As we drove along, Ella began pulling out glass from my back, and cleaning the wounds. It stung but I did my best not to move, as I didn’t want to mess her up. After about a half an hour, she sighed. “Well, that’s all I can do. We’ll have someone look at it when we get back, but right now that’s all I can do. Can you turn so I can see that one on your face?” I turned towards her, and she took a cloth and cleaned off the blood. She put some antibacterial spray on it, and after that dried, she taped on a gauze pad.
“Thank you. For everything,” I told her. “Oh, it’s nothing. Those wounds would’ve gotten worse if we’d left them like that. You’ll probably still need antibiotics when we get back, though,” she replied. I shook my head. “That’s not exactly what I meant. You guys believed me, and you’re taking me somewhere that I can actually see a doctor. You didn’t have to do that,” I pointed out.
Ella smiled, and Aaron chuckled. The Jack spoke up, “Look, Lee,” he said, “I know you’re used to thing being a lot different, but they’re are a little different out here. We survive through trust. We trust our friends in our base towns, we trust the other settlements, though we are cautious. If we don’t take care of each other, the little bit of society that’s left would collapse. Not to mention, you’re the first person to escape from a Colony. It might seem selfish, but you could have helpful information for us, so we need you.” I thought that over. Then I smiled. “I suppose if you’re being selfish, I am too. I’m using you for safety and protection.” They all laughed, and I started to feel better.
“Alright, Miss, time to get some sleep. You look exhausted. We’ve got a few hours till we arrive, so you should get some shut eye,” commanded Ella. I nodded. I wouldn’t put up a fight. These people seemed safe enough, and I was exhausted, physically and mentally. So I closed my eyes, and did my best to sleep.
It was an uneasy, dreamless rest. I kept fading in and out of sleep. I wasn’t used to sleeping in a car, and my mind was still all over the place. Mostly the chatter of the others was random, but one particular conversation caught my attention.
“Could she really know the Commander?” Aaron was saying. “She seems to. Unless she’s confused. But the way she holds that photo album says she knows the people in it. Not to mention when we found her she was crying while looking at it. She was upset when we left too,” said Jack, thoughtfully. “I agree,” Ella responded. “She must’ve known him. She was in that room, too. I think she pulled that album out of a drawer. There was only one open, so I don’t think so was searching the room for it. She might’ve known where it was.” I fell back asleep then. I was confused. They knew something about the house, that much was certain. And this Commander, could it be someone I knew? Did they know what happened to my family?
The next time I woke up, it was because Ella was gently shaking my shoulder. My eyes fluttered open. The guys were getting out of the van up front. “I guess we’re at your base town then,” I said to Ella. She nodded. “We’ll take you to the doctor, and let you get some rest. It’s not quite morning yet. We’ll take you to the Commander after you’ve eaten breakfast.” We left the van, which was parked outside what was once an ordinary doctors office. Jack knocked on the door, and after a moment, someone opened it. It was a boy, younger than me by several years, and with shaggy black hair a brown eyes. “Hey, Jack. What’s up?“he asked. “We need to see Doctor Michaels, Brandon. Can you let us in?” The door opened wider, and I saw the reception area. It had some medical equipment along the walls. It looked like they treated minor injuries here. The boy, who was apparently named Leo, went over to the desk and grabbed a clip board. “So who’s getting seen?” he asked.
“She is,” answered Jack. He jerked his thumb towards me. Leo turned to look at me. “Who are you?” Confusion was all over his face. I smiled weakly at him. “I’m Lee,” I told him, having to stop myself from finishing my name. I needed a little more information before I told these people anymore about myself. “She’s new,” Ella informed him. “She’ll need a room. She’s got some pretty bad wounds on her, and they’ll need to be treated. I patched her up as best I could, but they’re still bad. Can you take us to a room?” He nodded and said, “There’s a few available. Let me figure out which one to use. I’ll be right back.”
“Well, Lee,” Jack said, turning to look at me, “I think Aaron and I should head out. Ella, can you stay with her?” Ella nodded. “Alright then. Goodbye for now, Lee. Ella, keep me updated.”
“Of course, Jack,” she promised him. The men turned towards the door and left. Aaron didn’t say anything, but he did give me a wave and a goofy smile as he left. Just then Leo returned. “This way, ladies,” he beckoned. We followed him to a room with a bed, a simple chair, and a cart, which must’ve held supplies. We went in and Ella sat me on the bed. Leo left, and after a couple silent minutes, an older woman with scrubs on entered. She looked at me, carefully, and then started asking me questions. “Hi, there. I’m Dr. Michaels. Are you our new patient?” she asked. I nodded. I was irrationally wary of this woman. I couldn’t forget Dr. Lucy. “Well, then, I’ll have to ask a few questions. Do you know your last name, Lee?” I kept silent. I didn’t want to lie, but I still didn’t trust her. She must’ve thought my silence meant I didn’t know it. “That’s alright, hun. It’ll come to you. When’s your birthday?” I didn’t see harm in telling her that. Plenty of people had the same birthday. “It’s May 15. I’m 21,” I told her. “Thank you,” said the doctor. “Now do you mind telling me where your from? Which settlement, I mean?” I hesitated and looked at Ella. “It’s ok, Lee. You can tell her,” she assured me. I took a breathe and turned back to a confused Dr. Michaels and answered her question. “I’m from the Colony.”
She gasped. “How?” she asked Ella. Ella shrugged. “We managed to break part of the outer wall with that tank Jefferson built. The Colony opened fire and destroyed it in response, naturally. But somehow she managed to get out before they could fix it. She cut herself up badly on the way out, and she had to swim to the shore. We found over in that neighborhood in the Greystone area we watch.” The doctor regained her composure. “Lee,” she questioned, “you remember don’t you?” I nodded. “That’s why I left.”
