First, the story:
The portal to the corridor burst open, and Mr. Enzell struggled into the lobby, half carrying his wife and surrounded by their white-faced children. Syl was sobbing in great gasps, and the boys’ faces were set in expressions of terror. The oldest had a blood-soaked wad of cloth pressed to his nose. Mrs. Enzell’s head lolled, and she looked as if she was crying tears of blood. Clint immediately moved to support the woman on the other side, calling for Emily as he did so.
“Seven hells, here we go.” Emily was right behind them as the men helped Mrs. Enzell to an exam room and onto the bed.
“Trynna started bleeding a few minutes ago, Doctor,” Mr. Enzell said as medical personnel hurried to get their new patient hooked up to monitors. “She said she was dizzy and then—then her eyes—she was—the tears were blood. And next thing I knew, my son’s nose was bleeding. What’s going on?”
Emily caught Relba’s attention. “Call Bevar in, stat. I’ve got this, Vicente. Take the boy into room two and get him in bed, please.” As her staff moved to carry out the orders, Emily busied herself setting up the intravenous flow of fluids for Mrs. Enzell and added a basic clotting factor. “This is apparently a complication of the intestinal virus, Mr. Enzell. Do you have any symptoms?”
He blinked. “I’m fine. Marc, my oldest, he’s not doing too well.”
“My nurse is taking care of him right now. And Syl? And the middle child?” Emily spared a glance for them.
He clutched the kids closer to him. “Fine so far. Scared for their mom and Marc. How can bleeding from the eyes be related to an upset stomach?” Mr. Enzell’s voice was rough.
“Sometimes an infection affects different areas of the body at different times.” She tried to keep her own tone soothing.
“So you’ve seen this before? You know what to do?” He stepped closer to the bed and took his wife’s hand. “How long before she’s better?”
“Being in sickbay should do the trick, dear.” Sick as she was, Mrs. Enzell made an effort to reassure him. “Don’t give the doctor a hard time. I’m sure I’ll be all better by tonight.” Her voice was a thready whisper.
“The fluids and coagulant should help,” Emily said. “You were wise to come in right away.”
Clint knocked on the portal. “Excuse me, Doctor, but I think you should come out here for a moment.”
“I’ll be right back.” Although she could tell the Enzells weren’t happy to see her leaving the room, she inferred from the security officer’s voice that a situation was brewing.
Three more patients sat sprawled in the waiting-room chairs, each projecting an impression of terror. A man and a woman clutching each other were obviously in the throes of major nosebleeds. The third person was more alert to his surroundings. Spotting Emily, he jumped from his chair and moved to intercept her. Yanking his shirt open in the center of the lobby, he said, “I woke up with these bruises on my chest, Doctor. What the seven hells is wrong with me?”
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