Day 10 – Chapter 9 – 09

            Thom sat quietly, staring at the bottle of pills in front of him, stroking the black furball ensconced in his lap.  The kitten had apparently adopted he and Marin over the past few days, and nothing he did could convince the cat it wasn’t a good idea.  His ribs throbbed dully as his fingertip worried the kitten’s ears, hurting worse than his sore ankle.  Jacqueline was right.  They were all right.  He should just suck it up and take his damn medicine.  I’m just being a stubborn jackass.  I know that.  But why the hell did Jac have to say it like that?  Her words stung more than his ribs hurt or his ankle ached.
            He took as deep of a breath as he dared, tapped three pills into his palm, then tossed them back in one go.  He closed his eyes, grimacing as the pills stuck to the back of his tongue and throat, swallowing twice to force them down.  The kitten’s fur was soft beneath his fingers and he concentrated on that as the pills worked the way down his throat.
            Something cold brushed against the back of his neck and he startled, opening his eyes and looking around.  A shadow darted away from him, so quick he only caught it out of the corner of his eye.
            Great.  Now shit hurts so much I’m seeing things.
            Then he realized that the cat in his lap was shaking, and that goosebumps were racing up and down his limbs, the hair on the back of his neck stirring.
            Oh hell.  No.  No, I’m just seeing shit.  It’s the pain.  I’m probably running a fever, too.  He pressed the back of his hand against his forehead.
            It was cold.
            A shudder went through him and he tried to leverage himself to his feet with one hand and one foot, reaching for his crutch with the other.  The kitten mewled pitifully as he dislodged it and forced his way to his feet.  He hobbled away from the mattress as what sounded like electronic static reached his ears.
            What the hell?
            The sound built until he was almost certain it was static, so loud it made his head hurt, then ceased abruptly with the sound of a small explosion and a scream.  Thom limped as fast as he could toward the source of the sound—Must have been the radio set.  What else would be making static noises like that?  Someone must have been checking it.
            Matt reeled away from the desk where the radio once stood, crashing into Thom and taking them both to the ground.  He was holding his face with one hand, blood seeping between his fingers, the other hand limp at his side, bleeding as freely as his face.  Thom grunted, his own agony momentarily forgotten as he tried to get a handle on what was going on.
            “Matt!  Matt!  Calm down.”
            The other man was shaking, eyes wide as he clutched his bleeding face.  Where the radio used to be was a smoking wreck of twisted metal, smelling strongly of ozone.  Thom wrapped his hands tightly around Matt’s upper arms, squeezing hard.
            “What happened?”  Marin and Greg were there, probably because they’d been closest when the blast happened.  Thom glanced back over his shoulder at them both.
            Keep them focused—especially her.  “We need Jac or Leah, and we need them now, with their kits and a couple suture kits.”
            “Matt?”  Marin’s chest suddenly convulsed and her eyes widened as she looked past Thom, toward her brother, who swayed slightly in Thom’s grip.  “Oh my god, what happened?”
            A muscle in Thom’s jaw twitched.  “Mar, get Leah and Jac.  Hurry, damn it, I’ve got him.  Professor, grab some towels, fast so we can get this bleeding under control.”
            Marin stared at him for a moment, hesitating, and he stared back, brow creasing.
            “Just go, Mar,” he whispered, trying to get his hand over the rent in Matt’s face, other hand grasping his bleeding hand, hopefully tight enough to slow the bleeding.  “I’ve got him.  Go get them so they can help.”
            She swallowed hard and nodded, turning and dashing off, yelling for both Leah and Jacqueline.  Thom struggled not to heave a sigh of relief.  After all, they weren’t out of the woods yet.  He focused down on Matt, who was still shaking, lips moving silently as he and Thom both held onto his bleeding face.  He was pale, shirt and skin darkened by soot.
            “Don’t quit on me, Matt,” Thom muttered, fingers tightening around Matt’s bleeding hand, pressing harder against the gash on his face.
            “Not…quitting,” Matt whispered, almost too quiet to hear.  His eyes met Thom’s and he shivered.  “It exploded.  No reason…”
            Thom shook his head.  “Tell me later, after you’ve got some stitches in your face.  Just keep pressing.”  Exploded for no reason?  Thom glanced for a moment toward what was left of the radio, lips thinning.  Exploded for no reason, but didn’t kill him outright.  Lucky break there.  From the looks…it could’ve.
            “Right,” Matt said weakly, still shaking.
            He’s going into shock.  Damn.  “Keep it together,” Thom murmured.
            “Trying,” Matt whispered.  His eyelids were drooping.
            Not good.  “Matt, look at me.  Look at me.”
            The younger man struggled to focus, but after a few moments, his dark eyes met Thom’s blue ones.  Thom wet his lips.  “You can’t quit on us.  Marin needs you.  She’s going to need you so, so much.  All of us do.”  He sucked in a breath, voice a bare whisper.  “I need your help to make sure nothing happens to her.  I don’t want her to die.  I don’t want what I’ve seen to come true.”
            Matt’s eyes widened.  “What?”
            “I saw her dying,” Thom whispered.  “It’s why I tried to walk away, but I can’t.  I can’t walk away.  I need your help.”
            Color leached from Matt’s face.  His bleeding hand spasmed, gripping Thom’s.  “That’s why?”  He breathed.
            “That’s why.”
            Matt’s throat convulsed as he swallowed once, twice, and then again, jaw quivering for a moment.
            “Are you with me, Matt?”
            “With you, Thom,” Matt whispered.  He squeezed his eyes shut, jaw clenching.
            “Good.  Now hang on.”
            They could both hear the footsteps coming.  Thom sucked in a breath.
            “Don’t tell her.”
            Matt’s eyes came open again and he wet his lips.  “Won’t tell anyone, Thom.”
            Thom nodded and kept holding onto Matt’s hand and face until Jacqueline nudged him out of her way three long minutes later.

