The Hollow People

Eleni Markova has never felt emotion before: no happiness, no sadness, no anger, and no fear. She is one of the Hollow People, a group that came about a hundred years ago when a virus swept over the world, decimating the population and leaving only a fraction of people uncontaminated. Most of the contaminated died, and the few that recovered from the plague were changed forever. Their genes were altered, and they lost their ability to feel emotion.

Now, a hundred years after the Hollow Virus, the only remaining human civilization thrives under the leadership of the Hollow People, and Eleni, a member of the City Guard, is a prime example of what a Hollow Person should be. But when terrorists attack the city, Eleni begins to experience what she never believed she could: fear. The foreign emotion runs rampant though her, causing her to flee for her life and abandon her post.

Eleni must either trust her newfound emotions and a con artist named Oliver or let her home be destroyed.

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7. *chapter five*

Wolfgang doesn't live far from the square, and it doesn't take long to get there but that's not the problem. Blood has already soaked through Oliver's makeshift bandage and shirt. Every step takes an enormous amount of effort, and I'm always afraid that it will be the last one. I know I'm not the one dying, but it certainly feels like I am.

All my bones have turned to lead, and I can't remember the last time I was this exhausted, not just physically either. There is a strange fog in my brain that makes me feel tired in a whole new way. It creeps through my veins and around my limbs, until I feel like I'm being suffocated under a blanket.

Oliver grunts as he forces himself to take the first step leading up to Wolfgang's apartment complex. I do my best to help him, but it's not enough. I can never help anyone enough.

The stairs feel like they go on forever, and all I want is for someone to help me carry Oliver, but I know that's not possible. This is the apartment building where all the doctors' apprentices live. If one of them sees us, then we're screwed.

Another step, and Oliver stumbles. I use the arm not already supporting him to wrap around his waist. Something warm almost immediately covers my arm. Blood. Each and every step soaks his shirt with more of the life-giving blood. Each and every step sends him closer to death. The closer we get to Wolfgang's apartment we get, the closer Oliver gets to death. We need to get there, but it might just kill him.

Grabbing onto me with what little strength he has left, Oliver lurches sideways and falls into the the wall. I stumble after him, too tired to keep myself on my own two feet.

Oliver lays sprawled against the carpeted floor, staining it with blood. He can't get up, and neither can I. My legs wobble as soon as I put weight on them. I've never felt this tired in my life. It's not just my body that has given up, it's my mind and something else that I cannot name.

"You have to get up," I tell Oliver as I force myself to stand up. "We can't get caught out here. Not when they're looking for me."

He huffs, which is more than I was expecting. "You're not the one that got shot."

I grab him by his arm and pull him to his feet with as much force as I can manage. I may not be gentle but at least I'm going to get him to Wolfgang's alive. We have to make it, we're going to make it, especially since it's only a few doors down.

The one good thing that came from the terrorist attack is that everyone is locked up in their homes. Given, we wouldn't be here if it weren't for the attack, but I can appreciate this one thing if it means saving my neck and Oliver's.

When I knock on the door the vibration rocks through my entire body, and I can tell Oliver can feel it too because his fists clench and his face goes pale. Whatever that bullet hit it must be pretty bad.

Nobody answers.

I knock harder, banging on the door with as much force as I can even if it means alerting others to our presence or hurting Oliver. Finally it opens.

Wolfgang looks at me through bloodshot eyes. His expression is blank, and it takes me a moment to realize that he is still hollow. He doesn't react at all until he sees the blood, then it's all action. He doesn't bother saying anything or asking questions; he pulls Oliver away from me and leads, or drags, him to the kitchen table.

I find myself collapsing into a chair as soon as I step into the apartment. My eyes feel heavy, but I can't sleep, I just can't. It's not an option. I am in no way qualified to help Oliver at this point but fear if I close my eyes too long then he'll die. One moment he'll be there and the next he'll have passed.

Wolfgang runs out of the room and comes back with his emergency medical supplies. "Eleni, come help me." It's the first thing he's said to me since I arrived, but I'm glad he's giving me something to do.

His forehead is covered in a sheen of sweat as he examines the wound. He hands me a cloth soaked in what smells like alcohol. Even that sent makes me jolt back. I haven't looked directly at the wound yet.

"You have to sanitize it, so no bacteria can get inside," Wolfgang instructs.

