Missed out on Part 1.1? Read it here.
The beep from the machine pulsed behind his eyes to the beat of a semantron prayer call. It spluttered over a few notes, then started again. Ricky glanced at the monitor. Her pressure was way too low.
The paramedic fitted an oxygen mask deftly over Taylor’s face, increased the drip on the IV, then took the umpteenth reading of her pulse. The bleeding had slowed, but she wasn’t looking any better. Her skin had turned grey and the sheen of sweat clamming her face and skin told him it was severe. That and her rapid pulse. She was going into shock.
The driver mumbled something over the calamity coming from the machines and siren, and the paramedic nodded, raising a thumb to signal he’d heard.
He was a tall guy. Lanky. Dark features, some sort of foreign colouring Ricky couldn’t identify. His name badge said, Jim. So, obviously not his real name. Ricky sucked on his gum. Probably a cyclist.
‘What did he say?’
‘We’re only a few minutes out.’
Ricky looked at Taylor again. She was so still. Too still. He watched as puffs of air fogged the mask against her face and his chest constricted. It took every ounce of his strength to hold back his rage at their parents in the confines of the ambulance. Taylor and he had lost so much time together. Divorce was such a cliché these days, but separating them had been the worst. He’d wished he’d had the foresight to take a swing at his old man before it’d been too late. Unfortunately, a drunk driver and red light had beat him to the punch.
Right now he needed to hit something. No. Not something. Someone. He’d find the bastard who’d hurt Taylor. Charlie would be able to help with that and Will … Will!
Pulling out his phone, Ricky flicked through his contacts until he reached the name, William Isle.
‘You can’t use your phone …’
Beanpole-Jim shifted in his seat under Ricky’s scrutiny as he held his phone to his ear and listened to it ring.
‘Hey Ricky, are you guys back? Where are you?’
‘Are you working tonight?’
‘Yeah, you caught me on a break. What’s going on?’
‘We should be arriving any second.’
Ricky heard the scrape of a metal chair.
‘It’s Tay. Someone stabbed her.’
There was a moment of silence. ‘I’m heading down now.’
Ricky hung up the phone and tucked it back into his pocket, his eyes tumbling over Taylor’s prone form as the vehicle jostled them over a bump. The signal on the machine pitched and whined. His eyes flicked to the screen and his heart stopped cold.
The paramedic scrambled. Lacing his fingers together, he pumped down on her chest with violent efficiency like he had done it before.
Metal screeched behind Ricky and with a whoosh, the back doors of the ambulance flung open.
‘What do we have?’
‘Female. Twenty seven years. On no medications. She has a penetrating trauma to the right, lower torso. No pulse.’
Ricky stayed still, his fingers digging into the vinyl of the seat as he watched men in scrubs unclip the stretcher and pull it and his sister out of the ambulance. One of them leapt onto the cot and started compressions again. ‘Let’s go.’
Jumping down, Ricky followed them as they flew through the emergency doors. He squinted against the harsh lighting of the hospital, but refused to look away from Taylor’s pale face obscured by the mask and that dark, brown hair, so much like his own curling in waves.
Will appeared with a determined crease denting his brow and sidled up to Ricky’s shoulder, catching his arm before he could swerve out of reach. They stumbled to a halt.
‘I’ll handle this.’ Will placed a hand on Ricky’s chest and raised the other in warning, but Ricky wasn’t listening. His eyes tracked Taylor’s body as it disappeared into the far room and he pushed forward. Will’s hand stopped him within an inch.
Jaw clenching, he glanced at Will.
‘I’ll handle it.’
A lump ground against Ricky’s throat as he swallowed and nodded once.
Will took a step back, then turned and sprinted down the corridor. ‘Go use the bathroom.’ The words echoed through the cold air as he too disappeared.
Ricky stood still, listening to the thump, thump, thump of the hammer in his chest and head. A tickle brushed his temple and he raised a hand to rub it away. He paused. Dark, red blood covered his hand. The skin felt tight where it had already dried, while other patches still glistened wet under the stale, hospital-grade, flood-lights.
He located one close by and turning on the tap in the sink, ran his hands under the water. Squeezing foam from the soap dispenser, he scrubbed his hands and arms, and the red smears across his cheek and forehead.
Taylor had to survive. They’d actually become brother and sister over the years he’d known her. Their date of birth was the same and even though they didn’t know who’d been first, she was like a little sister to him.
Ricky grasped the bench and sucked in air. He forced himself to dispel it from his lungs and take another breath. He took another. And another one. He kept breathing until his knees stopped shaking. He looked in the mirror. Death stared back at him. The bastard who’d stabbed Taylor was going to die.