My eyes slowly opened. My head no longer hurt from the last time I was awake. In my heart I felt the heavy burden of the truth of what was in my blood as it pumped through my body. From the minute that Lynna saved me I had been questioning her endlessly seeking answers to what I was or was to become and never got a single response. But all that had changed. I now knew the secret. I held the answers within me, like Saladian had stipulated.
Machines beeped loudly from above and beside me. Their wires were hooked into my arms and on my chest. Translucent plastic tubing had been inserted into my nostrils; I felt a rush of oxygen flood my nose as I breathed in and out. My arms had tubing in them as well. A clear bag of fluid dripped slowly into my left arm; opaque white medicine entered my right. My torso was raised up in the bed and I spotted my hands clenched into fists. I opened them up slowly, as they cramped from being balled up too long. Once I wriggled them free from the short pain I felt, I reached up and inspected my forehead. My fingers felt gauze and a bandage wrapped around the top of my head.
“Don’t touch it,” Ella spoke from somewhere beside me.
Her face finally appeared in my vision. She looked tired and her hair was disheveled. “I’m glad to see you’re finally awake.”
“What happened?” I asked her; my voice was hoarse from disuse.
“Well…” she wrung her hands and shifted herself before she answered. “Um, four of their biggest guys rammed you and Lynna to the ice. In the confusion, Drew scored and then he launched himself into the mess of bodies to pull you guys out. Their bulkiest guy, Havard I think is his name, turned around and punched Drew so hard that he flew backwards into the baseboards. He was knocked unconscious on impact and when his arm hit the wall it snapped. I heard the break from where I sat in the box.” She turned around briefly and pulled open the curtain to my left.
I spotted Drew asleep in the bed next to mine. He was hooked up to machines as well. Tubes and wires protruded from his right arm. His left arm was heavily bandaged and hanging from a trapeze anchored to the top of the bed’s construct. So far, her story scared me. What had happened to Lynna? Why wasn’t she here?
“Lynna?” I croaked, fearful of the answer.
Ella bit her lip. “She’s next door.”
That was all she said on the subject and it didn’t tell me anything about her state. Was she alive? Was she dead? I pushed myself upright. Something behind me came undone but I didn’t pay much attention to it. I ripped the monitors off my chest. The beeping ended, and a long wail began.
“Garrett,” Ella started to say something, but stopped.
I was already moving, having undone the bedside rail. I swung my feet out from under the sheets and stood up. I lay the oxygen tubing on my pillow. The nurse ran into the room and stared at me in shock.
“You shouldn’t be up,” she chided. “Get back into the bed, Garrett,” she commanded me.
“No,” I responded and pulled off the remaining cords that connected me to the other machines. I stopped the flow of the white medicine and pulled out the IV. I grabbed the pole of the clear liquid bag and dragged it with me. “Ella, where is she?” I asked her.
“Garrett,” Ella cried. “Please get back in the bed.”
I ignored her and the nurse who suddenly called for help and walked out of the door. Ella followed me into the hallway, trailing behind softly.
“She’s to your left,” she whispered.
We were in a circular room. The nurse’s station was positioned in the middle and the rooms, where the other patients rested, were on the outer edge. Already several people had risen to their feet in alarm. Two security guards appeared made their way over to me when the nurse signaled.
I turned away from them and walked the few feet over to the next room and opened the door. Justin jumped in surprise upon my entry. He had a massive gash on his head, but he was conscious.
“Garrett! You’re awake!” he cried out.
I walked past him to the still figure that lay in the bed. A newspaper dated two days ago lay on the nightstand. The headline stared me in the face. ‘Brutal Hockey Game Lands 4 Teens in Hospital, Wolves Forfeit.’ I darted my eyes back to Lynna. She looked like a statue lying in the bed. Her head was bandaged, but there was tubing in it draining off fluid from her brain. Several other tubes were stuffed into her mouth, keeping her body breathing. Her arms were white, pale white, white like the day I noticed her change. I touched her hand; it was limp and weak. Surely her immortal body would regenerate and revive her, as her blood had done for me.
“Drop her hand and step away from the bed,” a man commanded me from the doorway.
The security guards had finally arrived.
