Sniper, Part 5
After Anabelle told him what happened, he didn’t seem affected much by it. He simply closed his eyes and shook his head, repeating his before-mentioned crass comment about Alex being a fool.
“Let’s get him into his bed. He can’t stay here on the floor. He needs to be able to breathe better.” The man said, calmly. He hoisted Alex over his shoulder, taking care to make sure Alex’s injured leg did not bang against his hip.
Anabelle followed, now feeling rather useless, as the man lay Alex gently on the bed she had been using before it all happened. Her mouth closed, and her old habit of biting her lip returned. She hadn’t realized that was his bed.
“Now,” said the man, hands on hips, with a stern look chiseled on his face, “go get some cold water in a bowl and a cloth. I’m worried he might get a fever.”
When Anabelle stood there, unmoving, eyes glued to Alex’s face, the man sighed and moved in front of her, blocking her view of the injured on the bed. “Hey, Alex will be okay, but I need you to get me that water, yeah?” Anabelle’s distant eyes flicked to the man’s face.
“What’s your name?”
He smiled, little crinkles forming at the corners of his eyes. “James.” he told her, “Why don’t you go fetch me that water now, yeah?”
Anabelle pursed her lips and turned to leave, noticing for the first time that James’s accent was British.
Hours later found Anabelle sitting alone by Alex’s bedside. James had left, saying that he would return the following day to check on them. “When you see him sweating, wipe it off with cold water. Make sure it’s cold.” he had said.
Anabelle found some bread that had been baked the previous morning and munched half-heartedly on it. She laid it aside after a bit, not really hungry. Her dream seemed glued to her eyelids, something she could not remove. Every time she blinked, she was drowning again. So she stayed awake. The day passed slowly and uneventfully, as Anabelle tended to her patient, never leaving his side for more than a few minutes for fear he would awaken alone.
At about one o’clock the next morning, Anabelle woke up, her hand grasping Alex’s and her cheek pressed to them.
Her throat dry and sticky, she rose to retrieve a glass of water. When sthe tried to pull her hand from his, she was hindered. She glanced back to see his fingers tightly gripping hers, and his nearly-shut eyes staring back at her like lines on a paper. Her own tired pupils shot open. She held the cold cloth to his face, and patted the sweat away.
His lips moved just barely, releasing a croak that Anabelle couldn’t hear.
“What?” she put her ear so close to his lips that she could feel his breath.
“I said…” he coughed, “I said ‘good morning.”
Anabelle grinned hugely at him. “Good morning.”
“Think I could-” another cough, “Think I could get some water?”
Anabelle turned quickly, detaching their hands and ran into the kitchen where she spilled water on the counter in her rush to bring it to him. She slid her palm beneath his head and tipped the lip of the cup into his mouth. He gulped several times and would have continued had she not pulled it away.
“James said not to let you drink too much at a time.”
Alex laughed hoarsely. “James was here?”
Anabelle nodded. “He was the one who stitched you up after...after I…”
Alex frowned and sat up, placing his hand on her cheek. “Hey, it’s alright. You didn’t know what you were doing.”
Tears slipped down her face, and he wiped them away with his thumb. “Hey.” he said, a smile in his voice. She looked up at him. “Thanks for taking care of me.”
She wiped her eyes on the back of her hand and reached for his cup of water. “Who is James?”
“James is…” he blew air out of his cheeks as he ran a hand through his hair. “James is...the reason I am still alive.”
Anabelle frowned. “Well, yeah, but who is he? How did you meet him?”
A far-away look came to his face. “Before…” he flung his hand in a semicircle around him. “Before all this, my family was actually really rich. My mom owned Marcks Industries-”
“The medical facility?”
“Yes.” he nodded several times before continuing. “So lots of money came in from charity, thanks, and sales. Marcus Blüd, owner of Blüd Enterprise-yes, the medical provider-was very close to my family. He was like a father to me.
“One night, when I needed some help with a relationship, I went to him for advice. When I asked the information desk where he was, I was led down to the bottom floor-the floor he had always told me was for top-secret research.” Alex’s eyes grew wider. Anabelle took his hand again, and he grabbed it so tightly his knuckles went white.
“There were rows and rows of cells. Each cell held a person. Most were screaming-begging for release. The rest lay limp on the floor. Dead.
“When I found Blüd, he was watching some man in a lab coat stick a little girl with all kinds of needles. She couldn’t have been more than nine. She kept screaming-screaming for her mother, so loudly that they finally sedated her and she slept.” Alex paused, obviously trying to keep his calm. “Finally, Blüd turned and saw me. I asked him what was going on. ‘We are...researching, Alex. That’s what this company does. We are furthering the knowledge of the human race.’ he said. I told him that if he didn’t shut it down right away, I would tell everyone. I should have left without a word, because he told me that if I told anyone, he would kill me. ‘We wouldn’t want your mother to be heartbroken, would we?’ he asked. So I kept quiet, went back to my everyday life like a coward.
“A year later, we were at his company picnic. He threw one every year. I saw someone tap Blüd on the shoulder and beckon him into a different room. I followed.
‘I can’t do this anymore, Blüd,’ the man said, ‘It’s wrong. I have my own little girl at home, I can’t keep doing this.’ Blüd told him that he could leave, but if word of the research got out to the public, Blüd would find him, and kill him.” Alex shuddered. “A week later, it was all over the news: Blüd Enterprise had been kidnapping people off the streets and doing experiments on them to research human endurance. Anabelle, the man who told everyone, his name was Simon Lochton. Your father, Anabelle. I helped him escape Blüd. I gave him a new identity, and he escaped.”
Anabelle drew a sharp breath, and held her hands to her face as large, betrayed tears dripped from her face slowly, and then all at once.
“That-that man who shot me-”
“Was Blüd. He was trying to get to your father. Simon took away all that Blüd held dear, so now Blüd wants to do the same to your father. He wants you.”
Anabelle crushed her fists to her eyes and rocked slowly from side to side, weeping loudly, Alex sat up enough to reach his arms around her and press her head to his shoulder.
“That’s why I brought you here after the shooting. I thought that Blüd had given up on your father a long time ago, but when I saw that he wanted you, I couldn’t let that happen. When I helped your father escape, Blüd killed my sister. James made me this place.” Alex looked up admiringly at their surroundings. “He saved my life, and now I am going to save yours.” he rubbed her back gently. “James brings me supplies, now. He gives me updates on my mother, and keeps her safe.” he paused. “I brought you here to keep you safe.”
Anabelle untucked her hands from between them, and threw them around Alex’s neck, hugging him tightly. He pulled her in closer.
They sat there for the remainder of the day-Alex doing his best to comfort her-and into the night. And when Anabelle came awake the next morning, his arms were still wrapped protectively around her.
Thanks so so much for sticking with me through all this! You guys are so awesome!
Have a great weekend!
Signing out. :)