Inkster of the Week: Adam Ludgate, Year 10

Wednesday 12th June 2024

This story was produced as part of Adam's Year 10 English programme - he was tasked with writing a short dark tale - this is a great, imaginative example - enjoy!

Have a Heart

Slowly, he awoke to the bright white hospital lights glaring down on his face. The ECG was steadily beeping; its monotone noises echoed through the sterile room. Impatiently, he started to rise.

"Sir, we ask that you please remain stationary." A tall, slim figure burst into the room, almost colliding with the standard hospital chair. He had soft, uncalloused hands and clean green scrubs, with an above-average-sized pair of glasses almost obscuring his nose. "At least for a little bit longer. We will be with you soon." He hurried out of the room, his leather shoes reverberating through the whole hallway. This only piqued Kevin's curiosity, and a streak of anxiety rushed through him. Why was he here?

A panel of doctors entered the room, and tension filled the air.

"Kevin, do you know why you're here?"

Kevin shook his head.

"Last night, you collapsed in the street, and the bleeding wouldn't stop. Luckily, you were in public, and we were able to come; otherwise, it could've been a lot worse."

"So what's wrong then?" Kevin asked tentatively.

"We believe it's your liver. You have acute liver failure and will need a transplant."

Silence filled the room.

"Well then," he paused, "how much? I can have a cheque written and sent in the next few minutes if need be."

"Unfortunately, it isn't that simple," the doctor on the left said, his voice hoarse. "You will need a full liver transplant. This means we need a deceased donor with their liver in good condition for the operation to be worthwhile. By the time an organ that matches your unusually rare blood type and specifications comes around, you will be long dead."

"What can I do then?" He finally snapped to reality, and tears started to well up in his jaundiced eyes.

"We will be keeping our eyes out for any possible organs that are a match and will have you at the top of our priority list. But apart from that, we advise that you enjoy yourself. We'll provide some medication to help, but understand that it doesn't look good."

His container of pills rattled in his left pocket as he walked out of the hospital's front doors. His car sat outside waiting for him, an Audi R8, blending in with the cars on the street yet separated from the rest in performance and power. The drive home was quiet, his thoughts filling his mind, some of self-pity, but some of a plan, one that might just save his life. Dust flew into the air as the drawer on his desk finally opened for the first time in many years. In his hand, a small piece of crinkly paper with a phone number and a small message that read: "Use only if necessary, these people can be dangerous, don't play with them." He flipped the page over, but there was nothing. He inspected the front once more and stood there, thinking. He picked up his phone from the table and shoved it in his pocket. The paper slightly stuck out and rubbed his shirt as he walked.

The warm orange glow of streetlights illuminated the pavement, cloud cover obscured any natural light, and the smooth wallpaper reflected eerie shadows across his room. Glass frames of photos caught the light too, sending small slivers flying across the room, although Kevin did not notice. In one hand, he held his phone, ready to dial, and in the other, the paper.

"Do I do it?" he thought. "What if it goes wrong? What if they can't? What if..." He shook his head, sat up straight, and punched in the number. His hands shook from the surge of adrenaline. The dial tone rang once; no one picked up. Kevin's eyes darted around the room. He jumped; one of the shadows on the wall seemingly shifted, yet it was just the wind. The phone rang a second time.

"Who is this?" A man answered, his voice deep and stern, yet oddly familiar as if you'd heard it before.

"Kevin Irvin. I'm calling because I need an organ."

"Well, you've come to the right place," the man chuckled softly. "What do you need, and why?" His manner of speech changed completely, quiet and calculated, a tinge of malice flicking off the ends of his tongue.

"I have acute liver failure. I need a full organ transplant done soon, if possible. I've sent through SMS a list of all my details, primarily medical, such as blood type."

"Gimme a sec, I'll check that quickly."

Click. The call went on hold, and a cheery tune started to play. Kevin felt a pang of panic run through him. "What am I doing?" but it was interrupted by a voice coming back through the phone.

