Chapter 5: Selfless
Unravel Us Playlist on Spotify.
Song; (Secession Studios- The Wicked ones) & (Eternal Eclipse- True Love's Last Kiss)
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“What the fuck is taking so long?!”
“Evan, don’t lose it here, you’ll only make things worse-”
“Worse? Look around you Matthew, what else can be worse than this? What else can be worse?!”
Under the cover of nightfall, where smoke and embers remain present, tempers are lost, self-control is thrown out the window.
My men have been reduced to nothing more than human.
Fragile and vulnerable.
“Stop it! Stop fighting!” Zanthus wrestled both Matthew and Evan away from each other, pushing the two apart with enough force that they knock over a stack of medical supplies.
The male is irritated and angry, unable to control the tone of his voice from its usual leniency. “None of this matters, what matters is what we have to do now, do you understand?!”
Evan, clearly in disagreement, has to bite his tongue to prevent any other words from slipping out.
Matthew in turn obeys Zanthus. His silver hair had been tousled because of the earlier altercation, yet he does nothing to fix it.
We’ve gathered around in a circle, with the center being two gurneys.
Thomas is by his friend’s side, his back to us all. He’s clasping Elios’s wrist, focusing on his pulse.
I didn’t know he was injured.
I didn’t know he was hiding it from me.
I just thought the smoke had gotten to him.
Yet seeing the older Vinyl now, unconscious, with strands of his brown hair curtaining his features, I know that is not the case.
His shirt had been torn open when I arrived, revealing bruises, dark and black, spreading from the side of his ribcage and upwards.
“We didn’t know Elios was hurt. He hid it from us-”
“What are you talking about?”
“Vanessa, it’s bad. It’s... very bad.”
That’s what Zanthus had said on the way back when he brought Thomas and me to the makeshift tent.
Heavy, internal bleeding.
I hadn’t paid attention.
Perhaps I should have.
Because beside Elios, on the other side, in another gurney... is Hailey.
Hailey, my friend, my best friend.
She’s unconscious too. Her once beautiful blond hair is singed, her skin is pale, covered in scratches and bruises, the side of her face is burned, and her legs-
Oh god her legs...
One is fractured, the bone twisted to the right, another is so deeply burned, the scent of it makes me gag.
They’ve found her on the 10th floor, outside the balcony. She had climbed out using the fire escape but must have slipped and fell. It was a miracle she survived this long, they said.
I thought I would feel relieved.
I thought I would feel happy.
But I’m not.
Because I have to make a choice.
It feels as though... I’m watching a film play right in front of me.
“Mason, where is the helicopter?” Evan is on the brink of a mental breakdown. I’ve never seen the male so desperate, so lost as his fear for his older brother threatens to consume him whole.
“They’re 3 minutes out.” The heir of BourneFell responds, equally stressed, with one hand on his phone.
Only one can go first.
Who will it be?
Elios, whose internal bleeding may cost him his life? or Hailey, whose injuries worsen as the second’s pass?
Both are in critical condition.
So who do I choose?
Who do I save?
My legs buckle, my hand shot out to rest against the metal pillar holding the tent up as I fought with all my might, to stay awake.
What do I do?
What can I do?
Hailey... or Elios?
“Chopper’s arriving soon, we need to make a choice and we need to do it now.” Mason walks around the gurneys, so he’s in between my two very injured friends. “Thomas?”
The heir of Graymoore doesn’t move.
He’s still holding onto Elios and I realize very plainly... that something is about to happen.
Something catastrophic, something bad, something that will either make or break me.
“Hey man,” Evan steps forward, brushing past Matthew to clasp at Thomas’s shoulder. He releases a nervous chuckle. “We have to get Elios to the hospital, you know that right?”
Thomas doesn’t say anything.
He lifts his gaze, rigid and unmoving, then glances straight at Hailey’s unmoving body, laying beside Elios.
The silence that stretches is undeniable.
We are all starting to realize, the gravity of this horror, of what will happen.
