The frosty wind bit at his face. He felt as if he was in the Arctic, trudging through the ever-changing snow drifts as he neared the red brick building. A colossal American flag flew sorrowfully above the snowdrifts. The flag was at half-mast, mourning the president who had been shot in cold blood just days before. The suspect had yet to be caught, but he hoped they could find the person that committed the horrendous crime and bring them to justice. When he finally got to the glass doors emblazoned with Dr. Thomas Liu in fancy, frosted letters, he had to pry open his fingers so he could grasp the handle and let himself in. When he opened the door, the warm air felt like paradise, and he quickly shut the door behind him in an effort to keep out the cold. As he peeled off his coat, he noticed how empty the lobby was. This wasn’t unusual, but empty buildings always gave him the creeps. He hung up his coat on what appeared to be an antique oak coat rack and walked his way into the waiting area for the doctor. This room was empty as well, except for the receptionist behind a glass window, busily pecking away at her keyboard. Before walking over to her, he took a moment to take in the room. Large windows set in white frames showed the snowy landscape outside. Grey linoleum floors gave way to maroon walls covered in an odd combination of both kids and professional paintings that made a vain attempt to give the room a cozy feel. His wet shoes squeaked on the floor as he made his way over to the receptionist to check in. He had been feeling fine for the past couple weeks, but just this morning had experienced the worst headache ever. He started to see double, had nausea and vomiting, and his neck was starting to get stiff. His family didn’t exactly have a great medical history, so he wanted to have a doctor check him out so he could get back to his new job.
As he approached the receptionist he couldn’t help but notice her small beady eyes as they flicked back and forth staring at the computer. He had to try to get her attention twice before she finally noticed him and asked why he was here. He said that he had been having headaches recently and wanted to see if anything was seriously wrong. She answered in a deep raspy voice and told him the doctor would see him soon. Moments after he sat down a nurse appeared. “Dr. Liu will see you now,” she said. He stood up and squeakily walked to the door. When he stepped inside he was in a hallway that was decorated as the lobby was, with gray linoleum floors and cheesy children’s paintings. The hallway was short, and at the end was a light brown wooden door with windows on either side. Before continuing on down the hall, the nurse stopped him so she could get his height and weight. He had never been a tall guy, but having someone say he was just five feet five inches tall always rubbed him in the wrong way. He always prided himself on his physical fitness though, and weighed in at a muscular one hundred and fifty pounds. After the nurse scrawled down his results on her clipboard, she led him down the hall into the room with the light brown door. As he walked down the hall he took one last glance out the window before he got inside the room and the door clicked shut behind him.
The room he stepped into was small, with two chairs and a medical bed in the middle, and a small window at the far end. He sat down in an old and worn out brown leather chair and he told the nurse what was wrong. She seemed to listen very closely, and quickly scribbled down notes on her writing pad. He quickly answered all of her questions, and she said that she would get the doctor to see him. He only had to wait about five minutes before there was a knock on the door and the doctor stepped inside. “Hello, how are you?” the doctor asked. “I’ve been better” he replied. “Well, I have some bad news” the doctor continued. “It seems your condition is much worse than you thought. We are taking you to the hospital immediately.” Startled at that news he tried to stand but felt weak and dizzy, and before he could ask what was happening he felt himself falling and suddenly, the world went black.
“It’s him, isn’t it?” the nurse asked from the doorway. “Yes, I think he is.” Replied the doctor in a tight and grim voice. “Call the ambulance and the police. I don’t think we will be going anywhere soon.”
The doctor looked back inside the room to see the man unconscious. If what the doctor suspected was true, this man had a brain aneurismthat if not treated quickly could rupture and cause a lethal stroke. “You’ve seen the news?” the doctor asked the nurse. “I sure have", the nurse replied, "that man looks a lot like the one all over the internet. The government needs to bring him to justice for what he did. We have to get the police over here right away."
“Don’t alarm the guy, or even hint that we know who he is…” the doctor continued, “…the last thing we need is some murderous maniacrunning through the building.” “Alright, I’ll lock the door to the room. He’s clearly unconscious.” The nurse closed and locked the door. She placed the key in her pocket. She looked toward the doctor, but he was already walking away.