One glance at the wound and my stomach has migrated to my throat. It's filled with bile that burns through the tissue and spills down my spine. Or at least that's what I imagine is happening. It's so hard to tell now.

I close my eyes as I apply pressure to the wound. Maybe I'm being to rough or the alcohol burns more than I can imagine, but Oliver cries out and is only silenced by the hand Wolfgang clamps over his mouth. I yank the towel away like I might have killed him.

"Bite down on this," he says and hands Oliver another towel.

I doubted he was still conscious after what just happened, but he's present enough to follow Wolfgang's instructions. His eyes are streaming tears and his skin is so pale it makes him look like a ghost. What if he's already dead? He's dying, that much is for certain.

With more caution and my eyes open this time, I press the alcohol drenched towel back against the wound. Oliver screams again and throws his head back, hitting it on the table.

I think I'm going to be sick. The smell of alcohol. The blood soaked bandages. The screaming. All of it is combining together into one wave of nausea.

"Eleni," Wolfgang says, getting my attention, "this is a sucking chest wound so I'm going to need you to listen to me very carefully."

In his hands he holds tape and some sort of gauze. "I have to tape the wound on three sides so the air can escape. You need to monitor his vital signs."

My face must've turned green because he elaborates. "If I don't then his lungs will collapse." My face turns greener. Now I'm really going to be sick.

Below us Oliver's chest is heaving, and I'm not sure if that's a good or bad sign. At least he's breathing. At least he's breathing.

"What about the bullet?" I ask.

"I can't take it out here. There's too much risk of spinal damage."

Spinal damage. So even if Wolfgang is somehow able to save Oliver, there's still a chance he could be injured, paralyzed even. What the hell was I thinking bringing him to the square with me? I should've knocked him out and left him where it was safe. I should've known a regular person wouldn't be able to handle that kind of situation. They're just so... fragile.

"You're waisting time," Wolfgang says, reminding me that it's too late to feel regret. "I need you to check his vital signs. Make sure his airway is unrestricted."

I hold my ear close to Oliver's mouth. His breaths are heavy but constant, so I check for a pulse. His pulse is too fast but it's there, and that was as much as I could hope for. He's still got a chance.

This would all be much simpler if we could get the information from Oliver's Noviac and had access to modern medical technology. After the founding of New Orleans everyone was desperate to fight of the Hollow Virus and any other disease, so we designed our technologies around keeping people healthy and alive. Now we're back to the days before the Hollow Virus when the technology was apparently so horrible that ninety-six percent of the worlds population got wiped out.

Wolfgang seals the gauze on three sides like he said he would and says, "I need you to exhale."

Oliver doesn't respond.

"Oliver, you have to exhale," I say.

It's hard to tell if it's coincidental or intentional, but he does exhale. A gurgling sound comes from his chest, and I realize air is escaping through the the wound.

Wolfgang hangs his head and sighs. "Good. That's good."

When the gurgling stops, he presses his hands down on both sides of the bandage. Blood still comes through but much slower now. It's hard to believe the wound was ever life threatening after seeing how he took care of it.

"Keep monitoring his breathing."

I keep my ear close to Oliver's mouth and listen as the breaths become more even and less labored. Almost no heat radiates off of his skin and his forehead shines with sweat, but he's still breathing.

After a few minutes Wolfgang seals the fourth side of the gauze and covers Oliver with a blanket. "He'll be cold," he explains.

I nod my head but don't really know how to respond. It's been the longest day of my life, and I can't process anymore information anymore. I certainly can't process anymore emotions right now. I just want to expel them from my body.

"You look tired, Eleni," my brother says, guiding me to an arm chair. "Sleep, and we can talk about what happened when you wake up."

I shake my head. Maybe I am exhausted and would like nothing more than to sleep, but I have to save myself now that I've saved Oliver. I can't let Wolfgang call emergency services while I'm still asleep. They'll have me in handcuffs before there's time to explain.

Wolfgang sighs, "Alright, I'll make some tea, and we can talk about it now."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sorry this chapter is so late. I just started college recently and got very busy. Updates will be more regular from here on out.

I hope you enjoyed this chapter, and if you did please vote and comment! It means so much to me when you guys do.

Weekly Song: Coming Down by Halsey

Q1: Which cover do you like more? The current one or the one at the top?

Q2: Eleni is uncertain whether to make herself or Oliver her priority. Was her decision more logical or emotional? Did she make the right decision?

 

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