“Stop please!” Ella begged them. “Garrett’s a friend, not an enemy!”
“He doesn’t belong in this room. He needs to be back in his own bed,” the nurse from before harshly reminded us.
More voices filtered in from the hallway and I overheard them all.
“What’s going on?” Ella’s mother asked.
“Move aside, we’re family,” the boy stated.
I recognized the boy. It was Cass, Lynna’s adopted brother and one of the immortals that lived with her. I listened as two more pairs of feet entered the room and I only guessed that her adopted sister was here with Cass. When I lifted my eyes to greet them I was correct.
“Justin, Ella, would you please leave the room?” I asked my friends. “I need to speak with Lynna’s brother.”
The two nodded and retreated from the room. The security guards stayed in place, ready to act if needed.
I stared at Cass. “I remember.” I spoke to him in Gaelic.
At first, he stared straight at me and didn’t bother reacting to my statement. But when I didn’t move much nor tear my eyes away from his he slowly grew alarmed.
Under my breath I murmured, “I’m here to help,” in Gaelic. I knew that the rest of the room would not hear the phrase, but he would.
He walked over to the bed and glared at me from the other side. “And how would you help?” he whispered to me.
I never once tore my gaze away from the pits of his brown eyes. There were a million things I could do to help, but I only had one shot at getting his permission and there was only one way he’d let me help her. “Saladian asked me to.”
He didn’t budge, but I could tell the name shook him to his core. Five minutes went by before he shooed everyone out of the room, including his adopted sister who protested loudly.
The first thing he said wasn’t something I expected. “Lynna broke the oath, didn’t she? Therefore, she won’t wake up.”
“She never broke the oath,” I responded calmly. “I remembered what happened on my own.”
“Really?” he scoffed. He wasn’t convinced of what I overcame. “How do you know the Empress’s name? We didn’t even tell you that.” He crossed his arms.
He was right. Saladian’s name never came up; she was always known as the Empress when spoken about. “Saladian’s been speaking to me in visions. Lynna knows of them.”
Cass frowned at me. “Your kind isn’t welcomed into the Empress’s realm. The Demyls are abominations. Eventually you’ll become a part of the shadow world, an entity of chaos and disorder, one that belongs to the Imperious. The Empress would never call upon the aid of one such as you. Her warrior, our father, fights the darkness to bring her back into the light and revive the tree of life. Until that day we have to remain in exile on this pathetic rock.”
I let go of Lynna’s hand and turned my fury onto him. “I know there’s nothing I can say to change your mind about me. Obviously, no matter how hard I try to convince you that I’m here to help Lynna and I’m not one of those Demyls, you still won’t listen. But I care about Lynna and I care what will happen to her if she doesn’t awaken from this slumber. Surely you can understand that.”
He rolled his eyes at me. “She knew the risks when she joined the hockey team. She went against my decision when I told her that she wouldn’t be allowed to compete. When our own breaks the rules, they must abide by the consequences. But it doesn’t matter much. If her soul doesn’t awaken in this body it will in the next. She’ll be reborn into a new body like Kelly and I have ten times over. We’ll start over again on this world and Lynna Ashford will cease to exist. You will be watched by our brethren that remain in the village. They will make sure you don’t squeal the secret to anyone and kill you when you turn.”
He rambled on and on about Lynna’s future that didn’t include me in it or ever being a part of it. And I felt that he missed the bigger picture. This wasn’t just about Lynna anymore and it wasn’t all about me either. This decision involved all of us, Lynna and her friends. I couldn’t really fathom a world without her in it anymore; she had changed so much of my life already. Ella would be completely devastated. In the short months that she had known Lynna, she had grown closer to her. There weren’t any words that would describe the void we would be left with if she were to die in this body. Only I knew the truth of what Lynna was and where she would go. I knew and understood that Lynna would be reborn with the memories from this life in her next. I didn’t know how she would cope without us, but I knew how I would. I couldn’t cope with the thought that she was alive somewhere else in the world with a new name and a new body. After I graduated this year, I would spend my life searching for her again.
