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Old 03-13-2017, 05:18 PM   #96
Icelander
 
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Iceland*
Default You'll Never Walk Alone

Taylor wipes vomit off his mouth with the back of his hand, looking ashamed. Then he opens a water bottle, rinses out his mouth and moves to the wounded woman on the mattress while cleaning himself off with a wet wipe. Kneeling by the mattress, brushing the hair out of the uninjured part of the woman’s face, Taylor addresses her soothingly.

Taylor: “Ma’am, is there anything I kin do?”
Woman [weakly]: “Thank God! Are you really here? Did he send you?”
Taylor: “Ma’am?”
Woman: “The man who was here. He said he was going for help.”
Taylor: “We are here to help.”
Woman: “God bless him! He really went for help. I… I thought maybe he’d forgotten or that he’d left me here... in the dark. But I never should have doubted him… God bless him.”
Taylor: “Ma’am, were that man blonde, real good lookin’; talk like he goin’ yachtin’ an’ ain’t got no lower jaw? Or sorta sandy-haired, couple inches shorter than me an’ built? Talk like he gonna ‘pahk the cahr in Hahvahd Yahd’?”
Woman: “Uhhh… 'yahhd', yes! Don’t you know him?”
Taylor: “Surely do know him, ma’am. His name’s O’Toole an’ he’s with us, awright. Now, jes’ lie back, ma’am an’ let me see if’n you’s hurt. I’ma gonna be real careful.”

Taylor gently places a hand on the forehead of the wounded woman. She feebly fumbles for him and seizes his other hand, holding on while weeping quietly. Taylor hugs her carefully, taking care not to hurt her and tells her that she’s safe now, they’ll help her and get her out of there.

Woman: “Please don’t leave me in the dark.”
Taylor: “No, ma’am. We ain’t gonna leave you in the dark.”

With infinite care, Taylor starts to look at the wounds on the woman. The facial injuries look old, but may not have healed properly, as some of the skull and facial bones may have been out of place during the process of healing. The bruising on the limbs and lower torso are less serious, but the extreme malnourishment, dehydration and blood loss of the woman on the mattress requires immediate medical attention.

The worst, however, are the wounds on her stomach, chest and back. What puzzles Taylor is that although they are clearly gunshot wounds, they look like they’ve been healing for days. And the newly healed skin has the strange rough texture and discolouration he observes elsewhere on her body, resembling scales. Taylor runs his hand over the rough skin.

Taylor: “Do it hurt here, ma’am?”
Woman: “I … can’t feel anything anymore but pain.”

She starts coughing weakly, her lungs wheezing, dry lips cracked. Taylor tries to give her a sip of water, but she is too weak to drink it. Taylor looks over at Dr. Anderson.

Taylor: “A lil’ help, doc?”

Dr. Anderson gets gloves from his first aid kit, grabs a flashlight and starts helping Taylor with assessing the condition of the wounded woman.

Dr. Anderson: “How long have you been here, Miss?”
Woman: “I… I don’t know. Long. So very, very long.”
Dr. Anderson: “You have symptoms of malnutrition. Have you been getting any food?”
Woman: “There would sometimes be food left in the tunnels. If no one else got there first. And…”

The woman looks down, crying, trying to hide her face.

Dr. Anderson: “What about this room? Were you trapped here?”
Woman [curling up]: “No… please! Don’t make him take me!”
Taylor: “Hush, ma’am. Ain’t no one hurtin’ you again. Jes’ you relax an’ get better.”

Dr. Anderson and Taylor agree that the patient needs a clean bed and medical supplies. Taylor steps slightly away from the semi-conscious woman, still holding her hand, and motions Dr. Anderson further away, so they can talk without her hearing.

Taylor: “They’d got a bunch of stretchers an’ medical supplies in the cellars o’ the barracks. IV an’ crash kit, too.”
Dr. Anderson: “Will the guards not be there by now?”
Taylor: “I surely do hope not, ‘cause we ain’t lettin’ her die.”

Taylor rips of his tactical vest, shirt and moisture-wicking undershirt, wrapping them up to construct a makeshift carrying sling. Then he and Dr. Anderson carry the wounded woman out of the filthy, rot-smelling room. Cherry Bell is standing in the main corridor, hugging herself tightly, looking like she’s trying to isolate herself from the filth around her. She looks at the stricken woman with revulsion and visceral terror, before her eyes widen.

Bell: “Wait! I know that scaly ass horror hagfiend! Except she was like ancient back when I arrived here. She’s Mrs. Yorick or something. I guess this is maybe her granddaughter or something.”
Dr. Anderson: “You are right! She does look like a young version of Mrs. York, Judith York. But Judith York was born in 1928! This woman looks to be in her early twenties.”
Mrs. York: “Judith York… that was my name. I am Judith York. I… I am still Judith. I’m not lost in the darkness. I’m not a thing. Not a monster.”

