Continued from ‘Dinner‘
Pain sears from my leg, from my side. The sticky saliva of the red creatures dribbles across my body, mixing with the hot blood pouring from my wounds. Tears streak across my face. I scream at the pain, but it doesn’t make it stop. It doesn’t make them go away.
Alice lays next to me, her already blood-soaked clothes no longer able to handle any more liquid. It drips to the dust beside her. Teeth rip into her flesh. Her body jerks as they yank muscle away and part of me’s glad she’s unconscious. She can’t feel any of it. She doesn’t know what’s happening. Maybe she’ll bleed out before she ever has to feel an ounce of pain.
But I wish we didn’t have to go out like this. I came along to protect her. I came along to try to bring her back, but all I did was injure her. I attacked her. I fought her and now she was going to die because of me. My chest aches with the weight of my actions. Guilt pools in my gut.
A high-pitched yelp escapes one of the red creatures along with the sound of sizzling.
What just happened?
The creature that was feeding on Alice’s hip lies on its side, twitching. Steam rises off it like it’s been burned.
No clouds linger above us. Not a single storm lays in sight and yet the creature acts like it’s been struck by lightning.
“Alice!” Someone shouts.
I can’t see where or who they are, but footsteps thunder against the earth. The ground vibrates below my head as they draw nearer.
Another red creature squeals before its muscles jerk like its been zapped. Then, the two next to me fly backwards, thudding against the ground a short distance away. Their feet shake as they lay on their sides.
“I think it’s too late,” a woman whispers as the feet stop above my head.
“No! Alice,” the other person groans. He drops to his knees, landing him in my line of vision. He has bright blonde hair. It bobs in tight curls as he hits the dust.
“I’m sorry,” the woman offers, placing a hand on his shoulder.
The man yanks her shoulder away from her and leans over Alice. He leans over her like he’s mourning her. Like a lost loved one.
Jealousy rips through me, gurgling a sound from my throat.
“Alice!” He gasps, snapping back up.
She doesn’t move. I can’t even see her chest moving anymore, but the man doesn’t seem to notice. Hope glitters in his green eyes.
The woman, on the other hand, crouches besides me. Her fingers brush against my cheek. Rolling it up out of the dirt, my eyes meet her crystal clear blue eyes.
“The boy’s alive,” she comments. Her voice holds no inflection to indicate whether that makes her happy or sad.
“Who cares about the boy,” the man grumbles. I can’t see him anymore, but the hurt in his voice is palpable.
The woman tips her head to glance at the man. Blonde ringlets dangle above my face. “I’m pretty sure he does,” she informs him, her voice taking on an edge.
“What good does that do him?” The man’s voice changes like he’s turned to look at me. “Those injures are severe. We didn’t even bring a water adaptation with us. We’d have to drag him all the way back to camp.”
The look in her eyes darkens. “So you want to just leave him here.” It’s not a question. It’s an accusation.
He doesn’t answer.
“If it were Alice that was conscious, you’d drag her to the sparked God and back. I know you would,” she adds, her tone a bit softer.
Tension lingers in the air between them.
“Julian,” she hisses. “We can’t leave him here.”
The man named Julian stands, his shadow extending over me. I can’t see his expression with the sun behind him, but he nods. Without a word, he glances down at Alice.
“Is she alive?”
“I can’t tell,” he responds, his voice softer than before. “I can’t feel any breaths from her body.”
Sliding away from me, the woman drops my head. It dashes against the dirt.
“Oh, sorry,” she mumbles, passing me the worst apologetic look ever.
But I can’t respond my complaint. Nor do I want to. I can hardly think about either of them if Alice is really dead.
The woman places her hands on Alice’s damaged shoulders. Closing her eyes, she dips her head down to touch her forehead to Alice’s and breathes deeply.
Confusion claws at me. What’s she doing? Who are these people? How do they know Alice?
“She’s alive.” The woman pulls back from Alice. “But barely. I can’t say she’ll last long.”
“We have to get her back to camp,” Julian demands, reaching down to pick her up.
The woman snatches his wrist mid-air. “You can’t move her.”
“The movement will be too much for her injured body. We’ll have to come back for her.”
“We can’t just leave her out here!” He snaps, waving his hand across the open-expanse of land. “What if the shredders come back for her?!”
The woman stands, a hardness set in her shoulders. “If you don’t leave her here until we come back, her death is certain.”
Julian drops his head to his chest. “Fine.”
“We’ll take this one back to camp, though. Now, help me get him up.” She moves towards me, hooking her hands under my arms and hoisting my dead weight off the ground.
With some resistance, Julian moves forward and allows the woman to drape me over his back.
Pain sears through my body. Blood dribbles down my side, drenching my shorts and trickling down my bare legs. My head lolls forward over Julian’s shoulder.
His hands wrap around my legs, smearing through the blood and open wound.
I groan, the pain darkening the edges of my vision.
Julian rises once more, he glances at Alice.
“We’ll be back by nightfall,” the woman ensures him,her voice barely audible over the muffling in my ears.
“She may not have until nightfall.”
Next Installment: Don’t Thank Me