Sandra carefully slid down the hill, out of the sight of her companions, and pushed herself onto her feet once she reached the dirt patch below. The
runaway doctor came within a few yards of her, and Sandra had to stifle a gasp.
Arya Ashraani was coated with sweat, his mouth agape as he panted for breath. There was a steady stream of blood oozing from his forehead, and it had
stained a few select areas on his white coat and left a couple red drops on his cheek. The man had been running for hours, and he hadn’t eaten any
food or drank any water since yesterday. When he stumbled to a stop in front of the redheaded wanderer, he tried to speak, but no words came out. His
energy had abandoned him completely. He was depleted.
A lot of feelings erupted in Sandra at once. This person was a stranger to her, and she had no way of knowing if this confrontation was a trap of
some kind. But judging by the way he looked, she guessed that his condition was totally genuine. His endless brown eyes shone in a beautifully pure
way, a way that would have been impossible for a liar or a trickster to pull off. There was nothing about this man that seemed like a façade or a
trap. This was a stranger who needed help. Nothing more.
Sandra easefully raised her hands. “Hey. I’m a friend. I’m friendly, I promise. Are you okay?”
Again, Arya tried to talk, but he couldn’t. All at once, his body became much heavier than it should have been. His legs stopped working, and the
Arya fell to his knees.
Sandra did the same right in front of him, grasping him by the arms and keeping him steady. She studied the man, wondering what on earth had happened
“You’re fine, you’re fine… you just… you need water. I… uh… hang on.” Sandra said, glancing around and realizing that her backpack
was no longer on her person. “Stay here, I’ll be right back. You’re gonna be fine, alright?”
Sandra leaped to her feet and rushed up the side of the hill. When she grabbed her backpack, Ryujin, Alan, and Church all gave her the same
suspicious look. She didn’t bother explaining anything to them. Instead, she made her way down the hill and sat on her knees in front of the injured
The bugout bag was filled with a lot of things that were unfamiliar to Sandra. It was a bag that Dorian had packed for her. After a while of digging
around in the assortment of items, she finally found a small plastic canteen that was filled with water. She unscrewed the lid and held the canteen up
to Arya’s mouth.
It met his lips, and he suddenly found the strength to move his arms again. Arya took hold of the canteen and chugged half of its contents
effortlessly before remembering to stop and breathe.
“Thank you…” He said hoarsely between exhalations. “Thank you…”
“No problem. Here, drink the whole thing. You need it more than I do.” Sandra nudged the canteen toward him when he tried to hand it back to her.
“Are you okay? What happened? Who are you?”
Arya took in several deep breaths before he attempted to explain his situation.
“My name is Arya.” He said. “I was a… a doctor at St. Luke’s Hospital, just a little west of here. I… yesterday, when it all happened, a
group of people showed up in the hospital and wouldn’t allow me to leave. I understand why. They had a sick child in their care. I couldn’t save
the child. She was beyond help. Then, my friend showed up… my friend Des… well, his name is Declan, but he goes by Des…”
“They locked you up?” Sandra said.
“They kept me there against my will, yes, but it was just because they wanted me to treat that child.” Arya replied. “That poor child… and
that man, the man who persuaded me to treat her, he was their leader. It was an Irish guy, a guy called Maximillion Terhune. He introduced himself to
me properly after he made it clear that I wasn’t allowed to leave. But the others called him Maxi, for short. Maxi’s a shady bastard. He made a
few offhanded comments about how most people didn’t deserve to survive the bombs, and how the world would be cleanse… then, he ran off and hid up
on the fifth floor… and… and…”
Arya paused. Sandra didn’t take her eyes off him.
“But I stayed.” He went on. “I stayed, because I thought I might be able to help that girl. She was already too far gone by the time I saw her,
though. Her state was… unbelievable. The girl must have been a family member of Maxi’s or something, I don’t know. All I know is… no ten year
old deserves to die like that… but there was nothing I could do… and… #, my friend! Des is still there, they took him in. I don’t know what
they’re going to do to him… or if he’s even…”
“They’re probably keeping your friend as bait, hoping that you’ll go back.” Sandra told him.
“Well, even if they are, I can’t leave him there.” Arya replied gravely.
Alan, Ryujin, and Church were all hunched on the edge of the hill and eavesdropping on Sandra’s conversation. Sandra pretended not to notice.
“I’m sorry.” Arya said breathlessly. “I’m sorry, I barely know you, and I’m in no position to ask for your help, but I can’t leave Des
there with those people. I have to break him out somehow, and I can’t do it alone.”
“I’ll help you.” Sandra decided with no forethought. “I’ll help you get your friend back.”
Arya’s eyes lit up. “Are you serious?”
“Yeah. I’m dead serious.” Sandra answered. “I wouldn’t feel right about leaving someone behind who needed help. How far west is this
“You’re a saint, thank you. Thank you so much.” Arya responded with a smile forming. “The hospital is a couple of hours away. I can take you
Arya reached his feet slowly, his body pulsating all over, but he couldn’t let that faze him now.
Sandra stood as well.
“You’re out of your mind.” Alan interrupted, skidding down the hill and rounding on Sandra. “You don’t even know this guy, and you’re
about to run off with him just because he says he needs help?”
“Yeah, I am.” Sandra replied simply. “I didn’t ask you to follow me, Alan. If you don’t like it, walk your ass back to the bunker. I’m
doing this my way.”
“You’re being extremely reckless!” Alan proclaimed, gesturing to Arya. “You have no idea if this guy is telling the truth or not! You have no
idea who he is at all! Are you serious, Sandra? Are you seriously about to put your life on the line for a complete stranger?!”
“Yeah, I am.”
Sandra gazed into Arya, and now, with her uncle appearing in her thoughts once again, the answer was as plain as the gash on the doctor’s
“Because it’s worth the risk.”
[End, stay tuned for chapter 5]
Lemme know if you want more, guys, and tell me whatcha think of the story so far. Glad to finally share it with people. Peace~!
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