The Breath Maker

Registered nurse Ryen Flannery doesn't know it yet, but her already bad day is about to get much worse--when she finds an unresponsive patient, the sixth one in as many months. Horrified when she realizes a pattern is developing, she isn't surprised when the police arrive, asking questions. They think she's been harming patients…

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Excerpt From
The Breath Maker

By Nancy Arant Williams

At 5:35 PM, Ryen Flannery glanced at her watch and then wondered if she was seeing things as a shadow flitted against the curtain of Carney Michaelson's hospital room. She had just given Carney his Morphine injection after bypass surgery when out of the corner of her eye--she shook her head. Oh well, she was overtired enough to imagine just about anything these days.

Her mind was on a dozen things she still had left to do before she could finally take her tired body home.

The nursing shortage had everyone on edge, besides which, cutbacks were freezing wages and demanding more backbreaking work for less pay than ever before.

"Hey, Ryen," called Mary Beth Willis from down the hall, as her friend exited the room, "could you check on Harold Myers for me? He's in bed one. I was supposed to check on him an hour ago, but as you can see I haven't gotten out of the nurses' station, and I still have a pile of charts to take orders from." The bubbly fiftyish redhead gave an audible sigh. "At this rate, I won't make it home until Sunday. She shook her head. "Oh, well, I guess Bubba can just warm up another TV dinner. So what else is new, huh?"

Ryen couldn't help laughing, although what there was to laugh about, when she got right down to it, was anybody's guess. She wouldn't be home until Sunday either--at the rate things were going. Ten patient charts awaited her, and her shift had ended an hour ago.

When she turned back into the room, her smile instantly disappeared. Only five minutes earlier, Harold, who was in his mid-forties, had been reading the latest Popular Mechanics Magazine with his curtain pulled. But now he stared at the ceiling stiff as a frozen mackerel and as blue as she had ever seen. The magazine had slipped to the floor.

She ran to him and pushed his call button. Rushing to the door, she yelled, "Help! Code Blue, room 212!"


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