Chapter 9

Letting the decision hangs in the air, they’re all staring at an unknown spot above. Vic continues to kick the ground back and forth, swaying in his seat. It’s just something to do, trying to keep sane. Once in a while, he and Kai would exchange a look. They’re still waiting for Janine to decide. Time’s not really an issue, really. They have already gone past the moment when they’re desperately trying to keep track of time and wondering how much time they have left before changes would occur again. As long as they’re staying as calm as possible, nothing seems to change – thus far. One of the bonuses of staying at this current realm is there is no such thing as fatigue. At least not when they’re sitting around like this, unlike what they’ve experienced previously with trying to outrun their enemies or whatever else that was unknown.
Just when Kai is about to speak up – like he just had this whole situation figured out, Janine clutches her stomach and cries out in pain. Both Vic and Kai jump up from their places – though Kai didn’t have to. They come closer to Janine – with Vic settling down at her right side and putting a hand on her shoulder.
“’What’s going on?” Vic asks.
Janine doesn’t reply. Not right away. She continues to clutch her stomach with one arm and the other hand covering her mouth.
“Tell us!” Vic yells out, losing his nerves.
“I feel like…I want to…throw up,” Janine manages to spit out in a jumble.
“That’s impossible,” Kai says, looming over them both with his non-believer eyes. “We can’t feel anything here so…”
But the fact that Janine’s about to hurl is real. Watching her struggling like that stirs some uneasiness into them. That uneasiness is turning into nerve-wrecking. Vic couldn’t watch anymore. He embraces her from behind and grabs both of her arms away from her stomach and her mouth. It seems that she’s trying to suffocate herself. He couldn’t stand it anymore.
“What are you doing?” Kai asks, his expression definitely says somewhere along the line of questioning Vic’s sanity.
“I don’t know,” Vic yells out. “It’s just too crazy watching her like this.”
Janine’s rocking motion soon stops though. It’s like she’s taking better control of herself. Vic lets go of her and increases their distance to give her some space.
“What just happened?” Vic asks, though he was closer than anyone to her while it happened.
Janine shakes her head, still trying to regain herself. Yet before she could calm herself down, she clutches her head with both arms.
“What now?” Kai asks this time.
“Someone’s calling me,” Janine responds, still clutching her head. Her eyes are closed at the moment. It’s like she’s trying to fight some sort of headache – or some sort of shooting pain. “It’s Mick.”
“Your brother?”
Vic and Kai exchange a look.
“Is it because we’re not doing anything so the realm’s fighting back with distracting us with the random images, trying to destroy us one by one?” Kai rattles out in a jumble. He knows he sounds beyond insane with his assumption or what could be called some type of deduction, but he doesn’t care anymore. Nothing matters at this point except trying to survive.
Janine attempts to shake her head. “I don’t think so. It’s really Mick, he’s telling me to wake up.”
Vic and Kai exchange another look.
“Could it be that they brought us to the hospital already?” Vic asks, his reasoning skills kicking in again. “I mean it makes sense why she’s suffering through cases of uneasiness. Probably someone put a tube down her throat so she could breath.”
“But why aren’t we feeling anything?” Kai points out.
“We’re gone?”
Though they both know the possibilities already, but having Vic say it out loud makes it tenfold more disturbing.
“We can’t be gone…” Kai disagrees, trying to hang onto some sort of hope.
Janine has stopped clutching her head by now and is staring at them both. Although she’s still wincing, but she’s trying hard to keep the sudden pain at bay. It’s an indication of what is happening still is.
“Then how can you explaining what’s happening to her isn’t happening to us?” Vic argues, still not backing down from his hypothesis.
“We’re probably…”
Kai doesn’t get to finish his words. It’s his turn to feel the pain. Because he’s standing the whole while discussing the new occurrence with Vic, he soon sways backward and almost loses his balance. Both Janine and Vic try to catch him – with Janine succeeding since she’s closer to him. She tries to help him sit down on the sofa like before the incident happened to her.
“Oh god,” Kai mutters, gritting down on his teeth.
“They’re working on you,” Vic mumbles, his eyebrows coming together, pondering when his turn would come – if their guess is indeed accurate.
As Vic’s bracing for his turn, Janine suddenly falls back into his embrace again, unable to control her pain any longer.
“It’s really happening,” Kai manages, feeling his head about to explode.
“How come I’m not…” Vic ponders as he’s still to clutching onto Janine, keeping her from injuring herself – though it seems impossible.
And soon Vic feels it too. But he tries to fight it. Not so that he wouldn’t wake up. But is trying to ignore the pain as he holds onto Janine’s shoulder. And soon, all three of them are too busy trying to control their pain than discuss about the whole phenomenon they’re going through. Dealing with the constant pain jabbing at them is much more important than pondering about the happenings of the universe.
“Maybe we’re…over-analyzing the whole…thing after…all…” Kai manages before he blacks out.
“Tell me about it,” Vic returns, feeling himself losing consciousness also. Though he could still feel his firm grip on Janine’s shoulder.
And they so don’t blame Janine for not speaking up anymore. The pain is too much. It’s like the realm’s making up for all those times they couldn’t feel a thing. The brutality of the other extreme.

