Ash, Blood & Fire: Part 1.7

‘What are you doing? You’ve just had surgery. Get back in bed, Ma’am.’

Taylor scrunched her face and rolled her eyes as she turned around to see Nurse Kelly trot into the room.

‘Isn’t there some rule I have to be up and walking around after surgery?’

‘Yes and you’ve been doing that all morning. Time to rest.’

Nurse Kelly gripped Taylor under the elbow and manoeuvred her back onto the bed. Taylor could only guess where Nurse Kelly mustered the strength from. Her skin sagged everywhere. She might have been in her late twenties, but looked like she was well into her forties. Taylor suspected she’d lost a lot of weight very quickly with dieting. She should have known better.

‘Lunch is just coming round.’

‘More reason to be up and gone wouldn’t you think?’

Nurse Kelly frowned as she fussed with the sheets and checked the IV still in her arm. ‘They are quite nutritious.’

Taylor couldn’t help but sigh. She’d been awake for breakfast and the grey goo they called porridge was almost gag-worthy save for the few cranberries mixed in to give it some form of sweetness.

The same skinny, freckled man with wire-rimmed glasses who brought her breakfast walked in with a lunch tray. He set it on the table and rolled it up to her. ‘Here you go, Miss. We have a minestrone soup, chicken salad and a chocolate muffin for dessert.’

Taylor gave him a sideways smile and murmured her thanks as he walked back out to deliver more of the lunch trays.

‘Eat. Rest. I’ll be back to check on you in a little while.’ Kelly looked down at the lunch tray, then at Taylor before walking out.

Eyeing the tray, she gingerly picked up the soup and sniffed its contents. Mushrooms and some sort of wet sock pong permeated the air. She turned her head, placed the bowl back on the table and pushed it away with deliberate disgust.

Reaching under the pillow, she pulled out her phone and called Ricky. He hadn’t answered her last four texts that morning and she was starting to worry. It went to voicemail. She hung up and closed her eyes.

Now she was worried. She’d slept another twenty hours after he’d left or so her chart said and they’d moved her from ICU to a room with two beds. She was the only occupant.

Ricky hadn’t come back. Regardless of what he was doing, Taylor knew he’d have texted her back. It made no sense, unless he’d lost his phone, but even that made less sense.

Taylor flicked through her contacts again and called Charles. He’d know something. She listened as it rung and went to voicemail. She left a message.

‘Hey, Taylor. How are you feeling?’

Taylor looked to the door. Will strolled in with a folder in his hand and a weird smile plastered across his face.

‘Have you seen Ricky?’

‘You must be feeling good if you’re asking for your brother.’

Taylor raised her brow. Will was acting stranger than he usually did. ‘You know what he was going to do. I haven’t been able to contact him and he isn’t answering any of my texts. I can’t even contact Charles.’

‘I’m sure he’s fine.’ Will picked up her chart at the end of the bed and flipped through it.

Taylor felt her forehead bunch together. Something was off, but Will was acting as if nothing was wrong. When he moved over to check her IV, he placed the folder he’d brought down on the bed in front of her.

He adjusted the flow and almost mumbled his next words. ‘A form to discharge yourself against medical advice. Fill it out. Get dressed and meet me out in the carpark on the left side near the picnic area.’ He moved back around to her chart, jotted something down and then smiled at her again. ‘I believe there are a few more tests we need to do and we’ll want you to stay another night to make sure everything is okay. I’ll check in on you again later.’

Taylor watched him leave, then opened the folder. A discharge form and a pen were inside. She glanced back at the door before bolting from the bed. She grabbed the bag she’d found that morning and pulled on her black jeans, shirt and a pair of boots. Not caring who walked past, Taylor shrugged on the jeans and shirt, laced up the boots and stuffed her phone into the bag. She took the pen and scribbled the required details onto the form before finishing with the flourish of her signature.

She practically threw the discharge form at the nurse’s station on her way past, before making her quick exit down the elevator and out the front door.

The carpark was small and it was easy to locate Will’s black Audi among the white and silver sedans.

She opened the passenger door and hoped in, glaring at Will in the driver’s seat. ‘What’s going on?’

He wasn’t smiling and changed gear to reverse out of the carpark. ‘They completed the preliminary tests of the metal fragment we found in your stomach and the blood we took.’ He tilted his head her way before pulling out of the carpark on onto the main road. ‘Have you ever been sick?’

‘What do you mean have I ever been sick? Of course I have.’

‘I mean, have you ever had to have bloods taken, even given blood or had any swabs done. Anything that would need someone to test your cells, DNA, anything?’

Taylor thought for a moment. ‘No, but what’s that got to do with anything? Do you know where Ricky is? Is he okay? Did something happen?’

‘I don’t know. I’ve been trying to call him and Charles, but neither will pick up.’ He glanced at her again and something fearful flashed across his face.

Her empty stomach flipped. ‘What is going on, Will?’

‘They couldn’t identify the metal and your blood cells aren’t exactly human.’

‘Aren’t. Exactly. Human?’ Will was never vague about anything and the way he said it sent shivers down her spine. ‘What does aren’t exactly human mean, specifically?’

‘You feel good, don’t you?’


‘You’d be good for a workout, right?’

Taylor sighed. She’d indulge him for the moment, sure he’d get to his point. ‘Yes.’

‘Less than two days ago, you were stabbed. You died on the table. I had to cut open your chest and pump your heart with my hand to bring you back.’ He indicated and changed lanes. ‘You should be in the ICU. You should definitely not be walking around.’

It felt as though all of her senses had heightened. She noticed the blue hatchback to her left, the silver sedan in front of them and the two white cars coming towards them in the opposite lane. She felt the smoothness of the panelling on the car door where she was resting her arm and there was a faint smell of Chinese takeout lingering in the air.

Two days ago, some prick stabbed her. Two days ago, she had died. Two days and she was ready to take on the world.

‘Are you okay?’

She sat there. Eyes wide, staring out at the road. ‘Where are we going?’

‘Your house. Without knowing where Ricky is, I have no other ideas.’

‘And if he’s not there?’

Will’s gaze drifted over her. He looked worried. ‘We’ll wait.’

Taylor thought for a moment. ‘Go via Macca’s.’ She saw Will frown out of the corner of her eye. ‘Your hospital food sucks and I’m gonna need a McFlurry.’

#partone #ashbloodandfire #thecharacterswantout

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