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THEN IT BEGAN to subside, the feeling distinctly soothing, like a thick cloud lifting after a torrential downpour.

What awesome feeling. But it was an uneasy calm.

The feeling of having experienced such degree of bodily injuries and pain and survived it was akin to climbing a steep, treacherous peak – the difficult part was actually the ascent. Once you’ve reached the peak, the rest was easy. You just begin to slide downhill as your muscles learn to silence the pains. It doesn’t necessary mean the pain’s gone, though; it only means you’ve mastered it.

Conquered it.

Because that kind of pain never really goes away; they scar not just the body, but the soul as well. They morph and show up in other forms. But they always remain.

“Where is...everybody?”

His voice was a chilling, hoarse whisper, cold to the ears.

Aside from the frequent heart-rending groaning he let out when the pains were overwhelming, and the horrendous screams all the times that they became just unbearable, Alan Prince had not uttered many coherent words since he regained consciousness in the hospital.

It was painful, even to talk. His jaw felt like they would disengage and fall apart. He’d not even asked about his family until now, partly because he could hardly speak but mostly because he was afraid of the answer they would give him.

The accident had been so ghastly, maybe they were all dead. His entire family wiped out in an instant, possibly cooling off in a morgue somewhere, awaiting an inglorious funeral.

The look in the attending nurse’s eyes was plain yet empathic when Alan inquired as to the whereabouts of his family that afternoon as he lay in bed, with half his face still wrapped in bandages. She was a slight woman, looking pale and staring at him mournfully.

“Your family’s here with you,” she said quietly. “They’re recovering well, Alan.”

“Can I...?”

“You need to focus on yourself now, Alan,” the nurse said. “You will see them shortly but not right away. Please rest now and conserve your energy.”

Alan lay still and shut his eyes tightly.

It was written on her face. Alan Prince was no dummy; it was plain to see.

They were all gone.

A small shiver shook his body just then as he felt submerged in a pool of despair. The horrific realization of the obvious settled like an ominous mist, and Alan began to sob quietly.

Then, breaking into an uncontrollable fit, he wept sorely.

The nurse simply stared at him, downcast with no idea what else to say to comfort him. Sometimes it was better that way; to let out the pressure so that the healing may be holistic.

Right now, it was OK to cry.

To let it all out.

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