Stayin' Alive

Submitted into Contest #109 in response to: Set your story during the night shift.... view prompt

26 comments

Fiction Contemporary

Andrew

11:45 PM

August 28th.


“You can work out front tonight, Jade,” I say, giving her my brightest smile and handing over a pack of camel lights. “Mike called in sick again, I’m alone until six.”


“Oh honey, there are stings in this neighborhood all the time. No way am I working here.” She gives me a wink and saunters out the door.


You would think a big guy like me wouldn’t be so terrified of the night shift, but there were six shootings last month, two of them fatal. Can you blame me? 


The bell rings and I find myself eye to eye with a tall man. He looks to be about thirty with dark brown hair. I’ve trained myself to remember minor details about each customer. The cops ask a lot of questions in this neighborhood.


He reaches down and pulls a pistol at me. Figures it would be tonight.


“Give me all your money.” The man’s eyes dart back and forth, and this is clearly his first robbery. 


“Dude, I have like 40 bucks in the register. You sure you want to do this?” 


I sound confident, but my stomach is weak. My hand closes over my Smith and Wesson, and my body relaxes while I hum Stayin’ Alive. Raising the gun, I point it at the man. He looks terrified. 


The barrel is still trained on him, as he turns to leave. It’s funny how things can change in the blink of an eye. Outside, a car backfires, and I shoot.


*****


Alexis

12:06 AM

August 29th.


The police were already surrounding the 7-Eleven on the corner of 8th and Pine when we pull in. Another shooting victim. Thankfully, this time, it wasn’t the clerk. The officer on duty waves us in and turns back to directing other cars away from the scene. 


He has wispy brown hair and is around thirty. Not the face you expect at a convenience store hold-up. Blood was already pooling on the ground where he lay, and it looks to be coming from his leg. 


Emily was on top of things, having staunched the flow and already working on a tourniquet. 


“Let me help,” I say, tying it off as she holds a towel over the wound. 


There are tears in the man’s eyes, and he just keeps repeating, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” then fading in and out of consciousness.


“I think he is going to be all right.” Emily exhales, and I do the same, not realizing that I have been holding my breath. We both laugh and she continues, “that’s enough excitement for tonight, okay?”


The man’s face pales, and his body tenses for a moment. “Sir, can you hear me?” I ask.


It’s funny how things can change in an instant. “Em, I think he is having a heart attack!”


We lay him down and perform CPR. My chest compressions take on the rhythm of Stayin’ alive, 27, 28, 29, 30… Emily places the face shield over the man’s mouth, gives two quick breaths, and I begin again.


*****



Dr. Ethan Reid

12:29 AM

August 29th.


Everything can change in the blink of an eye. Was this the last night your daughter crawled into bed with you because she was scared? She is growing up, you know. And before you finish that thought, she is off to college. 


Closing my locker, I slip on a pair of gray scrubs and run a hand through my hair before washing my hands. The constant beeping keeps time with the lyrics to Stayin’ Alive in my head. Someone is wailing in the distance. I take a quick glance at the chart, a 30-year-old male. 


“Myocardial Infarction. He needs a PCI, let’s get him to the cath lab. Annie, please place the IV.”


Working the night shift is strange. You never know who you will see. My first patient could be a homeless man with schizophrenia, while the next is the CEO of some multi-million dollar corporation. 


Another nurse keeps pressure on the leg where the gunshot wound was. I give her a quick nod and turn my attention to the man.


His pupils dilate, and I place a hand on his shoulder. “It’s going to be alright. We are going to take care of you.”


Fear flashes in his eyes. “Am I going to die?”


That is one of the worst questions I get. Of course, you're going to die I want to tell him, I just don't know if it'll be tonight or not.


“We will take care of you,” I repeat as they wheel him into surgery.



*****


Dan

1:47 AM

August 29th.


It is a slow night, thank goodness, as it’s my first solo shift. The bodies had never really creeped me out when my supervisor was around, but tonight I am alone. Well, mostly alone.


“Don’t worry, I’m just next door,” I say to one container. Thankfully, it doesn’t answer back. My voice echos, and I shiver involuntarily. After the double doors click shut, I note the recent addition on the chart outside and head to the side office.


Once comfortable, I turn a small knob on the radio until I find a station. Music fills the room, and I lean back as the Bee Gees play softly.


“Whether you’re a brother or whether you’re a mother You’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive” I trill and laugh at the irony. No one, aside from myself, is alive down here. The phone lighting up interrupts my rendition of the song. 


“Morgue, this is Dan,” I answer, failing at my attempt to sound professional. 


My voice cracks from the nerves, but I don’t think the nurse notices. Grabbing the gurney, I head to the fourth floor to collect the body.


Back in the morgue, I check the blue tag. A John Doe, age 30. 


“Don’t worry, we will find your people.”


My voice is comforting as I push the corpse into the door labeled unclaimed. A familiar feeling washes over me. It’s odd how working around the dead has taught me to live, because everything can change in the blink of an eye.


