Chapter Eighteen – Part Two
West of Paradise, Galatia
“Ah, my head,” Gideon grunts as he reaches up to his temples and rubs them gently. The action ends up doing more harm than good and he quickly rips his hands away. Looking down at the hands that had just harmed him, Gideon notes that they are smeared with a light coat of blood. Swallowing, he nervously wonders just how bad off he is. Knowing full well that it would hurt, Gideon rubs his bloodied hands off on his shirt and then he gently presses against each hemisphere of his skull. Once that’s done, he realizes that most of the blood and the searing pain is isolated to the base of the back of his skull.
“You’re awake, good,” Sylvia says from somewhere behind him.
Gideon slowly sits up, an effort which causes his blood to pound inside of his tender skull. He winces with every heartbeat for a few seconds before the pain eases off slightly.
Ahead of him he sees a small creek. The creek burbles along happily as if nothing is amiss. Both upstream and downstream the small flow of water disappears under the dense foliage of plants that are too greedy to let even the smallest drip of water past their branches’ reach.
Taking a slow breath, Gideon quietly asks, “Where’s Meghan?”
“She’s behind you, she still hasn’t woken up, but she’s fine,” Sylvia answers.
“And you’re alright too?”
“Yeah, thanks to you.”
“How long was I out?”
“Like thirty seconds,” Sylvia chuckles, “Don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything.”
“My head hurts, how bad is it?”
“It doesn’t look too bad… your hair’s matted with blood though. Want me to take a closer look?”
Nodding ever so slightly, Gideon hesitantly answers, “Yeah, but please be gentle.”
“Gentle is my middle name,” Sylvia announces jokingly before she shuffles over beside him.
Gideon holds his breath and he clamps his eyes shut as Sylvia’s fingers slowly begin exploring the tangles of Gideon’s hair. He can tell that his hair is wet with blood thanks to how much of it is sticking to his head. With even the gentlest of touches, Gideon can’t help but flinch and try to jerk his head away from Sylvia.
After two minutes of trying, Gideon pulls away and stands. The pain was too much to continue suffering through. Shaking his head, he announces, “Alright, that’s not working.”
“Sorry,” Sylvia frowns as she offers him a remorseful half-frown. She looks down to her hands and then wipes Gideon’s blood off on her pants before she tells him, “It looks like you didn’t get it too bad. You got a big old gash on the back of your head and then a few smaller ones but your skull’s fine.”
“Will I need stiches?”
“You probably need them,” Sylvia answers. Looking around, she shrugs and points out, “But that’s probably not going to happen out here. We’ll have to settle with just bandaging you up.”
“Alright, can you help me with that?”
“If you stay still this time, sure.”
Gideon complies to Sylvia’s wishes and she quickly bandages up his head. Thanks to where his injury was, Sylvia’s bandages end up wrapping around most of Gideon’s head in order to keep the gauze firmly against the back of his head. She makes sure to leave gaps in the wrappings so he can breathe, drink, and see though.
“No one’s going to check on me?” Meghan groans as Sylvia finishes up with Gideon’s bindings.
“Nice try, but I already did,” Sylvia says without taking her attention off the fabric that she is repositioning out of Gideon’s mouth.
“I was hoping Gideon would,” Meghan grumbles to herself.
Chuckling, Gideon can’t help but wish that he hadn’t heard Meghan’s hopes. Sylvia’s eyes seemingly twinkle as she lets out her own suppressed and strained giggle and then flashes a toothy smile for the briefest moment.
“So… what’s the plan then?” Gideon asks once Sylvia finishes. He glances over his shoulder and sees that Meghan is busy poking around at the root ball that had nearly landed on top of them.
“Well…” Sylvia starts as she casts a longing glance over her shoulder at a denser part of the foliage. She looks back at Gideon and purses her lips before she says, “You won’t like what I’m thinking.”
“You’re planning on heading to the structure?” Gideon asks forebodingly. He knew that Sylvia’s resolve had only been strengthened by the fall, she was going to see what the grey thing that they had seen was.
“Yep,” Sylvia nods, “And I don’t think we’ll be finding a way back to the others any time soon.”
Frowning, Gideon looks up the steep embankment that they had fallen down. If they really tried, Gideon is confident they could make it up, but the effort seemed a tad reckless as well. As he watches the hillside, more dirt slides down. Sighing, he reasons that trying to climb back up was likely just as reckless as continuing along with Sylvia’s plan.
“Well, we lost some of our gear,” Meghan points out. She tugs on a strap that is sticking out from under the largest portion of the root ball, “My pack’s buried. Without it, I’m down to just two mags and whatever’s left in my gun.”
“If we wait, the others might come for us,” Sylvia announces after a sigh. Gideon can tell that she doesn’t like the idea but that she’s willing to go along with it if she was told to do so.
“I think we should check the structure out,” Gideon declares, “We’ve come this far. Besides, I don’t think we should risk heading back in case we come across one of the hybrids. If we’re lucky, we might find some extra gear in there too.”
This Story Has Been Moved…