*****

Voices. Voices everywhere. He could hear again. Shadows dance as the buzzing of conversation continue. Blinking several times, Vic opens his eyes wide enough to see his surroundings. He’s on a gurney, heading toward someplace. It’s probably toward the E.R. – or not. At least he’s heading somewhere with fully equipped machines. He could make out the faces of a doctor and some nurses. And some people from the paramedic team.
“He’s waking up,” Someone calls out.
Vic couldn’t be sure if it was one of the paramedics or a nurse. Though he could hear again, but all the voices are still somewhat garbled. Yet his eyes are getting stronger by the second. And his mind begins to click in. His memory still intact from what just happened, he jumps up from his place, causing screaming and uproar from the medical team. He doesn’t care. He peels the tube from his mouth and the IV line from his hand and lands on the solid floor. His mind working faster than his motor nerves, he dashes forward as the doctors and nurses are trying to keep him in place.
“Janine!” He calls out, his voice still as powerful as it was when he was still unconscious.
“Sir, please calm down,” One of the nurses speaks up in a calm voice.
Vic doesn’t care. At least not at the moment. He brushes her aside and is met with another pair of hands holding him back.
“Sir, you’re still not stable yet,” One of the paramedics warns.
Vic knows he can’t dodge anymore. He turns to face the paramedic. “There’s a girl and another guy brought in, right?”
Everyone’s stopping with their fussing right now because Vic’s no longer struggling. But they’re still silent, staring at him. Why?
“Answer me!” Vic bellows, losing control.
Several nurses take a few steps back. From their expressions, he knows they think he’s nuts. But it doesn’t matter. As long as they’re startled, he’s going to use it to his advantage. And that’s what he does. Freeing himself from the paramedic, he rushes down a hallway that would take him deeper into the hospital. It is then that the others are reacting. They’re chasing him down, trying to reassure him that it’s going to be all right. If only it is so. It doesn’t matter. He turns a corner as he catches the sign of the E.R. looming ahead. It is then that he sees Kai running towards him from another set of hallway. Could he have awakened at the same time as Vic? And got curious as to what happened to him and Janine hence the running now?
“Hey!” Kai calls out, slowing his progress. “Where’s Janine?”
“I want to know the same thing,” Vic answers, knowing too well they are both looking for two people with their run – but it’s too obvious not to ask about one another since they’ve encountered each other as of now.
They could no longer converse so comfortably because the medical teams are catching up. They’re only able to continue with their run, heading toward the E.R., guessing of Janine’s current whereabouts.
“I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubbles, but why aren’t we feeling any pain?” Kai asks, bringing Vic back to the present.
“What?” Vic asks back, confused. “I don’t know about you, but the only reason why I’m still running is because I want to know what happened to Janine.”
Vic’s right. Kai is able to feel the fatigue overtaking him also. Yet that still doesn’t explain the lack of pain.
“I think they gave us some shots for pain earlier,” Vic says, ruling out what could happen during the ride in the emergency vehicle.
The E.R. soon appears as they round another corner and slow down. Behind them, the medical teams are not chasing them anymore, but are yelling out instructions to control the situation. As they stop in front of the E.R., they are able to see their reflections on the glass window to one side. Unbelievable, because they barely have scratches on them.
“If the impact isn’t big, how come we’re here?” Vic asks, turning to Kai.
“It’s procedure,” Kai answers, playing the reasoning voice this time around. “It’s a car accident after all. We have to be brought in and checked because we blacked out and all.”
“Sirs, I have to ask both of you to leave and have us exam you for further injuries, such as possible concussions,” A doctor rattles out as he approaches them both.
“We’re not crazy,” Vic begins, having read the expression on the other party’s face.
“It is in our understanding that you’ve both been in a car accident so it is best that you would cooperate with us for the sake of your own health.”
Kai glimpses at the E.R. door before speaking up. “Is Janine in there?”
“Who?” Another doctor asks, stepping forward.
“A girl who was also involved in the car accident,” Vic replies, studying the faces that are gawking at them with much bewilderment.
The medical teams do not have that chance of providing them with information – if they know at all. The red light to the E.R. finally flashes off and a beeping sound is heard. Both Vic and Kai tense up as they wait for the door to open. Some of the doctors are still trying to persuade them about leaving. The E.R. door finally opens and a doctor steps out.
“She’s stable,” The doctor rattles out without anyone asking, assuming Vic and Kai are family.
“Sis!” A voice calls out from within the crowd and steps forward.
Vic and Kai exchange a look.
“You’re Mick?” Kai asks, taking a jab of the possibility.
The other party nods and advances toward the E.R. door.
“We’ll bring her back to her room in a bit,” The doctor who just came out of the E.R. explains. “No need to rush in.”
So they’re forced to wait. The medical teams take this time to persuade both Vic and Kai again. They exchange another look before agreeing to go. It’s not like they could fight the whole hospital. But they promise to meet up after a brief checkup. Before they go, they exchange names with Mick and his phone number, stating that they’re his sister’s friends. Mick, though pondering why they didn’t already have his sister’s number, rattles out a set of numbers anyway. Vic tries to remember Janine’s number while Kai walks off chanting Mick’s number. With both being escorted by the hospital staff, knowing they couldn’t risk having two recently brought in patients collapsing because of their carelessness.
© Friday, August 31st, 2012
Posted: Friday, August 31st, 2012

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