August 30, 2021 22:22

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26 comments

Beth Connor
22:24 Aug 30, 2021

This one is a bit out of my comfort zone. I entered a flash fiction story, and have never written anything so short- so it's essentially four 250 word vignettes tied together by a few things. Very open to critiques and thoughts.

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H L Mc Quaid
11:37 Sep 04, 2021

Oh my gosh, your experiment paid off! I loved this. Snappy action and humour, woven into compelling vignettes. Well done! Small thing is the doctor should say 'where the bullet hole is' not 'was' (assuming the wound/hole is still there).

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Beth Connor
15:06 Sep 04, 2021

Thank you. Great catch on the is/was! The submission is locked now- boooo!

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Phil Manders
16:03 Sep 03, 2021

Hi Beth Great story, nicely stitched together. Good job

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F.O. Morier
07:28 Sep 09, 2021

wow! i really enjoyed reading this story. i love how you make it recognizable and funny in a dry way at the same time. can´t wait to read more of you!

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Beth Connor
20:48 Sep 09, 2021

Thank you!!

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Lorraine Evanoff
00:52 Sep 09, 2021

Love the meta use of Stayin' Alive. Could have used Another One Bites the Dust, but this choice a better contrast. Love it!

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Beth Connor
20:48 Sep 09, 2021

Ooh Another One Bites the Dust would have been funny!! Thanks for reading!

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Blue Green
14:32 Sep 03, 2021

Loved this, four little self contained stories strung together with a common theme running through. Have to admit I wasn't sure what flash fiction was, but now I get it :-) Great job!

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Beth Connor
14:48 Sep 03, 2021

Honestly, I didn't know either until a week or two ago. Shae West convinced me to try something new, so I entered a contest that runs in October. Figured it would be a good idea to practice!

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Writers Block
04:32 Sep 03, 2021

I like the allotted time breaks in your story. You gave a good dedication to the medical field.

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Beth Connor
14:29 Sep 03, 2021

Thank you so much. I did a bunch of research on this one- I feel like the medical field is underappreciated sometimes (especially these days!)

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21:00 Sep 02, 2021

Brilliant as ever, Beth. I loved the way the story hopped from character to character all the way down, and the tie in with the music was fantastic x

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Jon Casper
09:15 Sep 02, 2021

The tie-in with the Bee Gees was great. I loved how each character had the same thought about change, but from different perspectives. Tightly-woven story with interesting people and great dialogue. Good stuff!

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Beth Connor
16:06 Sep 02, 2021

Thank you so much. It was fun trying to figure out a way to tie everyone together.

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F. G.
05:44 Sep 02, 2021

WOW! I love how you made this guy's fate unravel right in front of us. Thank you for letting us see. Thanks for the ride.

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Beth Connor
16:07 Sep 02, 2021

Thanks for giving it a read F.G! This was definitely out of my comfort zone, but fun to write :-)

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Shea West
02:57 Sep 02, 2021

AHH!!! I love how it all came together. I've always been a fan of little vignettes string together like this. 4 stories in 1. This has a bit of a funny genre to it too. The funny comments by the guy down in the morgue and by the doctor about dying. I think this sentence might sound more like showing than telling with some simple changes: I sound confident, but I am shaking inside. I sound confident, but my insides are unsure. Or something like that. I loved how you tied the song into each of the sections. Although the song makes me think...

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Beth Connor
16:02 Sep 02, 2021

Haha, I liked your suggestion and just spent 30 minutes trying to make an even stronger action vs tell. Unfortunately, the self-imposed 250-word rule made that tough. I finally landed on my stomach is weak...Give me a nudge if you end up doing something this week, so I can read it before the contest closes!

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Shea West
16:14 Sep 02, 2021

My pokey ass is working on a story right now. It'll probably come in last minute tomorrow. AS EXPECTED!

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Daniel R. Hayes
17:21 Aug 31, 2021

This was excellent, Beth. I read in your comment that this was a flash fiction story. I don't know much about those, but I thought this story was really good. I loved the different vignettes and how you tied them all together in the night shift prompt. Crazy likes to play at night, and I really enjoyed reading this. Now I have to listen to Stayin' Alive :) Great job!

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Keya Jadav
12:18 Nov 30, 2021

This is amazing! I liked how you conveyed it through different perspectives still perfecting it as a whole piece. The mystery was well built, holding a tight grip on their readers. And also, the repetition of the phrase 'Everything can change in the blink of an eye' makes it whole a lot better. Great story!

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Akshara P
06:54 Oct 28, 2021

Your experiment paid off, this was brilliant as ever. I loved the way this story hopped from character to character all the way down, and the tie in with the music was absolutely fantastic! Could you please check out "Flaws are stars" and leave a critique if possible? :)

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Noelle C. Lee
13:13 Sep 05, 2021

Great story- From the start I felt intrigued and couldn’t wait to see where it was going. Loved the 4 section format- Netflix are you reading????

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Nisha Shirali
11:17 Sep 05, 2021

Great story, very creative!

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Sarah Wheeler
16:39 Sep 04, 2021

I really loved the vignettes! They totally worked and I had no idea how it was going to end. Thanks for writing this.

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