She lay in bed with her eyes staring at the ceiling. The unfamiliar room had confused her when she first woke up, once she remembered where she was, she hadn’t been able to fall back asleep.
Most days now, all she wanted to do was breakdown. Emotions and tensions were high, half the time she wondered why she was even staying with these people still. She’d meant to leave, but every time she tried or got separated, she ended up back with them. So at this point, it just made sense to stay. Not everyone was here though, she missed people who were gone.
Emotionally it didn’t make sense to stay. Between the people she either felt they had an actual sense of pleasure having her around, a sense of annoyance, dread, or outright hostility.
One was trying to tentatively figure her out and start a better relationship, which she appreciated. She saw through the fake smiles, knew the changes in the voice, the shift in posture, voices rising, quieting. She’d grown up with them, they had been engrained into part of her, a way to protect herself. A skill she couldn’t get rid of no matter how much she wished to be oblivious.
Except for a few people, she felt very alone. She’d seen and done things she never thought she would. Things happened she never thought could happen, or at least would. She’d been wrong. She’d been very wrong.
Almost 3 months, it felt like years some days. So much had happened, so much was still going on, with no sign of stopping. It was exhausting, people were being pushed beyond their limits of everything.
Things had been okay at first, she’d found people she could stay with, she could trust, Eva and Ana. Moving around, doing different things. Some groups more chaotic than others. Everything had changed after the ‘waffle house incident’. She’d thought that it was simply another distress call, an injury to a friend, Phae. But once she’d gotten to them, things were not adding up, and continued not to.
What had been called in as a wolf bite, turned out to be a human bite. Followed by another person named Eric appearing, supposedly a victim of the same attack, with a wolf bite resulting in amputation of a finger. The only problem was that was a lie too, the finger had clearly been amputated by a large cleaving knife. Something felt wrong, and she couldn’t place it. Instead of pointing out the obvious, she’d played along like stupid girl, pretending to not notice the difference between shredded tissue and a solid clean cut.
It turned out Eric had been the one who Phae was calling ‘wolf’. She’d told her that. Then a few nights later…she shuddered at the memory. Opening the door, her eyes adjusting to see Phae on the floor crying. Her head bald when she had hair hours before, and the sickening feeling as the bruises and cuts came into focus. The immediate horror and all too familiar emotions running through her. Then the all too familiar lies started.
She didn’t blame Phae for lying, even though she saw clear though them. That again though, came with the familiarity of it all.
When someone was being abused, the people they cared about were always the ones threatened. If someone could get you alone and hurt you, there was no doubt they could do it to someone else. No one in their right mind would guard you 24 hours a day with no break, no lapse in judgement or focus. Even in shifts, eventually they would feel it was pointless. After a time of nothing happening, the need to ‘guard’ would be considered useless, and the victim would be alone again. It was either during the lapse, lack of attention, or the belief nothing would happen, that they were taken and hurt, usually killed.
Phae had lied because she’s nearly been killed for already letting it slip that Eric hurt her. He found out, and he punished her. She had to lie, not only to protect herself but to protect them. It had taken some coaxing but she had been able to get Phae into her tent out by the lake, away from the cabin. Anyone could be hiding anywhere inside, or outside the building, and overhear you. It was harder when you had the woods all around you to signal movement on an intruder.
Once Phae realized the lying wasn’t working, and that she was with someone who intended to keep her safe, she’d come clean about everything. It had taken some more coaxing, and it wasn’t until she had the gun in her hand, and was scanning the area around them, quietly explaining that she knew Phae was lying, why she was lying, that she didn’t blame her for lying, and that if Eric came near the tent, he had to get through her. She didn’t want to hurt or kill anyone, but she understood this relationship, how these people worked. She knew what he’d do to her if he found out she’d helped Phae and that she knew about him. Phae’s injuries were nothing compared to what he would do to her, and she wasn’t going to allow that.
Eric was a liar, a cannibal, and a serial murderer. He was obsessed with Phae, wanting her to be with him. He’d been the one to bite her, he’d cut his own finger off to make an alibi. Then he tried to make her eat it, only stopping after she’d been screaming, crying and begging him. He’d then made a gruesome ring out of the muscle and sinew, she’d seen it herself. Hell, she freaked out and attempted to grab it off of Phae’s hand, and throw it away. But Phae had panicked more about Eric noticing it being missing, to which she had to agree with.
