The evening’s visitors to Mercy Medical Hospital had long since gone home, as had most of the day staff, and the hallway outside the small equipment-packed room was as silent as a grave. Across the room, behind the medical repeater displays, the old Venetian blinds clattered quietly to themselves as imperfect window seals let in small gusts of the increasingly turbulent air outside. Shifting stiffly in his chair, Adrian Sommer groped for his coffee mug, trying to shut out the oppressive feeling creeping over him. Late at night, with the extra blackness of a storm approaching, was a horrible time to have to watch a man die.
That the old man visible on the TV monitor would soon breathe his last, there was little doubt. The doctor preparing one last hypo of painkiller knew it—Sommer had seen that same stolid expression on over a hundred faces over the past three years, and knew all too well what it meant. The family gathered together around the pastel-sheeted bedside knew it, too, even those who only hours before had been struggling vehemently to hide it from themselves. Sommer had listened as the conversations, faintly audible through the door separating the two rooms, had gone from hopeful to angry to resigned.
And as for the old man himself…
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