“Evan,” Thomas voices lowly, turning around so he could grab the younger Vinyl’s hands. “Listen to me-”
“No,” Evan retracts himself with a brisk shake of his head. “It’s Elios, Thomas. It’s Elios, he comes first, he needs to come first.”
The heir of Graymoore exhales shakily with bated breath and glances over at Mason.
“When is the next chopper arriving?” His voice is barely a whisper and I know he’s struggling to keep his emotions at bay.
Mason’s gaze wavers, torn between saying something and nothing. “If we miss this one, it’ll take another ten minutes.”
No one knows what will happen in ten minutes.
If they leave one behind, there’s a risk that the person will die.
Who will take that risk?
My feet move on their own accord, taking me to stand beside Hailey where I stare at her pale features, her unmoving body, her lack of liveliness.
I am aware of the eyes that stare at the back of my head, of my men who understand just how delicate this situation is.
Slowly, I reach for Hailey’s forearm, gently stroking her skin in fear of hurting her. The rise and fall of her chest is a clear indication she is alive.
But for how long?
I don’t let the others see my expression, I don’t let them see what I feel, what I am desperate to hide.
“Hailey...” I speak her name softly, barely above a whisper.
My heart feels like it’s about to tear in two.
Who do I choose?
“Vanessa-” Someone grabs my arm, spinning me around so I’m forced to look at their eyes. Evan.
The man is anguished, beyond means.
He doesn’t see logic nor reason, he cannot see the turmoil running through my body as the uncertainty around us strengthens.
“You know what we have to do, right?” He blinks away appearing tears and attempts a reassuring smile. “He’s my brother, he’s your friend, we have to save him-”
“Evan, don’t.” Jared steps forward, his figure poised and ready, his expression says it all; fear, frustration, and absolute dismay.
The younger Vinyl shakes his head, his brown eyes are filling with unmeasurable sorrow, with unmeasurable heartache and pain.
“Elios...” He says his brother’s name agonizingly. “He’s my brother, we... we have to choose Elios, please, we have to choose him.”
“Let her go, Vinyl.” Matthew’s voice is shaking with fear. “You can’t do this.”
“He’s my brother!”
“Evan please,” Zanthus begs. “It’s not right-”
“He’s your friend, we have to choose him! We have to! He wasn’t supposed to be in there, he wasn’t supposed to help, now he’s injured and we have to save his life, we have to!”
“He chose to help the civilians, Evan.” Mason tried to intrude, hoping his words would break the younger Vinyl from his path of destruction. “It was his choice-”
“Now, it’s up to us to save him, so we choose him, we choose him do you understand?!” He lets my arm go and walks around the gurney, pushing Thomas aside so he could begin wheeling Elios out of the tent.
He’s blocked by my men who remain unmoving, unsure, waiting-
“Get out of my way!” Evan screams.
And it’s silent. We’re all waiting.
...waiting, for someone to say something, do something, make the choice for them.
Hailey or Elios?
I feel the burden as it folds over my body and weighs me down without mercy.
I can’t... cry.
I can’t speak.
I can’t say anything.
I am reduced to silence.
And at the back of my mind, I know there is no way I can fight this, there is no way, I can avoid this.
It’s staring at me right in the face, is daring me to take the leap, to do something, before it becomes too late.
Perhaps it’s better to become a machine.
You do things without hesitation or argument, you do it because no one else will.
Shakily inhaling, I sniffled and wiped at my nose, forcing my expression to void itself of all emotion. “Hailey... or Elios?”
I don’t look at them in the eye, I’ve focused on Hailey’s face, my fingers lightly brushing her hair back, my smile small yet joyful, because she was here, she was alive, she was by my side.
It was better to center myself on her than on anyone else.
“Give me your answer now,” I say. “Before I change my mind.”
“Elios,” Evan says without pause. “I choose Elios.”
I nod, squeezing my eyes shut.
The two males exchange glances and tried to say something but I hold out a hand, stopping them in their tracks. “Give me a name.”
