The Isle: Chapter Fifteen
Sorry for the delay in getting this posted! Chapter 16 will be up soon. Read previous chapters here. All writing is done by me.
After drifting off to sleep I found myself back in the desert. But this time there were no tracks to follow, no guiding stars. The night sky swam with darkness, inky clouds hung too low above our heads. I stood amongst Hugh, Stephen, Noah and Tyler, but they couldn’t see me. Cassie lay on the ground, pregnant swollen belly protruding from her skeletal frame. She wasn’t concious. I could hear the searching cry of a baby but no child could be seen. Cassie’s legs were spread, prepared for birth. Her eyes opened to reveal empty sockets and she screamed. The sound reverberated through me, silencing all but the cry of the baby. Insects, rodents and a dark mass flowed from between her legs, something I could only describe as the epitome of death. Her screaming did not cease as I awoke.
I open my eyes only to fall back into the darkness. Dread rolled through my body, from my feet to my throat where it lodged. Voices urge me to wake up, but I can do nothing but let my body succumb to dizziness. My lungs hurt like nothing else, I’m longing to take a breath but my throat is filled with vomit. I can taste it, feel it on my face. I’m drowning, I’m going to die…
Something rolls me onto my side and a tube is forced into my mouth, down my throat. I’m too weak to protest. My chest suddenly expands, beautiful air fills my lungs. Someone holds a bowl up to my head as I vomit into it. Acid stings my throat, my nose… I keep vomiting until my ribs feel broken. A cold damp cloth wipes my face. After a few moments I can finally understand the voices, and I open my eyes properly. The first person I see is Sam.
“Ah, Nic.” I’m lying on my side on the floor beside the pit, Sam is kneeling in front of me. “Can you hear me?”
“Yes.” I say, my voice rough. As I draw in more clean breaths my vision becomes clearer, and a hand holds a bottle of water out to me. I take it and drink gratefully, clearing my throat. Hugh is kneeling behind me, supporting my head and keeping me on my side. Then his hand is replaced by a pillow.
“You were having a nightmare, by the sounds of it. And it got a bit much for your body and your mind to handle, not too much of a surprise given the events of the last few days. It’s lucky I was here checking up on you.” He shines a torch in my eyes. “How are you feeling?”
“Just really dizzy… And cold.” I add as I realise how freezing I am. I’m shaking, hard, and not just from vomiting. They help me back into the pit, arranging clean pillows and blankets around me. Sam takes my temperature, my blood pressure and my heart rate. He orders the thermostat to be turned up and asks Hugh and Tyler to sit either side of me to keep me warm.
“You may be coming down with something. There isn’t much I can do right now except make sure you’re warm, and getting plenty of fluids. I’ll be back later to check on you. He turns to the guys, “make sure she sleeps on her side, ok?”
They agree and Sam has to leave. Hugh and Tyler join me in the pit. It’s dark outside, and the clock says it’s almost six. The blinds around the pit are still pulled down, but the windows around the booth and the kitchen reflect the inside room.
“What did you dream about?” Hugh asks as he settles in beside me, and Stephen puts on a movie on.
“The desert, and Cassie…” I answer. He pulls me into an embrace, and I’m still shaking.
“I thought so.”
Tyler gets under the faux fur blanket on the other side of me, and settles in very close to me. In different world this might be awkward, but over the past few months these guys are all I have, my family, my home. And being close to them is comfortable… Easy.
“When my mum died,” Tyler begins. “I had to watch it all.” I remember him saying something vague once about being in a car crash when he was younger, and he watched her die. He never spoke about it, really. “I had flashbacks, nightmares, everything. They lasted for years. Although they got better with time, they stayed with me because I let them. I never acknowledged the nightmares, never told anyone. Once my father heard me screaming for her in my sleep he sent me to counselling. That really helped. But the biggest thing I did was talk to my friends about it. It’s not something I would bring up in every conversation, but telling them, and having someone who knew what was going on, who could be there for me, was really helpful. Maybe, when you’re ready, you can talk to Sam about it. Doctors are good at listening, and helping. At the very least he can give you some sleeping pills and antidepressants. But you can also talk to us, of course.”
I’m not shaking as much any more, but I still feel terrible. Stephen and Noah are cooking, apparently a roast has been in the oven for a couple of hours.
We spent the rest of the night watching movies we didn’t pay attention to, eating delicious roast lamb and vegetables (although I wasn’t that hungry), talking and playing cards. At about eleven at night an apologetic Sam showed up, to run some more tests on me and check up on us. After giving no new advice he disappeared again. I fell asleep shortly after that, and then awoke screaming after another nightmare.
I don’t stop screaming until the lights are on again, and by now everyone’s awake and confused. I calm down a little when I remember where I am. Without a word, Hugh bundles me up in the blanket and takes me upstairs, turning off the lights for the guys so they can go back to sleep. Little, dim warm lights guide the way upstairs and he puts me down on the bed in our room. My face is still damp with tears, and he kisses me so softly.
“Do you want to get in the hot tub? It will help you relax. Sam said it’s really important to avoid stress, for the baby. Or do you want to go back to sleep?”
I look at the clock on the wall by the door, it’s after two in the morning.
“I’m actually not too tired.” I say. “Hot tub would be nice” I smile at Hugh.
“Say no more, m’lady” He says as he pulls off his shirt. I strip off my pyjamas and look at my bandaged feet. “We could just rest your feet above the water if you want, on the side of the hot tub.” Hugh says.
“Alright.” I take the bandages off my feet anyway and, naked, Hugh picks me up and carries me through the open glass door into the cool air outside. He carefully lowers me into one of the seats in the spa pool so my feet are propped up. Hugh returns to the bedroom and turns off the lights, and joins me in the water. The moonlight filters through the tree branches that hang around and above us, and it’s beautiful. Patches of silver touch the water and create pillars of light stretch towards us through the steam.
“Nic?” Hugh asks me after a moment.
“Yeah?” I turn towards him, amazed once more by his perfection.
“Are you ok?”
I pause. “Is anything ok right now? Is anyone ok right now?”
“I’m worried about you, Nic. You’re the one who’s pregnant, who’s at risk.”
“I don’t want to talk about it right now.”
“Sorry…” He says, looking away through the trees.
“Hey, it’s ok. I just want to relax with you.” He doesn’t look at me until I grab his chin and turn his face towards mine. I kiss him softly at first, then when he responds and moves closer I kiss him harder. I pull him in close and he wraps his arms around me, kissing my neck. Before I could take another breath he picked me up securely in his arms and carried me into the bedroom. We didn’t bother drying ourselves off before we collapsed onto the bed, struggling to get enough of each other, and we made love under the moonlight streaming through the open doors.