Donald Freed
International Playwright
and Master Teacher

Michael Chill Work-In-Progress

By Michael Chill

The dark hospital room is lit only by the glow from the medical
equipment monitoring the occupants. The artificial respirators keep time
with each other, synchronizing the breathing of the two patients whose beds
lay side by side.

After a few minutes, the breathing of the patient in the bed by the
window begins to speed up slightly and the cardiac monitor shows increased
activity while, almost imperceptibly, the vital signs of the patient in the other
bed begin to slow.

Gradually at first, then speeding down to the inevitable conclusion,
the breathing and the heart rate of the patient nearest the door come to a halt,
with the low tone of the heart monitor alerting anyone in earshot of the event
just unfolding.

With a quiet reverence, the five people assembled in the adjacent
room, watching through the two-way mirror, do nothing to assist; no rushing
in with paddles, no moving within the room itself.

One of the observers, a woman in her forties, her stylish but
conservative suit covered with a white lab coat, stares intently at the patients
in the beds. Grasping the back of one of the chairs that no one feels
compelled to use, she glances anxiously at the turbaned man, also wearing a
lab coat, standing next to her. His lined face and deep brown eyes keep vigil
and his calm, serene demeanor gives her comfort. She looks back into the
room just as the patient by the window begins to stir.

The breathing is much stronger now and the deep breaths take on a
force of their own, seeming to no longer require the assistance of the
respirator. The arms come up and stretch while the patient lies still, turning
the hands around at the end of the outstretched arms, as if inspecting them.
Taking off the respirator mask and removing the cloth surgical cap,
the patient reveals that he is, indeed, a man; late forties, fair skinned, dark
hair. He sits up and looks around the room, then at his body lying under the
sheet. He picks up the sheet and looks underneath and, with a slight grin,
appears to pull his hospital gown to one side.

He switches on a light, swings his legs off the bed, and sits looking at
the now still patient next to him, whose monitors show no signs of life.
He gets up slowly, goes to the other patient, turns off all the machines
and removes the respirator mask. The face revealed is that of his identical
twin. He puts his fingers on the carotid artery in the neck, checking for a
pulse that isn’t there.

“Yep, it worked,” he says with a wry smile to the people he
apparently knows are watching from beyond the mirror. “I’m dead as a
doornail!”