Seth had figured it out by the time she told him the next morning. Everyone was around except for Eric. Things that Eric said didn’t add up. Phae’s terrified reaction when she first realized Eric was in the camp. They had to do something. The problem was what. Trying to haul him to the CDF in Cherno would likely have resulted in robbery and release of the prisoner, letting a killer run off. Secondarily, it was the word of a well-spoken, charming man, versus that of a schizophrenic woman, and the case notes she had written, realizing something was very off. Phae was medicated and doing well, but she knew the moment anyone heard the word schizophrenia, any credibility she had was out the door. People were stupid like that when it came to mental health.
She didn’t know what to do, and she didn’t have time to think about it. Too on edge, waiting for him to come back, wondering if he was watching them from the woods somewhere, planning to attack them. Too busy repeatedly re-explaining everything that had happened to people who got back to camp. The only thing they had been able to come up with was putting him in handcuffs or tying his hands up at the least. That way he couldn’t hurt anyone. Maybe lock in him a room or something until they figured it out. She didn’t want to hurt him, or kill him, Seth on the other hand, she was not so sure about.
It had all happened so fast. Walking back after doing some chores, there was Eric, sitting with Tivian by a fire. Her heart had nearly stopped. Tivian didn’t know yet, or had forgotten that it had been Eric. Not hard to see why, Eric was being polite and charming as usual. Seth appeared and they’d gotten him to the cabin, then in handcuffs before he realized anything was happening. She still couldn’t believe that. Every second she had expected a gun in her face and yelling to start, then pain, only it hadn’t happened.
Seth had confronted Eric with the information. Making Phae speak up and say what he did to her. She knew it had been meant to help Phae be the stronger person, to be able to face her attacker, she’d held her hand and felt the woman shaking in fear. She did it though. After that, oddly, Eric confessed to everything, saying he was even proud of it and that Phae was his, like an animal. She’d never forget the grin he had on his face, how proud of that he was. How sick it made her feel.
Then Seth mentioned the word torture. That she was not okay with, and she made it clear. Also the problem being Seth also was making it very clear that it would get very ugly for anyone who tried to get in his way, and his weaponry was better. Several others had voiced their opinions that it wasn’t acceptable, but they’d been ignored, and still, outgunned. Seth was also incredibly intelligent, she had no doubt his capabilities of being dangerous.
She’d walked out in disgust, not knowing what to do, only to walk right into an off duty Casper Hawk. As she had been so wonderfully and repeatedly, reminded afterward, the smart thing would have been to say something to him about what was happening. Allow him to intervene or call for backup. Only that requires thinking. When you’re filled with adrenaline and fear, your body likes to ignore the thinking part completely.
The only thing working was instinct, and her instinct was that she liked Casper, and didn’t want him to be hurt. She’d pissed him off multiple times she was sure for raising hell with the UN, though one time they really deserved it. They’d broken their own damn rules in abandoning a settlement without moving the people in their care to some kind of short term space. It nearly spilled into a complete disaster. Otherwise she liked him, he seemed to be generally a good person. She could only seem to contemplate that and Seth’s threat to anyone in his way. She wasn’t exactly feeling comfortable having a door as the only thing separating them at the moment.
She’d ending up grabbing Casper by the arm and trying to haul him a good distance away from the building, trying to explain what was happening and that she didn’t want him to go in there, as Seth probably wouldn’t hesitate to shoot him. She’s not sure any of that came out right though, probably not considering the aftermath. Again, adrenaline and logic were usually not a good combination. Thankfully Reed was right behind her, backing her up. Only no one seemed to remember that part.
Upon stopping, spitting out the story the best she could, trying to calm her racing mind and just think, gunshots erupted. Apparently Eric had attempted to bitten his tongue off, which was possible if the body could fight the instinct to protect itself. More likely he drowned in his own blood. That made Seth not happy, and he angrily put some rounds in the body to feel slightly better.
It had been fully downhill from there. The incident had been reported, which she had expected. What she didn’t expect was being grilled by three people, one of which due to their reaction and position, should never have been there demanding answers in the first place. Also now something Seth did was also getting thrown in her face.
