Chapter 16: Lyndsay
"I think it's safe to come out of the basement," I opened my eyes and propped myself up on my elbows at the sound of Esma's voice entering the room. "Justice," she said the name with a sneer "Is getting everything straightened out. Plus the rakes are gone."
"What about my leg?" I asked, looking down at the dried wound stretched out along my thigh. Both my legs were stiff from lying down in pain for so long and I knew I wouldn't be able to walk normally, especially with the "support" of someone like Esma.
"Yes, yes, now shut up," she replied, waving me off. Buddy and Natalia were in the room too, talking to each other quietly. "I got Brandi to bring someone who can fix that," she gestured toward my leg, "They should be here at any moment," As if on cue, Buddy jumped at the sound of someone pounding on the door above us. It was pushed open a second later and we began to hear footsteps running down the stairs. The door opened and Brandi came through, followed by a dark haired woman who kept her eyes trained on the floor.
"This is Kyra," Brandi explained, "She can heal people, or something," she walked back out of the room mid-sentence. I looked over at Kyra, who met my gaze with a weak smile.
"Lie back," she instructed. As I did so she came over and knelt beside my leg. Buddy and Natalia came to watch over her shoulder, but she didn't seem to mind. I held my breath as I watched Kyra gently place her hands over my wound. Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and pressed hard down on the cut. A numbing sensation consumed every particle of my skin before I was finally comforted with a calm, luxurious feeling that only lasted for a few seconds. Kyra opened her eyes and stood up, looking down at my newly healed leg.
"I'm still learning," she said as I tried to stand up. Natalia and Buddy instantly ran over to help me, but I waved them away. "I can heal people much faster now, if I really concentrate, but sometimes it doesn't completely work," she gestured to Natalia's cheek, which I now saw had a long, jagged scar running down its side.
"Wow," I said, as I looked at it in slight disgust, "I didn't even notice,"
"You wouldn't," I thought I heard Natalia say something, but I wasn't sure.
"I think it looks great, pal!" Buddy turned to look at her and brought a smile to her face. I caught my breath for a second, but quickly let it go; this was certainly not the time for petty jealousies. My leg started to shake and I sat down, knowing I had put too much weight on something that had just healed.
"So what's going on out there?" I asked to quickly change the subject. Buddy and Natalia turned their attention back to me again as Kyra sat down next to me on the bed. Esma just rolled her eyes and leaned against the back wall.
"No one really knows," Kyra said, "Just that the rakes are gone and everything's in ruins. But a small council has been put together, just a group of people that will, I guess, run this town for the time being," I nodded, only half listening, "Esma and Natalia are both on it, along with some others,"
"Natalia?" I asked. Too late, I realized I should've kept that thought to myself. Natalia looked over at me with a quizzical, almost accusing look.
"Yeah?" she asked, folding her arms over her chest.
"Nothing," I lowered my voice slightly, "I just…wouldn't expect you to be…" Natalia raised her eyebrows, willing me to go on, but I decided not to say anything more.
"We've also put up a paper outside City Hall," Esma quickly broke the tension, "Anyone who knows of any deaths writes the names of the deceased on the paper," I noticed Kyra's eyes darken when she said this, "Do you know of anyone that has died?" I shook my head, "Hm," Esma's response was neutral, as if she wasn't sure if this was good news or bad news.
My stomach growled slightly, "I'm hungry," I said, "Is there any food to be found?" Kyra and Esma exchanged glances.
"Well," Kyra began, but Esma cut her off.
"No, there is no food," she said, "And do you know why?" All of us remained silent, "Because that son of a bitch peasant Derek is refusing to let anyone near Saper's. Not even me!" Esma walked over to the other end of the room and stuck her head out of the doorway, "Brandi!"
"Yeah?" Brandi yelled back.
"Go and talk to your friend Derek, try to make him get us some food down here!" Esma yelled back, the anger and impatience rising in her voice.
"Yeah, okay," Brandi replied. After a few seconds we heard a door slam shut, signifying Brandi's departure.
"I want to go out there," I wasn't sure where this thought had come from, but as soon as I said it everyone turned to look at me.
"You what?" Esma took a step toward me.
I swallowed and repeated, "I want to go outside. And see the list," I quickly added.
"I think that's okay," Natalia spoke up, slowly nodding her head. "It's not dangerous or anything,"
I turned back toward Esma, who's eyebrows had risen slightly, "Alright, it's your funeral," she replied. "But I'm not helping you get up," with that she left, slamming the door behind her.
Kyra stood up and grabbed hold of my arm, pulling me up. "Would you two mind looking after her?" she asked Buddy and Natalia.
"Look after me?" I asked defiantly, my pride slightly damaged.
"Just to make sure you don't fall," Kyra reassured me, then turned back to the other two.
