Friday, February 23, 2007


A medical suite it wasn't, but room 103 at the Motel Six was the best Matthew could do for the girl.

He had the shower running to put some warm water vapor in the air, an air purifier was churning away on the nightstand and a hot plate was boiling everything that touched her. He'd already fed her sips of chicken broth, though she'd not really woken up so much as just swallowed autonomically. There was no evidence of her regaining consciousness.

That worried Matt. The best thing for her would have been to stay in the hospital. Unfortunately, there'd been three things wrong with that plan. One, he'd had to leave the hospital because of all the bodies. Two, most of those bodies were the nursing staff that would have taken care of the girl in the first place. And three, the sirens he'd heard on his way out of the hospital parking lot would have taken offense at his being there.

With the bodies.

Of the nurses.

So here they were in room 103 of the Southern Chattanooga Motel Six. It was an acceptable substitute for a recovery ward once Matt had taped plastic over the windows and washed all the linens at the laundromat nearby. Bleach and baby-safe detergent made for a clinic-level clean on just about any surface. Between that and his insistence on a non-smoking room that had always been a non-smoking room, the girl was in as good a shape as she could be.

He, on the other hand, was a wreck. He'd been going hard for fifty hours without sleep. Sitting in the corner, watching the Rite-Aid pulse meter he'd placed on her right arm, Matt caught himself micro-napping. Watch, watch, watch, snore. Shudder, wake up, watch, snore.

Snore some more.

An hour later, wake up cussing.

He needed sleep. He knew he needed sleep. He was just worried about the girl and just as worried about himself. He'd taken the only thing keeping that terrifying St. Michael agent from coming back and finishing him off out of her hospital bed and strapped her to a motorcycle for nearly an hour. Even though she'd not apparently been harmed by the experience, he was certain it wasn't a healthy thing to have done.

So he'd denied himself sleep while he made her as comfortable and secure as possible. At least money hadn't been a problem; he still had a wad of what he'd assumed to be drug money from the car he had been forced to abandon at the hospital. It meant no more stealing for a while, which was nice.

Oddly, people in retail environments always seemed to assume he was there to rob them. Perhaps it was the long black coat, the dark glasses, or maybe -just maybe- the massive handguns he took everywhere. Of course, the more perceptive of these retail monkeys might also be reacting to the fact that Matthew carried himself like a criminal. He was certainly not adverse to robbery if the need arose, though he was just as glad to have cash right now.

Rite-Aid was especially glad for his cash right now; he'd just dropped about a thousand dollars on medication, first aid supplies, food and basic supplies. He'd been running low, really low, and hunger was starting to take its toll. Cash and transportation made such a difference sometimes.

Of course, then he'd thought to check the saddlebags of his bike and when he did, his palm hit his head in an Homer-like expression. "D'oh." Zephyr's containers were stuffed with all manner of clothes, edibles, spare cash, and useful items (including a toothbrush, something he'd neglected using in some time). He muttered, "Ravenhurst has too much free time..." under his breath but he'd been secretly touched by the gesture.

The gesture, and the note. "Dear Matt, here's hoping this stuff and your wonderful bike find you well. We understand why you can't come here yet but with any luck maybe you can soon. This place is huge and we are bored bored bored! Aliya promises you'll be safe as long as you behave, but I can't promise you will, so good luck! Love, Ariel."


When she finally opened her eyes, the girl could only see a pebbled white ceiling through the fine mesh of bug netting. She was in an isolation tent cobbled together out of camping supplies and duct tape. Wearily, weakly, she unplugged herself from the cuff monitor and made her way out of bed. Tired legs barely supported her weight but, step after step, some meager strength returned.

Across the hotel room, a young man was sprawled across a chair, sleeping sitting up. Well, vaguely sitting up. Mostly, he was leaning against the wall, eyes closed, mouth wide open, snoring. He looked like she felt.

He also looked slightly familiar. Had she seen him before? She couldn't remember much of anything, just a haze of pain and darkness. An accident. There had been an accident. People, not that she could remember who, were dead. And this man... had he saved her? He was the one who picked her up out of the smoke and fire. Yes, that was him. She couldn't remember much else, but she remembered him.

As steadily as she could, the girl moved across the floor to where Matt was sleeping. She sat him upright, pulled a fallen blanket up over him, tucked it in around his shoulders, and pulled an drool-smudged note off his face. Kissing him on the cheek, she whispered "Thank you," before returning to bed.

She felt better now, but she was still sleepy. She'd be okay.

They both would.

1 comment:

Erisraven said...

About time Matt got a little rest. :) Between his new friend and Zephyr, he might even get to enjoy it.