Steel Instinct

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Chapter 6

“Patient name... Kalama Ijsbrand... Date of birth... July 28th, 1996...” a nurse says, typing up a document, “Height...about 4’11”... Weight... 123 pounds...”

“We did a quick scan of her, despite the gunshot wounds, there are absolutely no bullets in her body,” another nurse reports, entering the room to show the x-rays to the first nurse.

“Do we have any medical records of recent surgeries for Kalama Ijsbrand?” the first nurse asks, looking over the x-rays.

“No. We’ve checked her records in the system. Absolutely no record of recent hospital visits,” the second nurse states, “Though some of the records from a few years ago are missing some data...”

“That’s very odd... It would take a skilled surgeon to successfully remove that many bullets,” the first nurse says, ignoring the fact that the medical records have been tampered with previously.

“Knock, knock,” a man’s voice calls at the door to the hospital room.

The nurses look up from the x-rays. Standing at the door to the room is Frederik Uberti. The nurses groan in annoyance, recognizing their former classmate immediately. The nurses then reluctantly wave him in and he comes to stand by the hospital bed.

“What do you want, Fred?” the first nurse asks, clearly disgusted by Frederik’s presence.

“This my frien’,” Frederik states, pointing to Kalama.

“Yeah, right,” the first nurse says and bursts out laughing, “You don’t have any friends!”

“I wrote a letter,” Frederik says, gently setting a get well soon card on the bedside table.

“Get lost, Fred. You don’t belong here,” the second nurse says, “You’re a danger to everyone!”

Frederik stands perfectly still for a moment. He doesn’t even appear to breathe. His face remains blank. When he finally does move, he places his hand on Kalama’s shoulder through the blanket.

“Get well,” Frederik says, closing his eyes for a moment, “Sorry ’bout da crash...”

“Now, go! Don’t make us call security on you!” the first nurse yells, raising a hand to pick up the emergency telephone.

“I be back,” Frederik says, shaking his head, “You see.”

Frederik removes his hand from Kalama’s shoulder. He looks both nurses in the eyes. Both of the nurses cringe and back up. Frederik leaves with a silly grin on his face.

“What a fool!” the first nurse says with a laugh.

“Yeah, he’s clearly delusional. Why would anyone be friends with him?!” the second nurse asks, “He’s never even done anything of use in his life! He’s literally the least important person ever!”

“...You don’t think that he...” the first nurse begins, but cuts himself off.

“ At least, I hope not...” the second nurse says, knowing what the first nurse means without him needing to finish his thoughts.

Kalama has lost a lot of blood from both accidents. Thanks to her medical records being mostly intact, the doctor was able to get a blood transfusion for her of the correct blood type, B Positive. It isn’t until a few hours later that Kalama begins to come around. Until then, the nurses have checked in frequently to make sure she’s okay.

“...mmm...?” Kalama moans, shifting a bit.

“Welcome back, Kalama,” a nurse says; it is the second nurse from earlier.

The nurse gently pats Kalama’s hand. Kalama tilts her head up to look at the nurse. The nurse notices that the card is still on the table and quickly knocks it into the trash can. Kalama blinks a few times, unsure of what to make of this.

“W... What...” Kalama whispers, and glances at the medical equipment, “...I have somewhere I need to be...”

“Excuse me, young lady, but you aren’t going anywhere,” the nurse says in an authoritative tone, “You nearly died!”

“...not the first time that’s happened...” Kalama says, she stops and makes a pained noise after trying to stretch.

“Shame on you for driving so recklessly!” the nurse scolds Kalama, “You’re sure lucky those Silverarc cars are built well!”

“...You’re right. I’m sorry. I was a fool to think I could...” Kalama begins and then stops herself, realizing she’s about to give herself away, “...TV...Turn on the news, please...”

“Here’s the remote,” the nurse says.

The nurse throws the remote at Kalama. The remote smacks Kalama in the face. Kalama groans and weakly grabs to remote. She powers on the TV and slowly switches to a news channel.

“...after what appeared to be a high speed chase. What is your opinion on this?” the reporter asks.

“Honestly? I still believe that the Silverarc Company produces high quality cars. If you think about it, absolutely anything can be misused no matter how great of a product it is,” the person being interviewed, who happens to be Ms. Gray, says, “Silverarc is still paving the way to the future with its hybrid engines and smart control panels. They serve their purpose, getting people places fast and efficiently. In no way were these cars built for high speed chases or road races. That is the fault of the driver, not the company.”

“You make a pretty good point there, Ms. Gray. The world would be a safer place all around if people would just stop misusing otherwise good products,” the reporter says, “I also hear that the airbag deploy system works wonders.”

“We test these vehicles thoroughly. I would hate for anyone to be killed by any Silverarc vehicle. We test them in various situations multiple times and if there is even a slight inconsistency, we scrap it and try again,” Ms. Gray says and then looks directly into the camera, “ we know how the crash victim is doing?”

“As far as we know, she survived the crash and was admitted to a hospital,” the reporter says, “Any further information is kept private.”

