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Dead of the night

From the LabLit short story series

Anne Burke 31 January 2016

The dim light hid more than it illuminated

II was awakened by the beeping. It was that time. Officially, the date changes at midnight but we who walk at night know differently. There is a time, a well between today and tomorrow. It may only last a minute, it can last up to an hour. But during this time, no dog barks, no drunk carouses, no ambulance wails. It is a nothing time. And it was that time.

I slid down the silent corridor, reluctant to nudge the night along over the precipice into tomorrow. The dim light hid more than it illuminated. I was thirsty but a coffee now would be too much of an assault to my blunted sense of the world.

I opened the door. The cold passed over me. I heard a viscous drip and my eye was caught by a single red continuous track along a shelf ending in a red blob. The blob swelled, brimmed over then fell to the sticky pool on the stainless steel floor.

The blood couldn’t have been there long. It was fresh, no crust of drying had begun around the thin track. How had this happened? I gazed, fascinated as always by the sight of this fluid, so necessary for life, so lethal to the body if lost. I knew what I had to do.

Sighing, I turned and went to fetch the blood spill kit in order to clear up the burst unit of O-positive.