Matthew is on the verge of tears, Zanthus cannot look at my face and because of this, he answers for the both of them. “Elios... I’m sorry, but Elios.”
Three out of eight.
Remaining stoic, I turn to Jared and Victor and didn’t have to ask anything. Their gazes said it all, no matter how apologetic.
Five out of eight.
The majority is out of my favor.
“Okay,” Forcing my body to move, I gently reach for Elios gurney and unclasp the roller that held him in place so they could wheel him out. “Take Elios to the hospital, I’ll stay with Hailey and wait for the next one.”
Nobody moves around me.
Everyone is permanently stuck to their positions.
“Mason,” I call out to him, holding his green-blue eyes with wavering firmness. “Make sure Elios gets the help he needs.”
“Vanessa, we can talk about this-”
“I won’t let two of my friends die because we couldn’t choose!” I snap, momentarily losing my carefully placed facade as my grip on the gurney tightened.
Shakily, I leaned forward so my forehead rested on my clenched hands and my back is bowed. “So please... just go.”
In slow motion, I watch as Evan wheels Elios out of the makeshift tent.
He is followed by Mason, then Matthew, Zanthus, Jared... Victor.
Thomas is the last.
He’s staring at me, and he wants to say something but he can’t find the right words.
I think he wanted to beg for my forgiveness, I think he wanted to do a lot of things.
“Take care of him, Moore,” Instead of allowing him that chance, I spoke first. “Make sure he lives.”
An impending aura is washing off of Thomas and I know he blames himself for being useless, for being unable to help, for being human.
“Look for me when Elios is in the green,” Stepping forward, I glide my fingers along Hailey’s gurney and trembled. “I think... I’ll need you soon.”
He nods, his fists clenched from having to restrain himself. “I’ll find you.”
Thomas has to take a deep breath in order to forcibly remove himself by my side. He turns on his heel and hesitates by the doorway of the tent.
I watch his back, rigid and straight, before he walks out of the makeshift tent, leaving Hailey and me by ourselves.
Humans are but complicated creatures.
We love and we hate, and we fall and we rise.
There is no in-between.
So how are you supposed to differentiate what is wrong and right? How are you supposed to blame anyone?
“Hey Hailey,” My words shake. “Can you believe how fucked up this is?”
I know she can’t say anything back, she’s not in any capability to do so.
“I... feel like I’m going crazy you know? Like someone out there wants to see how far they can push me, how far they can make me fall.”
Taking a deep breath, I walk to the other side of the gurney and glance at the heart monitor as the line goes up and down.
“But don’t worry Hales, I won’t fall again. I made a promise to you, remember? I’ll keep it, so all you have to do is recover.”
She isn’t responding I know, and at first, I thought I would be okay with that.
But I wasn’t.
I wasn’t okay.
I wanted to hear her voice, I wanted to see her smile, I wanted Hailey to open her mouth and complain about her job, about how hungry for Pizza she was, about everything-
Blinking back tears, I try to keep it in, I try to hold, all of it in. I just have to be strong for a little bit more.
“You’ll be okay Hales. I got you, everything is going to be alright.”
Everything has to be alright.
“Miss, the next chopper is arriving in eight minutes.” A woman approached Hailey’s gurney. She must have been one of the doctors assigned here.
“Oh-” I wipe at my eyes for any tears and straightened my spine. “Can you tell me if my friend is okay?”
She places a stethoscope on Hailey’s chest and frowns. “Her heartbeat is slow, she lost a lot of blood, do you know her blood type?”
“Uh... A positive.” I guess going for that medical checkup a couple of months ago had been worth it.
Hailey had been adamant about forcing me into the appointment because she wanted to be sure we were healthy.
The Doctor furrows her brow at that. “What’s your blood type?”
“I’m an O.”
“So you’re a universal donor.” She huffs with relief. “Alright, listen to me, if we’re going to save your friend you’ll have to donate some of your blood.”