Ms. Gray briefly glances at her watch and says, “I have somewhere I need to be, but thank you so much for inviting me to be on the news with you. I wish the crash victim well.”

Kalama turns off the TV. The nurse takes the remote back from her. Kalama then stares blankly up at the ceiling. The nurse remains silent for an awfully long time.

“ you need anything?” the nurse asks when she finally decides to speak.

“...nothing can help at this point...” Kalama says, “What even is the point anymore? It’s clear that I cannot do anything right.”

“Oh calm down... You will survive this. Just relax and allow yourself to heal,” the nurse says.

“I can’t, though! My sister is still out there! How can I rest knowing that I failed?!” asks Kalama, “I just... You wouldn’t understand...”

“You’re right. I don’t understand. I haven’t a clue what you could be talking about,” the nurse says, “But I do know the doctors know what is best for you.”

“Linda Gray, CEO of the Silverarc Corps. Most powerful woman in the entire city, wouldn’t you say?” Kalama asks.

“That is true. In fact, I don’t think it would be too outrageous to claim her as the country’s most powerful woman. She has sold the most cars out of all the car companies lately,” the nurse says.

“Yes... She can get whatever she wants and do whatever she wants,” Kalama says.

“I mean, within reason. Anyone can,” the nurse says.

“Who would dare stop her?” Kalama asks.

“Listen, if you have issues with Linda Gray, I would suggest you keep it to yourself,” the nurse says.

“...on the contrast, there is me. I am short, and currently very weak. I can barely move my head...” Kalama says, “It’s hopeless. I admit it. I’ve lost already. I may as well be dead.”

“Don’t say such things! Clearly you are still alive for a reason!” the nurse argues.

“How much longer do I have to live, though? I very well could die in a second,” Kalama says.

“Don’t give up... You’re young. You have a life ahead of you if only you believe...” the nurse says.

“Yeah, right...” Kalama says and closes her eyes tightly.

At this time, Tacoma has safely transported Abby to the newest hideout. He carries her inside and gently sets her on a couch. He then locks the front door and sits down next to her. She sighs.

“This is our new home...for now... But if you try to run away, Ms. Gray will surely kill me,” Tacoma says.

“Why must Ms. Gray be so ruthless?” Abby asks.

“That’s just who she is. Do you think she got to her position by being nice and friendly to everyone?” Tacoma asks, shaking his head, “This is real life, Abby. Positions of power are held by the strong.”

“Y-you’re strong,” Abby says with a giggle.

“Now you’re the one playing with me,” Tacoma says with a chuckle, “I do love you, Abby. I hope you realize that.”

“Taco,” Abby says with a giggle.

Tacoma raises an eyebrow at Abby. He gets up from where he is sitting and ventures off to the next room. Abby waits for his return, unsure of what else to do. Tacoma returns with two glasses and a bottle of wine.

“Thought I’d make myself a drink,” says Tacoma, “Would you like to share this bottle with me? Ms. Gray won’t be here for a long time. We can do absolutely anything, just as long as I’m with you.”

“Sure,” Abby says with a shrug, “W-whatever you want, sweetheart.”

“I know you’re worried about Kalama,” Tacoma says, filling up the two glasses, “I understand. She’s still alive. I assure you, she will make it.”

“I miss her so much, Tacoma,” Abby says, “I love you romantically, but it just cannot replace the family bond I have with my sister...”

“WE can be family,” Tacoma says, “I would love to have you as my wife.”

“Oh, T-Tacoma...” Abby says.

“We can keep it a secret from Ms. Gray. She doesn’t have to know,” Tacoma says.

“...Kalama doesn’t like you,” Abby says.

“Well,” Tacoma says, passing a glass of wine to Abby, “She doesn’t have to know either. You are your own person. You should be allowed to decide on your own.”

Abby sips the wine. Again, she cringes at the taste. Tacoma chugs his glass and pours himself another. Abby blushes and continues drinking her wine.

“Now this is quality wine,” Tacoma says.

“Y-Yeah,” Abby says.

“There are tons of bottles, so we may as well drink as much as we want,” Tacoma says.

“Won’t we get sick? L-last time I got a bad headache...” Abby says.

“That was last time. First time usually is a bit rough... This time will be better,” Tacoma says.

“I trust you,” Abby says.

“Thanks, I know,” Tacoma says.

Tacoma and Abby have several glasses of wine. They talk and laugh and seem to be having a great time together. Then, however, trouble begins again. Tacoma reaches out and takes hold of Abby’s dress sleeve.

“T... Tacoma...?” Abby asks, staring into Tacoma’s eyes.

“Nobody will know...” Tacoma says.

“K-Kalama... Kalama says... No, no no... N-not married... don’t do...” Abby says.

“Kalama isn’t here... Kalama won’t know...” Tacoma says.

“You’re... You’re right...” Abby says, “I wan...try... I love you...”

“I love you too, Abby,” Tacoma says.

Tacoma kisses Abby on the lips.

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