Daniel was rummaging in his bag as he walked, absently looking for the paper he was supposed to have read earlier that evening, when the otherwise quiet ward exploded. He had absently noted a gurney bearing a patient being wheeled by, but it had barely penetrated his brain until the patient suddenly screamed and sat up.
The nurse leapt into action, trying to grab the patient, while Daniel stopped and stared blankly. It was only when she called out frantically to him that he dropped his satchel and stepped up to the gurney, forcing the patient, who he could barely see, to lie back.
As soon as he was by the gurney the nurse vanished, presumably to set an alarm going, because a page for the chief of surgery sounded overhead a few seconds later. Daniel was looking around for her, mystified by why a clearly conscious patient was on a surgical gurney, when something hot hit his cheek like a whiplash.
Jerking back and looking down at the same time, Daniel got the impression of a lot of blood, dangling bandages and not much else, because the patient was still in a frenzy. A few clashing footsteps outside the door and then the bang of the door itself flying open brought his head back up and he saw Dr Gunner burst into the room, heading straight towards him.
If there was ever a person whose name did them complete justice, Dr Gunner was it. Without so much as a word to Daniel he brushed him away and prised the patient back into a supine position while two nurses - the one from earlier and a new face - prepped a syringe.
Gunner accepted the needle and injected it into the hysterical patient as calmly as if he were peeling an orange, then stood waiting until the drugs took effect. Then he turned around, brushing off his hands, and fixed Daniel with a thoughtful look.
"You'd better come with me," was all he said as he relieved the gurney of its chart and headed for the door. Reluctantly picking up his bag, Daniel followed to one of the presurgery sanitation rooms.
Gunner put down the chart and ripped open one of the packaged wipes. "You're in luck. That patient is not known to be infectious." Rather than hand the wipe to Daniel, Gunner took matters into his own hand, dabbing at Daniel's cheek with unexpected delicacy.
Daniel wondered vaguely what was lucky about getting blood swabbed off his face, but stayed silent until his eyes wandered to the chart again. "Who was that patient?"
Turning to drop the wipe into a disposal unit, Gunner picked up the chart and studied it again with casual expertise. After a moment he grunted and shook his head. "Just another should-be-lifer from Wickthorn."
"Should-be-lifer?" Daniel echoed uncertainly.
"Yeah, you know Wickthorn? The psychiatric hospital just across the river? They're always running out of beds, so they medicate and chuck, rinse and repeat. Their ex-patients make up a good number of the botched suicides I see." He glanced at the chart once more. "This one stuck his arm through a window," he said dispassionately. Checking his watch, Gunner walked to the door, again gesturing Daniel to follow. The first nurse they came across in the postsurgery ward was accosted by Gunner. "Once that patient is out of surgery again have him turfed straight to Psych. They may as well deal with him."
The nurse nodded curtly and walked away. Gunner put his hands on his hips and then looked at Daniel. "You an intern?" he asked gruffly.
"Fellow," Daniel said awkwardly. "I was on your surgical rotation a while ago."
Gunner dismissed the information as if he was waving away insects. "Hear you me, that kid doesn't have a chance. Everything we do for him is palliative, even though it's not his body that's sick." He handed Daniel the chart, presumably to be returned to the patient's bed.
Automatically, Daniel glanced over the chart. "Stuart Black?" he queried. "Like the millionaire?"
"Yeah, maybe they're relatives!" Gunner laughed, clapping Donar on the shoulder. At the same moment his pager started to buzz. "I gotta go," he said, without even checking the device. "You put that away for me, alright, Dr…?"
"Roehl," Daniel supplied. Gunner simply walked away without another word and Daniel looked down at the chart, wondering vaguely what operating room the patient had been taken to.