Suddenly there was a clashing noise coming from outside. That was soon followed by a huge boom that resonated throughout the building. Startled, the doctor and nurse ran to the lobby to see what had happened. When they entered the room, a burst of cold hit them like a freight train. The lobby windows were shattered, and fragments of glass lay all over the floor. The scene outside was even more shocking. The power lines had fallen down and the wires lay in a tangle across the road. The nurse and doctor ran into the parking lot to survey the damage. “Is this terrorism?” panicked the doctor. “No, just the storm. This wind is crazy,” exclaimed the nurse. The howling wind blew snow and ice in their eyes. Cars skidded on the road. “We better get inside before we get too cold,” said the nurse. “I agree,” said the doctor. “The police will get here soon enough, we don’t want to become patients ourselves.”
The doctor and nurse turned around and went back into the warmth of the office. The doctor told the receptionist to get blankets from the exam rooms to cover the windows and call the handyman as soon as possible. They shut the inner door tightly to keep out the cold, and sat down to collect themselves. “That man has a serious health issue,” the nurse started, “if we don’t work on him now it will be too late for anyone else to.” “Remember,” the doctor interjected, “this man killed the president. He is a murderer, he deserves a taste of his own medicine.” “We don’t know that for sure,” the nurse said. “How many people have the same exact specifications as the killer who committed that heinous murder?” asked the doctor. “The man in there is the exact height and weight and he has the same facial features. My guess is the stress of the crime has brought on his symptoms.” “There is still a chance it isn’t him” said the nurse. “A slim one at best,” interrupted the doctor, “there is no reason for that man to live after what he did”. “I guess you’re right” said the nurse, “let’s just stay away from the room and let the man die in peace. That’s more humane then the death penalty”. “I agree,” the doctor said. “ I don’t feel like it’s my responsibility to help him. That’s how Dr. Mudd got in trouble. I don’t want my name to be mud. I’ve worked too hard for that,” grumbled Dr. Liu.
“While we wait for the police we can turn on the TV to see if anything else happened besides our power lines going down,” suggested the nurse. The doctor and the nurse sat down in the break room and turned on the TV. They scrolled through the channels until they found the news. “Breaking news!” a newswoman said, “the man who shot the president has been apprehended by federal units,” the doctor and nurse exchanged worried looks.” The identity of the suspect has not yet been released, but police report that they are certain that this is the man they have been looking for! I repeat, the assassin has been located. The nationwide manhunt is drawing to a close.”
The doctor and nurse didn’t need to hear any more, they raced back to the room where they had locked up the man and the nurse turned the lock to try and open the door. “Shoot” she exclaimed, “the lock is jammed. We can’t get in!” “What?” cried the doctor, “we have to get inside now.” “It’s impossible,” the nurse yelled, “the door is jammed”. “Then let’s call the paramedics to hurry up, they should be here by now even with all of this snow.” As if on call, the sound of a door being kicked in reverberated through the building and a group of paramedics rushed inside. “Where is the suspect?” the lead officer asked. “He is inside the room over here, but the door is jammed” explained the doctor. “No problem” said the paramedics as they rushed past the doctor. One of them pulled out a sledgehammer, and in one powerful motion he smashed out the door lock and kicked open the door.
The paramedic rushed over to the man inside. The man was unconscious on the floor but a look of pain was covering his face. The paramedic checked his pulse. He felt nothing. The paramedics filled into the room to try resuscitate the man. They attached IV tubes with powerful drugs and attempted CPR. However, the man was gone. Soon the lobby was filled with police taking notes and pictures. The paramedic team loaded the body on a stretcher and rolled it out to their ambulance with much difficulty through the broken glass in the lobby and the snow in the parking lot. Five police cars were in the parking lot along with fire trucks, two ambulances and sirens filled the air indicating that more first responders were on their way to the scene.
The doctor and nurse stood in shock, paralyzed by the horror of their own actions. Was this the assassin or was he an innocent man killed by their paranoia?