2286: Fix The Sky A Little

Posted: August 27, 2012 by Kelly in stories, the world

He is fading fast, I can tell.

His pulse is too irregular and slowing down under my trembling fingers. “Niki, goddammit,” I shout at him, trying to get him to respond. His eyelids flutter open, but his eyes are rolled upwards and it only looks creepy and alarming to me.

Also, the breathing. He’s not breathing enough. I shake him to try to get him into breathing, and there’s just nothing happening. His respiration is slowing down with his breathing.

/Fuck. I need to get him to a med center./

I rake my fingers through my dark hair and try to think clearly. I’m not all that sober, myself. The panic and the adrenaline doing a good job of giving an edge to my thoughts, but I’m having a tough time staying focused. We need a med center, but to get him to check in there I need money – which is something we definitely do not have. We just blew the lost of our money on the drugs that are killing Nikolay and clouding my judgement. So how the hell am I going to get them to accept him? How will they save his life?

/Can I let you die here?/ I ask myself, staring down at his body. To anyone else he’d be just sleeping. He seems kind of peaceful. No. He wouldn’t seem like he was sleeping. Not here in this alleyway behind the betting station, in clothes that have seen better days, half-starved, obviously doped up. He looks like the junkie he is… that we /are/, and he looks like he’s either dying or dead. And I gave him this shot. I was the one who robbed that couple from their winnings at the betting station, I was the one who scored our last hit. It’s my fault. /I can’t let you die here,/ I think through a veil of frustrated tears. /Goddammit Niki, not now! I can’t do this on my own, I can’t lose you too!/

Time to make a decision. The med center might be six blocks away, but there’s a pod I can use on the other side of the building. There was a pod pass in the wallet of that couple I robbed as well. “Time for a trip, Niki,” I say, while I struggle to get him upright. It’s a whole different thing to get his arm around my shoulders and to drag him along with me. Malnourished junkie or not, the damn guy is /heavy/.

I manage to get him to the pod on sheer willpower alone. Niki is a dead weight against my body as I drag him along. In the pod it is even worse. He starts shaking uncontrollably until I realize he is having a fucking seizure in the cramped pod. It’s all I can do to make sure he doesn’t bang his head against the door or the controls or any of the gazillion sharp edges around the pod floor. /Will he even make it to the med center?/ I am crying now. Hot tears of anguish are running down my face but I do not have time to wipe them from my face – Niki is spasming so badly.

I can see people look at us from other pods and nobody does anything.

/Just two fucking junks. They should be working, schooling themselves, rebuilding the city after the war – yet here they are, shooting up and staring at the sky instead of doing their duty. Let them die./

I can hear their thoughts. Or maybe it’s the substances in my own system that fill in the blanks in my brain. I’ve been on illegal substances for so long that I don’t even know anymore what it’s like to be alone with my own thoughts. It’s been all instinct for the past four years.

The pod arrives next to the med center. It towers before us as the pod docks. I look up and squint my eyes. The concrete looks nearly greenish under the steel grey skies over the Black City.

Niki’s shivers have subsided, but there’s blood-flecked froth on his lips and he still hasn’t regained consciousness. /Pulse, is there a pulse?/ I lay my fingers on my neck but my hands are trembling so much that I cannot find one. I burst into tears in hopeless frustration and wonder dimly if I am having a seizure, too. Is it adrenaline? Fear?

I can’t waste time. I can’t think.

I hoist him up again, stumble against the pod door, and drag him outside. We’re right before the entrance of the first aid and I can already see security guy standing next to the scans. /KEEP YOUR MED PASS READY/ it says in green neon windows next to the entrance. I don’t have a med pass. I don’t even know what a fucking med pass is. I’ve never seen one, not even in the wallet I stole earlier today. Still, I’ve got to try.

People on the street are looking at us. Nobody does anything, nobody says anything. I’m alone with Niki’s dead weight in my arm. /Is he dead? He can’t be dead. I can’t be alone out here!/

With my free arm I wipe my tears from my eyes and I walk up to the entrance. “Please, help him. He’s dying,” I try to explain to the man in his enforcer armour. “I don’t know what to do.”

He regards me coolly. “Med pass please,” is all he says.

“I don’t have one.”

The expression on his face doesn’t change. He must hear this stuff a million times a day. “Then please leave, you’re holding up the line.”

“No, wait, please-” I start, but his eyes already leave me and he looks at a man that’s walking up behind me. He’s already ignoring us. Niki might as well be dead already. I might be invisible for all that I exist before him. “Hello, sir,” he says to the business man that appears behind us. “Med pass, please.”

The man seems to be in his late thirties. Thinning hair, a face with hard lines. His suit looks like it costs more than all the food I’ve eaten in the past two years. His eyes are as green as mine. He looks rich and smart and he produces a fucking med pass from his pocket.

Niki starts shaking in my arms again. “Please,” I beg of the enforcer. “Please let us in. They have to help him, he’s dying.” It’s utterly futile and I know it, but I can’t help it.

The enforcer ignores me while he scans the med pass, but the businessman looks me up and down. I totally recognise the predatory look in his eyes, but I’m far beyond caring at this point. “Can you help me please, sir?” I ask him with all the humility I can manage. “P-please. I don’t know what I’d do without him.” My voice breaks with a sob.

“Is he your boyfriend?” the man informs. He seems genuinely curious.

“Yes,” I answer before I can even think about it. He’s more than my boyfriend. He’s my everything and I don’t know what I’ll do if he dies now. His shudders in my arms make me want to cry even more. The desperation is so tangible on my lips I can almost taste it. It is sour. Like acid.

I don’t say the latter bit out loud, but he seems to read it from my face. He leans in a little. There’s amusement dancing in his green eyes. Control. The predatory instinct’s still there, too. “What would you do to save him?” he asks me in a conspiratorial tone of voice. His eyes are roving over my body, taking in my desperate situation. He knows what I am going to answer.

In return, I immediately know what he’s offering and it seems like a fair price to me. “Anything,” I say hoarsely. “I’ll do anything.”

“Are you really sure?” he asks me, just to make sure he’ll be able to sleep at night.

Niki jerks in my arms. I nearly soil myself in desperation. “Fuck yes. Please help him,” I sob.

The man turns to the enforcer. “They are with me,” he says, as if it’s been that way all along.

“Of course, mister Solchov,” the enforcer says smoothly. “The Emergency Room is the first door on the right. Have a great day.”

He turns to me again. I don’t like his smile. “Come on,” he says. “What is your name, sweetheart?”

“Irina,” I tell him honestly, as we pass through the scanner and the gates. “Thank you for helping us.”

“The pleasure’s all mine,” he responds, as the ER personnel put Niki on a stretcher. “Do you even know what you agreed to?”

They take him out of the room in a flurry of activity. The room spins around me and I lean against the wall for support. “I think it depends a little on how high Niki’s hospital bill will be,” I respond, hoping to cut a deal out of it. The sourness of desperation is still on my tongue. “And it depends on you what you will ask of me. But it doesn’t really matter what that is, because I agreed to it in advance. I’ll do it, don’t worry. I said I’d do anything.”

“I am sure our little arrangement will work out perfectly, Irina,” Solchov says. The deceptively gentle smile on his face tells me that my gut feeling was right. I’ve sold my soul to the fucking devil to save Niki’s life.

/Oh, Niki./ It better be fucking worth it.

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