Chapter 4

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Red lights blazed. Sirens howled. The EMTs burst forth from the ambulance, dragging the gurney with them, wheeling it quickly into the Emergency Room entrance.

"White male adult, forty years old, massive trauma to the neck with arterial bleeding," one of the medics called out.

"My God, it looks like his neck has been chewed on by some kind of animal," a responding ER technician said. "His vitals aren't good. Get him to Room Two and get him going on a plasma drip, stat."

Scott was unaware of the flurry of nervous activity around him. White-coated nurses, doctors, and technicians feverishly worked on him, jabbing needles into his pale, clammy skin, starting intravenous medications and donated blood that was necessary to replace the massive amounts he had already lost. Shouted numbers flew violently around the Emergency Room.

"Blood pressure dropping! Core temp dropping! Come on, people, we're losing him!"

"We need a crash cart on standby. Nurse, get me some atropine, stat!"

"Heart rate is crashing."

The heart monitor went from a periodic beep to a long, soulless buzz.

"Start chest compressions!"

"Ready the defibrillator. On my mark: one, two, three, and clear!"

"One, two, three, and clear!"

The mad process went on for seven agonizing minutes, the ER workers valiantly holding on to hope until the dark inevitability could no longer be avoided.

"Call it."

The lead doctor looked at his wristwatch. "Time of death, eleven thirty-three p.m." He sighed. "Okay, time to notify his next of kin. Marla, contact the medical examiner's office. They'll want to take a look at the corpse."

Scott Campbell was now dead. Gone. Deceased. Empty eyes staring into oblivion.

Dead. With all the finality that entailed.

So it kind of surprised everyone in the room when he jolted up, gasping for air. And the still-attached heart monitor just kept buzzing, the lines completely flat.

A nurse howled, "What the hell? He's alive!"

***

Dr. Sameer "Sammy" Guraj had come over with his parents when he was a little boy. He had vague memories of the streets of Mumbai, less vague than the memories of the neighborhood in Dallas, Texas, where he truly grew up. His parents, though very strict and traditional, had worked hard to make sure their son received the finest education, slogging their way through menial tasks, many of which may have fit the common stereotypes for East Indian immigrants—working in convenience stores, as taxi operators, and worse. But Shiva bless them (although Sammy really didn't believe in that stuff, especially as a man of reason and science), they got him through all the loans, grants, and demeaning part-time jobs so that he could finish out his residency at Oregon Health Sciences University. He had a bright future, was considered a rising star in the field of oncological medicine. However, the excitement and fast pace of the Emergency Room captured his attention. In the ER, he truly felt useful.

Sadly, during the course of his education, he had picked up a nasty habit to help him deal with the stress. He popped a cigarette from the pack and placed it in his mouth. He removed a lighter and thumbed forth a flame, with which he ignited the "stick of nastiness," a term Sammy himself had thought up. He hung his head in shame. Damn, Sam, you're a doctor. You should know better.

He kept his habit a secret by only partaking in the far reaches of the parking structure. After hours, this area was largely empty. Maybe if security would patrol by, he might be asked to extinguish his smoke, but other than that, he wouldn't get in trouble. In any event, he needed something to calm his nerves before he entered the Emergency Room. So here he was. He didn't notice the man lurking in the shadows.

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