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Everyone in this Ward is Dying
by Michael S. Collins

The ward was Hell. Not through strict regime or authoritarianism or bleak walls, but Hell none the less. It came in the deaths. Everyone died here. The whitewashed walls and permanently lit rooms, the smell of fresh paint and doctors lunches in the air, hid the stench of Death. For everyone died eventually, and this was the Lepers Ship ward of the hospital.

Drop off place for the terminally dying.

The Professor sat in the waiting room, a cold coffee nearly finished by his side. He glanced through the cheap magazines on the table in front of him. Of little use to an academic mind, they peddled in cheap gossip and horoscopes.

A timid looking Doctor entered the room and sat down next to him.

“Are you Professor Samuels” he asked.

The Professor nodded.

“I am. You must be Doctor Andrews. I came at once.”

“Thank god.” The man held onto the wall for support. His wire moustache and balding head made him look the most serious and misfortunate of men.

“Professor Samuels” He started.

“Please, call me Jim.”

“OK. Jim, we need your help. Everyone is dying!”

Jim’s eyes narrowed together.

“Everyone?” he asked.

“Everyone.” Repeated the Doctor. “Not just the patients. Family members, nurses, orderlies. Everyone in this ward is dying.”

“How can that be?”

“I don’t know. That’s why I sent for you. They’re all dying. Dying in their sleep.”

To die in one’s sleep, such a peaceful way to go. The best way to go. That’s how the adages go.

“Everyone who falls asleep in this ward dies” said the Doctor.

“When was the last case?”

“An hour ago.”


“The charge-nurse. Only took over from his predecessor ten months ago. Jack he was called. Stern man. Only fifty.”

“Cause of death?”

“Can’t tell yet. It’ll be the same as the others though.”

“What was the cause of the others then?”

The Doctor turned to leave, and Jim got to his feet to follow him.

“It’s best if I show you. They haven’t picked him up yet.”

Professor Samuels followed the Doctor into the staff room. The body lay across a large sofa, with a makeshift shroud – a blanket – covering him. At the Doctors insistence, the Professor took back the blanket.

“Good lord!” He cried, and dropped it back.

He turned to the Doctor. “All of them?” he asked, fear beginning to rise in his voice.

“Every last one of them.”

At the point of death, it is better to sleep, than to experience it awake.

“They all died like this? With that look of utter terror on their faces?”

“Every last one of them. But there has been some joy to come out of it.”

“What’s that?”

“Waiting lists have gone down.”

“Well, I suppose out of every supernatural event, there’s economic salvation.”

Death had to take him asleep, for if he’d been awake, there’d have been a fight.

Death had to take him awake, for if he’d been asleep, there’d have been a fright.

There’s an evil wind in mysterious places. Evil, depending on your financial point of view.