Dr. Michaels took a moment to think my assertion over. “Well, then Lee, would you mind telling me where your wounds are? I see you have a bandage on your face. Are there more injuries?” she asked. “There are. The worst are on my back, but they’re really all over,” I told her. She looked at me carefully, assessing the blood on my dress.
“Lee, I’m sorry to ask this, but I need you to remove your clothes. You can keep your undergarments on, but I have to look at all the scratches.” She seemed apologetic, but I understood. If she was going to treat the wounds, she had to see them. I shrugged off my jacket, and took of my shoes and socks. She looked at my blistered feet. “I see you walked from the shore to the Greystone area,” she mused. “If that’s where the neighborhood is, then yes,” I confirmed while removing my jumpsuit. I wasn’t really embarrassed. Some of my dance costumes barely covered more than my undergarments, so this wasn’t that odd. The doctor’s face turned very serious. Then she sighed. “I’ll have to give you anesthesia. If were just a few of those cuts, I could get away with a sedative, but with the amount of time it’ll take, it would use more of our supply than I’d like, without being as effective.” I couldn’t help the small pang of fear that went through me. If I was unconscious, I couldn’t fight anything they might do to me. But I fought it back. No one had done anything untrustworthy. I was just going to put my faith in them. “Alright then. Do what you have to do,” I acquiesced. The doctor left to go get the anesthesia and I turned to Ella.
“Will you stay here? I’m a little uneasy and while it’s not like I’ll be awake, I’d like to have someone here,” I asked awkwardly. Ella smiled. “Of course.”
Dr. Michaels returned, and Leo was behind her. The doctor had cart with an IV on top and Leo was bringing a machine that looked like it was for vitals. They got me hooked up to the IV, and then the doctor began explaining what she was going to do. “I’m going to give you the anesthetic through the IV. While you’re out, I clean up all the cuts and remove any remaining glass. A lot of the cuts will need to be stitched up, and I’m afraid many of them will scar.” I already knew about the scarring. But the way I saw it, they were worth my freedom. After I confirmed that the treatment was fine with me, I doctor gave me the anesthesia. And then the world went blank.
When I came to, I was still in the patient room with the IV in my arm. Only now I was wearing different clothes. A large grey t-shirt, and black sweat pants that were rolled up. I also noticed I was now wearing what felt like a sports bra, and clean underwear. I didn’t have socks on, but both my feet had cloth bandages around them, as if I’d sprained my ankle, and there were bandages on some of my toes. These were all to cover the blisters, I guess. I began to sit up.
Ellen, who’d been reading, lifted her head. “Welcome back, Sleeping Beauty,” she joked. I smiled and looked around. “How long has it been?” I asked her. “Well,” she started, “it took the doctor a little over two hours to finish up. I guess I managed to get most of the glass out. The anesthetic wore off some time around 9:00, but you must’ve been pretty tired. It’s about noon now.” I nodded. At least I got some extra sleep. “My wounds don’t seem to be bothering me that much,” I mentioned. She nodded. “Dr. Michaels gave you some ibuprofen and put some pain relief cream on some of them. She’s got a few appointments, but she should be back to check on you soon. I think she said as long as there wasn’t any after effects when woke up, you’d be ok to leave. But you’ll still have to take ibuprofen every few hours and put on the pain creme when you need it.” This doctor must be really good. For a moment I wondered why she wasn’t forced to join the Colony, but then I remembered. Only the best were taken inside. Dr. Michaels was probably an amazing doctor. But she wasn’t one of the best. It occurred to me that there were still a lot of talented people out there, who were simply deemed not good enough. I thought of the girls I had made friends with at competitions, the ones who’d been second, or third. What had happened to all of them?
“I see your awake now, Lee,” Dr. Michaels said from the doorway. “That’s good. How do you feel?” I thought about it, wanting make sure I knew how to say it. “I feel better. My muscles still ache, and I still feel the cuts, but the pain is manageable,” I explained. She smiled and replied, “That’s very good, Lee. can you stand up? Be careful to keep the IV in for now, and hold onto the bed if you need to.” I got up slowly, making sure not to move too fast. The floor was cold beneath my feet, and my muscles were definitely tense, but it wasn’t terribly painful. “Still feeling okay?” the doctor checked. “Yes, I am. Can I try to walk a bit?” I felt the need to move around. She thought about it. “I suppose,” she answered. “But hold onto the IV pole as you move. I want to make sure you’re steady.” I nodded and grabbed the metal pole. I began to walk. The first few steps were small and a little difficult, but once I got the blood flowing I was walking normally.
“Wonderful, Lee. Normally, I’d have you stay longer, but I’ve already been watching your vitals, and they’ve been good. Since you can move around decently, and your speech is normal, I”ll let you go. You’ll probably need someone to help you around, especially when you go up the stairs. I’d give you a walker, but they’re all in use at the moment. Check back in with me or Leo in a few days; we might have one back by then,” the doctor told me. Ella sighed in relief. Was she worried about me?
“Thank you Dr. Michael. I can’t tell you how grateful I am,” I said sincerely. Her answering grin was warm and gentle, and it reminded me of my mother. “I’ll send Leo in to remove your IV after I have him find you some shoes.” Shoes. I realized I had no idea what my shoe size was. I looked towards the doctor about to tell her when Ella spoke again. “We already found your size Lee,” she laughed. “We actually measured your feet while you were asleep.” I laughed too. Dr. Michaels’ and Ella’s smiles grew. It was the first time I’d laughed since I left the Colony, and it felt good. I was finding happiness here, and I finally had hope again.