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10 Responses to Day 10 – Chapter 9 – 09

  1. Erin M. Klitzke says:

    And Thom FINALLY tells someone why he’s been the way he’s been–and it’s the last person you’d expect him to tell. Heck, I didn’t even expect him to tell anyone until I was writing it! Sometimes, characters do wholly unexpected things (though the fact that they do it never ceases to amaze me).

    Also unexpectedly, Chapter 9 won’t be finished until sometime in September, but we’ll see how deep into September we get before it’s done. I’m nowhere as deep as I wanted to be this close to the end of WebSeWriMo, but that’s my own fault. Working at the store and on Epsilon: Broken Stars have been eating up quite a bit of time (to the point where the WoW folks have really started to notice my absence–imagine that!).

    I’ve got some stuff plotted here and there for Chapters 10 and 11, but we’ll see what actually comes to fruition.

    Wednesday brings a return to the Shakespeare Garden, where J.T., Drew, and Carolyn are still picking up the scattered remnants left behind by whatever attacked a fae domicile there. Enjoy what’s about to come completely unraveled!

    Remember, the poll about gender closes on August 29, and Chapter 10 will answer the question I’m sure some folks have been asking: who’s already pregnant?

  2. Seraph says:

    This was quite exciting, and rather creepy too. Nicely done. Also, surprise though it may have been to you, Thom’s revelation to Matt was a great relief. I’m sure his desire to keep it a secret it still going to complicate things nicely between him and Marin.

    And yeah, characters do the strangest things sometimes. It’s half the fun of writing, though, to find out just what it is they are going to do next, even if it messes up all your neatly-laid plans…

    • Erin M. Klitzke says:

      It was and is a relief for at least one other character to know–though if I’d had to lay odds on who Thom would be telling, it would have been J.T. or maybe Jacqueline. But no, it ended up being Matt, who he fights with. Maybe now they’ll fight less…

      …which, of course, is going to make Marin very confused.

  3. Seraph says:

    Oh, and I uploaded my WFG review onto Muses-Success as well – I have no idea how much attention people are paying to that site, but it can’t hurt. (And since I’m currently advertising on your site – even if at the very bottom where nobody can see – I stand to benefit too – so much for altruism, lol). The software for that wiki won’t let me recommend it though, not sure why. It thinks I haven’t added to my bookshelf even though I have… Go figure…

    • Erin M. Klitzke says:

      That site’s been really funky for me lately, too. It hasn’t been letting me update stars or anything in months.

  4. Peter says:

    So *that’s* the sound of a head being pulled out of an @ss… heh

  5. Peter says:

    “To thine own self be true”

    It’s one thing to insist on something to others, to basically lie to yourself is unforgiveable.

    Not to mention that if one accepts the parameters of the story you’re telling, Thom’s abilities are a necessary survival skill and for him to deny/evade them puts the entire community in danger.

    Plus, smart people who behave stupidly has always pi$$ed me right the h*ll off.

  6. samaelninetails says:

    nice work as usual, getting better by the week 🙂

    is it me, or does it appear slightly as if thom might have somehow inadvertantly caused that explosion…..?

    curiouser and curiouser…


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