Dolores, a girl partially in her care, whom she cared very much for, had disappeared for over a week, no word about leaving, just gone. Scared the hell out of them all. She suddenly reappeared just fine, having needed to be alone for a bit. That wouldn’t have been an issue, the issue was her not telling anyone.
Seth was furious and said that he was going to hit her so she wouldn’t forget, which had erupted into her chewing him out about how not okay that was. They’d ended up with her giving Seth a death stare until he adamantly repeated he was speaking metaphorically. She still hadn’t bought it, but Seth started talking with Dolores when she couldn’t stay awake any longer. She’d made herself stand nearby, watching intently, then nearly fell asleep standing up. He’d appeared to be keeping his word, and she couldn’t keep her eyes open, she gave up and went to bed.
Turns out the next morning of course he wasn’t being metaphorical. He’d explained apparently why he’d hit her, and Dolores had a major bruise on her face. She then turned around and raised hell with Seth again, who was adamant it was good for her and she wouldn’t do it again. Apparently that had been the environment Seth was raised in, and Phae to a degree.
It didn’t make it right by any means, but people disciplined differently. She knew way too many stories of much worse times when teachers could hit you with rulers, a cane, beat you. Parents frequently using belts as whips, etc. They all horrified her. It was still a majorly ethical debate. She’d been intending to sit and talk with Dolores about it, about why she felt she couldn’t talk to anyone and didn’t contact them, about why she needed to, in case she ever did it again.
So that got thrown in as allowing child abuse. Seriously? Even with that incident, Dolores loved ‘Uncle Seth’. He was one of the few people she felt safe with and who she knew would protect her in every way he could. What the fuck did they expect her to do, have a group of armed people come forcefully take Dolores (as she would have refused to leave her current company) away?
A 13 year old girl who was already traumatized and afraid of people? Who, while this incident not being okay, was also constantly with different people who she considered new family, taking care of her, people who she felt safe and happy with. She was just supposed to take this one incident when Seth had never shown any time of violence or manipulation towards Dolores, and force the already terrified of strangers girl, to go somewhere with strangers and never see the people she cared about again? Except under the rules of people who did not know any of them? When she didn’t want to go with them?
Fuck that. None of them had come to Dolores’s aid when she was scared and alone in a church, having locked herself inside, infected outside, on a broken radio, crying for help. That had been Wyatt, a police woman, and herself. They were the ones who reached out and found the girl. If she had felt Dolores was in danger in any way with Seth and Phae, she would have grabbed her and left without hesitation.
But no, apparently now she was a murderer and child abuser, and getting screamed at by someone who kept trying to turn her words against her.
The next day she had found Dr. Luke Andersson had returned to camp. She went to greet him, exhausted and upset at the current events. He was having a difficult time too from what he told her, but he’d also immediately picked up on her distress and insisted that she speak to him as a patient to a doctor. Even as a doctor herself, she had the legal right to speak to a therapist if she needed it, and any mentions of a patient being involved with the stress, was also protected by law. That and Phae didn’t care who heard the story, as long as it was the truth. She had no reason to lie, nor talk about the incident, except people kept demanding the story.
At that point, the Dr. had no private room. Even if they had gone into the hospital, it was too easy to be overheard even in normal conversation. The same with anywhere else in camp, or in a house nearby, and they were too exhausted to walk far away.
It was decided that even though it was a private session as her being a client to Dr. Andersson, they were just going to have to trust the people in the camp, who were all UN or WHO at the time, to be professional. To try to keep as quiet as they could and hope that anyone who noticed it would recognize it as a session and ignore the conversation like they normally should have, being professionals.
That was a massive mistake. Hours later it was nearly being flung around camp that she’d broken her patient’s confidentiality and all the details of how she let someone die.
First off, legally there had to be written consent of confidentiality for it to stand up in court. She had none, because this wasn’t exactly like she had paperwork, injuries were an emergency basis and she was helping people who needed it. She kept records for herself, for if she needed to treat someone again later, the other doctors did the same thing.
