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New Dawn (chapter 2)
“Doctor, he’s waking up.”
“What! That should not be possible. Double check the readings.”
“I have, and so have the other nurses. The scans show elevated brain functions. He could honestly be listening to us right now.”
“I swear if these four get any stranger i won’t know what to do with them. The one on the end should be dead by all accounts."
"There is always the Moroi explanation..."
"The Moroi are dead, nurse. Everyone knows that. Increase the sedatives and put him back to sleep. Even if he is healing this well, he needs time to recover.”
The quiet hissing sound of pressurized air being released rose from beside him, and he lost consciousness
“Alright then, nice and easy this time. Don't exert yourself too much, or you may hurt something. I want you to open your eyes son, just open them up.”
Blurry and blinding light flooded into Dravus’ eyes as he dragged his eyelids apart, blinking several times at the medical light hanging over his outstretched body. He tried to move his arm to bat it away, but only felt some tingling around his shoulder.
His eyes snapped open and he tried to look at that arm, but several hands came against his chest quickly and kept him from moving. “Hold on, hold on. You're not ready to move, can you understand me? If you move, you're likely to die.” The gruff voice he had heard before said quickly.
Dravus finally stopped struggling and slumped against the tall, fluffy bed. “Where… where am i?” He said quietly, his breath heavy and ragged. “Where am i?”
The doctor let off a sigh of relief. “Well that’s one question answered. You can talk, and your brain still can comprehend at least basic language. We weren’t sure….” He stopped suddenly and out of the corner of his eyes, Dravus saw the doctor look to the others in the room. “Alright look, I'm going to try and tell you this nice and easy. I need you to be calm, do you understand? Don't nod, just blink twice.”
Dravus compiled and the doctor sighed again. “Alright, you are in the radiation treatment section in New Dawn Medical center. You were exposed to a near deadly level of radiation while in the Engine.”
Dravus groaned loudly and the people in the room moved as if to try and hold him down again, but stopped when he didn't move. “I can’t afford treatment. I have to leave.”
The doctor looked at him astonished and chuckled. “Don't worry, your treatment has been paid for Mr. Thorn. Your one of the only survivors, so you are getting a large portion of the reimbursement fees the government has put forward. But…” The doctor looked to the others again, and motioned to one of the nurses.
“W-what is wrong.” Dravus tried to move his fingers again, but couldn't. He couldn't even feel them, but that didn't seem important at the moment.
The doctor leaned in close and pressed his hand lightly against Dravus’ chest. “Son, i'm so sorry. We think a pipe must have burst in the hallways and sprayed you with the venting water. It… it destroyed your arm. You were losing too much blood, and it was just too badly damaged. We had to amputate. I'm so sorry.”
The gas sound started up again and the horror he was feeling began to drift away. And a minute later, the darkness took him.
Four Months Later.
Dravus sat up in the bed, the sheet covering him from the waist down.
He tried to focus on anything. How soft the bed was, the color of the room, the clouds floating outside the window, the light sound of music coming from down the hallway, even the beating of his own heart.
But nothing could keep him distracted for long. His mind went back to his arm, the feeling of there still being something there, but not able to move it. But there was nothing, there hadn't been in months. Just a ghost, a memory.
The glass doors parted and the nurse came in through the doors, carrying a tray. It was a bland green, and had small hash marks all along the inside, with a steep lip along the edges. The bowls were a clean white glass, something so expensive that once he would have feared touching it.
His forced path of thought died off and his mind wandered back to his stump. His face sunk and the nurse looked at him in pity. “Mr. Thorn, you have to eat.”
He shook his head and sighed. “Whats the point Jessica? Why live a life where everything i am has to be remade. Better just to die." He rolled over in the bed, tugging the pillow beneath his head awkwardly. "Better if i hadn't survived at all.” He whispered.
The nurse sighed and laid the tray down on the small folding platform in front of him, rearranging the pale, plastic spoon and fork in front of him before leaving.
