“Um, are you alright?” The man named Kyle asked.
Shit, I was staring. “Yeah I’m fine, sorry!” I replied quickly. Wanda stood by the opening to the room and moved away from Kyle slightly as he walked in. He and Jeb came towards me and decided how to move me.
“Hmm. I think the best way would just be for me to carry her” Kyle said looking at my opposite broken limbs.
“Whatever you say Kyle, just don’t break her any more than she already is” Jeb replied walking back to Wanda.
“Hey, I’m not the one that shot her leg. She just bounced off of me, not my fault at all” Kyle shot back.
His words were harsh but his tone made the conversation playful. Jeb waved Kyle off and set out of the room with Wanda. As I watched them leave Kyle scooped me up in his arms. The quick and unexpected motion made me queasy. He put one hand behind my knees and the other supported my back. Kyle didn’t stop to let me catch my breath and walked quickly out of the room, his walk causing my broken leg and arm to bounce painfully. I didn’t want to show any pain so I clenched my teeth together and tried to get through it.
“S-stop” I finally said through my teeth. I hated myself for showing weakness but the pain was almost making me faint. Kyle stopped immediately, either because of what I said or by the viper grip I had on his very muscular arm. I quickly put my good arm against the nearby wall and breathed heavily.
“Are you ok?”
I looked up at Kyle’s voice. I shouldn’t have done that. Should NOT have done that. His piercing blue eyes made me momentarily forget my thoughts. I blinked furiously then answered him while focusing hard on his right ear.
“The sudden movement just threw me off a bit. Just give me a sec. and I’ll be good to go.” Still being in his arms I felt him lean down and look at my face.
“You’re as white as a ghost. I guess I wasn’t walking as smoothly as I could” I didn’t answer but just nodded and kept focusing on slowing down my heartbeat. Finally I let go of the wall and put my good arm around his shoulders to brace myself. He started walking again but much slower and smoother. “They should be back with the medicine soon, you’ll be able to walk again shortly.” Kyle said. As we were walking he kept looking down at my face. What was his problem? Was there something on my face? I know I’m not the best looking girl out there but why the weird faces man? Finally I gave in.
“Is something on my face bothering you Mr. Bright Eyes?” I called him that not for the colour of his eyes but how wide they went when they looked at my face. I felt his body around me tense up and I thought I had went too far. Suddenly a loud burst of laughter erupted from him.
“No no, sorry about that I just kept getting distracted by your different eyes!” I laughed too realizing I still had one of my contacts in.
“Sorry, forgot to take the other one out. Too busy running from the ‘souls’” I said. I started to take out the other contact but realized the dehydration had done its toll; my eye was too dry to take it out. I sighed; I needed to cry.
“Mind stopping again for a second?” Kyle stopped immediately. I used my good arm to lift my broken one up, then dropped it down hard. “Holy mother of-“ I bit my lip to stop myself from swearing.
“What the hell are you doing?!” Kyle asked his eyes wide with confusion.
I sighed again, “I have to make my eyes wet so the contact will come out.” I explained, “I thought physical pain would do the trick but now I just hurt.”
Kyle thought for a few moments then said, “Why don’t you think of something sad? Less physically painful”
“Alright…just um, keep walking or something. I can’t start crying with you watching me”
Kyle laughed and started walking again. I thought of the first time I saw my parents’ bodies with souls in them. When I had realized Seth and Sonya were gone. The last time I saw Josh before that final gunshot went out… Yep that had done it. I tried to hide my tears but a few fell down my cheeks and reflected in the light. I knew Kyle saw them but it was a mark of a gentleman that he didn’t comment. I quickly took out the contact and put it in my pocket. I dried my eyes and looked straight ahead. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Kyle look at me again.
“Much better” I looked up at his face and saw a small smile. “We’re almost there just a few more yards to go” He continued.
I quickly patted my face, “Is my face red? Will they notice I was crying?” Kyle stopped at the edge of the tunnel and looked carefully at my face.
