[note: If you have never read Oasis before, it’s better to start at the beginning. Also, It looks like everything is just swell here on my new host. Let me know if you come across any problems.]
I was breathing heavily by the time I made it to the third floor.
My legs were shaking, and I felt wobbly all over.
I had made a mistake. I had overestimated my condition.
I had barely made it up the stairs that morning. And that was with help. What made me think I could just sprint up them now?
I was too tired, too tired, too tired.
People might die if I don’t make it.
I pushed onward and upward.
The stairway seemed to push me back.
Down below I heard the door open.
They’re delivering the next load of ammo.
A flicker of hope sparked somewhere inside me.
I opened my mouth to call for help, but I couldn’t make enough sound. I was gasping too hard.
The door below closed.
I tried to take a deep breath. The hot air burned in my lungs.
This is ridiculous. Only one flight left and I feel like I’m about to collapse.
Somehow, my legs and my lungs held out until I fell through the door to the top floor.
The hall was alive with motion. People were carrying empty boxes in one direction, pillowcases and bags in another.
I stumbled down the hallway. Black spots were appearing before my eyes.
Don’t pass out.
I didn’t take two steps before I was noticed. A couple of ladies dropped whatever they were carrying and ran over to me.
I fell to my knees. â€œListen, I’ve got ammunition that might be for Mr. Malsrock’s hunting guns. They’ll need the guns soon. Shoot for the head.â€
The two women just stared at me funny. â€œDid you catch what he just said?â€
â€œIt didn’t make any sense to me, either. I wonder if he hit his head?â€
A couple more people came running now.
I heard Linda’s voice shouting somewhere, too.
Someone bent over and looked at me. â€œAre you OK?â€
I wanted to say â€œno,â€ but the world went black before I could make my complaint.
I wasn’t out long, only a couple of minutes this time.
When I came to, I was on my back.
Someone had pulled off my pack and jammed a pillow under my head.
I opened my eyes.
Kevin crouched next to me and held out a big glass of water. â€œLinda says you’re exhausted and probably dehydrated.â€
I raised up on an elbow, and took the glass in my shaking left hand.
The water was warm, but still refreshing.
I only spilled a little on myself as I chugged it down.
â€œWhat happened to my backpack?â€
â€œSomeone’s pulling out all the boxes and trying to figure out which gun they go to, if any.â€
It was only a minor relief to know I had been a little help, but at least it was something.
â€œKevin, do you think you could find me something to eat?â€
He grabbed the cup from my hand. â€œSure, and I’ll get you a refill on your water, too.â€
I sat up all the way and scooted myself against the wall.
The hallway was still alive with activity. Every few seconds someone would glance at me with either a look of pity or a look of disgust.
The looks didn’t bother me as much as my own weakness, though. I felt useless.
Deads were pouring into the building somewhere, and a small group of men were making a brave stand. Up here men, women, and children were scurrying about preparing to evacuate to who knows where.
And then there was me, propped up against the wall, weak and helpless.
â€œCorbin, how are you feeling?â€
Linda was crouched down right next to me. I hadn’t even noticed her coming down the hall.
â€œUseless, and more than a little dehydrated.â€
Linda nodded and handed me my cup. â€œI sent Kevin downstairs to see how things are going.â€
I drained this cup only a little slower than the first.
A bizarre feeling washed over me and I realized I was starting to sweat.
Kim and Lily arrived and dropped off a jar of peanut butter, some crackers, and a couple of juice boxes.
Lily knelt and looked at me a moment. Makeup was smeared all over her face. Her lower lip quivered and her mouth opened slightly.
I wondered what was going through her mind.
She stood up and turned away. I guess she just couldn’t bring herself to say whatever it was.
At least she wasn’t wearing my shirt any more.
I looked over at Linda. â€œHow are we doing up here?â€
â€œAbout as ready as we’re going to get. We just need to see how they’re managing downstairs. You eat up and try to take it easy for a minute. I’ll make sure someone keeps filling your water.â€
The juice boxes were hot like someone had left them sitting in the sun. The crackers were dry, and the peanut butter stuck to the roof of my mouth.
It didn’t matter. It was the best feast I’d ever eaten.
Within a few minutes, my shaking had stopped and I was feeling almost human again. I even started to notice how hot it was in the hall.
Little by little the commotion in the hall was settling. Without something to do, folks were starting to look nervous and fidgety.
I just ate, drank, and rested.
I didn’t get too long of a break, though.
Within twenty minutes or so, Samson and Kevin burst through the close stairway door.
Samson looked like he had just stepped from a jungle. His hair was wet and matted, sweat soaked his shirt, and he had wild, animal-like look in his eyes.
He pointed a me. â€œYou feeling any better?â€
â€œThen come with us. We need a plan.â€
Should they stay or should they go? Keep reading to find out.
Remember to tell all your friends about Oasis. If you don’t, then who will?