“DESPAIR,” by K. M. Lawrence. Read by Clair Lockeyear.

This is the procedure now: A vehicle comes into the bay, paramedics pull a body out on an unfolding trolley, and a nurse meets them and asks them for the card. Sometimes she smiles, and you know that this one might well walk out of the hospital. Sometimes she gets a stony look on her face and you know that her eyes have flicked across to the patient to see who’s going to die. Sometimes — rarely, but sometimes — she frowns. As Nurse Kealing did with that first one.

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K. M. Lawrence may be writing in Ireland, or may be writing in England. Either way, he can be contacted at kludgeco.com.

Clair Lockeyear is an actor and improviser in Los Angeles.

In the book, “Despair” is illustrated by Dean Trippe!