The confidentiality was by her morals, she treated them as though they were an unspoken contract, and it wasn’t exactly like they had a choice to sign a bunch of paperwork while bleeding out or something. She wasn’t going to break that trust. Secondly and more importantly, she had Phae’s permission. Third, whoever had been so cheerful about spreading the news of her ‘breaking’ a client confidentiality agreement, didn’t seem to realize that they were doing exactly that. She told Andersson later, and to say he was furious would have been an understatement. But the damage had been done, spreading like wildfire.
The talk itself had been helpful. She’d been questioning everything she did, how she felt, how she’d messed up, if she really was a horrible person. Andersson listened and backed up her actions thoroughly.
He agreed that Phae had lied due to fear of retaliation, and with valid fear of it. It was a completely normal and expected reaction of anyone under those circumstances. Lying to others was protecting both them and yourself in those circumstances.
The fact that she’d pulled Phae away from the building, to her tent, treated her, gotten her comfortable, and was willing to use lethal force to protect both of them, he felt was both acceptable and commendable. He explained most people would have just ignored the situation in hope to not be involved, or taken her to be someone else’s problem. Yes she was a doctor, but her patient’s life had been under threat. She had protected her patient to the best of her ability. If that meant lethal force, then so be it. Eric had proven he was an extremely dangerous individual.
When questioned more about it, he firmly stated that the largest fact that anyone with a degree in psychology would notice immediately, and take note of, was that she hid Phae and stayed with her. She did NOT attempt to go find, confront, or hunt down Eric. Nor did she try to lure him to where she could hurt him. Even talking with Seth later, any plans made were to subdue him so he couldn’t hurt anyone else. No plans of hurting him, killing him or him disappearing. Put in cuffs, then figure out plan. All of her actions were completely protective and self-defensive. He had repeatedly reassured her that it wasn’t questionable.
Phae was in no way showing Stockholm syndrome. She did not in any way empathize with what Eric was doing, or okay his actions in any ways. In situations with captors, it’s fully expected and actually encouraged by police for the victim to emphasize with their captor, it keeps them alive. Typically if the victim acknowledged the captor as a human, who is struggling somehow, and had emotions and feelings, and acknowledged them, it could produce a profound effect.
The captor would finally have someone who ‘understands’ or is willing to ‘listen’. The victim, is like them, suddenly not a victim, but another person. Usually the captor would reciprocate and actually be protective of the victim. This behavior was fully expected by police and psychology units. They worked around it, then the brainwashing effects could be fixed via therapy later, when they were safe. Phae showed none of those symptoms.
He had confirmed Eric was not mentally ill, and knew exactly what he was doing. He flat out stated multiple times he was a hardened Sociopathic murder. Eric had not only murdered and cannibalized someone, he’d done it multiple times. He enjoyed it, he’d admitted to getting sexual pleasure from it. He’d enjoyed hurting Phae, watching her scream and beg. He’d gone through the black market to get his fill of female flesh when he knew killing was not an option and he would be caught. Someone who didn’t know what they were doing, would not have done that. He knew exactly what he was doing and that it was wrong.
The Hippocratic Oath specifically referenced a doctor and patient. At the same time, he agreed it was outdated and understood most people didn’t take it anymore, or took a changed version. There were cases of doctors killing in self-defense and never getting their licenses revoked. Hell, she’d read a story of a doctor in a hospital, where an angered patient came in and started shooting. The doctor had pulled his gun, and shot the attacker. The news was having fits about the oath, yet everyone in the hospital and first responders agreed without hesitation, that he had saved them all from what would have been a massacre. In this case, she had protected her patient who had nearly been beaten to death hours before.
As for ‘not doing what she should have’ he actually facepalmed in response. After a long sigh he explained, confirming what she already had though. We like to plan these scenarios out in our heads and say ‘if this ever happens, this is what I’m going to do.’ You believe that is how you will act, fully. You can get it down to muscle memory even. You can tell yourself over and over, this is what will happen and this is how I will react.
But as soon as it really happens, it never actually goes the way you planned it. When you get fight or flight, you also get freeze, which most people don’t know. Something happens you freeze, you’re trying to take in all of this information and no matter what you’ve told yourself, you can’t think of how to respond. It’s a natural response.