"Sure thing," Buddy replied with a smile and a little thumbs up, walking over to me and taking hold of my hand, "Just lean on me when you think you're going to fall," I looked up into Buddy's grinning face and suddenly felt a warmth well up in my chest.
"Come on, let's go," Natalia opened the door and the four of us filed out. After she and Kyra got up the stairs, Buddy helped me up, the two of us climbing at a considerably slower pace. As soon as we got up the stairs walking became easier. Opening the door, I closed my eyes and felt a refreshing breeze hit my face. Compared to the dim, musty basement the natural outdoors felt like heaven, despite the thick smoke and overall destruction. "We're not terribly far from City Hall," Natalia said, "But I think we're about a block away from Saper's," I could feel the mood change as I saw her exchange an uneasy glance with Kyra. "Is there another away around?"
Kyra shook her head, "No fast ways, at least. I think there might be a way to get to City Hall without passing Saper's, but it's not exactly an…open route,"
"What do you mean by 'open'?" I asked, a cold feeling of dread starting to crawl up my spine.
"I mean it's through alleys and gardens and stuff," she replied, "Never mind the dangers that might lurk in those shadows, some of the alleys might not even exist anymore,"
"What's the big deal about Saper's?" Buddy asked, "I thought it was delicious food store. You're talking about it as if it was the entrance to the pits of hell,"
"We'll explain everything later," Natalia replied, "Right now all you have to know is that the people that took over Saper's aren't exactly ready to share with the rest of the city. Got it?" Buddy nodded.
"I say we take the alleys," Kyra concluded after a moment of thought.
"Alright," I replied, "But if there seems to be trouble, run and stay out of sight until it's gone. You can heal people and I doubt we'd all be in great condition if you're not around,"
Kyra smiled and shook her head, "If anything we should be protecting you. You can't exactly walk on your own," Buddy chuckled and my face grew hot. I was thankful my dark skin didn't reveal my red cheeks.
The four of us began to set off down the alleys and narrow passage ways, careful to step over sharp rocks and pieces of fallen glass. I gagged a little whenever we passed by crushed bodies or remains of a building with a few limbs sticking out at odd angles here and there. After a while I started getting a little light headed and began thinking I had seen the same dumpster before. A few minutes passed and I saw it again, "Wait," I said and everyone stopped. Letting go of Buddy's hand I limped over to the edge of a wrecked building. Picking up a few bricks, I brought them over to the dumpster and stood them up in a straight line. I ignored everyone's quizzical looks as I walked back over to them and took hold of Buddy's hand once again.
After we had walked some more I glanced up and saw the dumpster with the three bricks, "I knew it!" I said, feeling both satisfied and frustrated, "We've been going in circles this whole time. Kyra, are you sure you know where we're going?"
Kyra's face suddenly darkened with confusion as she slowly shook her head and looked up, "I'm sorry, guys," she apologized, "Something's been on my mind lately, that's all," Natalia looked at her as if she had lobsters crawling out of her ears.
Buddy laughed nervously, "It's okay, pal," he looked over to where you could kind of see a part of the road, "We can always just get back on the road and take the normal way to City Hall. We've probably passed Saper's by now anyway," Kyra looked up and smiled a sad kind of smile. Walking on my own, I found myself leading the four of us out of the darkness of the stinking alleys and out onto the pavement. Before I could take a step further onto the road I felt someone grab my wrist and pull me back into the shadows. Kyra had pulled me back while simultaneously motioning for Natalia and Buddy to stay hidden as well.
Quietly, Natalia crept over to the edge of the shadow cast by the building and peeked out, "Oh, shit," she whispered slowly, edging herself back into our little huddle.
"What is it?" I asked, beginning to feel myself start to panic. What if we ran into to real trouble and had to run? Would I be able to make it?
"We are literally right across the street from Saper's," Natalia replied, "I saw Crystal and Chaz guarding the door. According to Liberty, Chaz has gone rouge. And he's a mutant, which makes him even more dangerous,"
"What can he do?" Buddy asked. Natalia thought for a moment, then shrugged.
"I don't even know what you'd call it," she replied, "But it's destructive,"
"What are we going to do?" I asked. Natalia and Buddy said nothing and turned to look at Kyra. But when I turned to where she had been, I realized she wasn't there. In the midst of the conversation with Natalia, I hadn't realized that the pressure on my wrist had gone. I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and turned to see Kyra a little further down the alley. Grabbing an empty trash can, Kyra took a few running steps and threw it out into the open. I winced as the metal hit the pavement and could practically hear Chaz and Crystal's surprise.
"Starvation will not be the cause of our death!" The color drained from my face as I watched Kyra run out in front of the two guards. One thing was for certain: Starvation would not be the cause of her death.