Saladian’s words whispered in my mind, ‘She chose you’ repeatedly. They haunted me in my dreams and when I was awake. There was something pivotal about her words. They pointed to the truth of things, but I didn’t know what they meant exactly. No one had ever described the words to me, but I had never asked anyone but Saladian.
Cass was still ranting when I interrupted him.
“Cass,” I interjected.
He stopped talking suddenly and stared at me. “What?”
“I was chosen.”
He froze in place and stared down at Lynna in shock. “That’s not possible. Did she tell you that?” he whispered.
“Stonewards!” he cursed aloud. “This is impossible. That couldn’t have happened!” His foot tapped the floor impatiently.
“Why?” I asked him. I wanted to know how it was impossible when Saladian had been telling me otherwise, and what it meant.
“You can’t be… her father…” he stammered but never finished what he was going to say.
I grasped Lynna’s hand again. She felt cooler to the touch than she did earlier. Her pulse was weakening to the point of death. There wasn’t much time to reverse the damage that had been done to her human body and I didn’t know how long she had been holding on.
“Cass,” I began anew. “Tell me how to help her.”
It took him another minute of silence before he divulged the secret. I needed to give some of my blood to Lynna, and it didn’t have to be a match to her human body. She needed a mixture of my human blood and her immortal blood; basically, the transfusion could only be performed by me. As I prepared the site for the procedure Cass explained to me that her immortal blood already stitched her body back up, but the mortal body had lost control of itself which was why she was so white and why she had yet to reawaken. Apparently, the Immortal blood kept things circulating and reviving. She needed human blood in her body that could handle the mixture of her immortal blood, so that it could circulate. Bags of blood wouldn’t cut it because they weren’t taken from an adult body with a mixed mixture. Currently, my blood was a prime candidate for that. Cass and Kelly were too small in their current state for a transfusion process.
I yanked out my IV bag from the pole and drained it. Cass helped me with it. We drained some of my blood from the catheter in my arm into the bag, and then we transferred the tubing from my arm to Lynna’s arm. While my blood transfused into her veins, I pulled the catheter out and stopped the bleeding with a bandage. I grabbed the empty bed in the room and hauled it over to Lynna’s side. I parked myself on it while we waited for the blood transfusion to work.
When the blood had drained completely into Lynna’s body, Cass replaced the bag with a regular saline bag. He chunked the used one into a red container near the door. He unlocked it, allowing the others to rush in. A flood of people entered the room, including my mother. She paused once and stared at Lynna before heading over to my side. Her arms snaked around me and I embraced her tightly. She let me go and sat down beside me on the bed.
“Your father is on his way home. I’m glad to see that you’re awake.”
I smiled at her before turning my gaze back to Lynna.
She followed my gaze. “Is this Lynna?”
I nodded. This was not how I wanted the two of them to meet. The circumstances were tense and dire. And even though I probably saved Lynna’s human life, there was still a chance she wouldn’t wake up.
“She’s really pretty,” my mother observed.
I froze. Lynna didn’t look pretty in this state. She looked better when there was color in her limbs, but my mother wasn’t looking at her skin. Her eyes stared at her chest and face. She saw Lynna’s heart, as she always did when she met my friends for the first time. It was a trait I liked best about her and one that no other person I’d met seemed to have.
Kelly walked into the room. She caught Cass’s eyes and the two of them disappeared. A heated argument about Lynna’s state erupted between the two of them in the hallway. They spoke to each other in hushed tones, even though I heard them from the room.
Ella walked over. Her mother hovered nearby. “Sweetie, we’re giving her the best possible care,” she chimed near her.
Ella reached out and touched Lynna’s hand. “She’s cold,” she whispered. “She wasn’t this cold yesterday.”
Her mother pulled Ella back to her side.
My mother’s phone beeped once. She smiled at me and stood up. “That’s your father. I’ll be right back. I’m going to let him know you’re fine.”
Cass and Kelly reentered as soon as she left the room. Kelly looked frightened the moment I saw her. Cass wasn’t as scared as he was earlier, but he was still shaken by what he’d gleaned from me. I still had no clue why they were so scared, and why they weren’t willing to share that piece of information with me. I knew it had something to do with me being chosen, and though I somewhat knew what that meant, it seemed to mean something entirely different to the immortals. I wanted in on the secret.
