Stung by Bethany Wiggins

Page 28

  “Bowen?” I whisper.

  He doesn’t move, doesn’t even stir. I put my hand beneath his nose. There is no breath coming from him.

  “You killed him,” Arrin says matter-of-factly. “He couldn’t stand the pain of the coagulant. Don’t you know anything, Fo? If you use coagulant on major wounds, you have to sedate the person first. ”

  “Bowen!” I pat his cheek, shake his shoulders, but he doesn’t stir. The breath catches in my chest and comes out as a sob.

  An icy hand finds mine and tries to squeeze. “I’m not dead. ” His eyes flicker open and meet mine. “Not yet. Help me up and bring me my pack. ”

  I tug on his shoulders and help him sit, but he’s too weak to stay that way unsupported. He wobbles and teeters to the side, and I grab him before he falls. I kneel behind him and support his weight, and Arrin hands him his pack. When she sees how badly his hands tremble, she unzips it for him.

  “What do you need?” she asks.

  “Water bottle, IV bag, and packet marked blood loss,” he says. He leans against me and shuts his eyes, and his body goes utterly still. I can’t even feel the rise and fall of his ribs.

  Gunshots echo from below, three in a row, and Bowen stirs. “Hurry up, Fec. We’ve got three minutes at best,” he says, words slurred as if he’s almost asleep. Arrin holds out the water bottle, IV bag with a long plastic tube and needle attached, and small vacuum-sealed packet. “Fiona, fill the bag to eight ounces with water and don’t let your hands touch the water,” Bowen instructs. Carefully, I fill the clear plastic bag. “Now pour in the blood loss packet. ” His voice is barely more than a whisper.

  I open the packet and pour it into the water. It turns deep, dark green, so green I can’t see through it.

  “Good girl,” Bowen says. “Now seal it and then hand me the needle. ” I seal the top of the bag, like a Ziploc bag, and then pick up the needle attached to the tube and hold it out. “Arris, get me a Mylar strap … a rubber-looking thing. Should be where you got the IV. ” Arrin rummages through the backpack and pulls out what looks like a really thick rubber band. “Fo, tie it above my elbow—tight. ” I take it and cinch it into place. Bowen takes the needle and jabs at an invisible vein in the crease of his elbow. The needle slides in. Bowen removes a little clamp on the IV bag.

  “Arris, hold the bag above my head,” he says. She lifts it, and green liquid fills the tube and goes into Bowen’s arm through the needle. He shivers and droops more heavily against me.

  Another gunshot rumbles the building.

  “They’ve broken through the stairwell door. They’re coming up,” Bowen says. “Help me to my feet. ”

  Chapter 28

  I loop my hands under Bowen’s armpits and heave, surprised that he isn’t heavier. He stands and wobbles. His eyes roll back in his head and his knees buckle, his limp weight pulling me down as he crumples on top of me.

  Footsteps echo in the stairwell, a frantic, staccato pounding that matches my heart. I struggle to get free, but with the floor slick with blood, and Bowen as limp as a corpse, I can’t.

  “I’m sorry. I’m too weak to move,” Bowen whispers.

  Arrin sets the IV bag on the ground and helps get Bowen off me.

  “We have to go, Fo,” she says. She grabs my wrist and pulls me to my feet. I look at Bowen, pallid and blood covered on the landing. “We have to leave him or we suffer a fate worse than a slow death!” She claws at me, digs her nails into my forearm, and pulls. I don’t budge. “He’s going to die, anyway! And he’d want you to save your own skin! Come on! I know a way into the tunnels if we can get to an elevator shaft. ”

  “No. You go. Save yourself. ” I pick up the rifle and rest it on my shoulder, ready to fight.

  “But he’s going to die!”

  “I am not leaving him,” I say, looping my finger through the trigger. The footsteps are close. Bowen stirs, and his icy hand slides around my ankle.

  “Arris is right. I’m going to die. Go. But Fo, I want you to know that I love you. I’ve always loved you. ” His hand falls away limp against the floor.

  “I won’t leave you,” I mutter. The stomping feet are so near I can feel their vibrations in the stairs. I firm my shoulders and take aim.

  “It’s Tommy,” Bowen whispers. “Don’t shoot. ”

  Tommy comes around the corner and jerks to a stop. “Don’t shoot me!” he barks, his eyes wide, and I lower the gun. He runs to Bowen and drapes Bowen’s arm over his shoulders. “Fo, get his pack and put it on—leave yours. Then get the IV bag and hold it as high as you can. If we get fluid into him, he might live to see tonight. If we survive that long. Now come on. We’ve got to find somewhere to make a stand. ” I nod and pick up the IV bag from the bottom step.