I’m already taking off my jacket and rolling up my sleeves. “How much do you need?”
“2 pints,” She unhooks something from the stack of medical supplies and unwraps a needle connected to a bag. “Do you have any history of drugs that I need to be concerned about?”
“I’m clean.” The last time I was drugged was almost a year ago, The effects have long disappeared. “Just take it and help my friend, please.”
“Okay.” She rips the plastic from the needle and wraps an elastic around my arm. All of this happens in seconds as I watch her sink the needle into my vein.
The sight of it nearly makes me hurl.
I hated needles.
Blood instantly flow out into the IV bag, momentarily winding me as the rush of adrenaline pumped at my heart.
With another IV connector, the Doctor jabs Hailey’s vein and connects the stream. I watch closely as the red liquid supplies Hailey with the much needed red blood cells.
“There, that should help her.”
“Thank you,” Tucking the IV line connecting me to Hailey by her arm, I watched the slow trickle of red liquid as it disappears into her veins.
If I wasn’t the one donating, I’d say this was interesting.
“You were very brave.”
“What?” I stare at the female Doctor as she remains by the gurney, frowning down at the IV bags.
She’s waiting for them to be full so she could disconnect the stream. “I saw what happened earlier... with your friends.”
“Oh...” Swallowing nervously, I ran my hair up my ears, finding the short strands distracting. “That wasn’t brave, that was cowardice.”
“I couldn’t make a choice, instead I let them choose and that makes me selfish.”
A couple of minutes pass in silence.
She disconnects the IV and holds up a hand to signal that I’ve given enough.
After disposing of the needle and cleaning up my arm, I expected her to leave right away, but she didn’t. She pauses, clearly hesitant to say something, but then she does.
“You did choose. You chose to give them what they wanted... and that isn’t selfish, it was selfless.”
She leaves then, and her absence speaks volumes.
Was she right?
Was it... selfless?
I start to think back about my men and how they left earlier, replaying it back on a loop.
There was no way to decide and if it came down to it, of course, I could have fought, of course, I could have yelled and screamed, to save Hailey first.
But how can I?
Elios was their friend, they’ve known each other far longer than they’ve known me and Hailey. There was no hesitation here, no right or wrong, just bad circumstances.
At the same time, I know how it must have killed them to choose so selfishly.
No matter what had transpired earlier... I only wish Elios is safe.
After all, he agreed to help me when I told him to. I owe it to them... I just prayed my decisions don’t lead to any more consequences.
Hailey will be okay.
She can do this.
She’s not called my best friend for no reason.
If anyone can make it, it’s her.
The minutes feel like hours. I am hyperaware of everything that is happening around me.
Pain-filled groans from the injured.
Sirens from outside.
Chaotic shouting from Doctors and nurses.
Hailey’s left hand twitched.
“Hales...?” I blink, startled and before I could react, the heart monitor connecting to her body suddenly roared to life around the same time she seized up.
“Hailey?!” She was having a seizure. I force her shoulders down, feeling her whole body spasm out of control. “Hailey, hold on! Someone help! Help me!”
I’m screaming so loud.
There was a winding blur.
The female doctor that helped me earlier is suddenly by my side, having rushed over at my pleas to figure out what’s happening.
She shouts something to a nearby nurse and together, we hold Hailey down in hopes of stopping the uncontrollable seizure.
“Get me an adrenaline injection.” The doctor orders the nurse, fumbling around with the medical equipment.
Hailey’s mouth is gritted, I see her teeth as they chewed and bite. Then, without warning, Hailey begins to foam, letting out gurgles of red bubbles. Blood.
She’s going to die.
The nurse comes back with the adrenaline shot. I watch the Doctor inject it into the IV stream before pulling it out. It does nothing.
Hailey is still struggling.
She’s going to die.
“You can’t do this...” I clenched my jaw, seeing stars. “You can’t do this to me Hales, you can’t, do you hear me? Do you hear me Hales?!”
