Chapter Twenty Five
Ten minutes seemed to go by slowly, but finally, it was time. Lukas pressed a finger to his lips, standing. “You know how to use that, right?” He asked quietly.
“Yeah.” She reassured him. “I won’t accidentally stab you or anything.”
“Oh good, because that’s what I was worried about.” He said, rolling his eyes.
“What weapon do you have?”
He gave her a sidewards glance as he slowly swung the door open. “Sweetheart, I don’t need weapons.”
She raised an eyebrow but let the issue drop. Quietly, she followed after him. Walking felt like a difficult task, her muscles cramping with the sudden use though she could hardly complain after the agony that she had been dealt before. “Stay here and don’t move until I give the signal.”
“What’s the signal?” She hissed at him, but he had already left her side. He rounded the corner, walking with confidence. When he spoke, his voice was loud and casual, as though he wasn’t planning an escape for their captives.
“Afternoon, gentlemen.” He greeted. “How are you doing today?”
There was a mumble from the man closest to where Gwen was standing, but the man closest to Lukas was obviously much more talkative.
“Good.” He said. “And yourself?”
They fell into small talk for a little while, and after a moment, Lukas stepped closer to the man, laughing and talking like they were old friends. He patted the man on his shoulder. “Well, I’ve got to get going now.” He emphasized the word, and Gwen took that to be the signal.
She swung herself around the corner, launching herself at the man closest at her. She sucked air in through her teeth at the sharp pain that almost overcame her for a moment, but she prevailed. There was a shocked cry as she tackled the man to the ground, and he thrashed for a moment, almost succeeding in throwing her off.
There was no way in hell Gwen was standing for that. She wasn’t going to be taken over by some guard when she had gotten so far. She swung the knife down, slamming it into the base of the man’s neck. He fell still immediately.
She felt dirty. She had just killed a man in cold blood and really, all he had been doing was his job.
“Gwen.” Lukas’ voice broke her out of her thoughts, and she looks towards him. The guard was on the ground underneath his foot, groaning in pain. “Search him for keys.”
She quickly searched the body, going through every pocket. Her search came up with a gun and a set of keys.
“Know how to use it?” Lukas asked as he slammed the guards head into the ground, sending him into unconsciousness. He copied Gwen’s actions and rummaged through the guards pockets, his search coming up with a gun as well.
She shook her head. “The other’s do though.”
He hummed. “Throw us the keys.” He caught them with ease, and then with a quick nod to Gwen, he was off. She hurried to keep up with him, all the while cursing her short legs.
“So, what’s the plan after this?” She asked. “I mean, we’re going to have to run, obviously. But how long will we be forced to run?”
He sent a glance back to her. “Hopefully, not long. If you’re lucky, these people will just give up eventually.”
“We’re not exactly lucky people.”
“Well, if the worst happens, at least you tried.”
He led her back into the room where she had been originally located, and her heart dropped deep into her stomach. Very few members of her group looked to be somewhat alive, a large portion of them were laying on the ground motionless in a way that she couldn’t quite see if they were breathing or not.
She froze for a few minutes and was only spurred into motion at the click of the door unlocking. She quickly ran into the first cell. Cheyenne had sat herself up against the bars, and her face was flushed with fever, however she was still somewhat lucid.
“Gwen?” She asked, slowly pushing herself to her feet. “Why are you here?”
“I’m getting us out of here. Don’t worry.” Once Cheyenne was on her feet, and looked stable enough to stand on her own willpower, Gwen turned to the girl lying on the floor.
Cheyenne shook her head sadly. “No. Her name was Nia.”
Nia. The girl that Ariana and Kel had been worried about.
“Are the others alive?” She asked, and Cheyenne closed her eyes, her face contorted in grief.
“I don’t know.” She said sadly. “It’s been quiet, but I know that almost half of these people have passed.”
“Shit.” Gwen whispered, and Cheyenne made a noise in agreement.
“How are you here?” Cheyenne asked, hesitantly standing at the open door of the cell. “Surely they wouldn’t stand for this.”
“I had help.” Gwen told her, not exactly wanting to go into details. Time was the key here, and if they didn’t get moving soon, they’d be right back here again. “Are you okay to help me check the others?”
Cheyenne’s face took on a mask of resilience. “Of course.” She said, though she wavered a little on her feet. “I’m not sure how useful I’ll be though.”
“That’s okay, come on.”
Lukas had already begun to unlock more doors, checking the cells for people who were alive. Gwen felt herself feel terrified at what she would see inside each cell, and took a moment to brace herself. What if it was one of her friends and they were dead? What if they had been broken, no more than a shell of a person like Anthony?
She shook her head and forced herself to look in the cell. The two occupants of the cell were on the floor, their chests no longer rising or falling with life, but despite the sadness Gwen felt she couldn’t help but feel slightly relieved at the fact that she didn’t know these people.