The nurse walked in with a chart. She glanced at me and noticed the bag on the pole was gone. “What’d you do with your IV?” she questioned me, furious that I had pulled it out.
“I trashed it,” I grunted.
She sighed and turned her attention back onto Lynna. “We’re going to have to place another one,” she stated. “You might as well return to your room, so I can place it.”
“I’m not leaving,” I demanded.
Ella widened her eyes in shock. Cass and Kelly both took a step back, like I had pushed them away from Lynna mentally. Even the nurse flinched from the tone in my voice.
Ella’s mom glanced down at me and then back at Lynna. “Sharon, I think it would be beneficial for Garrett to recover in this room until Lynna wakes up. He’s obviously feeling better and very worried for his friend,” she described to the woman.
The nurse didn’t argue with her. She nodded and disappeared out the door. Cass and Kelly followed her out.
Ella tried smiling at me, but it was lost in the moment. I knew that she was happy I’d awoken, but she was extremely concerned for Lynna and Drew both, who remained unconscious. I figured she hated deciding who to look after more, her best friend or her boyfriend. She was obviously torn.
I caught Ms. Lyndon’s eyes staring at me.
“It took eight men to hold you down in the ambulance until the medicine started working.” She sighed heavily but said nothing more.
Her description of my strength stunned me. It took eight men to keep me in place? I was getting stronger by the day and I didn’t feel the pains from muscle cramps or soreness that was usually associated with growing.
“You can see why Sharon was worried that you might harm Lynna, but even I can see that you are only trying to protect her,” she finished.
“Well that and nobody wants to argue with an attorney,” Clara announced at the door. “May we come in?” she asked. Kevin and Teresa poked their heads into the doorway as well.
Ella’s mom smiled at them and she left the room to allow them passage.
Ella glanced at the three. “I’ll go check on Drew. There’s not supposed to be more than four people in here.” She disappeared before I could stop her. Technically with her, there would be four in here since I was still considered a patient.
Clara glanced down at Lynna’s sleeping body. “She doesn’t look well,” she observed.
Teresa elbowed her gut. “That’s not nice,” she whispered in response.
Kevin cleared his throat and caught my eyes. “So, how are you feeling, Gar?”
“We were really worried about you,” Teresa chimed in.
“I’m fine,” I responded.
Clara pointed at her head. “No pain in here?”
I shook mine.
“Yeah, no pain,” I reiterated.
Kyle whistled. “They must have had you on some good drugs.”
Clara checked the labeled bags near Lynna. “Here’s propofol. There’s some versed in the needle box. It’s empty though.”
I frowned. “What’s that?”
The nurse reappeared. “Okay, visiting time is over. These kids need their rest.” She paused at Cass and Kelly who stood near the door but not quite in the room. “He came back again. I told him Lynna still wasn’t awake yet.”
Cass nodded. “I’ll talk to him later.” He and Kelly disappeared out of the room completely before I could ask who it was that had visited.
Kevin, Teresa, and Clara kissed Lynna’s hand and wished her well. They each gave me a hug.
“Good to see you!” Kevin waved out of the door before he left.
“We’ll be back tomorrow after school,” Teresa explained as she pulled Clara out of the room.
The nurse left again, leaving me alone with Lynna.
My mother eventually returned with my dad in tow. We shared a small meal before they were ushered out of the room by the nurse. Neither of them seemed too concerned for my well being. That didn’t bother me. My mind was elsewhere, on Lynna’s current state. Sometime in the middle of the night, she had a seizure, a real one. Her body jerked uncontrollably as I held her down, keeping the wires from coming undone. The nurse, Sharon, started freaking out until I reminded her that Lynna was technically an epileptic in the mortal world, though I left the mortal part out. Someone hadn’t mentioned it during her care. After the seizure, she went still once more.
In the early morning hours, Lynna’s fingers started twitching. They moved for about five minutes then quit again. She still didn’t wake up, but the color in her skin returned slowly. It was subtle and faint, but I saw the glimmer and flush of the blood flowing through her body. I finally drifted off to sleep, thinking about how I would find her again if she died in this form. Eventually my sleep ceased, and I dreamt.