"Yep, we have all of that, sir. We will find a match. Do you wish for them to consent to the donation, or is it optional?"

"Optional," Kevin replied without hesitation, remembering what the doctor had told him.

"Alright, well, we will call you again once we've found a match. Do know that the price is going to be steep, most likely upwards of 55 million, maybe more."

"I know," Kevin said quietly. "Thank you."

The room went silent, and Kevin sat there, vacant. Days passed by with no call back. Kevin paced the marble floors of his home, constantly waiting. His hair was matted and tangled, his beard grown out, scraggy and unshaven.

His phone sat in his right pocket at all times, never more than a light buzz away.

"I wonder when they'll get back to me," he thought, anxious as always. BZZ. His soul left his body; as planned, he had already accepted the call. His hands once again shook from fear.

"We've found you a match. She is a 16-year-old girl in the same area and is a perfect match. Do you wish to see her?"

Kevin stood there, silent for a second, contemplating. "It all rides on this decision. I know I shouldn't." Yet, he said, "Yes," with confidence.

A text message appeared on his phone, and a photo popped up. A young girl, brunette with brown eyes, filled his screen. He stared for a second, absorbing her features. "She's beautiful," he thought to himself. "Do you wish to proceed with the transplant?" his patience waning. "It will cost a minimum of 50 million dollars, and we shall bring you to the location tomorrow for the operation." Kevin hesitated, a slight pang of guilt filling his whole body, staring at the photo, before answering.


Once again, Kevin was met by white hospital lights and sterile white walls and floors. Led by two armed men, Kevin reached into his pocket and pulled out 10 cheques, 5 million each. His clammy hands gripped them, his fingers going white under the force. He entered the operation room.

"Please, please, take a seat." The doctor hurried over and shook his hand as Kevin sat down on the operating table.

"Clean operation you run here."

"Haha, yes, what do you think we are, savages?" The doctor looked at him with a grin. "Alright, we're going to do some preliminary tests if that's alright, just to make sure that you'll be fine for the operation."

He quickly huddled off to grab the ECG machine from the corner. He was short and almost waddled across the room. His balding grey hair flew as he hurried over, and his left hand held the glasses to his face.

"All looks good here," the doctor exclaimed. "Very healthy." A smile spread across his face as he turned to the anaesthetist. "He's ready."

The anaesthetist walked over, a giant in comparison to the doctor.

"Alright, Kevin, it's time you lie down. This will only prick a bit. You're then going to feel very drowsy and fade off to sleep."

"Okay," Kevin said as he lay down on the table.

The room swirled as the anaesthesia took hold. Voices faded in and out of understanding, and colours merged together. A tall man walked into the room, holding three chilly bins, light blue in colour with a label on the front.

"Can you believe it? 150 million, it's a big one, isn't it?" the doctor exclaimed with profound joy.

Kevin tried to make out the words on the bins through his blurred vision and drunken mind slipping in and out of consciousness.

"Organ… heart."


Kevin slipped under, succumbing to the drugs.

She lay there in the hospital bed, ventilator connected, eyes shut after her emergency operation. Her father sat beside her, head on hand, partially asleep, waiting. His tailored suit was creased from hours of sitting. A doctor walked into the room and checked the tablet.

"How is she?" the man asked frantically, his voice breaking. "Is she going to be okay?"

"There's nothing to worry about, sir. It's going perfectly. All her vitals are good, and she will most likely wake up any hour now."

"Speak of the devil," the doctor thought.

Her eyelids opened, showing a deep, rich brown. Tears streamed down the father's face. "Thank you," he said, barely audible. His face was now buried next to hers.

"Your daughter will hopefully live a long, healthy life with her new heart, and it's a bargain for the money. 100 million for a heart this pristine and rare is a miracle."

"What of the donor?" The father raised his head but didn't leave her side.

"They are gone now. But rest assured, all of our patients consent and are aware of the value of one's life, especially yours."