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Chapter XVIII:

Chapter XVIII:

I was dumbfounded, I couldn’t let anything pass me. Mentally. Harper and Ashton were still talking my ear off, but I could hear anything. I was just dead inside.

Harper pulled me up, but I couldn’t manage to stay on my feet. I felt blood dripping down my leg, and it was making me really nauseous. “You need to splint it. Or else it could get infected and it gives her more support.” Ashton said, taking off his shirt in the meanwhile. Harper seemed distracted, but I wasn’t paying attention why, I wasn’t even paying attention to anything, I just couldn’t.

I heard Ashton clear his throat, handing his T-shirt to Harper who was brought back to life again. Standing up, Ashton ran to the bedroom and came back half a minute later with a lot in his hands. I couldn’t recognize what. My eyes were taken off the objects in his hands, by a sharp pain going through my leg. It was indescribable. I clinched my teeth together, I closed my eyes, the pain becoming worse and worse. I slowly tried to open my eyes, and saw Harper, her eyes were still full of tears and she was trying to look away from the scene.

Sighing deeply when done, she stood up, helping me up, again. But I still couldn’t stand on my feet. “She’ll need something like a stick, so she can use it as cane.” He said, looking up from Jayden’s body. I shook my head, letting out a quiet squeal, feeling it up to my leg. “There’s no way you’ll get us both down there and all the way to the hospital.” I can’t even stand up. And look at Jayden, he probably weights more than 200 pounds.” I said, my brain functioning strangely enough. It surprised me. “What are you trying to say?” He fired back. Harper, who was thoughtfully looking out in front of her answered instead of me. “We should call the emergency service. Alice is right.” She answered, looking up, again.

“A phone?” Ashton asked, exposing a strange undertone in his voice. “Does Jayden own one?” He turned himself to me, tilting his head slightly. “Not that I know . . .” I mumbled, trying to evoke anything, but my head surrendered and started pounding. “No.” I peeped, embracing my ‘good’ leg in the meanwhile. I blocked the rest of the conversation out, letting my cheek rest on my leg, I turned, so I could see Python lying down. He looked conscious, only did the blood around his shoulder make him look so much paler. My eyelids were becoming heavier, after every blink. ‘It wouldn’t really hurt to take a nap.’ I thought to myself, so that was what I considered to do, until I was abruptly awoken from my slumber. Ashton was yelling, but it was unintelligible. Some grumbling followed, but I hadn’t taken the time nor effort to listen or even consider to comprehend the verbs that were used. I tried to get back in that small world, that only I could control and where nothing was so messed up as here, but the screams were getting louder and louder, they seemed threats if you’d ask me. “Give . . . damn thing.” My ears captured, I didn’t recognize the voice, at least not immediately. I heard some more rumbling until one thing happened, I heard a loud bang. Out of worry, I opened my eyes, seeing a gun in between Alex and Ashton. The room smelled so bad, sweet, metallic, urine, the three words that described everything my nostrils could capture. And my sight wasn’t much better, dark reddish colors and black spots, that was everything. Without me actually knowing, I started trilling, which I could notice at two places, my throbbing head, and wounded leg. I kept rocking myself, no matter what pain, it was done automatically. I felt something sticky, wet on my cheeks, figuring out it were tears after I whiped my face with the palm of my right hand. I was surprised when my ears didn’t catch anything anymore. Was I deaf, was I dead, or were the others dead?

Hyperventilating, that’s what I started doing, I turned my head, normally being able to see the three other people, but I couldn’t see them. The black spots were getting bigger and my head was throbbing harder, because of the wild movement I made. From somewhere deeper in the room, I presumably heard Ashton’s voice. He was talking to someone, but I had no clue to whom, and I didn’t really care either. I wanted to go to my safe spot, my imagination, so that’s what I did. I could be away from the pain, from the misery around me, the guilt I felt towards Jayden, everything. Only it would probably last two hours, I was gone in my slumber.

***

My head was still pounding like crazy and nothing else changed, except two things, I felt being pushed forward, while my back had something softer to rest on. I had absolutely no idea what was happening. The first thing I observed was the slight pain I felt with the wind on my leg. Bit by bit I opened my eyes, seeing multiple people with long white coats on and other people in blue costumes. Out of nowhere I heard a creaking sound coming from the wheeled bed, a wheel.

I heard some people talking, making shivers run down my spine, I didn’t even know why.

As a reflex I wanted to sit up, but midway I was stopped, by a hand on my shoulder, which startled me so hard just as the unbearable agony. I bit my lip so hard not wanting to get any sound out, but it was useless. It muffled my scream a little, but the noise still came out. I noticed the hand still on my shoulder, hoping that these were the people I wanted to be with for so long, but instead I saw a young man, in his thirties, rolling my bed forward.

