That’s The Name Of The Game

If you’re a long-time reader, you will be expecting today’s blog. I mean, seriously, what else would you get from me?

If you’re here from Mr. Shaw’s blog/social media, and Pastor Greening’s blog/social media, I welcome you. I hope you enjoy this. 

Wondering what I’m talking about? Three days a week, until COVID-19 becomes a memory (or until we run out of ideas) one of our blogs will host  a new piece of flash fiction for your enjoyment. Professionally written drivel to keep you from cabin fever. 

The links to their blogs will pop up each day. Once you’ve read the post, go buy our books . Or, audio books. Either way, we’re asking for your support. 

You will note, no pay walls to bound over, no signing up for a newsletter, nothing. You’re on the honor system for helping us pay for the time we’re putting in. 

Now, I want to thank ABBA – the greatest act of my youth. I freely admit that I have ransacked their lyrics to write today’s story. I know that it’s risky, but head to their website and buy their stuff. Seriously, I own all the cd’s the lyrics come from below. I hope you enjoy the game and buy the songs to find the lyrics as well. 


Now, to the flash fiction just for you dear readers:


That’s The Name Of The Game

“Nurse, can you explain this chart note to me?”

Her voice was muffled from the mask and the containment gear, generating a quizzical look on the nurses equally obscured face.

“What does the note on line 142 of the digital chart mean?”

The nurse swiveled the monitor toward him and poked a black-gloved finger at the line, reading along like a slightly slow second-grader. The long hours in the isolation unit were taking a toll, but with over 60% of the staff out ill there wasn’t much they could do to get rest without neglecting patients.

A look of victory came over his face, “Doctor, we were talking about this one at shift change. She’s in and out with the fever rollercoasting, but when she does come out she speaks nothing but nonsense.”

“Fever gibberish, or words?”

“Words, Doctor. But screwy stuff. It seems like she’s trying to sing it all to us. Nobody knows what any of it means.”

Shamika Howard reviewed the patient profile: white female, 62 years of age, moderately fit, and not yet on a ventilator. She was strong, but her answering a few questions would aid in her treatment. Clicking out of the file, she noticed the patient was awake, and looking at her through the bubble hood that kept her oxygen content up. It was the last stage before a ventilator, and it was much easier on the throat.

“Hey. You’re awake at last. How are you doing?”

“Under attack, I’m being taken. About to crack, defenses breaking. Won’t somebody please have a heart? Come and rescue me now cause I’m falling apart.”

Dr. Howard was surprised. She understood some of what the patient said, but it did seem like she was trying to sing her answer.”

“I’m sorry, but please calm down and speak slowly. I’m afraid you’ll start coughing and not be able to stop. We don’t want to have to use a ventilator and sedation.”

“Look at me now, will I ever learn? I don’t know how but I suddenly lose control.”

Dr. Howard turned toward the monitor and scanned the notes. There was no mention of the patient being a psych patient, but they were clearly trying to sing all their answers. And then she found it – when the patient first came in she was lucid for a few minutes and exhibited the same disorder. She remembered it from med school, it was called “dysprosody.”

Clicking the stylus on the screen, she typed in a note for a psych consult on an urgent basis and left the room, decontaminating in the airlock.

An hour later, Dr. Sven Kungsleden had fitted out in the airlock and came in to talk to the patient. She was agitated and pitching about in restraints. He heard her raspy voice as he got closer to the bed.

“Feeling like a number one. My resistances running low
And every day the hold is getting tighter and it troubles me so.”

“So, I’m Doctor Kungsleden. I understand you insist on singing your answers. Do you remember what happened and how you got here?”

“It’s so strange when you’re down and lying on the floor
How you rise, shake your head, get up and ask for more.”

Kungsleden felt a hint of a smile crossing his lips. “I’m guessing that you’ve run quite a fever with your Covid-19. Do you remember anything?”

The patient twitched and struggled against the restraints. Finding she could get no slack, she slumped back on the bed and answered, “There’s a fire within my soul. Don’t know how to take it, don’t know where to go. My resistances running low. And every day the hold is getting tighter and it troubles me so. Just one look and I can hear a bell ring. One more look and I forget everything, whoa.”

Kungsleden had it now. “You’ve run a fever, but don’t’ remember anything at some points. Your ears are ringing as well, correct?”

“Ring, ring, I stare at the phone on the wall, and I sit all alone impatiently.

“Waterloo – Couldn’t escape if I wanted to.”

He smiled. “I will take that as a yes. Do you understand I’m here to help you?”

She nodded with a sudden vigor. “Waterloo – Knowing my fate is to be with you. Waterloo – Finally facing my Waterloo”

The speaker in the room buzzed, Doctor Howard was in the airlock. “Is she going to be okay? Is it dysprosody?”

Before he could answer, the patient screamed out in her oxygen bubble, “I was sick and tired of everything. Suddenly I feel all right.”

Doctor Kungsleden turned to the patient and sang back, “And suddenly it’s gonna be.”

Howard looked puzzled.

“I’ve seen this once before. Where did they find her?”

Howard said, “I reviewed the chart. They got a call from her daughter who was worried about her. The police found her sitting in a recliner, passed out and feverish. She was wearing a robe and had headphones on, connected to her stereo. They have no idea how long she’d been ill, but they said she was humming when they found her.”

Kungsleden gave the patient a smile. “You were listening to ABBA’s gold album on repeat when you got sick, weren’t you? I love that one – it’s practically a requirement to listen to it in my home in Sweden. I’m guessing it’s an old favorite you went to for comfort when you didn’t feel well.”

The patient got wild eyed and nodded as hard as she could, “Oh yeah, and I have met my destiny in quite a similar way. The history book on the shelf Is always repeating itself.”

“That, Doctor Howard, explains it all. She’s been listening to the same songs over and over for days in a fever state. She’s lucky to be able to speak at all. This should wear off in a few days when she feels better. Just make sure the staff engages her in conversation when they come into the room.”

Kungsleden turned to the patient and spoke quietly, “I guess we should be glad you didn’t have AC/DC on instead or you’d be shrieking about the Highway to Hell, and nobody would have said a word about it, just written you off as needing a sedative.”

The patient, slumping on the pillow, uttered just one more phrase before falling asleep, “Deep inside both of us can feel the autumn chill.”

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