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Michael Chill Work-In-Progress

By Michael Chill

The dark hospital room is lit only by the glow from the medical

equipment monitoring the occupants. The artificial respirators keep time

with each other, synchronizing the breathing of the two patients whose beds

lay side by side.

After a few minutes, the breathing of the patient in the bed by the

window begins to speed up slightly and the cardiac monitor shows increased

activity while, almost imperceptibly, the vital signs of the patient in the other

bed begin to slow.

Gradually at first, then speeding down to the inevitable conclusion,

the breathing and the heart rate of the patient nearest the door come to a halt,

with the low tone of the heart monitor alerting anyone in earshot of the event

just unfolding.

With a quiet reverence, the five people assembled in the adjacent

room, watching through the two-way mirror, do nothing to assist; no rushing

in with paddles, no moving within the room itself.

One of the observers, a woman in her forties, her stylish but

conservative suit covered with a white lab coat, stares intently at the patients

in the beds. Grasping the back of one of the chairs that no one feels

compelled to use, she glances anxiously at the turbaned man, also wearing a

lab coat, standing next to her. His lined face and deep brown eyes keep vigil

and his calm, serene demeanor gives her comfort. She looks back into the

room just as the patient by the window begins to stir.

The breathing is much stronger now and the deep breaths take on a

force of their own, seeming to no longer require the assistance of the

respirator. The arms come up and stretch while the patient lies still, turning

the hands around at the end of the outstretched arms, as if inspecting them.

Taking off the respirator mask and removing the cloth surgical cap,

the patient reveals that he is, indeed, a man; late forties, fair skinned, dark

hair. He sits up and looks around the room, then at his body lying under the

sheet. He picks up the sheet and looks underneath and, with a slight grin,

appears to pull his hospital gown to one side.

He switches on a light, swings his legs off the bed, and sits looking at

the now still patient next to him, whose monitors show no signs of life.

He gets up slowly, goes to the other patient, turns off all the machines

and removes the respirator mask. The face revealed is that of his identical

twin. He puts his fingers on the carotid artery in the neck, checking for a

pulse that isn’t there.

“Yep, it worked,” he says with a wry smile to the people he

apparently knows are watching from beyond the mirror. “I’m dead as a