“Where are you taking me?” I squealed, letting my head meet the not so comfortable pillow. He didn’t answer but started talking to someone else. I didn’t feel the need to listen to them, being too tried to do that. Dreaming slightly, I didn’t notice that I was being rolled into another, small hospital room.

“We know it’s really hard to focus now, but we need you to answer a few questions.” A female’s voice questioned me, making me look up after hearing her voice.

“What’s your name, sweetheart?” She asked, my heart stopped, the only people I really allowed to call me that were my friends just for a joke which happened rarely and my parents.

Breathing became harder and I felt like a dog that was trying to get oxygen. The woman gave me a confounded look, but she soon enough realized that something was clearly wrong. ”Honey, deep breaths.” Another word, even harder.

My shoulder blades were leaning against her gloved hands. “Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.” That finally cooled me down a little.

During my attacks, I always felt like hiding, hiding from myself, hiding from the world. But now I felt the need to stand up and run away from every single person, yet I wanted to search through every single crowd wanting to be with them. The people I wanted to be with, the people who I’d lost, never knowing why. The two whom you were supposed to receive lots of love from and return yours back to them too. I admit that I only could show any sign of anger or disappointment towards them if I knew what happened to them but being in the situation, I guess I wasn’t really helping my knot and thoughts. “Hey, can you tell us your name now?” The nurse asked. “Alice.” I stuttered, answering doubtfully. “Can you declare your whole name, Alice?” She requested, my breath hitched in my throat and I didn’t say a word. “Alice?” I could hear the slightest bit of irritation in her voice and noticed it in the stiff posture from beside me.

“Alice Avery White.” I whispered, which she just nodded her head for. “How old are you?” I finally turned my head to her side, she was a lady in her mid-thirties, brown hair showing from under the blue hairnet. “Sixteen.” My voice was a little louder now, but still almost inaudible. “Birth date?” She gave up the full sentences.

Strangely enough I needed to think about that for a second. “The nineteenth of September 2003.” I answered, seeming so uncertain about everything I was answering. Something in my head was stopping the information to come out. Realizing that it was possibly from the activities I undertook not so long ago. “What about your family, parents?” My eyes popped open and I tried to be as calm as possible. From the outside I seemed fine, but from the inside I was exploding, thousands of bombs were exploding inside of me and it took so much from me to not cry. “Alice?” The woman asked again.

“Theodore and Elizabeth. Theodore Ray White and Elizabeth Kate Rhine-White.” My eyes were burning, and I couldn’t resist it anymore, I let some tears fall. The woman gave me a look, confusion and some acknowledgement were seen in it.

There were some rumors spread all around the city about them, but nothing was ever clarified, perhaps she could have recognized the names. My parents had a big company, known throughout the whole city even in the whole country I think, but I never really understood what they did.

“You need to change quickly. I’ll help when needed and I can turn around if you want.” Handing me a gown, I undressed the upper part the best I could and put the dress on. Seeing the wound, I got such a strange feeling, and a harder, more noticeable pain followed.

“Ma’am, could you please help?” My face scrunched; the pain started to get worse.

“We’ll get it out of you during the surgery, or else it’ll hurt too much.” The words leaving her mouth didn’t enter my head, they flew in one of my ears and disappeared out of the other one.

“It’s time now, Alice.” This time, it was my turn to give her a confused look, finally catching everything she was saying. “You’re going into surgery; the bullet needs to be taken out of you.” She announced, standing up and grabbing some stuff from the small table by my side. My mouth opened a little out of shock. “So, what’s going to happen is that that man...” She pointed to a man in a green, blueish suit, who had just shoved a panel away, exposing a much bigger, filled room.

“... is going to help you get on the bed. After that I’ll give you some anesthesia. Don’t worry, I’ll give it to you through a mask. And while you’re dozing off, the other people will be getting ready for operation. Okay?” Before I could get any word out, she quickly continued. “Wait, when was the last time you ate something, we need to know that too.” I was stuttering, suddenly getting a fierce painful feeling in my thigh. Letting out a cry of pain, I answered. “Yesterday, I guess.” The woman nodded her head and pointed to a person behind me. “I’ll be the person leading the surgery. I’m doctor P. Nguyen. And I think it’s time for you to move you to another bed.” I weakly nodded my head, letting the unknown man pick me up and lay me down on the other bed.

