Code Purple

– a short fiction. enjoy!

Code Purple

“There was a survey once. A thousand people were asked if they could know in advance would they want to know their exact day of their death. 96% of them said no. I always kind of leaned towards the other 4%. I thought it would be liberating, knowing how much time you had left to work with. It turns out, it’s not.”
The Bucket List

It’s code purple.

Heck, do you know what a code purple is? It’s a bomb threat.

Is it a hoax? No one knows.

It’s the stupid guy who isn’t satisfied with his wife’s treatment in the hospital. They say he’s got a bomb.


I suddenly remember the Columbine Shooting in Virginia. There was a girl named Rachel whose journal was published after she was shot.

I wonder if people will publish my journal.

Now that sounds silly. Rachel died of guns. I’m going to die of a bomb for heaven’s sake. There will be no more remains of this green leather book, just ashes and burnt papers.

Is this it?

White walls, seven black chairs, seven white tables, one computer, one projector, two steel trays with their scalpels, forceps, sutures, cottons, sterile gloves, goggles, white masks and God knows what else. Nine of us in this splendid tutorial room of the operating theatre: five students, one tutor, two nurses, and one doctor. Is this it?

People say, “Live your life as if it is your last, live to the fullest, have no regrets.” Is today my last? ‘Coz I definitely am not living my best.

There are around 9 announcements so far. “Unit X and Y, evacuate to Z and A.” “Unit D and F, you are not allowed to leave your rooms.” “Unit R, I need your representative right now.” Gaah! I’m sick of this.

Footsteps, freakin frantic footsteps. High heels. One is running, another walking. Wheel sounds, they screech. “Don’t panic, just walk slowly, everything is under control.” Yeah, right.

I’m going to the tea room. There is a little girl in her white surgical dress. She is crying. Her Mom gives the brown teddy bear, while her Dad hugs the girl from behind. She is scheduled for a surgery at 9:30.

There’s an elderly man down the hall. He is, too, in his surgical dress. He’s lying down on a stretcher, ready to go straight into the operating room for his abdominal aortic aneurysm. He stares blankly towards the ceiling, alone. I think they cancel his surgery. Now, he’s stuck. There.

How would they feel?

Now I’m sitting here, back in the tutorial room, bitting my lips and taking countless deep breaths, frantically pinching my arms and hoping that this is just a nightmare. I can hear my heartbeats. My hands shake. My feet tremble. My body quivers. How come Elaine and Aaron are still studying? How come Jason is still asking the tutor about the stupid atherosclerotic progression that causes the thrombus or maybe embolus lodging in the arteries? Am I the only one who really thinks that I’m going to, you know, die, today?

It’s a hoax. Come on, it’s just a hoax, drop it. You’re going to be back safe and sound at your own apartment, and I swear I’m going to have KFC for dinner and a glass of wine after that.

But, what if?

I’m not even married. I always picture my perfect tying-the-knot day will be somewhere in Caribbean. Me in white silk dress with light blue ribbon along the waist, glamorously standing there while the waves just humming your wedding march song, and saying, “I do.”

I haven’t kissed my Mom goodbye this morning. I haven’t kissed my Mom goodbye for the last 5 years. Now she can never know.

I’ll never do bungee jumping, water rafting, hiking, or sky diving. And now, I’ll never see Paris.

Haven’t called Claire, haven’t talked to her ever since.

I’m not ready.

I don’t think I’ll ever be ready.

There are four cars outside the window. No, those look more like vans. Three white vans with blue stripes along the side, and one word in capitals on the front and sides of the vans saying, “POLICE”. Dozens of cops with their guns, wearing light blue short-sleeved shirt, black vest, and gold badges. One black van. Those cops coming out of it, wearing navy blue shirts and black vests, is that a bomb squad? …What is that robotic figure? It looks like those radio control toys with four gigantic wheels and definitely alien steel structure. Is it to detect the bombs?

“Attention to Unit O, please move to the tea room. You are still not allowed to leave the hospital.”

I’d lost count of the announcements.

I wanna go home.

Now there is a knock on the door. The cop.

“Turn all your cellphones off, we’ve got information that the bomb may be activated by them. Do you have unattended bags? Please inform us.”

I’ve forgotten completely that I have a cellphone. Now that I do, I need to switch that bloody thing off. I text one last message to my little sister. I think I jumble the words, hope that it’ll still make sense. I see them texting their last messages as well. You know, if – just if, something happens.

Time flies, eh? Where does it go? Why does it embattle me?

What will I tell you?

Oh, what? Do you think you can say that you have done the very best of what you’re capable of? Gee, please be responsible of your own actions. ‘Of what,’ you ask? Of being proud of making fun of someone, backstabbing a best friend, thinking that you’re the nicest girl around and wearing a mask that just – doesn’t fit; that’s my answer!

You never listen. You just – don’t.

Watching TV all day long with chips and cokes, opening that stupid Facebook, stalking over gossips, chunking all those medical terms into your head, daydreaming of Prince William on his white horse that will rescue this Cinderella out of the harshness of life… Oh, you bet.

What have I gotten myself into?

Ha, they are so going to laugh at me. Aaron, Claire, my Mom…

But… Let’s just say, what if? What if? What if you’re stuck there for all eternity? What if you fail?

What have you learned? That acute ischaemic limb can manifest as a pale, cold, painful, paralysed, numb limb? Oh yeah, don’t misdiagnose it as a deep vein thrombosis and send the patient home when the test is negative. Gee… What a devoted student you are.

I look at Aaron. He’s turning the pages of our Bible called the “Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine”. But his eye doesn’t move. He’s been staring at the same page for twenty minutes now. His face has gone white. Well, he does say that, “I’m not worried. I think it’s a hoax. But if it happens, then it happens.” Really?

I look at Doc. He’s still young, fresh out of the oven and now continues to do his specialist in neurology. I wonder what he’s babbling on about? Don’t tell me he is still trying to remember the names of the nerves!

The nurses. They are still in their surgical attires and now flipping through the magazines. I wonder what they feel.

I look at Jen. I wonder will she be able to take her five-years-old son from the childcare today. If not, who’s going to take him home? Definitely not his psycho gone-with-the-wind Dad.

I look outside the window, each of the cop has their own transmissions. Some put their hands on their ears and try to listen to the commands over the earphones. Another tries to block the street with those orange cones with white strips. Are we in quarantine or something?

I wonder why Elaine and Jason are still studying. It will be totally lame that when I’m asked about, “What is the last thing you did on Earth?” and I’ll answer, “Oh, I was memorizing the diagnostic tests for diabetes mellitus.” Hell yeah.

I wonder what it feels like. A bomb? Your body explode into pieces? Loosing blood? Fried flesh with extreme heat all over your body? Feeling your consciousness fading? Will it hurt? Will I suffer? And what more?


Now things are so not in control. I can hear hysterical screams and crying of patients outside. All those five W’s and one H questions. Who knows the answers? They are being evacuated. The patients on the wheelchairs, with all their stands for IV fluids. The patients on bed, now in panic. Securities, paramedics, doctors, surgeons, nurses; so busy evacuating and calming people down. Maybe calming themselves down is better. The cops begin to search each room. Bags, cabinets, trashes…

Evacuation. A hoax is never this serious. They’ll be evacuating us soon. Praying will be a good thing, isn’t it?

…Hey, Dad? Forgive me.

Marcella Purnama
7 June 2010


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