He looked at that fork in silence for several minutes, debating carrying out his plan. It would be so simple to take the fork and break it over the edge of the platform, making a jagged edge that he could cut a vein with. It was tempting, so much so that he had broken the last spoon they had given him and readied himself for it.
But he never could. Everytime he called himself a coward and promised himself that he would do it tomorrow or at the next meal.
The glass doors slip open again and a thin framed man stepped into the room, leaning heavily on a cane. The right side of his jaw was misshapen and the entire side looked as if skin had been grafted onto it.
The man looked up at Dravus when he got through the door and the two stood in silence for a couple moments. Finally the small man asked, “You going to eat that?”
Dravus clenched his eyebrows together in confusion. “What?”
“The food.” The man clarified. “Are you going to eat it? I usually don't eat this much, but for some reason i’m starving, and the nurses will only give me one plate a meal. Just enough to keep me healing, but i feel i'm practically dying here.
Dravus sat back up and stared at him for a moment before pushing the plate forward. “Knock yourself out.”
“Don't mind if i do. You are a gentleman and a scholar.” The man practically leapt forward and took the plate from the desk. “So, what happened to you? Other than the arm of course.”
“What makes you think it is anything else? Isn’t losing an arm enough?”
The man shook his head. “I've been around places like this before. You’ve been here almost as long as I have, and amputees get a week at best, and that's only if there’s money involved. You don't look wealthy enough to be able to pay your way in here for almost five months.”
“Radiation. Really bad.”
“Ah so you were in that whole mess.”
“Oh kid, you're just the tip of the iceberg. Twenty five people died, thirty six more in the hospital. There were mass riots on the streets when the High-Born's evacuated the city and left the rest of us behind. They're blaming the head engineer for the problem. He fixed it in the end, but they are claiming his own incompetence is what made the whole thing break down. Problem is that most of the people in the city have been blaming the High-Boris for cutting the funding to the engine lately.”
“How did they even know about that? Budget issues aren't released to the public, not after the last incident.”
The small man shrugged and dug into the cup of paste. He smiled broadly at the taste. “You know, you can't get stuff this good anymore. They have to mass produce it all, and ends up tasting like dirt. Wet dirt.” He took in a couple more spoonfuls before setting down the small cup. “Well thank you for that.”
“Wait, that's it?”
The man looked back in confusion. “Whats wrong?”
“Well… i suppose i just enjoyed having someone to talk to. Gets really quiet in here."
The other man broke into a grin. "Well, you know, most people tend to think I talk too much. You sure you're prepared for that?" Before Dravus could answer, he started talking again. "Excellent. Well look here, name's William, but everyone calls me Bill."
"Ya I read it on the door."
"Alright then, so what happened to your face?"
Bill's eyes widened and his hands flew to his face feeling around. "What, do I have something on it?" Dravus sputtered for a moment before Bill waved a hand. "I'm just joking with you. I know I ain't the prettiest tool in the shed anymore, on account of this beauty." He tapped the side of his head, the grafted skin bouncing like rubber.
“So what happened?” Dravus replied, trying not to focus on the oddly creepy skin.
“Bullet to the jaw. Then they set fire to the building I was bleeding out in. I owed a few people some steep debts i couldn't pay back, and well they didn't take kindly to that. The fire department found me on the ground and dragged me here. They patched me up and remade as much of my jaw as they could.” He paused and then added quietly, “I’d have been left on the sidewalk if not for my father. Or worse, prison maybe.” Bill let the sentence taper off into silence and he sat there grimly. “Lifes not going to be easy for people like us, you know? I have no idea what you did before this, but i was always out in public. Now, i wont be able to see the light of day without people thinking me some sort of monster.”
“So why don’t you just end it? The Faith allows for it in those who have suffered.”
Bill chuckles under his breath and looked back at Dravus. “Because i have something to live for out there. There is a whole world beyond these walls. Lots to see, not much time to do it. Trust me, find a reason to survive, and you can.”
After an hour more, Bill left, and Dravus was left all alone in the room, staring at the wall and not thinking of suicide or his arm.