I felt a shock hit me, when my body touched the operating table. A sharp pain shot was felt in my leg, I gave a short yell. An unintelligible apology came out of the person’s mouth. The woman, who I noticed standing behind me, started talking. “This is for the heartbeat.” She said, while pinning something on my finger. “And that’s for the blood pressure.” She positioned the thing on my biceps. “Normally, you would’ve gotten an IV, but because it was such an emergency, we couldn’t do that, so we’re doing the sedation through a mask.”

“Ready!” Was heard from the side of the room. “Okay, are you ready, Alice?” The woman behind me asked, having the mask in her hands already. “I guess.” I mumbled and not even five seconds later the thing was on me. It had a flavor in it, a specific smell, but I couldn’t recognize it. Even before I knew it, my eyelids were falling, and becoming heavier and heavier. The last thing I felt on my face was another mask and that’s when my worriless world and I met again.

***

I heard some talking in the room, but nothing I could catch. My eyes were still closed, and I was delighted for that. I had still no idea what exactly happened the past 48 hours, it was all mixed together. I eventually needed to open my eyes, wanting to see my surroundings. A monitor was standing next to my bed and a chair, with behind that a light blueish curtain. I tilted my head to the right side and saw a thing where an IV was hanging on. I let my eyes trail the tubes with a transparent liquid that followed its way to my arms. From my arms, I saw a big bandage wrapped around my thigh. I could see a small red spot in the middle of my thight. My leg was also put on a pillow.

“We needed to give her anesthesia or else she would be screaming bloody murder.” I heard a voice I heard maximum two or three times, say to another person.

“Thank you, doctor, for letting me be with her.” I heard a feminine, such recognizable voice say. If I could I would’ve jumped up and ran to her. But I couldn’t, so the only thing I did was turn my head towards the sounds.

“Oh, hello, Miss White, how are you feeling?” The doctor asked me politely, a small, fake seeming smile playing on his face. I recognized him as the person pushing my bed forward.

“The best I could.” I answered, pissed, smiling bitterly at him, too. The man’s smile only grew bigger after hearing that. “Sassy, I love it when people wake up like that.” The corners of my mouth dropped down, and the look in my eyes would probably scare some people away too. “Well, it’s nice to see you too.” His smile started to slowly disappear, but a trail was still there. “Let me do a checkup and I’ll leave you alone, until the next one.”

I only groaned a little not being in the mood for all of this.

Some touches on my arm, a little wiggling with the IV, and a look at my thigh later, the man was as good as ready to go to his other patient. “Oh, yeah, before I forget you are lucky that we allowed a visitor. You’re welcome.” Sarcasm was spotted in the way he smiled and pronounced his words. Not even ten seconds later I saw Harper walk in or just enter my own curtained area.

“How’s Jayden?” Was the first thing that came out, it didn’t even pass my mind, so fast did it arrive.

“I don’t know, they won’t give us any information, because were not blood related. It was almost impossible for me to get in here, but with some lies it worked.” She sat down on the chair on my left, next to the heart monitor that was still doing its work. “And Ashton?”

“He’s trying to get any information about Jayden, but probably without luck.” She sighed, seeming really tired. “Do you want to rest a little?” I asked her, while she was yawning. “No, no, it’s fine.” She tried to reassure, but I knew her a little too long for that.

“Harper, closing your eyes won’t hurt anybody.” I insisted. “You can even sleep in here, if you want.” I suggested, patting the little space there was left next to me. “I’ll sleep, but not next to you, this chair is good enough, I don’t want to hurt you in any way.” She said, giving me a look telling me that she was fine doing what she just suggested.

“You won’t hurt me, they gave me stuff, painkillers, or something that numbs the pain.” I mumbled, sounding a little irritated again. This conversation was taking too much from me. “I’ll stay here, end of discussion.” She, sounding as irritated as I was, finished.

“Okay, talk to you later and tight dreams.” I grumbled to her, seeing that she was already in a slumber. I didn’t feel so tired anymore, so I decided to worry and figure out what had happened in the last one to two days.

We went to Harper’s and my parent’s houses, we found letters, and blood in the cellar. Thinking about that I felt my heartbeat rise a little and you could notice the machine going faster too. A sort of hole filled my chest. It felt like that hole represented my parents and the longer I didn’t see nor hear anything about them the gap would get bigger and bigger by the second. I shook the thought away, not wanting to get anyone’s, especially the doctors’ attention.

