up from it.

Its spinning just a bit. I run towards it. I go over to the chair and put my hand on it. Its warm!

Someone has been here. I call out down the hall but no one answers.

There is a lump in my throat. I let my self have hope for one split second and now nothing.

I return to the closet were the bucket is. I fill it and head out the door.

As I go past the nurses station I look at it longingly. There is no one there. Something is different, there's is a note on the desk. It has my name in it. Who could have left it. There is no one in the place but me, alone and afraid.

For the first time in a long time I am afraid to move. Afraid of what?

I know that I am to die again and again. Am I loosing my mind? I

pick up the note and read it. All it says is, floor 6 room 6.

As I read it the door to the elevator opens. Curious I walk into the elevator.

I turn to exit and get my bucket but the doors close on me.

The little box shakes, squeaks and goes up. The door opens and I can see light coming from all the open doors. I don't want to go out. The light goes out in the elevator and I feel something pushing me out into the hall. This floor is different I can smell people. The stench of infection fills my nose and lungs.

It makes me want to vomit. I can also smell perfume. This floor is warm and full of sound. People in rooms, the sound of radios and monitors beeping. This place is alive. It has never been this way for me before. I walk down the hall looking into each room it's empty.

The bed striped. I walk to the nurses station and see only one monitor running.

It's not working very well the sound keeps going off.

I can see on the nurses desk there is a form to have the monitor fixed.

There is a stamp on it saying ???Declined??? all at once the sounds are gone.

Not even the air is moving. This floor is deathly still. I can hear the sound of labored breath. Its coming from down the hall.

I walk towards this sound, I can almost sense, remember, and then it hits me like a bucket of ice water. I turn to run.

I can't my feet wont move. I fight it, no use. I turn to face the end of the hall.

??

As I do the lights go out behind me. One by one. Now I must go, walking to the one room in this whole place I have dreaded more than all the others.

This last room.

For the first time I know what awaits me.

My blood runs cold and I can feel the warmth of my own piss run down my leg. I shake as I enter this room.

Unlike any other room I don't just feel what is going on. I'm not just sucked in to the old man lying in that bed.

You see this is the room I died in! This very room.

The old man lying in the bed is me!

Alone and my heart failing. I lay in the bed, cold struggling for every last breath.

This is it. My own death. I feel the pain not only of my heart giving out.

But the pain of being alone. My wife left me years ago. I have no friends, no one to be with me as my life slips away. Not even a nurse to hold my hand.

I lay there, not even the sound of a tv or radio to keep me company.

All that I have done to this once great place now stairs me in the face.

The neglect, poor working conditions, bad food, all of it.

This is my doing and it will be my legacy, my death, my punishment. There is one last pain in my chest. I panic, trying to push the call button. Its to late. My heart stops. The sudden stop of blood jars me. My life trickles out. The room becomes black and I can hear the sound of a million screaming people. I feel hot breath on my face and the sound of claws scrapping the walls, it's getting closer and closer. Just as I try and scream everything goes black. I seem to float for an eternity. I feel a rush of wind as if I'm falling...

Then I am standing in a long hall holding a time card. I see the punch machine. The ever locked door. Resigned I walk and put the card in and hear it punch. As I do the little bell rings inside.

I look at the card and it says time out.

To stunned to even speak I look at the card agaun. As I do to further my shock and surprise the door opens. And someone walks in. I can't even see who it is and they can't see me. They take a card and punch in.

As the little bell rings it turns to the sound of an alarm.

??

The phone is ringing. I jump and find myself in a puddle of sweat. I reach for the phone and pick it up. Still shaken I hear on the other end of the line. A mans voice talking to me. He sounds so excited. I know this voice. The voice belongs to Steven from work. He telling me, I have the job! I got the promotion I had been working on for the last two years!

I will be given an entire hospital to run out in the pacific north west.

Without hesitation I slam the phone down and sit up on the side of the bed.

I start to cry.

I am crying because I am alive! I slap myself in the face and feel the pain.

I'm back home, in my own room. But how? I was an old man. I run to the bathroom and look in the mirror. I'm back my hair is no longer gray!

The lines in my face gone.

I can remember all those years I spent slashing and destroying. All in the name of profit. The pain I inflicted on so many. The pain I was made to feel.

I go back to the bed and sit down.
To my surprise my wife walks in the room, seeing me crying she rushes to my side puts her arms around me and gives me a hug.
I wrap my arms around her and squeeze tight. The tears flow down my cheeks in torrents. Crying I realize what I now have back, my life, my wife, everything! Crying because I know there is no way I hell I will ever take that job.??

I know that I can't make a difference with the HMO, I would just loose my job and nothing would be gained. The HMO will just find someone else to ruin all the lives of those people.
I have been given a second chance at life. This life I have is too important to me.

The realization that It's not just my own life I have to think about.

My family and friends, not to mention all those that will pass through the doors of that hospital.

I understand this means my career. I don't care any more. I will find another job.

Maybe I can blow the whistle on the HMO.

Become a lobbyist. Fight this ???money is all??? system.

Hell I'll drive a cab.

Anything is better than what awaits the person who runs that place into the ground. At least it will not be me.

??

This time.

??

This story and more can be found in my book, "Garden Of Shadows"??