Late shifts at the hospital bring on problems you are less likely to encounter in the morning or afternoon. During the day, the people that come in are often scheduled for something. Late at night, the admissions are usually emergencies, things that couldn't and wouldn't wait till morning. People would come in at the last possible moment, and often this would make your work harder as you deal with not only a sick patient, but one that is tired as well. After more than my share of these shifts, I had come to realize that it was hard to be prepared for everything.
It had been a particularly rainy week, and so along with the normal worries that come from the job, there were also the threat of flooding and power outages. There were of course back up systems in the hospital, but the risk was still there.
As per the usual I was briefed on the patients I had for the night. Most of them were more or less routine, but one in particular I was warned about. He was a middle aged man, probably no older than mid to late thirties. The night before the man in question had stumbled through the Emergency entrance, his clothes soaked and on the verge of collapse. He had been rushed to a room, where despite the weather he was initially treated for severe dehydration.
His appearance had shocked me, especially so early in my career, and I had to stay on the other side of the cloth screen to keep myself from staring during the briefing. He had black hair and a large, sloping forehead. His eyebrows were missing, and the skin around it was heavily discolored. Much of the flesh on his face and arms was malformed, deep divots and pits running along the flesh, sometimes only settling slightly above the muscle. His nose was missing most of its flesh, and his eyes were dark and squinted even when open.
No form of identification could be found on him, and he refused to talk to anyone. A myriad of blood tests were given to him, and though the man seemed incapable of speech it was clear that he was suffering from a considerable amount of pain in the abdominal area. He was on a wide range of drugs for pain and digestion, and several x rays had been taken, though the results didn't reveal anything. He was also on antibiotics, as he had been found to have had a series of blisters on his arms and face. He seemed to have been stable by the end of the previous night, which is why he had been placed in the ICU with me. When I met him he was quietly resting despite the weather, and was much the same even after the briefing, when I had to go to his bedside and give him more medicine.
About a hour into my shift I went in to check on him, and found him wide awake. He stared intensely at me, and I introduced myself. While I was explaining to him the situation so far, he began to scratch at his sheets, intermittently pointing towards the window. After a little bit of this, I headed to the glass and looked outside. Besides the weather, it was more or less normal, the parking lot mostly empty save for a few cars. I turned around to leave, only to notice the man was still looking at me. He continued this, only breaking eye contact to look at the window. I asked him what he wanted, but he did not respond.
I told the man I would be back in a little bit and went to go make the rest of my rounds. Despite the time of night, I went ahead and made a request to have a social worker come in to try and set up some form of communication. I was told that this had already been arranged for the next morning, and so I headed off again on my rounds, preparing myself again for a long night.
A hour later I again entered the mans room, finding him fast asleep. I checked his vitals and noted that the infection looked to be responding to the medicine. The man seemed to be murmuring something, though whether or not he was actually speaking I could not determine as he was not emitting sounds except for slight grimaces of pain. I ordered some more pain medicine, and then continued on my rounds.
I returned a couple of hours later to see if I could get him to use the bathroom. Doing so would help give an indication of how he was responding to fluids, and more importantly tell us how his digestive system was responding to the medicines. The rain had stopped finally stopped, leaving the only remaining sound being the normal ones of the ICU. I was walking towards his room, when I heard an alarm going off. I walked in, expecting that one of the wires had become detached. Instead I found his bed empty and the window open. I rushed over, but found no trace of the man. Running along the tile, from the window to the bed, was a long trail of water, and though a pitcher was overturned nearby, the amount of water was well beyond what would come from it.
I called in the code yellow (missing adult patient), but no trace of the man was found on the grounds. The only evidence that was found concerning his disappearance was a bit of writing found on the window. I almost missed it, having only seen the remnants of it when I had just entered the room. It had been scribed on the glass, as if someone had breathed on it and written on it with their finger. It read “What do you want most.”
To this day I have yet to figure out how the man escaped, or how the writing had happened, since it was on the outside of the window, and the mans room was on the second floor. Some of the other patients reported having seeing something large outside his window. However, these patients own medical conditions, along with the poor visibility that night, led to their claims being dismissed.
The blood tests came in shortly after, and it was determined that the man was suffering from a wide range of infections and other symptoms brought on Porphyria, a mostly genetically inherited illness. Symptoms include abdominal pain, vomiting, and sensitivity to sunlight, which leads to comparison with vampires. This is an obviously false observation, and undermines the seriousness of the condition.
No one matching the description of the man was found, and no one on Wellington Street or in the immediate area shows symptoms of the illness. Despite the strange nature of the case, disappearances from hospitals are rare, and are mostly resolved within a short amount of time. The nurse who shared with me this story has been doing her line of work for nearly twenty years. In that time, this has proven to be only one of many strange cases she has witnessed.