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Melissa flung her eyes toward the doorway. Nothing. A light at the nurses' station gleamed in the polished floor.
She whimpered. She knew it was coming. Like a rip in the fog, the clarity was fleeting. She dripped back into the haze. Echoes whispered in the hall. Growing. When her tether to consciousness snapped for the last time, it boomed in her ears.
The footsteps erupted.
Rattling the window.
Skipping under the bed.
Clattering in the sink.
Punching into the bed linens and tossing her body like a boiling sea.
Melissa's eyes bulged. The respirator choked and rattled. Mrs. Carr snapped awake. She leapt to the head of the bed. Desolation emptied her daughter's face. Screaming, she ran for help.
The fire of dawn burned in the stillness. A bird hopped to a nearby branch and rattled the leaves. It cocked its head as if embarrassed by the noise.
Far off, a horn blared. Then, a car engine surged. The bird dipped away from the parking lot when tires screeched in. The neurologist on call smoked into a reserved spot and jumped from the car with his cell phone. The panicked resident in Melissa's room still rattled in his ear.
Melissa's vitals tipped over the edge and started to disintegrate.
"That's it, call the code!"
Someone ripped the phone off the wall. Voices were overlapping. Mrs. Carr cradled herself outside the doorway.
The hospital intercom crackled. A woman's voice. Maddeningly calm. "Code blue, Intensive Care. Code blue. All available personnel to Intensive Care."
The neurologist vaulted two floors of stairs rather than wait for the elevator. He panted down the hallway and nearly tripped over Mrs. Carr. The crash cart clattered in a few moments later. Its wheels thumped over Mrs. Carr's toes. She took no notice.
"Agonal rhythm. We've lost the pulse!"
The charge built. The indicator flashed ready. The staff took positions.
On to Part 7
Back to Part 5
(Note to readers: in the comments for Part 5 I said this would be the last segment. Turns out I need one more. Sorry!)