[note: Oasis started a long, long time ago. If you haven’t read it before, you should start with Chapter 1. In other news, I think it’s time I admit that I won’t be reaching my goal of finishing Oasis before the end of the year. There’s just too much pain left to heap upon poor ‘ol Corbin.]
Return to the Emergency Room
None of us were about to argue with the man, so we rushed past him and squeezed the cot into the stairwell.
He pulled the door shut behind us with a final-sounding clunk.
Dim light filled the stairwell from exterior windows on every other landing but the ground level.
The door to the ground floor was in shadow and barely visible. It had been barricaded with sandbags.
The man looked at me. “You have medical training?”
I nodded. “Yes.”
“How is he?”
“I haven’t been able to really look him over yet. I’m not even exactly sure what happened.”
“OK. Let’s go up everyone.”
We did our best to keep Nathan level as we staggered up the stairs.
I wondered for a moment why this man was so eager to welcome us in after someone else had locked us out. It just didn’t make sense.
The man introduced himself as Samson Malsrock, the owner of the hotel.
He stopped us at the second floor and opened the door.
I held the back corner of the cot and couldn’t see much of the hall.
A woman passed in front of the group.
I didn’t get a good look, but I got the feeling she was someone I knew.
She stopped just outside my line of vision near the door.
Samson turned and spoke to her.
The teenagers were all nervously chatting to each other about how we had escaped and what we were doing.
I only wanted them to shut up so I could hear what Samson was saying. It just didn’t feel right to yell at them, though.
The big gray haired man turned back to us.
“You all help get this man into one of the rooms. After that, you in the scrubs stay and see if you can help. The rest of you will come with me, and I’ll explain the hotel rules.”
The way he said “hotel rules” just didn’t sit right.
The big man was definitely hiding something.
The woman he had been speaking to had disappeared by the time the middle aged man and I wedged through the door.
Samson pointed us into a room with a window.
The camping cot was not designed to be used as a gurney, so it was difficult to extract the injured Nathan without just dumping him. We tried to be gentle as we moved him onto the bed.
He started to slip in and out of consciousness.
Samson shuffled the others from the room. Before he left he looked me over a moment then pointed a thumb over his shoulder.
“The dark-eyed birdie I was talking to a minute ago will be right in to help. I’ll be back as soon as I get this bunch settled.”
He barked a couple of orders at Kevin and led the others back toward the stairwell.
The sun had broken the horizon and was well on its way to being full in the sky. It shone like a bright ray of hope through the big windows.
I stared out the window while I tossed my basball bat on the floor and pulled off my backpack.
Nathan coughed a little. “Warm.”
I stopped my daydreaming and got to work.
“Nathan, my name’s Corbin and I’m going to help you. Can you tell me what happened?”
Nathan closed his eyes and groaned. “Meg’s husband. …he shh… ugh …broke in… ssshot me.”
I put a couple of fingers on his jugular.
I didn’t have a clock to time his heart rate, but it felt slow and weak.
“Don’t worry, when I find Meg’s husband, I’ll give him a lecture on gun safety. And I’d suggest you stop seeing Meg.”
A thin smile formed on Nathan’s lips. He chuckled. “Not like that. He was… trying to help.”
His chuckle turned into a coughing fit.
I put a hand on his arm. “Things’ll be all right. You’ll make it through this.”
He smiled again, but this time with a different look in his eyes. “No, I won’t. But I would like to thank you for your effort.”
He said it with such a matter-of-factness that it was hard to doubt.
I didn’t understand why. The bleeding had stopped and we could clean up the wound to prevent infection. His pulse was getting stronger, and he was lucid. I’d seen worse pull through, but somehow, I knew it too.
I looked him in the eye. “You don’t have to worry.”
A calm seemed to drape over him. “You’re right, I don’t- ‘I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.’”
He struggled to lift his hand and touch my arm. His words were coming harder now. “…I won’t blame you. If you get a chance… take a look at my shoulder blade…”
With that, Nathan passed out again.
I felt his pulse again. It felt a little stronger.
I sat and pondered the whole situation. Strange that he should be so sure…
I spun around.
In the doorway stood Linda holding a small basin and sponge.
There’s no way.
Linda dropped the things she was carrying, charged, and then wrapped her arms around me.
I was totally dumbfounded. I didn’t even have my wits enough to hug her back.
She pulled away. “I’m so glad you’re OK.”
I forced myself to open my mouth and say something. “Yeah, um…”
She looked over at Nathan, and a frown replaced her smile. “How’s the patient?”
The mention of the injured man snapped me out of the stupor.
“From what I can tell, his vitals are weak, but improving. I spoke with him a moment ago, though, and he seems pretty sure he’s about to die. You have a cuff?”
“Top left hand drawer.”
Linda went back and picked up the things she had dropped.
I had plenty of questions for her, but they’d have to wait.
She stepped into the bathroom. “I’ll wash him up a little.”
I opened up the small hotel dresser drawer.
It was full of a random assortment of medical equipment. The blood pressure cuff was on top. The stethoscope took a little digging. I also found a box of examination gloves.
I put on a pair of gloves then went over and slid the cuff around his arm.
As I did, I noticed a little spot of red in the armpit of his shirt, just below the shoulder blade.
My heart sank.
The shirt was slightly torn, so I stuck in a couple of fingers and ripped it open further.
There they were. Two rather nasty looking bite marks.
I hadn’t asked much about what had happened to him before Kevin and I had arrived.
I wanted to kick myself for not getting the whole story first.
I stared for a moment at the red and swollen bite marks.
The bite marks could only mean one thing.
I knew what needed to be done, I just didn’t know how to do it.
She turned off the water. “What?”
“Is that Samson guy really in charge?”
“Do you think you could find him for me?”
Nathan’s been infected with the virus! Keep reading to see what happens in “Chapter 37: Difficult Choices.“
Remember, if you enjoy Oasis and want to earn my undying gratitude, tell everybody you know about it. That includes friends, family, neighbors, schoolmates, and people walking their dogs in front of your home. You’ll be glad you you did.