|Last Day in the "cages"|
I will be posting a chapter daily of COVERT REICH until it is released next week. I hope you enjoy it. It is interesting that this second chapter is about a baby who needs to be placed into the NICU. When Alex was born he spent a couple of weeks there (as mentioned in a previous post). The kid has always been a fighter, so I have all the faith in the world that he will be just fine.
Here we go with chapter two. Also keep in mind that for one week only, all of the A.K. Alexander thrillers are on sale for your kindle for .99!
Have a great day and happy reading.
A shrill whistle rang out from the fetal heart monitor as the baby’s heart rate plummeted. The emergency room staff flew into an organized chaos with rubber gloves sliding over doctors’ hands, instruments exchanging sterility for human flesh, and various orders voiced loudly above the other noise.
“Let’s go! Let’s go! He’s crashing. Baby is crashing!” Dr. Kelly Morales yelled. “Watch out for Mom.”
“She scratched me!” a nurse cried out, while placing an oxygen mask over the teenager’s face. The sixteen-year-old thrashed wildly, her arms outstretched. Each fingernail was over an inch long, curving at the end and polished with a skull and crossbones motif. The girl moaned in pain. Or maybe panic or protest. Likely a combination of the three. She was involuntarily doing everything she could to keep the medical staff from doing their jobs. At least she had some fight in her. The only positive sign so far.
“Someone get her arms!” another nurse yelled.
Kelly saw a window and took it. She pinned the girl’s arms down and bent directly over her face, looking into a pair of panicked brown eyes. Jesus, what was going on with this kid!? Kelly didn’t really want to know. She witnessed enough tragedy every day inside the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Untit. But at least in her protected NICU bubble she could make a difference. She’d been the available doctor when Lupe Salazar arrived at the hospital, and so here she was. A sixteen-year-old in severe distress was not Kelly’s specialty. Babies were easier.
Kelly bent over the girl, her face within inches of the teen’s. The girl’s eyes widened, clearly surprised at the lithe doctor’s strength. Dr. Morales lowered her voice to a calm whisper. “Listen to me, Lupe. I want to help you. I need to know if you’ve taken anything. Any alcohol or drugs?”
Lupe focused. She shook her head. “I don’t do drugs!”
“I won’t be angry. I just need to know.”
“No,” the teen managed to say. “I promise. Nothing. Let me go!”
“I can’t. You need to stay calm and listen. Have you been getting regular prenatal care?”
Lupe nodded, crying loudly now.
“Have you had any problems with this pregnancy? Anything your doctors mentioned? High-blood pressure? Any bleeding?”
“Nothing,” Lupe sobbed. “Everything’s been fine. It hurts so much. Make it stop. Just make it stop!”
Witnessing pain was always tough. Kelly hated this part of the job. Despite her skill and ability to keep her emotions in check, watching this girl suffer was not easy. Particularly because Kelly was no closer to figuring out what in the world was going on. So far, Lupe was a medical mystery. And where the hell was Dr. Brightman? He was the head of O.B., and she needed him now.
Kelly lifted her head. A nurse wiped it with a towel. The girl started to struggle again, pushing forcefully against Kelly’s tight grip. “Ten ccs of epi, stat!” Kelly fought back an exhausted sigh. This was too much. Whatever had landed her on the ER table was serious. She was losing her grip on Lupe when suddenly the girl’s eyes rolled back into their sockets.
“Pressure is dropping!” the intern reading vitals called out.
Kelly glanced up at the crew around her…a look that lasted a mere second.
The girl on the gurney started to shake and writhe.
The air around them was dense and still, the way it gets when the threat of death enters the room. Kelly understood the stakes and implications in a second. She had been in this situation too many times to count. Her vision narrowed, sounds faded, and everything extraneous drained from her mind. The analysis and course of action took only seconds. Because seconds are all you get when a life is on the line.
It was time to make a tough call. Kelly braced herself.
But before she could say or do anything, Lupe’s body went still. A monotone buzzing echoed through the room.
The girl was flat-lining.
“Goddamn it!” Kelly yelled.
Dr. Gary Brightman pulled back the curtain. He was tall, slender, and handsome in a surfer sort of way. He didn’t really look like a doctor (but he could have easily played one on TV). Kelly had never been so happy to see anyone.
“What the hell is going on?” His normally relaxed face was drawn up in a tense frown.
“I don’t know! Normal pregnancy, from what I can tell. Pressure is dropping. Baby is crashing. Now we’ve got flat-line.” Kelly glanced at the monitor. Dr. Brightman saw the screen. Heard the tone. Everyone did. “We don’t have many options here, Pierce. We’re losing both of them. The baby is thirty-two weeks, and I can probably save it.”
Code Blue in ER number three! The intercom crackled to life as more nurses and techs scurried into the room.
“Epinephrine,” Brightman ordered. He administered the drug, trying to raise Lupe’s blood pressure. There was no response. “More epi! Give me more epi!”
The team hooked up the defibrillators and applied CPR.
“Clear!” The harsh popping sound echoed in Kelly’s ears. The baby was dying inside the young woman. The infant couldn’t take much more. Lupe didn’t have a prayer unless a miracle occurred. Kelly knew it in her gut.
And tonight her gut told her before the night was through, the poor sixteen-year-old lying on the gurney—a child herself still—would be lying in the morgue.