World of Radiation


Continued from ‘Drowning

Water swirls through my vision, filling my lungs, my nose, my ears. The world deafens, but the current roars as it drags me further and further down the river. It tightens its grip around my body. It clutches me like it’ll never let go. It squeezes. It crushes. It suffocates me until the pain becomes too strong.

I know I shouldn’t. I know I’ll drown, but I can’t stop myself. I gasp.

But no water fills my lungs. Oxygen quenches the fire in my lungs.

My eyes flash open. Air forces its way into my lungs, more air than I need. I splutter. Lips break off from mine and water pours from my mouth, dribbling down my chin. I cough again, expelling more water from my body.

I roll onto my side. Every muscle, every bone, every fiber aches with each spasm. Exhaustion clutches me as the hacking ceases, all water purged from my lungs. Yet, they ache. They burn like I’ve smoked two packs of cigarettes every day of my life and all I can do is lay on the ground, face in the dirt, chest heaving despite the pain.

“I told you she wasn’t dead.”

Panic spikes adrenaline. It floods my veins. I shoot up, ready to defend myself, but I don’t even make it off the ground. My arms feel like lead and my legs don’t respond to my commands, leaving me lying on my back while two faces stare down at me.

Darkness blankets the sky. No moonlight offers any features to their faces. Nothing offers any insight into who they are or what they want and even with my curiosity, no words escape my mouth.

One crouches down next to me. Their hand reaches toward me.

I jerk back. My neck screams from the sudden movement, causing me to cringe against the pain.

“It’s okay,” the person coos. Once more they extend their hand, but I’m too tired to move away. I’m too tired to fight. I just want to sleep.

No! I remind myself, forcing my eyes open, forcing myself to focus on their face, try to find some details about them. Yet, the shadows protect them.

A hand caresses my forehead. My dripping wet hair swipes away from my face to merge with the rest of the damp mass.

“It’s okay. I didn’t drag you out of the water and save your life just to hurt you.”

My eyes narrow. Are you serious? I don’t know if I can believe that anymore. I don’t know if I can believe anyone.

The shadows across their face change. White teeth appear like the person is smiling, but I can’t tell if it’s a nice smile or a threatening smile.

“Come on, already!” The urgency in the other voice quickens my heart. “I don’t like being out in the open like this. We’re too exposed.”

The smile disappears back into darkness and the person nearest me sighs. Their breath grazes against my cheeks, feeling hot compared to the icy chill of my skin.

“Alright. Let’s get you up.”

With gentle hands, they prop me up and bend my knees before wrapping their arms around my body. Pulling me close, they stand.

Like a doll I mold to their grip. My head lolls against their shoulder, barely strong enough to stay awake. “Wh- Who… are…” My hoarse voice fades away as sharp pain stabs my throat with every word.


I don’t know if I can’t trust that. I don’t know who these people are or what they want or what they’re thinking, but I don’t have much of a choice. I’m too weak to fight. Even if I am being kidnapped right now, I don’t have much of a choice with the limpness of my limbs.

Behind us the other person walks. A sliver of moonlight casts down upon them- her. It casts her blonde hair aglow, shining like a lighthouse in the dark ocean and it dances as she spins to look behind her.

Her eyes dart back and forth looking along this side of the river and then the other, as if expecting someone to attack.

No one does.

Yet, she looks a couple more times before throwing the hood of her black jacket up, tucking the last strands of her hair beneath it. With her beacon concealed, she looks forward and catches my eye. Brown eyes stare back at me.

They narrow a moment as if challenging me, but she says nothing before striding forward to walk next to us. “I don’t think this is a good idea.”

The person holding me shifts to look at the blonde girl. ” Would you rather we leave her? Because you know as well as I what will happen to her if we do that.”

“-that’s not what I mean!”

“I know what you mean,” my rescuer sighs. Once more they shift, but this time to look at me.

Amber eyes stare down at me from an oval face. “But we don’t have a choice.”

The blonde heaves a frustrated sigh. “The others aren’t going to like this.”

“The others would make the same decision,” the girl holding me returns, her voice adamant. Her eyes pierce into me with a ferocity that makes me uneasy.

“The others aren’t as blinded by beauty as you,” the blonde retaliates as she yanks my rescuer’s hood up over her silky, black hair.

The girl holding me smiles and turns to the blonde. “Good thing, too, or I might have competition for your favor.”

The blonde girl’s lips quirk as if trying to hide a smile. “Flattery will get you nowhere.” She huffs and strides ahead of us.

“It got me you,” my rescuer returns, a smile tugging on her lips.

I don’t know if the blonde responds or gestures because something akin to safety washes over me. It allows the exhaustion in my limbs to take hold. It allows it to drag me under the heavy weight of sleep with the gentle sway of my rescuer’s step lulling me.

Next Installment: Trauma

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