Eight – 01

[This post is from Thomas Merlin Ambrose’s point of view.]

Wake up, Lin.

The covers and my mattress cocooned me. If I didn’t move, I didn’t hurt. If I didn’t move, I could stay comfortable. Everything would be fine.

Wake up.

The voice was familiar and insistent, but I really didn’t want to listen. My eyes were so heavy and they ached, as if my body knew better than my stubborn soul what it needed. Fever flushed my skin, leaving my cheeks and neck hot, but I didn’t feel the worst of it if I held still, if I didn’t move—if I stayed in that twilight space between sleeping and waking.

Wake up!

I barely swallowed a snarl of frustration as my eyes snapped open. “What the hell?” I cast a quick glance around the room, breathing already ragged.

Nothing. No one.

The pain hit a second later and I groaned, starting to roll over, gasping quietly as a spike of pain lanced from my shoulder straight through my chest.

Damn it all. Even after reading his parents’ journals and listening to all the stories, I hadn’t quite been prepared for how much this hurt.

Aunt Jac is right. I need to lay low for a few days. Squeezing my eyes shut again, I reached to adjust the blankets that were twisted around me somehow, trying to settle back in and let the sounds of the village’s afternoon activities lull me back into sleep.

The voice must have been just another crazy fever dream. I was sure of it.

But I couldn’t get back to sleep.

The sounds were wrong.

There was too much activity, too much shouting. I swallowed bile, forcing myself to sit up, straining my ears to listen. I could hear the voices, but not clearly enough to make out what was being said.

Still, something wasn’t right. I clawed back the blankets, gritting my teeth against the burning, wracking pain from the wounds the camazotzi had left me with, fighting to ignore the alternating waves of fever and chills.

Something wasn’t right and I needed to know what.

I’d managed to swing my legs over the side of my bed and was almost ready to try to climb to my feet when the door to my cottage opened. Kailey stood in the doorway, her eyes wide and her expression slack. Terror lurked in her gaze, a terror that shot straight into the core of me.

“We have to go,” she said, her voice hoarse and tight. “Now.”

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