I come awake slowly, almost as if I’m crawling out of a deep hole. In the background I can hear voices. I try to open my eyes but for the moment they won’t obey.
I can hear Max and Colin. I prise my eyes open, worried that they feel glued together. I don’t think I have been asleep long but then again it feels colder. Could it be night?
My vision swims at first and is blurred. I can’t see the guys, but their voices sound close.
“You two alone?” someone asks.
“Maybe,” Colin answers.
“I saw a girl.” This voice is different from the first and has a slight lisp.
A rumbling growl reaches me and I can’t help but grin. That is Max and he sounds pissed.
“Don’t worry, big guy,” the first says. “We don’t want to hurt her, we just need to know if she is a threat.”
I sigh and try to move my arms. They flutter at my sides. I don’t think I’m a threat to anyone. I’m not sure what is wrong but I think it is just exhaustion. I can’t remember when I last slept. The only problem is that I don’t feel secure here. In fact I don’t feel safe at all. If the guys are tied up then it is up to me to get them out.
I lean against the wall and place my hands on the floor, trying to brace myself in order to stand. My muscles scream at the effort and I cry out. I try to muffle it but I don’t think I was successful.
“What was that?” the lisp asks.
“Bitsy,” Colin says.
“The girl,” the first confirms.
I hear Max start to walk away.
“Where you going?” the first asks.
“She needs me.”
I smile at Max’s no-nonsense voice. I can’t believe how attached I have become to him. Even finding Ricky alive hasn’t dampened my feeling.
“Is she hurt?” the lisp asks.
It’s a valid question and I wonder if I am. I feel sick. I stop trying to get up and start to look over my arms. I find it between my elbow and wrist. It’s a bite.
“Max,” I say. “I’ve been bitten.”
I don’t shout it; I just keep my voice calm and monotone. I know he will hear. In fact as I finish both Colin and Max take a breath.
I try to think when I was bitten. I don’t remember.
“She needs me,” Max says again.
“If she’s bit we will have to take her out,” the lisp says.
I can hear that the two strangers are following Max and Colin. “She won’t turn,” Max says.
“Really?” the first says and there is a sound like a gun being cocked.
“Stay here, with them,” Max says and I assume he is talking to Colin. The next minute I feel hands lifting me gently.
“Bitsy, where are you bit.”
“My arm,” I say as I lean into Max’s body. He smells so good.
He lifts me and starts walking. I’m not sure where to but I feel warm and safe.
“Am I dying?” I ask.
“No. But you are going to feel like you have on hell of a hangover.”
I try to make my befuddled mind process this. I think we are walking upstairs and then we are in a room that is very bright. I make a distressed noise and close my eyes. He is right, it does feel like a hangover.
“I’ll shoot her,” the lisp says.
“No,” Colin says.
From the sound Max has walked past them.
“You don’t have to do it,” the lisp says, and I feel some compassion for the guy. He wants to ease Max and Colin’s worry and not have them need to shoot me.
“Do you know what will happen if you shoot her?” Colin says.
“You will seriously piss her off.”
I feel the rumble of Max’s laughter at Colin’s words.
“He’s right,” I say, allowing my head to fall back and look in the direction of the lisp. What I see surprises me. I don’t know what physical characteristics I expected but the short plump man in front of me isn’t one. He looks like a kindly dad, except for the shotgun in his hand. Behind him, watching me with cold eyes, is the other guy. He is tall and rangy. Something about him screams military but I’m not sure which one. He seems dangerous, more so than the guy with the gun.
Max walks to a door and kicks it open. We move through and as the lisp starts to follow Max kicks the door closed, slamming it in the man’s face.
“That wasn’t nice,” I say.
He grins and places me on a mattress on the floor. It smells well used and slightly mouldy. I wrinkle my nose and look at him.
“I know,” he says, sniffing and then giving a small sneeze.
“Am I dying?” I ask.
“No. The poison has to work its way out,” he says.
Poison… I don’t like the sound of that. Nor do I like the look of the knife that Max has just removed from his belt.
“What are you going to do with that?”
“Trust me,” he says.
“I do,” I say but when he leans toward me I can’t help but finch.
“I have to draw the wound.”
I must look confused because he sighs.
“There are a series of blisters about the wound. I need to burst them in order to get the poison out.”
“Is there a bathroom?” I ask.
Max motions behind me with the knife. “Then let’s do it there.”
“Less messy and there is water.”
He shrugs and helps me stand. I walk toward the space and am pleased when I find it is clean and doesn’t stink. It’s really a sort of wet room with a shower in one corner. I head toward it, Max holding my arm so that I don’t fall. Going to the corner I brace myself and hold out my arm.