Another few cells checks came up similar, and Gwen’s chest tightened when she saw that Leigh hadn’t died yet, but had become rather sickly. Her eyes were glazed over, and she wasn’t lucid. There was no way that she would make it.
The cell next to Leigh’s was Riley and Zeke’s and for a moment, Gwen thought the worst had happened. Both men were unmoving, but after a second of waiting with her breath caught in her throat, she saw both of their chests rise with breath. She fell to her knees next to them, shaking them awake gently.
Zeke’s eyes snapped open immediately, and his eyes were mercifully alert. “Gwen.” He said, sitting up quickly, though he curled an arm over his stomach tightly. “You’re okay?” He asked, and she nodded.
“Can you stand?” She asked, and made an approving sound when he proved that he could. “Is Riley alive?”
“Yeah.” He confirmed, and Gwen breathed a sigh. She shook his shoulder again, and slowly, Riley’s eyes blinked open. They didn’t focus though, bleary and a quick check told Gwen that he was feverish.
“He’s not going to make it.” Zeke said quietly. “Whatever you have planned, the sick have to stay behind, right?”
“Right.” She said, her voice slightly choked. She didn’t want to leave Riley behind.
“Come on.” Zeke said again, though his voice held a sad tone. “Kel and Ariana are in the next cell over. They’re both alive.”
Though she felt grief at the thought of leaving Riley behind, knowing that both Ariana and Kel were alive was enough to keep her moving. She threw herself into the next cell, and almost sobbed in relief when both Kel and Ariana were already on their feet, healthy and unharmed for the most part.
She stopped for a moment, letting Ariana wrap her arms around her, and she took comfort in the hug. It felt good and when she pulled back, she felt much stronger. She turned to Kel, and offered him a smile that wasn’t quite a smile.
“Still holding on to hope?” She asked, and he offered her a smile in return.
“Of course.” He told her. “I don’t know what you have planned, but I trust that you’ll get us out of here.”
She nodded, but didn’t explain the plan to them. They didn’t have long until people would return back to this floor. She turned; ready to enter another cell, but the cell next to Kel and Ariana’s caught her eye.
Her original cell.
It was empty, the man that had been there before was gone. She didn’t have to ask why though, it was obvious.
She took a shaky breath, and stepped into another cell. Cheyenne was already inside of it, on her knees. Tears were streaming down her face, and Gwen didn’t even have to ask.
“Chris?” She asked in a broken tone, and Cheyenne shook her head.
“He’s not going to make it.” She whispered, and Gwen’s heart shattered, again and again. She hated this, hated that she had lost so many friends in such a short time. She hated these people, and she hated the thought that she couldn’t get vengeance for them. The hospital had too many people for her to fight against, and even if they only had a few people, Gwen was weak.
She was weak.
She dropped to her knees next to Cheyenne, running a hand over Chris’ sweat-soaked hair. His eyes were open, and they were focused on Cheyenne, though they appeared to be looking through her. Gwen closed her eyes, swallowing back a sob.
“This isn’t fair.” She whispered, letting a few tears fall.
“I know.” Cheyenne told her quietly. “Nick was in here, and he’s alive. Shaky and weak, but he’s alive.” Gwen couldn’t even find it in her to be relieved. “And James is okay. He doesn’t know yet.”
“He doesn’t deserve this.” Gwen said, her voice low.
“No one does.” A voice came from behind her, and she turned to see James standing in the door. His shoulder was pressed against the bar and his eyes were bloodshot, as though he had been crying but he otherwise looked okay. His face had a mask of grief. “This world’s gone to shit.”
“Gwen.” Cheyenne said softly, and Gwen turned back to her. “Go. I’ll stay here with him, so he’s not alone when he...” She didn’t need to finish the sentence. They all heard it.
“No.” She said shaking her head, but James spoke over her. “Keep him safe.”
“How can you just leave them behind?” She asked, a harsh tone to her voice. “He’s your friend too.”
James pinned her with a hard look and sighed shakily. “We all have to make sacrifices, Gwen.” He told her quietly. “He’s my best friend, my brother and Cheyenne is like a sister to me, but we’re not going to make it with him, and he doesn’t deserve to die here alone.”
“Go.” Cheyenne told her. “He wouldn’t want you to do this. Go.”
Gwen sobbed, but she knew they were right. She ran her hand through Chris’ hair once more, and took his hand, offering a squeeze. His hand was weak and clammy in hers, but there was the tiniest pressure on her hand.
She swallowed and choked back any more tears that threatened to fall, wiping at her face with the back of her hand. They had to leave.
She forced herself to her feet, and started to walk towards the door, though she turned before she could exit. Her voice shook when she spoke, and cracked halfway through the sentence.
“Farewell, my brother. I only hope the life following this one is easier.