Back to thinking, I was climbing a bloody, broken window and then I was at my neighbors’ house and that was the last thing I remember from that evening. The next thing I remember was Jayden’s apartment, banging on the door and gunshots. The shots were still echoing in my ears. ‘Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!’ Five in total, the first one hitting Jayden, the following three directly after the other ones, striking us all and the last one fired by Ashton, later spotted in the snake’s shoulder. Some unknown, unidentifiable strange thing occurred in my body, but I couldn’t put words on it. Thinking about this event made my heart beat faster – which wasn’t really the best thing with the heart monitor connected to me. Some sweat appeared on my forehead, my breathing fastened, and I just froze.

Sleeping! That could help me not to get noticed.

Closing my eyes, I waited until sleep caught me and took me back to the silence in the darkness, but I was too concentrated and un-tired. A groan left my mouth after half an hour, but I tried to quiet it down, knowing that I was not alone.

“Well, a warmhearted welcome I get.” Said the doctor, having the same annoying smile on his face as before.

“What?” I barked, not enjoying his presence at all. I would rather be with Jayden and Ashton at the moment.

“Checkup, again.” The smirk vanished and was replaced by a serious look. “Does it hurt at any specific place?” He questioned me. I hadn’t really thought about my surgery and the pain I felt, not at all, everything except that passed my thoughts. And strangely enough, even after thinking about it, I didn’t feel anything, the anesthesia and antibiotics worked ordinarily well.

“No pain.” I mumbled, while doing one of my old habits: chewing on the inside of my cheek.

“Lemme take a look.” He murmured, getting closer. Having him closer to me I saw the dark bags under his eyes.

“You look tired.” I blurted out, feeling free to say whatever I want. From the corner of my eye, I saw him glaring my way, but he just sighed deeply and answered. “Yeah.” He felt like closing his eyes, taking a nap for just a few minutes, but just shook it off.

“Cause?” I asked, trying to sound interested, not wanting to do this in a strange, awkward silence. He didn’t answer, didn’t even shoot a glance my way. “Let me guess . . .” I tapped, my finger on my chin, keeping the rest of my body still and answered. “You have no friends and family, so that means no life, or these people are so despaired that they need you- . . .” I wanted to continue my play, but he cut me off, surprisingly having no pissed look in his eyes, nor on his facial expression.

“I do have a life. I clearly have friends and a family, it’s just . . . Why am I even telling this to a fifteen-year-old?” He exhaled, leaning against the wall behind my bed.

“Sixteen-year-old.” I murmured under my breath. Before I turned my head, I saw the older man roll his eyes.

“I see that something is tormenting you and it seems that you don’t have enough money and time to talk with a psychologist, so talk.” I closed my eyes, sighing deeply, ready for an interminable explanation.

“Maybe another time.” He answered, seeming to be stuck somewhere else in his own thoughts.

“When your shift’s done, come here and you can get everything out of your system.” I suggested tiredly, seeing that he really needed a person he could sort of rely on. I had a hard time too, but I had people around me ready to support me when needed and I felt the need to help this thirty-year-old man, knowing that I would be so delighted if someone did that to me. “How can I find you, if needed?” I asked the man, his name still unknown.

“Doctor K. Foreman.” And with one sad smile he walked away, going to another patient in need.

I suddenly felt really tired, so I decided it wouldn’t be a bad idea to give sleep another shot, and luckily, I fell asleep shortly after closing my eyes.

***

Some time went by after waking up, I talked to Harper, who woke up not so long after me. I had two other checkups, one by doctor Foreman and one by an unfamiliar nurse, I was also placed in another room, for a single person. The previous room was what I presumed for people waking up from the anesthesia that was given during surgery.

“Maybe you should check out what Ashton is doing? I hope he didn’t get himself kicked out.” I was genuinely worried, but I was trying to get Harper away too.

“Maybe you’re right, he . . . okay. I’ll check immediately.” Grabbing the few stuff she took with her, she stood up and left.

A few minutes passed, in which I occupied myself by looking at the celling, until I heard the voice from doctor Foreman, again.

“I’ll examine you first.” He smiled, only was it the same smile as before. It bothered me, seeing the unhappiness in his eyes.

“You’re totally fine, or the best you can be.” He stood up. “It seems that you have no bleedings.” He added, finishing the examination. Not saying anything the whole time, I opened my mouth again. “How are you feeling?” Not being used to the question, you could see it from his reaction. He was like the quiet kid at school, being bullied sometimes and I think he still had it happening sometimes.

“I don’t know.” He answered, sounding so uncertain, sounding so small.

“Do you want to tell the story?” I slowly asked, after a pause of a minute or two. Observing the young adult really well I thought that he looked familiar, like someone I knew.

He had a light tan, comparable to mine, and brown eyes. His brown hair was messily cared for, I could see that he played a lot with it, something Jayden did too.

