Silence again, his lungs burning from the panicked scream. His eyes flashed open.
The mop water ran around Nathan's feet as a wheel on the overturned bucket creaked. A polite little ding heralded the arrival of his elevator. A moment that felt like an eternity lingered as Nathan took quick inventory of himself and his surroundings. The lights were on. The doors were all closed tight. The patients, even that damned little clown, were relatively quiet but not abnormally so. The only thing that seemed amiss was the overturned bucket, it's contents now spilled onto the floor and running into the crack between the door facing and the floor of the elevator.
Not real, he thought. All in your head. Damn, I need a break. A long one. He sighed and pulled together the mop and bucket as he backed into the elevator. Just some water on the floor. Screw it. It'll dry on it's own. Once more, he took a deep, calming breath and looked down the hall. An abrupt outburst from a distant patient broke the relative silence.
The time it took Nathan to gather the mop and bucket into the elevator with him was less than a heartbeat, and he was off to finish the rest of his rounds.