[If you are new to Oasis, start at the very beginning. (A very good place to start.)]
Linda gave me a look. “Why?”
“He’s been bitten. He’s infected.”
Linda turned and left the room.
I wondered how long ago he had been bitten, and how long he had until the virus claimed his life and endangered ours.
I walked over and felt his head.
It was warm, the fever just beginning to rise.
I knew it would soon get much worse.
Nathan turned his head and let out a small groan. He was exhausted from his injury, his infection, and the trip over.
I wondered how long he would sleep before the pain of the infection would get too strong. I almost hoped for his sake that he never had to wake again.
It was a horrible thought, but I had seen and heard a couple of people in the painful stage of the infection. Nobody deserved to go through that.
Somebody is going to have to make a difficult choice, and soon.
I pulled out a chair from the little table in the corner and watched Nathan breathe.
His chest rose and fell, but he lay otherwise still.
I knew the peaceful exterior masked the battle raging in his body. But what could I do?
He had said that he wouldn’t blame me. He told me to check out his shoulder. He knew he had been bitten. Does he know what has to happen?
He would soon be in incredible pain. Pain and fever and then nothing. Pain, and then he would become the virus, seeking only to spread itself.
We can quarantine him in here and wait for the virus to do its work, we can just move him outside alone, or we can…
I didn’t even want to think it.
…we can preempt his suffering now, and help him to go without pain, and without endangering the others in the hotel.
None of the choices seemed like the right one. They all seemed cold and heartless. I had dedicated my career to doing anything to saving lives. Now I was supposed to turn on that?
But he said he’d forgive me… was that because he knew?
Even if that is what he had meant, would I be able to deal with the guilt?
I had shot several of the deads before. That was a matter of life and death. I would have nightmares about it for the rest of my life, but I didn’t feel guilty. Could this be the same?
What if there really is a cure?
What if there is something that can be done?
What if there’s not?
I stared off into space and ran a thousand similar questions through my mind.
Samson burst through the door with Linda close at his heels.
I started answering questions before anyone could even ask.
“He’s been bitten. I don’t know how long ago. The fever has started. It’s only a matter of time.”
Samson set his jaw, stared at me, and then looked over at Nathan.
I was worried that he would be angry at me for bringing in someone who had been infected.
His massive frame sagged and his frown deepened.
I didn’t get the feeling that he was mad.
He looked more like someone had just loaded him up with a heavy backpack.
He turned and whispered something to Linda. She spun and went out.
I wanted to ask him what was going to happen next. I just didn’t have the heart.
Samson came further into the room. “Is he awake?”
I shook my head. “He’s been in and out, but I think he’ll stay out for a while. At least until the pain from the virus gets too strong.”
“Does he know what’s happened?”
I gave a little nod. “Yeah, he also said something about forgiving me. And he quoted scripture.”
Samson sighed a little and closed his eyes. “Good. Not that it makes this much easier. Was he a close friend?”
“I met him on the way here.”
Linda came back in and handed Samson a vial and a syringe.
She looked at me for just a moment. There were tears streaming down her face. She turned and left, pulling the door closed behind her.
Samson pulled up a chair, sat, and looked me in the eye. “Two days ago we had a problem with someone we took in. After that we held a meeting and everyone in the hotel voted and decided exactly what would be done with anyone who came in bitten.”
He was a big man, and he didn’t look like he was one for crying, but his voice wavered now.
“They are to be made comfortable, and then they are to be…” A tear rolled down his cheek into his scraggly gray beard. “One of us has to…”
A sadness filled my chest. I nodded my head. “I understand.”
At least, I understand what he is trying to say.
Samson covered his eyes for a moment with his massive free hand.
I stood and went to Nathan’s side.
He was still sleeping, but his face looked contorted with pain. His fists were clenched, and his whole body looked a little stiff.
I didn’t want to wake him, but without thinking I reached out and grabbed his hand.
He didn’t awaken, but his hand did relax.
I turned to Samson.
He looked like a broken man, at the end of his rope.
And then a change swept over him and he got up.
Sadness was still etched into his face, but he stood tall.
I was shocked at the change.
Before me stood a man strong and resolute and willing to pay whatever price necessary to secure the safety of others. Before me stood the finest leader I had ever met.
He walked to the other side of the bed.
In his movement and composure I sensed an emotional and spiritual strength that matched his powerful physique.
He put a hand on Nathan’s shoulder then looked at me. “I want to make sure he doesn’t wake up for any of this. In the middle drawer over there is a blue glass bottle of ether and some big cotton pads. Let’s do this before it gets any worse.”
Keep reading to find out what other problems Corbin can possibly run into now in “Chapter 38: A Hotel Divided“
Thanks again everybody for all your support and kind words.