‘Blood Bank’ A new flash fiction.

After a few weeks away from #fridayflash I’m back with this short, short. If you read my previous post, you’ll be aware that I spent the best part of the last two weeks visiting my Mum in hospital. I’m pleased to report that the British National Health Service is still (just) able to provide great care to everyone who needs it. Whether this continues to be the case remains to be seen.

The following is a dystopian-esque take on what could be. As always, your comments are greatly appreciated.

Blood Bank

Had he been conscious, John would undoubtedly have been able to argue his own case; he was good at that sort of thing. “A born problem solver”, his last employer had written on his redundancy reference letter, although even he must have been aware of the persuasive effect John’s emerald eyes could engender in the most intransigent of colleagues; male or female.

Even now, in a medical coma, his eyes gleamed with suggestive possibility; a fact not lost on Lucy who had been alerted to their potential during the early stage of the procedure. She’d swabbed more carefully, squeezed his heart more lovingly and held her breath more intently. She imagined sending invisible pulses from her own chest to bolster his too-weak rhythm and wondered if it was fair to know a lover’s heart better than he did himself.

‘We’re going to need more blood, at least five units.’

The surgeon’s tone was one of controlled urgency.

‘Nurse, scan his code please.’

Lucy grabbed the portable scanner and found the patient’s chip. Her gasp was muted by the surgical mask.

‘Nurse Mitchell, the figure please.’

‘Zero.’

‘Speak up, Nurse.’

Lucy double-checked the statement on the screen: the ambulance, emergency room treatment, two initial blood units, theatre charge; it was all listed.

‘Zero. He has no more health credit.’

‘Check his reserves, quickly.’

Lucy scrolled through his details. There was no emergency reserve account: they’d recently been cancelled for the unemployed; the government citing recessionary constraints by way of explanation.

‘Nurse Mitchell, need I remind you that time is of the essence? No credit; no blood. No blood; no patient.’

‘I’ll check his family transfers.’ Sweat prickled under Lucy’s scrubs as she scrolled further. They’d already taken all eligible transfers from his mother’s account to cover the surgeon’s call-out. Lucy closed her eyes, drowning in his swirling, green pools of light.

‘Nurse!’

Lucy held the scanner over her upturned wrist; she had over two hundred credits. She moved the curser to “donate all” and clicked.

‘There’s a credit transfer,’ she said.

The surgeon’s eyes held Lucy’s for a moment before he turned away.

‘Start the transfusion,’ he ordered.

*

The young man standing on the doorstep had the loveliest eyes she’d ever seen.

‘I’m Lucy’s mother,’ she said, ‘you can’t have heard.’

‘Heard what?’

‘There was an accident. Lucy had no health credits left and we’d nothing to give. I’m so sorry to tell you like this. Were you good friends?’

‘Not really,’ said John, ‘I just came to return something she’d lent me.’

 

© flyingscribbler 2012

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29 comments on “‘Blood Bank’ A new flash fiction.

  1. NHS NHS ! we need you more than ever!!
    If the current incumbents get their way, your fiction may become fact… horrifying thought.
    Fine work Justin.

  2. Sandra says:

    Excellent! And frighteningly feasible.

  3. adampb says:

    The gravity of the situation, presented as a possibility in the future, is truly terrifying.
    Great stuff
    Adam B @revhappiness

  4. Interesting story but I couldn’t believe that there wouldn’t be some kind of procedure in place for when patients had run out of credits, other than let them die. What happens in America when a patient doesn’t have adequate health insurance? It’s not like having some kind of NHS is the norm. It should be but it isn’t.

  5. Steve Green says:

    The frightening thing is, that this could well become fact.
    The “Gifting” of the credits from the nurse, and the resultant impact of her generosity on her own and her family’s lives is an excellent idea for a flash story.
    Nice work Justin.

    • Thanks Steve. The fact that this premise could so nearly be reality was my motivation for the story. I wondered before writing it whether it was too big a subject for flash, but as it turned out, it worked well. (I hope).

  6. ~Tim says:

    A frightening scene, and I fear not too far from reality.

  7. Anne Michaud says:

    Loved it, especially how this could so easily happen in a few decades from now. Good job:)

  8. Sonya Clark says:

    Terrifying! Sounds like something that could happen here in the US if the wrong politicians wind up in power. Best of luck keeping your NHS intact. Not only is the story effective, your writing is excellent too.

  9. Glad to have you back Justin. A scary future indeed, but the nurse showed that there will still be good people around.

    The health system here leaves a lot to be desired, In fact I miss the NHS..

    • It’s good to be back Craig. Don’t know when you last saw the NHS but Cameron and gang are doing their best to take it apart. The only good thing is that those nurses will still do their best for everyone.

  10. Helen says:

    One scary scenario – I hope this remains a fiction and never becomes a reality – I loved the endin. ^_^

  11. Sounds like life in America today. [/cynic]

    Nicely done. The compassionate nurse was wholly believable, as teachers here often spend their own meager salary on supplies for their classrooms.

  12. Icy Sedgwick says:

    Yeah, I think we’re incredibly lucky to have a health service, and as to the commenter who said they wouldn’t just let someone die because they had no credit…er…yeah, they would – in some cases, they do just because you live in the wrong postcode. *grr* Anyway, loved this story. Really quite chilling.

  13. Bleak and beautifully written, and fearfully close if our incumbent government gets it’s way. Glad your mum got the treatment she needed…

    (Any commentators wanting to do something about this might want to follow #dropthebill and #healthbill on twitter!)

    • Thanks Virginia. You never really know if you got the tone right until other readers tell you that you did. The treatment my mum received was excellent when it happened, but the wheels of the NHS turn so slowly you have to wonder how many people drop off the lists by natural causes. All I know is, it wasn’t like this two years ago. ’nuff said.

  14. mgideon says:

    Frightening, dangerously close to reality, and well written ta’ boot. Nice job!

  15. jackkholt says:

    Very interesting – and frightingly possible! Thanks, Justin.

  16. John Wiswell says:

    Haha, that was a neat, if slightly sinister ending! Tripper for this John to read after a tiring day, coming along after a tiring weekend.

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