Despite the unconscious state she was in, somewhere deep down inside, I know she’s listening. She has to. She has to fight to stay with me.
“The blood you’ve given isn’t enough,” The Doctor is trying to say something. I can’t focus, much less understand it. “We need more-”
“How much more?!” I demanded as I fought with all my might to keep Hailey from moving so her injuries wouldn’t worsen.
The doctor mumbles something under her breath before shaking her head vigorously. “If you want her to make it, she’ll need another pint.”
“Then take it! Take it all-”
“Do you know the risks?”
“I don’t care.” Swearing profusely, I permanently locked Hailey’s shoulders against the gurney and glared at the doctor. “Just save her, don’t worry about me.”
We locked gazes. A dozen thoughts flew between us.
As a Doctor, she must have morals that prevent her from risking anybody else’s life. I knew donating too much blood could end terribly, but I didn’t care.
This was an emergency.
Hailey needed me.
“Alright,” She lets go of Hailey and moves around the bed to take another needle. Quickly, while I’m still holding Hailey, she switches the IV connector and inserts the tube into my vein.
I’m hit with a wave of nausea almost immediately.
I hadn’t felt it earlier, presumably because of how distracted I’ve been.
I fight against it despite the haze that’s settling at the back of my mind. I just had to hold on until we get Hailey to the hospital.
Her seizure slowly limbered out as her heartbeat lowered to a more steady pace, weaker than it originally was.
I feel my legs tremble with exertion and fear. I can’t keep this up for long.
Both my heart and soul have been trampled too many times over these past few hours. I might collapse soon.
“The next time she seizures, I won’t be able to save her.” The doctor warns with grimness coating the entirety of her tone. “Come on, we’re moving her to the chopper.”
“It’s here?” I ask in a daze.
“Take my hand.” She wraps a hand around my arm, forcing me to stick to her side as the two of us wheel Hailey out of the makeshift tent and into the open air.
In the background, sirens and the crackling of smoke reign true.
When will this nightmare be over?
She brings me to the loading area they’ve established for the choppers. One is waiting for us, the logo on the side glimmers back under the dim lighting.
A person steps out of the large aircraft.
I knew that red tie and red umbrella anywhere.
How is he here?
“Vanessa,” He grasps hold of my shoulders, his dark eyes swirling with a mix of concern and fear. “Come on, I got you.”
I haven’t seen him in almost a year.
We ducked low as we approach the chopper, hearing the wind roar at my ears and shake my being with intensity. The attendants move to help us load Hailey inside.
David is still holding me when they tuck her in. Only when she’s safely placed that I clambered through the door and settled at the farther corner of the seats.
The doctor that assisted me is speaking to David, shouting against the wind to get her point across.
My guardian moves to close the doors but I stop him. “Wait,”
I wanted to thank the doctor, but I can’t seem to find the words, and it’s only now that I take in her features.
Jet black hair, clear dark eyes, and a gentle smile.
“Everything will be okay.” She cuts me off, understanding what I meant to convey even without saying it out loud. “Trust that your friend will make it.”
The chopper doors closed and we are lifted into the air.
I lean closer to the window to peer down at her slowly receding figure. I don’t know who she is... but I’m grateful for her help.
David places himself beside me as the helicopter flies us to a nearby hospital.
I find myself holding onto Hailey, my legs tucked beneath me, my chin resting on top of my knees.
The attendants that came with us are doing what they can for my best friend but I know it’s not looking good. They’re constantly giving her shots and trying their best to keep her heartbeat going.
When David loses his temper and shouts at them in a tone I don’t recognize, they’ve unboxed a defibrillator and got the compressors, gelled.
I have to squeeze my eyes shut.
Hold on, just a little more Hailey.
They pulse her, once, twice.
A receding heartline resounds back.
Just a little more, Hales.
I hold my face in my hands, repeatedly muttering the mantra over and over again.
Just a little more.
If there is a God out there, if you are listening, if you can hear me, I beg you.
Please... just a little more.