In cases like this, the body goes to instinct. It literally does not give you the option to think, because if you pause to think, you could be dead. Your body takes over, which he explained, was what happened. She knew there was a threat, and she wanted to make sure the person was safe, so she pulled him away from what could potentially hurt or kill him if he went near it. Completely natural response. In these situations, you just don’t think ‘tell so and so to call backup’. You think ‘get the fuck out of the target zone.’
Also, he had added, in the short amount of time for you to pull him away, talk, and hear those gunshots, how many minutes passed? She wasn’t sure, 2, 5? ‘Even if you had him call backup, there is no way they would have reached the area in time to stop what happened. You knew if he went inside it could mean his death, you did the most rational thing you could have done at the time. You can’t beat yourself up for not doing something else.’
He was even more worried about the psychological effect all of that was having on Phae, and begged her to call, and ask her to come speak with him. She did, and Phae had come, telling the same story over again. She was glad for that, Phae talking with Andersson seemed to really help, and it was kind of Andersson to have done that. Seth even came with Phae at one point and they responded to all questions asked about the situation.
She was repeatedly being questioned, being treated with hostility and had people trying to be all friendly to her face, asking the same things, trying to reword their questions, to try to make her ‘slip up’ and change the story.
Only that never happened. Each one of them was telling the truth, and they all had the exact same story because of it. You could only slip up if you were trying to remember details of a lie, she wasn’t lying. Nor was anyone else. No one seemed to remember that Reed had been there, which was probably for the best. All the anger seemed to focus on Tivian, John, and her.
She had been glad for Ripley too. Ripley had listened, like Andersson. Phae even gave permission for her to show Ripley the papers she had written documenting everything as it happened. All the stories under cross examination matched, her writing lined up with what she was saying, and what she later discovered about Eric.
He was getting hell for it, she could tell, he was one of the few people who seemed to be looking at it rationally. He was actually looking at the facts, what they were saying, not what others were saying, who hadn’t even been there until after it all happened. She could only be thankful for that.
He understood her confusion with the whole situation with Dolores, and agreed that it would be wrong for a bunch of strangers to just take her away. Unless her safety was under threat, and between her and Wyatt, he didn’t think either would allow her to be in such a position. He’d also seen Dolores a few times after the incident. He couldn’t disagree that she seemed happy and comfortable, very evidently not wanting to leave Wyatt or the others.
It felt like people were nearly an angry mob, all in one mindset and not being rational, just demanding what they wanted to see happen. It had been terrifying. She was beyond thankful for the few who had stood their ground, refusing to believe the mob mentality. She couldn’t help but feel without them, Tivian and her may have been lynched.
The military higher ups deemed them innocent to vigilante murder charges, thankfully. It still didn’t end. She tried to leave again, but due to some things happening never got out of town that night. She ended up being needed the next day for someone in surgery.
Then there was the madness that resulted from a stupid plan. Apparently someone or people believed that they were still lying about the whole situation. Tivian had been taken to a building and ‘detained’ against his will, told the case had been reopened, verbally interrogated, and then was told that if him or any of them tried to run, all the organized governments would hunt them down as wanted criminals.
The case had been closed, then somehow re-opened, and it seemed like they were about to be arrested. She’d remembered the frantic radio call, her trying to calm him down, and panicking herself in the confusion. They had called Phae to see if she and Seth were willing to come talk, again, to officials there if need be, and of course they were. Seth also inquired about bringing a group with him just in case, to which all of them shut the idea down as being a horrible one.
She had returned to camp, only to not have Ripley say one word to her about it, which she thought as very strange. They went into chaos when Seth still thought his plan was a good one and terrified everyone into thinking an attack was happening. Apparently he had decided against advice, that he should bring some people, just in case they needed to be ‘forcefully removed’ from the camp. She appreciated the intention of him wanting to help, he had just gone about it in the worst way possible.
Tivian had also shown up and flipped out, not that she blamed him. It became obvious something was wrong very quickly, as Ripley was just as confused as they were.
Once everyone calmed down and Tivian managed to speak without yelling, things began to make sense.
He’d been taken by people with no jurisdiction to take him, held against his will in a building via thought he would try to run away (which a guilty person would have done long ago), told the case had been reopened, and verbally interrogated thoroughly by someone trying to ‘break’ him of his ‘lying’. Then threatened with being a convicted criminal if he, or any of them, tried to leave.
