Doctor James Alexander had a reputation for being one of the best surgeons in the country. He had always been very passionate about his work, and had successfully operated on hundreds of patients. After spending the majority of his career working in the prestigious new hospital in the city, Alexander decided to leave to the country, where he believed that he could bring the same quality care to the deserving patients who lived too far away from his hospital. The hospital closest to them was a former sanatorium, and had been renovated years ago to be a fully functioning hospital. However, despite the community’s efforts to create a welcoming environment and a state of the art care center, the hospital brought fear to the country. Most of the patients admitted to the hospital never came out, and there were several reports of strange activity occurring within the operating rooms.
Alexander had never been a superstitious man, and the thought of working in such a hospital excited him. He would calm the peoples’ fears and show them what great things doctors could do. He disregarded the community’s warnings and confidently became the new heart surgeon at the hospital.
It wasn’t soon before long that Alexander’s operations became less successfully and increasingly sloppy. For the first time, most of his patients died during the operation, and even more passed in recovery. Sleeping became difficult, and Alexander reverted back to his old habits of smoking heavily due to the stress. He had never felt so hopeless in his life, and the operations became less important to him as time passed.
The staff all had their own reasons for why Alexander’s operations were so unsuccessful. Some claimed that it was because of his lack of sleep, others swore it was because of the dim lighting and rusty tools. Some the nurses blamed it on his recent divorce, others said it was because the rural environment was making him lazy. Most of the older staff members, however, believed that it was because of the hospital itself, that maybe Alexander was being haunted. But the younger doctors and nurses ignored those claims. They were bizarre, and although the hospital had a strange reputation, it didn’t necessarily mean that the rumors were true.
As Alexander made his way to the elevator, he thought about how terrible his last operation was. The woman had died within minutes of being put under anesthesia, something that had never happened before in Alexander’s career. He entered the elevator, where man stood, his hands behind his back. He had a pale, elongated face and sunken eyes, which made Alexander feel very uneasy, but he greeted him politely and began to nervously toss his pack of cigarettes back and forth in his hands.
“You smoke?” the man asked, after a few awkward seconds of silence.
Alexander stopped tossing the cigarettes and tucked them back into the pocket of his coat. “Yes, I do. Ironic, huh?”
“I guess so,” said the man. “Do people ever ask you to quit?”
“Yes,” he said. “They always tell me it’ll kill me eventually, but I tell them that you only live once anyways, so why does it matter?”
The man nodded slowly, and shifted his tired eyes straight ahead. “You only live once, you say?”
“You’re sure about that?”
Alexander looked at him, and he smiled. “Yes, I’m positive,” he responded.
There was another long pause before the man started to speak again. “Have you heard about this hospital’s reputation?”
He sighed. “Yeah, it’s weird, huh?”
“Have you ever experienced anything strange here?”
“Well,” Alexander gulped. “If I tell you this, you promise you won’t say anything?”
“Of course,” the man replied.
“You might not believe me, but,” Alexander searched for the right words to say. “I’ve seen my patients walking around the operating room.”
“That’s not strange at all, doctor.”
“You don’t understand,” he said. “I see them all the time; walking around, watching me operate…they’ve already died though. I know they’re dead because they were my patients, you see? And they all have on the special hospital bracelet signifying that they’ve died.”
“Oh,” said the man. “Are you sure you’re not imagining things?”
“I know what I’m seeing…I know I’m not crazy. They have the bracelets on.”
“Huh,” he folded his hands in front of himself.
“The older staff members have seen it too. They know exactly what I’m talking about. But everyone else thinks I’m making it up to spook the other doctors.”
The man grinned and held out his wrist. “You said they have on special bracelets?”
“Can I ask you a question?”
The man held out his pale wrist and grinned. “Do they look something like this?”
Alexander looked down and to his shook and horror, the man had on the exact bracelets he was talking about. He began to hit the buttons on the elevator in panic, desperate to leave. Finally, after the elevator doors opened, he rushed out, feeling sick to his stomach and weak with fear. He turned to see if the man was still in the elevator….
He had disappeared.