Mrs. York cries quietly. Taylor tries ineffectually to comfort her while carrying her in the improvised stretcher. Finally giving up, he lifts the woman into his arms, cradling her like a baby.

Taylor: “It’s okay, Judith. You ain’t in that darkness no more. An’ nothin’ that done happened there kin make you less than a person. You’s been found, Judith. An’ we’s gonna make it better.”

Cherry Bell gags and moves further down the main corridor. Taylor doesn’t look in her direction, continuing to comfort Judith York, but Dr. Anderson shines the flashlight in her direction. Bell is still hugging herself and looks uncomfortable, angry and scared.

Dr. Anderson: “Ms. Bell, can you help us here?”
Cherry Bell: “Not only ‘no’, but ‘hell no’! Just leave the plague-ridden lizard-hag and let’s get going. Maybe take a bath in lye and spirits first, but come on!”
Anderson [to Taylor]: “Obviously, I do not object to providing emergency treatment, but we do have to talk about what we are in a position to do, here.”

Taylor nods and when they get to the service tunnel, he spreads out his shirt and undershirt on the floor to make a temporary cot for Mrs. York. He places her there and Dr. Anderson checks her vitals. Mrs. York mumbles under her breath, but then slips into an exhausted sleep. After checking that her vitals are stable and that she is in a deep sleep, Taylor nods at Dr. Anderson to come with him inside the barracks again. Dr. Anderson reveals a full set of lockpicks and unlocks the blast door again.

After that, Anderson and Taylor open the blast door as carefully as they can. Taylor doesn’t hear anyone moving around inside the barracks, but is pretty certain that there are guards talking in low voices outside. That means a few minutes, at the very best, until they enter the barracks and after that, there’s no telling where they’ll start their sweep of the building. Taylor and Dr. Anderson grab some medical supplies, stretcher, IV, crash kit, saline drip and sterilising fluids.

Dr. Anderson and Taylor both notice that one of the five guards in the cellar is feigning sleep. It’s Oresco, whose broken wrist is probably giving him pain. Taylor pats him on the shoulder and tells Oresco how sorry he is about having hurt him. Dr. Anderson solicitously asks if Oresco wants some painkillers and when he accepts, gives him a couple of Vicodin with some bottled water. Oresco takes a sip and then falls asleep as Dr. Anderson is taking his vitals.

While Taylor gathers the supplies, Dr. Anderson checks on the rest of the guards in the cellar. They are all sleeping soundly by the time they leave the cellars. Taylor still can’t hear anyone upstairs, but figures it’s only a matter of time. Apparently Warden Tyrrell didn’t have much luck gathering his men without using radios or maybe they are really spooked going into a prepared position against somebody who has already displayed a disquieting tendency to rig explosive traps.

They leave the cellar and lock the cellar door behind them again. While Dr. Anderson is preparing the IV, Taylor pulls him out of hearing range from the unconscious Mrs. York.

Taylor: “I hate to hafta keep doin’ this, doc, but I’s gonna ask you another favor I ain’t got no right to. We cain’t leave her alone. Couldya stay with her? I’d do it myself, only, I cain’t be sure them Coasties is gonna be here early enough to help Banks, Burr and the rest. An’ no offence, doc, but I ain’t sure you wanna go play special operator agains’ all them guards.”
Dr. Anderson: “She is sleeping calmly now. Could we not send someone after her when this is over? She has lived this long, when she ought to be dead three times over, apparently healed wounds that almost killed her in less than an hour. In my professional judgment, she is unlikely to die within the next few hours. Hell, she may even be recovered by the time the Coast Guard arrives.”
Taylor: “I ain’t jes’ talking about her body, doc. Didn’t ya see? We cain’t make her wake up with nobody aroun’, jes’ her and the hungry dark. She’s so alone.”
Anderson: “Do we even know that she is a victim, not a perpetrator? You saw that room. You can guess what she has been eating.”
Taylor: “Ain’t no matter what she’s been eating. She’s a victim, doc. She ain’t never done chose this.”
Dr. Anderson: “Well, I am sorry, Taylor, but I am afraid that I cannot stay here alone with her. We do not know what might be still in the tunnels, the guards might follow us down here and… well, I am not sure I would be safe from her when she wakes.”
Taylor: “Sorry, doc. You’re right, I cain’t ask that o’ you. We’s gonna hafta take her with us.”

Taylor does not wait for an answer and starts to move Mrs. York into a stretcher, which causes Dr. Anderson to move to assist him. While Dr. Anderson inserts the IV, Taylor cleans Mrs. York’s wounds and pours some spirits over his hands as well.

Cherry Bell [from beyond the service tunnel]: “You oughtn’t touch lizards. They live in sewers and carry plagues. This is how you get scaly plagues, Chase!”
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Last edited by Icelander; 05-05-2017 at 04:36 AM.
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