The shock of someone actually going to that length, absolutely terrified her. If you repeatedly ask the same questions, especially mix up wording to try to catch a liar, and it doesn’t work, that should tell you something. Because if someone is lying, that tactic nearly always works to make them mix something up.
Secondly, the only thing she could think of was people being physically tortured, until they ‘confessed’ to whatever it was their captor wanted them to confess to. It wasn’t the truth, it was what the captor wanted them to say, and so they could claim it as truth. The real truth wasn’t enough, so they were put under pressure to say anything to make the pain stop. Millions of innocent people died throughout history due to that kind of behavior.
That’s nearly what this person had tried to do to Tivian, and they somehow thought they were on the right side. Everything they had done regarding it was illegal. Ripley stated firmly that they had absolutely no authority to even question Tivian, let alone demand, detain, and threaten him.
It made her sick, to think people she had looked up to so much, were going to these lengths. It horrified her that they could think their actions were justifiable. They should know better, they did know better.
Again she wanted to leave, but again people needed her more. She wasn’t going to turn away anyone who needed her help. People were dying, it was her job to do everything she could to help them. It’s what she had chosen to do with her life.
Then more chaos, then the attack.
She didn’t want to think about that, every part of it was so beyond fucked up. The first thing that always came into her mind about it, that made her want to automatically cry, was Anton.
She’d gotten a crush on him when she first met him at the airfield. He seemed to be one of the only rational people she’d met in what felt like a world of chaos. Not surprising she’d fallen for him in that regard. He’d been brought up in some of the worst circumstances possible, yet he still seemed like a good, well intentioned, rational person. Someone who along with others struggled because people viewed them by their nation, not as individual people. He didn’t want to conquer anything, he just wanted to have his job done so he could go home, like what everyone else wanted. He nearly always had her laughing. She always felt like an awkward idiot trying to talk to him though, being social was not on her list of things she could do well. Emphasize, yes. Try to have normal small talk with someone, nope. Flirting was completely out of her range.
It wasn’t reciprocated though, that was obvious enough. It was what it was. She’d done her best to move on, and it was going rather well she thought.
Anton had brought his partner to camp, Taryn, who she met and helped. She liked her, seemed a lot like herself personality wise. Probably why they got along so well. Taryn was also in trauma surgery, but had not been able to finish her residency when the virus hit.
She was also pregnant. She had needed help with something Beth wasn’t even sure she could do. They had a bit of an adventure running around the hospital, looking for supplies that could help them, luckily they finally found what they needed. Taryn trusted her to try, it wasn’t like they had much of a choice otherwise. Thankfully it had been a lot easier than anyone anticipated. The longest part being the anesthetic to take effect.
Then Anton had been shot, his arm not working. He’d come to her. The surgery had been intense, Taryn and Tivian helped, it ended up being successful. He’d been able to leave with Taryn, under instructions that he would need to rest his shoulder, probably for about 3 months.
Though one thing had greatly disturbed her, people talking about Anton beating Taryn. When she went to Seth and Tony’s camp to help someone, some people had talked about it on the way. It had made her feel sick, she didn’t want to believe it. Taryn hadn’t shown any signs of being abused of any sort. It made her really worried. At the same time she wasn’t sure it was true. She hoped if it was that Taryn would say something. She wasn’t going to ignore it, but she had no evidence except hearing the two men talking, and she’d seen Taryn the day or two before. She had not seen bruising or indications of being struck with anything on her body. Nothing mental had seemed like it was off or distressed in any way.
When the compound had been stormed, it was obviously a shock she was not prepared for. What she really, hadn’t been prepared for, was hearing Anton’s voice amongst those giving commands. The confusion as she realized it was him, somehow carrying and aiming a large gun at her face. Shouting, disorienting people. The shock, that he was doing this. Not understanding why, trying to calm him, he didn’t need to shout at her. She didn’t understand. Why? She’d thought he was her friend, that she was someone he felt he could trust.
