All told, the elevator had only been down about two minutes. When I got to the fourth floor, I called down to one of the men that was still on break outside, taking a smoke, and told him to shut down the elevator again. I slapped a new “out of order” sign on it from our floor and headed toward the offices, where most of my work would be that day.
The makeup of the floor was going to be rather unique. Some fancy offices were going to be on the wall facing the overlook of Ashford, the largest one of course being Dr. Sutton’s. He had the corner jutting out the most off the mountain, giving him an entire suite with two offices and a retiring room that would contain a bed, a full bathroom with a shower, and a waiting area. It would be attached to the operating rooms that he was most likely to use and would have access to its own, special elevator that only went to his suite or to an exit on the bottom floor.
Essentially, if Dr. Sutton didn’t expressly make an effort to, he wouldn’t have to interact with anyone else in the hospital. I wasn’t sure who benefited from that the most. I was leaning toward the rest of the staff.
I was rather proud of the office work. Windows had just been installed, going floor to ceiling and weatherproof against all sorts of possible disasters. Now, with that done, the offices were pretty much ready for the interior designers to do their thing. One of them had already been done, so we could show off our progress and our plans for the others to Dr. Sutton and the board. They had yet to come in and see it, but it was nice to have one room I could duck into and feel like we were accomplishing something.
The furniture was covered in plastic, as was the carpet, to avoid getting sawdust and other muck on it, but occasionally, I would go in and take the plastic off the furniture and relax there. I couldn’t bring food in, but sometimes it was nice to just go in there, sit in one of the deluxe leather-bound chairs and look out over Ashford for a little while.
This was one of those times.
I headed to the finished office and unlocked the door with the master key. We would be replacing all the locks when we were finished, but for now, they would all be accessed by one key. Locking it behind me, I took off my tool belt and laid it carefully on top of the plastic laying on the long receptionist table.
This office was to be the main one for patients coming in for treatment. It had a window and hallways branching off it led all the way down the floor on either end, crossing by the specialized operating rooms and storage closets and nurses’ station. In the center of the floor was the elevators and a breakroom that was still just a shell at the moment. Eventually, it would go up, and I wouldn’t be able to keep the men out of it.
I looked out over the town of Ashford, a sinking worry started to settle in my stomach. The storm was coming. And it was going to be a big one. I wasn’t sure we were prepared.
After taking a little bit of time to myself, I got up and headed back out to the floor. The head electrician, a guy named Ben, and the head plumber, Carl, were standing together, discussing something. As I approached, they noticed me and exchanged a look.
“What’s going on, guys?” I asked as I reached them. “Something up?”
“It’s the storm,” Carl replied. “Look, I’m no pansy. I can handle a little snow. But the forecasts are all starting to say the same thing, and it’s not good.”
“Looking like we’re going to be measuring in feet. As in multiple,” Ben said, pushing his glasses back up on his nose.
“I’ve heard,” I said. “I actually wanted to talk to you guys about that. Pick your brains a little.”
“Well,” Carl said, his deep baritone voice sounding like a lullaby, “I’m frankly concerned about the power. I know Ben here says he’s almost done, but if the storm hits, we are going to need to get things done really fast and get the hell out of here, or else we’re going to get stuck here.”
“Don’t they have cots and stuff for when that happens?” Ben asked.
“They do,” I said. “But if the doctors and nurses are all stuck here too, you don’t want to chance not having enough room for all the workers.”
“Ah, yeah, that’s true,” Ben said. “I wonder how many generators they have here and how long they would keep the place going.”