  Tommy drags Bowen through the door to the thirteenth floor. I follow on their heels, IV bag held above my head, ultraheavy backpack pulling on my shoulders. Arrin is already gone. I never saw her leave.

  As the door swings shut behind me, I hear the pounding of many feet coming up the stairs. Tommy pauses and presses something into the creases of the door. He spits on it, and it starts to fizz and smoke, tainting the air with an acidic, metallic smell and sealing the door shut.

  “That’ll buy us a few more minutes,” Tommy says, turning down the hall.

  We go into three different rooms before Tommy finds one he deems acceptable—one with a mattress for Bowen. He helps Bowen lie on the bed and hangs the nearly empty IV on the headboard above him. Next, Tommy opens his backpack and takes out grenades, ammunition, and two small guns.

  “Where’d you learn to shoot?” he asks as he loads the guns.

  “My father. He was in the air force when I was a kid—got disabled. He taught me how to shoot,” I say, surprised that many words find their way out of my numb body.

  Tommy looks at me. “You still are a kid. ” His words make me pause. For the first time since waking up in the wrong body, I feel older than I look. Ancient.

  He hands me one of the small guns. “For when Bowen’s rifle runs out of ammo,” he explains.

  I take the gun and tuck it into the waistband of my pants. “Why don’t we go out the window? Down the fire escape?” I ask, peering at the shattered window.

  Tommy laughs, a cynical sound. “No fire escape out that window. ”

  “Then why don’t we go to another room? With a fire escape?”

  “Because,” Bowen answers, voice strained, “there is no fire escape. And if we go out a window, they’ll get us. They’re circling the building. ”

  “Oh. How many are there?” I wonder aloud.

  “At least fifty,” Bowen says, watching me with half-closed eyes.

  The thud of feet climbing stairs echoes in the hall outside our room, and my jaw drops. “Fifty? And we’re going to try to fight them?” I turn to Tommy. “What if you and I die? What happens to Bowen?”

  “He dies, too. Unless …” Tommy glances over his shoulder at Bowen and raises a thick black eyebrow.

  “Dude! No,” Bowen snaps, a sudden fire in his glazed eyes.

  “Unless what?” I ask, a flicker of hope stirring in me.

  “Unless I call in—”

  “Tommy, no,” Bowen says, his voice quivering, eyes frantic.

  “Call in what?” I demand.

  “Call in your location, Fiona Tarsis,” Tommy says, studying me. “If I do that, the entire militia will be here in less than five minutes and the gang will run or die. Bowen will get help. And they’ll take you to the lab. ”

  The lab, where I will become a human guinea pig. I look at Bowen, at his ashen face and blue lips. “Call in our position. Now,” I order Tommy. With those words, hope floods me, spills out through my eyes and trickles down my cheeks. I bite my bottom lip, savoring the feeling of hope when I thought all was lost.

  “Fo. ” Bowen pushes himself to sitting and sways. “We have a chance against the rai
ders! We might make it out of here!”

  “Fifty against two? I don’t think so. If it means keeping you alive, I’ll go to the lab. And if I survive the lab, I’ll find you. I promise. ”

  Bowen’s mouth grows hard. “There is no surviving the lab. If you go in, you don’t come out. Why do you think I decided to risk running with you?” he says, his voice as icy cold as his eyes.

  “I’ll come out. I promise!” I say, the hope of being rescued bleeding over into the hope that I will survive.

  “No, you won’t,” Tommy says matter-of-factly, pointing his gun toward the door. “No one’s ever come out of the lab unless they’re in a body bag. You go to the lab, you forfeit your life. ”

  Something pops and bangs outside our room.

  “They got through the door,” Tommy says, looking at me with raised eyebrows. “It’s only a matter of time now. ”

  Footsteps groan on the floor outside our door. And then the door crashes inward, and two guns jab inside. Tommy doesn’t hesitate. He lifts his gun and fires. One man falls into the room. “I found them,” the other yells from the hallway.

  “Call. In. My. Location. ” I say it through gritted teeth. “Now!”

  Tommy looks at me and nods, pulls a walkie-talkie from his belt. “This is Tommy. I’ve found the female Ten. Fiona Tarsis. We’re—”

  “Tommy, no!” Bowen wails.

  “—on the thirteenth floor of the City Center Marriot. Surrounded by a gang of at least fifty. ” He puts the walkie-talkie back on his belt and looks at Bowen. “Sorry, man. ”

  “Wait. ” Bowen plucks the IV needle out of his arm and climbs to his feet. A hint of color lights his cheeks. “Wait. We have one other option. ” He turns to me. “Did I hear Arris say there’s a way into the tunnels if we could get to the elevator shaft?”

  I nod.
Previous Page Next Page
Should you have any enquiry, please contact us via [email protected]