Chapter 6e

The following is a short article from an unidentified newspaper. Some sections have been scribbled out with a black ink pen and are illegible. The rest has been reproduced faithfully.

Local Coma Patient Dies

Erwin Packard, age 35, of ****** ** died Saturday, July 4 at ************* Memorial Hospital. Born on April 1, 1963 in ******* **, he is the son of ******* ******** and ***** ********. He is survived by his ****, ******** ****** and ************ ****** *************** ****.

Mr. Packard had survived the last decade of his life in a coma, cared for at ** ******* Medical Center and passed away before waking. Although his support for the past ten years has been paid for, no family or friends have come forward to mourn his passing or make funeral arrangements and so the medical center where he took his last breath has assumed responsibility and will supply the funeral through a government contractor.

The coma that eventually lead to Packard's death was initially caused by what is believed to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound entering through the front portion of the head. Doctors there say it is very uncommon for a person to survive an injury of this type and equally unusual to survive another decade in a comatose state. Research shows that about 5% of people suffering similar injuries survive. In this case, Packard's saving grace seems to be the trajectory of the bullet. Damage caused by being shot through the side of the head, Doctors say, is much more likely to be fatal.

Even so, many of those involved say that Packard's tenacity was bordering on miraculous. Cindy Echidna, a Licensed Practical Nurse who attended high school with Packard and later provided some of the care for what was hoped to be his recovery spoke to us.

"Every day I came in and I checked on him. He was a little weird in school but I didn't want this for him or anybody else. I mean, to see something like this happen to a person you know, to just watch them lay there day after day, it really changes the way you see the world. Every day I would come in knowing he could be wide awake or dead. I couldn't prepare for either. He was asleep too long to wake up but fought too hard to just die. Every day I would look at him and wonder if he was alive or dead. Every day I had to come in assuming that he was both, that he was alive and dead all at once. It was really hard."

Obtained key 6