A deep sigh. “I was adopted, my real parents, who I’ve actually never known were considering to take me back but decided not to. Because of that I was and still am always insecure about everything. The place I was supposed to call home, never felt like that to me. I was grateful to the people who took me in, and I really appreciate that, but I always had the feeling and need to be with my real family even though I don’t even know them. Growing older I went through the basics, I played with some friends, but time passed. Me and the few friends I had were bullied, but that stopped, at least for them, they left. They couldn’t handle it, both of them. One started cutting himself, aged fifteen, causing him to die. My other friend couldn’t handle it either and hung himself, aged sixteen, leaving me alone. Those ‘bullies’ stopped bothering me after both my friends tragically passed away and from that day, I became invisible to everyone in the school.” He just as Jayden, when he told his stories, stared blankly out in front of him.

“At home it wasn’t that pleasant ether: my father, Gary became sick, not even a month away from Michael’s death (the one who hung himself) and Marinda, my mother, needed to work more to pay his treatment, so there was nobody to support me. A year passed and his condition didn’t get better, his age and previous injuries didn’t support his immune system. The pain became unbearable for him and he couldn’t get better. Marinda couldn’t see him suffer like that either, so they decided to euthanize him. Marinda and I both became depressed, me even more. We grew closer towards each other, I even started to think of her as a real mother. I graduated from high school and decided to be a doctor, hoping to help the people, so nobody should go through what we did, and even though I knew it was impossible, I was delighted to be able to help them.” A small smile was seen on his face but vanished as soon as it came.

“No other friends were made, everyone thinking the same thing, but it didn’t matter to me. I had one best friend, who would never leave me. My mother. She told me to look for other friends, because she knew that she didn’t have so much time left. I decided to go to a club, I drank for the first time and got my first hangover. But even though that happened I still met two people, Isabella and Liam, they were friends already and invited me to join their little group. So, I did. Becoming really close, Isabella and I even became a little more than just friends. We were together from the time I graduated college, so twenty-five. But that changed really quickly, two years later I discovered that she was cheating on me, with Liam. I obviously broke up with her and broke contact, but she couldn’t have it. She started stalking me, threatening me, etc. I’ve called the cops a lot on her, but they never came. One time I woke seeing blood in the living room, I followed the trail to find Marinda lying there, dead, Isabella standing behind her, knife still in her hands. She tried to escape from me, but I unfortunately had to kick her unconscious. She got arrested and Liam too for complicity.

Isabella probably got a life sentence, but I have no idea when Liam is free. This all happened not even half a year ago.” His voice was a lot quieter, compared to the beginning, but his face was so casual. No tear, not even water in his eyes, yet I could see all the sadness that built itself up in him. I unlike him was almost bailing my eyes out. Every word hit me hard. Like the bullet did to me.

Thinking about that I just froze, but tried to get it out of my mind, it was his turn to get a little attention not mine. He had waited his whole life.

“I don’t even get why I am telling this to a fif- to a sixteen-year-old.” He corrected himself, sighing deeply and rubbing his hands over his face. He had taken his gloves off after taking care of me.

I stayed silent.

“Have you talked to someone, a professional?” I once again made eye contact with him, his eyes reminded me of someone, even more than one person, but I still didn’t know who.

He too stayed silent.

“Tell me you did.” I sent him a hopeful look, but the shine in his eyes told me he didn’t. “Why?” I asked him, already guessing it.

He shrugged. I couldn’t look at him anymore. I felt guilt, pity, which he’d probably hate, and sadness.

Minutes of silence passed, all that time my eyes were focused on the celling.

“I’m scared, scared of people’s opinion. People can be cruel, I’ve already experienced it myself, too many times. I don’t like what they’re able to do: abandon a kid, verbally and physically abuse you, ignore you, trick you, kill you and the list moves on. I’ve never known ten people who’ve done great things. Only two. Two people of the many I’ve met. My mother and you.” It felt as if my heart stopped, I stopped moving, I stopped thinking, that all in one second. I felt a good sort of pressure welcome my chest, appreciation.

“I ain’t better than the rest.” I bit my cheek again. I wasn’t better than all the rest, I think I was even worse than them, I dealed drugs, fights, etc. I don’t see the good, bright in it.

“Maybe you don’t see it, but I think everyone else does, you’ll understand it one day.” And with that he pushed himself away from the wall. “See you tomorrow, thanks again.” He smiled. I wanted to ask so many other things, but he was already gone. “Bye . . .” I murmured, suddenly feeling really tired. And within a few minutes I was sound asleep.

-Kito

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