She remembered pleading, trying to keep people calm. It was literally her and a bunch of civilians and injured people. There was no need or reason to hurt any of them, most were already hurt. Not to mention it was a war crime to attack a hospital, especially if it was only a doctor and innocents, she figured that wouldn’t have mattered though. It didn’t, she didn’t even bother to bring it up.
She remembered Ella nearly breaking down, her shouting at them to calm down while Ella was lying on the ground shaking. They didn’t need to point guns at her, they didn’t need to shout. She could hear but she couldn’t speak back to them. She’d listen, she was just terrified.
Anton knew, he had known, that she would have accepted being beaten, if it meant the others being okay. He made sure to not even give her the option, going directly to threatening the injured and civilians. They wanted Casper and Faith, who had been around earlier, she had no idea where they were, they must have run, smart. What the hell did they want them for? What did they think they were going to get from them?
Then they threatened to start shooting people, both injuring and killing. If it had been her, she’d have accepted it, but he knew that. Instead he’d indicated Smithy, who already had two broken ribs, asking how long it took to bleed out from the femoral artery. Implying he would cut or shoot him and force her to watch him bleed to death. Then hurt Ella, and the rest, making her watch them die, painfully, and be able to do nothing. It felt like he’d stabbed her with a knife in the chest. She’d had no choice but to use the radio, her heart in her stomach with dread, part of her praying no one responded, and part of her hoping someone would.
She almost cried hearing Casper’s voice respond that he was coming back. She didn’t want him to, she knew whatever these people wanted, that it was bad. She didn’t want anyone to be hurt, but if he didn’t, people would be killed.
She’d nearly been yanked off the ground and shoved. She noticed Smithy trying to plead with the attackers, that he couldn’t walk due to his ribs. They toppled him out of his wheelchair and kicked him. They had shot someone else already, one of the rangers. Making him drag himself, blood all around him.
“Elizabeth, get your friend here before I shoot him.”
She still wasn’t sure how she had done it, adrenaline was the only guess. She’d somehow managed to nearly carry Smithy, him hobbling as they were shouted at to move faster or be shot. Ella was ahead and watching her with panicked eyes. She nearly dragged Smithy across the field, him hobbling to the best of his ability. She remembered him looking at her with a panicked expression, gasping for breath, “I think I’m going to pass out…” She looked him dead in the eyes and responded, “If you pass out, we’re both dead.”
They somehow got to the woods, she nearly collapsed, and was yanked away from Smithy. Ella was watching with more panic, she did her best to reassure her, to just do what they said, it would be okay.
She felt someone yanking her away, deeper into the woods. Ella and the others vanished from her view and she was terrified. What did they want? She wasn’t U.N. She was just a citizen, someone who decided to help hurt people, not sit around and do nothing.
The person shoved her back so he could look at her. He was wearing a clown mask, like the others. His voice wasn’t familiar. She didn’t know who he was or what he wanted.
“You.” His voice spoke firmly. “Down.”
The ground collided hard against her chest and head, knocking the breath out of her. That was unnecessary.
She’d had no intentions to argue, but then the blow hit her back, making her scream in pain. She instinctively rolled to her side, trying to curl up. Only to have a foot slam into her chest, she heard a sickening crack as a pain she had never felt before flooded over her. All she could do was scream, and try to curl up, trying to protect her head and chest. She couldn’t breathe, her chest felt like fire.
One kick to her jaw left her seeing stars and hearing another horrifying crunch, the pain immobilizing. She was afraid to open her eyes, afraid from the pain she would find her jaw on the floor, or all of her teeth.
More kicks, to the chest, the head, and one hit her left arm as she was trying to shield herself and she heard a snap as she felt more pain.
She had no idea how long it went on for. It could have been seconds, it could have been hours. All she could think about was the pain and begging it to end, it felt like forever. She’d cooperated, why was he hurting her?
Finally, the blows stopped.
“Now be a good girl, and stay down.” The voice commanded.
She couldn’t move if she wanted to, her body shuttered in between sobs and screams of pain, only they sounded odd, something was off. It was a terrifying sound. That and she couldn’t breathe. For a moment she thought she was going to pass out, but she wasn’t that lucky. She heard the footsteps fade away, and it was quiet, except for her own tortured cries.
