The phone beside his bed woke him at 3:00 a.m. on Monday. Doctors develop an ingrained reflex that sends them reaching for any ringing phone, day or night, and Dr. Tyler Gentry was no exception.
He swung his feet over the side of the bed, flipped on the bedside lamp with one hand while lifting the receiver with his other, and answered before the third ring. “Dr. Gentry.” His voice had the raspy tone that goes with being awakened from a sound sleep.
The electronic quality of the words was more reminiscent of something out of Star Wars than a human voice. “Joining the Hall group could be hazardous to your health. Get out while you can.”
“What do you mean?” The click in his ear told Tyler there’d be no answer to the question.
He replaced the phone receiver and ran his fingers through his tousled mane of dark hair. As a resident physician, he’d learned to sleep when and where he could, but Tyler felt his adrenaline level peaking and knew there was no use crawling back into bed. Not after that call. He’d looked forward to today—until now.
After sitting on the side of his bed for a moment, he shoved his feet into slippers and, still in his sweatpants and T-shirt, padded toward the kitchen to brew some coffee. As it perked, he sat at the kitchen table of his small apartment, stared through the window above the sink into the darkness outside, and considered the day ahead of him.
When he thought he’d run out of options, the offer to join what the doctors in town called “the Hall group” had been a life preserver thrown to Tyler when he was drowning. Had the phone call punctured his balloon of hope? If it hadn’t totally succeeded, it definitely caused a significant leak.