Monday, February 18, 2019
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PatientFiles

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    Estimated reading time — 3 minutes

    This week, I was supposed to digitize all of Dr. Marnen’s patient files.

    I was feeling good about my progress when I saw it. A second filing cabinet, hiding behind the shelves, that I’d never noticed before.

    Sighing with fatigue, I yanked open the first drawer. I plucked out a file from the ‘A’ section and began to read.

    ABERDEEN, CARLA

    “Alright, Carla, let’s see if you’re in the system.” I set the file on the desk, sat down at the computer, and typed in her name.

    Nothing came up.

    Oh, hell no. I am not doing ALL the files in this cabinet. But I sighed, opened a new patient file, and began copying the data. Carla Aberdeen… DOB 4/24/72… 5’ 9”, 176 lbs…

    Finally, I got to the doctor’s notes. They were written in messy script, as if in a hurry. I put on my glasses, and read:

    – Complaints of eczema

    – Itchiness after eating some fruits

    – Lungs may be useful

    I stopped and re-read the last line.

    Lungs may be useful

    I shrugged, figuring it was some sort of mistake or reference to something. I typed it into the computer and took the next file from the cabinet – a Mr. David Akowski.

    But the doctor’s notes were even stranger, this time.

    – Family history of heart attacks

    – Large skin surface area

    I typed him into the system and stared at the screen. Large skin surface area? What does that even mean?

    When I got to the next one – a Miss Katerina Alanson – I felt the knot in my stomach tighten. It was a file for a little girl, and it read:

    – Night terrors ever since sixth birthday

    – Mom says increased anxiety

    – Feet are perfect size

    I rolled away from the computer. Heart pounding, I picked up the file and studied it. There must be an explanation.

    But I couldn’t think of anything.

    I took a deep breath. Then I picked up the phone, and dialed the number on Katerina’s file. But what will you say? I didn’t even know. I just had a terrible, nagging feeling, and wanted to do something about it.

    But I wasn’t in luck.

    Boop-boop-boop!

    We’re sorry. You have reached a number that has been disconnected –

    “What are you doing?”

    I whipped around.

    Dr. Marnen was standing in the doorway, his arms crossed over his white coat. “I was digitizing the files. Like you told me to,” I stuttered, slamming the phone down.

    “Not those files.” He violently grabbed the files from the desk, shoved them back into the file cabinet. Then he pulled a small key from his pocket and turned the locks on each drawer. Click, click, click.

    “Finish this up, okay?”

    I nodded.

    And then he was gone.

    The silence pressed in. The waiting room was empty and still. I checked the clock – 4:45. No more patients would be coming in.

    It was only Dr. Marnen and me in the office now.

    So I did what any reasonable person would do. I shut down the computer, grabbed my coat, and started for the door. As I hurried towards the exit, I saw Dr. Marnen at the end of the hall.

    He was opening a door – the door he told me went to the supply closet.

    But beyond him, I could see a set of stairs, snaking down into the darkness.


    Credit: Blair Daniels (Official WebsiteAmazonFacebookTwitterReddit)
    (You must ask permission before narrating this work. Contact the author here to do so.)

    Check out Blair Daniels’ critically-acclaimed collection of short scary stories, Shadow on the Stairs: Urban Mysteries and Horror Stories, now available, on Amazon.com.

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