She couldn’t get a full breath of air. Was her lung or both lungs collapsing? Did she have air in her chest? Was she bleeding internally? She started panicking even more. Managing a few choked moments of silence to listen, she didn’t hear anything, just the wind.
‘I’m going to die out here. Alone.’ The realization hit her. That made her more afraid than the pain did. Left like this, if she was bleeding or a lung failing, she would go into shock… unless… her left arm hurt too much to try to move, she used her right hand to feel along her chest. Her vest laden with medical supplies was still on her…they hadn’t taken it? Thankful for that, she slid her fingers into a pocket by muscle memory. Pulling an injector out, she used her thumb to flick it open and slam it into her thigh, dropping it next to her when the injection finished.
Morphine burned running through her veins, but quickly began to calm the pain. Taking her from wanting to be dead, to feeling like she must be. Reaching to her backpack she had managed to tug off a lantern, setting it in front of her, partially clinging to it. She wasn’t sure why, with the drugs running through her everything was slowing down, she just knew she wanted it. As she lost consciousness, she wondered which would find her first, the wolves or the infected, and how much it would hurt, if she would suffer.
Much later, finding out what happened, that Faith had been forced to come back, and what was done to them. All she could do was cry and feel awful. There was nothing she could have done and she knew that. But she still felt horrible. All choices were fucked up in that situation. The people fucked up even more. The fact Anton instigated things being done, she couldn’t let herself think about it. Did Taryn know he did this? Was she in on it somehow? If so, how could she possibly approve of what was done?
She woke up from the pain twice more, managing to again administer shots of morphine. It was cold, and started raining. She couldn’t move, she let the morphine take her away. The third time, she turned the lantern on. Maybe someone would see it, maybe someone would investigate it… or an infected would. She blacked out again.
A voice had woken her, distant and strained. Several moments passed before she could make out anything. She recognized her name, as the voice spoke again, right by her head. She felt like ice, she was soaking wet as the rain poured down. Managing to open her eyes she saw a blur of red. Two people she knew wore red jackets… Her eyes focused and Reed was looking down at her. The expression on his face, she’d never seen before. Was he panicking? He never panicked. He was shouting something. What was going on? Everything went dark again.
The next thing she had known, she was waking up. The walls and sky were green. She was in a cot, with a pillow and blanket. She hurt, and felt like she was floating. Also, a strange weight…
Looking over a small bit, she saw the smaller body nearly entwined around her. Ella was passed out, her head resting on her chest, nearly her shoulder. Her left arm was restrained somehow. Something was around her head and mouth. Ella’s arms were carefully wrapped around her, almost like she was trying to be some kind of physical shield. Glancing over her, she didn’t appear to be hurt. She hoped for the best. Ella at least looked peaceful while asleep.
Hearing a swish noise, she turned her head a bit to the side. She couldn’t see in the dark, but a familiar voice immediately set her at ease.
“Elizabeth? Are you awake?”
A light clicked on, she managed to give a small smile to Doctor Tyrus Mason. He sighed deeply, looking at her with a sigh of relief. Walking over he sat down next to her, gently taking her hand in his and giving it a small squeeze, she squeezed back, making him smile. She tried to open her mouth, only to realize she couldn’t.
“No, no.” Tyrus gently fussed. “Don’t try to talk right now.”
She blinked in confusion.
“You were hurt very badly.” He explained.
Figured that much.
He chuckled slightly at her expression, patting her head in a fond gesture.
“I don’t know what the hell happened. Reed and Tivian found you, they brought you here. You’re at the NATO camp. You’re somewhere safe.
Reed found you in the woods, behind the hospital, soaked and freezing, managed to carry you here. Tivian called ahead to alert me.
From what I can tell you had the shit beaten out of you. Left Ulna and four ribs, either fractured or broken. Don’t have X-ray to validate. I’m leaning towards fractures. A lot of heavy bruising and cuts all over. Some look like defensive wounds, especially the Ulna injury. You also had your jaw dislocated. I managed to set it, no bone damage or broken teeth, luckily. It’s going to be very painful for a few weeks. I’ll be keeping you on muscle relaxers and painkillers until then. You’re going to have to keep to a soft food diet and try to not talk for a bit.”
// TBC! sorry for the abrupt cutoff but I wanted to get what I had posted as its a lot