The Ghost Squad by Sophie Masson
The intensive care ward was unusually full that week. A knife attack, one aneurysm, a two-car accident which included teenagers, and an industrial accident meant that the small ward was stretched to bursting point. All the patients were in a critical state, except for the teenage crash victims listed as ‘serious but stable’; and the aneurysm patient who, though in an induced coma, was recovering. When the Pulse hit, it was around 10a.m. local time. A couple of days before, a light earthquake measuring 4.8 had hit the region, causing minor damage both in New Haven, where the hospital was, and in nearby Hot Springs. The hospital itself had escaped with nothing more than the shaking and rattling of windows, and a few lights had flickered out. Since then the weather had been a little unsettled, though there had been no aftershocks. At first, nobody was too worried by the flash and bang as the electricity went off. Power cuts due to electrical storms and the occasional earth tremor weren’t altogether unknown in that part of the world, and to guard against the consequences of major versions of these events the hospital had a sophisticated back-up generator system that would kick in immediately. And as a failsafe, the life-and-death machines in the intensive care ward were on their own closed system, independent of the hospital’s own back-up system.