- Chapter One -
Lydia remembered Liam. She was supposed to get help for him, but she was side-tracked by the sight of the burning building.
She could not understand her fascination with the fire. The way the orange and yellows blended together as if in perfect harmony, eating away at the building like little ravenous monsters. She felt happiness when she looked at it because she knew that now everything was going to go back to the way it was before everyone had to get the barcode. Her dad would still be dead, though, but she could go home and be with her mum. At last, they would be able to go to her dad’s graveside and say goodbye properly, something she did not yet realise she needed to do.
She turned to Shaun. “Liam. You have to help me get Liam. He’s been shot.”
Shaun gave her a concerned look. “Where is he?”
She looked over her shoulder. “Back there in the field.” She started to limp-run in that direction and Shaun followed her.
At first, she could not remember where she had left him, and she started to feel a pain in her stomach as panic slowly filled her. “Liam! Liam?” she called. Her eyes darting from left to right.
She almost ran straight past him when she heard his moan. It was a soft sound. The crackle of the fire was louder. “Liam?” She fell on her knees beside him, and the wet snow made two grooves under her knees as she slid closer to him. “Are you okay?” It was a silly question, but she had to know. She had left him out here, in the cold, for far too long.
Shaun dropped down onto his knees on the opposite side. “Hey, Liam, where were you shot.”
Liam groaned, “My leg.”
Shaun moved to look at his leg, patting his calves to feel where the wound was because the lighting was dim, and the fire was starting to burn itself out. He looked up at Lydia. “Do you still have a flashlight?”
Lydia shook her head.
“I can’t see a thing. I’m going to have to carry him closer to the building so that we can see what the damage is.”
Liam shook his head. “No. Not the building. It’s too dangerous.”
Lydia agreed, “He’s right. They’re probably looking for us and we are all going to be going to jail if they catch us.”
Shaun sat back and looked around. “Okay. We’ll carry him to that clump of bushes over there.” He pointed with his finger and Lydia looked in that direction.
She nodded. “And then?”
“Then, I’m going to see if we can borrow a car, like Mandy likes to say, while you stay with Liam. We’re going to have to keep him warm, he looks like he’s going into shock.”
Lydia looked closer at Liam, and even in the faint light she could see his lips were starting to turn a blueish colour.
“Okay. Help me lift him,” Shaun said as he started to get up. Lydia stood up and felt the wet material of her pants pull at the skin of her knees. Shaun put one leg on either side of Liam and leaned down to push his forearms in under Liam’s arms. With a grunt he lifted Liam off the ground and shuffled back slowly until he had Liam standing unsteadily on his own two feet but leaning back against Shaun. “Here, let him lean against you, while I lift him.”
Lydia stood in front of Liam, and almost fell over backwards when the full brunt of Liam’s weight suddenly pushed against her. She steadied herself and held him up straight. She whispered softly, close to his ear, “I am so sorry I left you here so long.”
Shaun moved around, and awkwardly he pushed his body in between Lydia and Liam. He bent down a little, until Liam was leaning over his shoulder and then with a groan, he lifted him. He gripped tightly onto Liam’s thighs, when his left hand squished into a cold, sticky substance.
Liam yelled out in pain.
Shaun said, “Found the wound.”
Liam mumbled something unintelligible.
“Walk in front of me, so that I don’t stumble or fall over debris or something that might have fallen from the building. If we fall now, I doubt I’ll have the strength to get us both back up again.”
Lydia walked ahead to show him the way, and he followed in her footsteps. It was easier to keep his head down because Liam’s weight was mostly resting on his upper shoulders and neck.
Just as Shaun thought there was no way he could take one more step, Lydia said, “Okay. I think it’ll be safe to let him down here.”
Shaun started to let Liam down.
“Don’t let him down all the way. The ground is too cold, and I’ll keep him up while you go get us a car.” She pointed to the other side of the large shoulder height bush next to them. “Look. The road is just on the other side of this, so if you stop there, I’ll get him through.”
“Are you sure you can manage. I’m not sure how long it’ll take.”
“I’m sure. Just be quick.”
Lydia steadied herself, as Shaun leaned Liam against her.
“I won’t be long,” he said as he started sprinting away.
Lydia wrapped her arms around Liam’s shoulders, trying to keep him warm as best she could. “You’ll be okay. Just hang in there. Don’t you go leaving me now, because you know I’ll be lost without you, especially now in this new crazy world we’ve been forced to live in.”
She looked at the soldiers milling around. They seemed to be moving strangely, as if they were disorientated and drunk. It looked as if they all had come from a big party where they had hopelessly too much alcohol to drink. Some of them were talking and screaming, but the sounds that left their mouths were slurred. Some of them were acting as if they were seeing things that weren’t there, ducking and hiding under their arms as if birds or something only they could see were attacking them from the sky.
She said, “You better hang in there because this is getting weirder and weirder by the minute.”
Copyright © Stephen Simpson (published by Fiction for the Soul). All rights reserved.