“Nope you look as good as new.” He said. I made a face; my hair was still sand crusted, my face still a little sunburnt and I could feel various cuts on my skin from my falls. “Ok ok maybe not good as new but not like you were upset” Kyle corrected himself chuckling. He turned his face to the doorway as we reached the end of the tunnel and I did the same.
A bright light surrounded us. I blinked furiously trying to make my eyes adjust faster. When they did, I was in shock. We had reached a large room, smaller than the field I ran into a few hours earlier but larger than the doctor’s office. The area had various rocks and boulders arranged around a few flat ones. Chairs and a table I realized. Clever, very clever. At the far end of the room was a sort of kitchen area complete with oven and various kitchen supplies. There were also about twenty people in the room. All staring at me. I sighed internally; I HATE people staring at me. I prayed they would turn away and go about their usual business but no such luck.
To my displeasure Kyle carried me into the table at the center of the room and plopped me down right where everyone could see me. I smiled faintly around the room then busied myself with rearranging my limbs that would cause the least amount of pain. Kyle had put me on a long bench like rock that allowed me to put my bad leg up parallel to the bench. My good leg sat in front of me so I was doing an awkward half split. Kyle sat across from me beside Doc and Jeb. Wanda had taken a place on the bench next to theirs beside Melanie. I watched the pair of women curiously. How weird would it be to talk to a person who had been inside your mind for almost a year face to face? Or look at a face that had been yours for that long? Strange world.
Jeb got up and addressed the room, “So everyone, this is Cassandra. She’s from Canada and escaped the waves of colonization there. As you know, Jarred, Ian and Ethan all went to stock up on medicine so it will take some time for her to get all healed again. She’ll start pulling her weight in chores soon enough so don’t get your panties in a knot” At this he looked across the tables to a white haired woman and what looked to be her middle aged daughter beside her. The women didn’t agree but didn’t say no either. Wonder what that’s story was. Jeb’s words sunk in and brought me back to the conversation.
“Wait, you mean I can stay?”
If everyone wasn’t looking at me before, I had just got their attention. Wanda and Melanie looked confused, Kyle had a weird look on his face like a mixture of amusement and confusion. I had eyes only for Jeb. It was his caves; I wanted to hear what he had to say.
Jeb’s eyes met mine, “Did you have anywhere else to go?”
“Well um no I don’t.”
“Then why wouldn’t you stay?” Jeb inquired.
I was totally taken aback, “Oh I uh I don’t know. I guess I was thinking you just wanted to get information out of me then send me away”
“Hun, this is war.” Jeb said putting a foot up on his chair, “When we see one of our own, we don’t let go too quickly. You’ll stay.” He looked to the crowd, “You’re a fighter, we need more of you with us. You’re strong and brave, remind me of my niece and a certain soul who was in her body. ”
Wanda and Melanie smiled at me. I smiled back; so I was in an elite club now. I liked the sounds of that. A voice from the kitchen called out to the crowd.
“Dinner! Get it while it’s hot!” A woman and man stood in the kitchen and served portions of tonight’s dinner on plates. Everyone around me got up to get a plate. I looked around helplessly; was I supposed to get up and feed myself? I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone, but ahh? Help? My silent pleas were answered when a teenager that looked at bit like Melanie brought me a plate full of food.
“Oh thank you!” I said surprised.
“Pfft, don’t thank him. It was Wanda’s idea but she can only handle one plate” Melanie said rolling her eyes and ruffling the teenager's hair in a sisterly way. Wanda was so tiny and fragile; the plate was bigger than her head. "This is my little brother, Jamie." Melanie added. Jamie flashed me a massive smile and set the plate in front of me.
“Well thank you Wanda for suggesting it and Jamie for delivery.” I replied smiling at them all, “And Melanie for making sure the right person was rewarded” I added cheekily. We finished our meals and shared stories of our travels and our lives before the invasion.