“…long awaited rescue of the ten miners, we have just received word that they have, in fact, made it through..”
Buddy awoke in a white room hearing a beeping sound intermittently over the sound of the television. He turned his head to the right and found a heart monitor with cables leading from it to his chest. He heard movement coming from the left of him, turned his head, and saw Maggie, slumped over in a position that showed how she had fought sleep for as long as she could before finally giving in to the peace of slumber.
Just beyond where Maggie lay, he saw that he shared a room with another patient. He tried sitting up to get a better look at his roommate, but the entire left side of his body erupted into sharp pains, keeping him from moving further. He laid his head back just as he heard the door open. A man in a long, white lab coat walked into the room and picked up the chart at the end of Buddy’s bed. He looked up from the chart and saw Buddy was awake.
“Ah, good, you’re awake,” the doctor said. His voice startled Maggie and she sat up. “How are you feeling?”
“Like someone put my body into a vice-grip,” Buddy said with a dry throat.
“Oh, Buddy, thank God you’re okay!” Maggie said, getting out of the chair to stand beside him.
“Your vitals are looking very promising, Mr. Jackson. You’re lucky. We were certain you received a concussion, due to your unconscious state, but could find no sign of head trauma. Of course, we did have to do a little bit of patch up work on those ribs of yours. I have no doubt you’ll be able to go home within a few hours. But with those rib fractures you are going to have to take it easy for a while.”
“You really had me worried there, Buddy! I can’t believe you made it out alive.” Maggie held Buddy’s hand.
“Don’t worry about me, Mags, I’m actually feeling pretty good,” Buddy said, honestly feeling better than he had in a while. Even the sharp pain in his side was beginning to subside. “So, it wasn’t a dream, huh?”
“The whole thing with the– no.”
“Damn. What happened to that guy I found? Did he make it out alright?”
Maggie looked over her shoulder at the man in the other bed.
“He’s stable,” the doctor said. “He’s lucky you found him when you did. He doesn’t appear to have any serious injuries, however, we will need to keep him here under observation for at least the next 24 hours.”
“You were amazing, Buddy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you like that. The way you ran back there to save that man, it was, well, it was fantastic. But if you ever do anything like that again. . .” Maggie stopped herself mid-sentence. Slowly, Maggie’s smile returned, this time showing something Buddy didn’t remember seeing before. She looked proud.
“I’m going to have a nurse come in here and change those bandages for you,” the doctor said. “Your white blood cell count is still a little high, but your vitals are looking incredibly good for a person who has survived an ordeal such as yours. I feel comfortable in saying we can get you out of here very soon.” He left the room.
“Maggie, sit down. You look like you haven’t slept in days.” She considered debating, but her exhaustion won out and she did as Buddy requested.
“Buddy. . . what was that thing?”
“I was going to ask you the same question. What happened to it? Is it still out there? What about the other thing that fell from the sky? Are there two of those things running around now?”
“They think whatever else came down from the sky destroyed that thing when it landed. There were pieces of it everywhere. It was disgusting. They still have no clue what the other thing was. There haven’t been any sightings of anything since you. . . well, you know. You were the only person to really get a good look at it. I thought you were done for when I saw it sweep you up into the air. What was it like? Weren’t you scared?”
“It was. . . horrible. Like something out of some old, crappy, horror film, except it wasn’t made out of rubber and there definitely wasn’t a zipper on the back of the costume.”
“I really thought I was going to lose you, Buddy.”
“Yeah. . . me too.”
“Whatever possessed you to go out there in the first place? Or to go back to save that guy?”
“I really don’t know Maggie. I kept trying to run, but. . .”
Buddy and Maggie stared at each other for a few minutes longer, both wondering what to say next. Finally, without a word, Maggie curled herself up on the armchair she was sitting in and closed her eyes. Buddy laid his head back on his pillow and stared at the ceiling, playing out the events of the previous night in his head.
The nurse entered the room to change Buddy’s bandages. She had a cell phone against her ear while performing her duties. Buddy overheard a discussion the nurse was having about how she hadn’t been getting any sleep lately due to her neighbor’s dog’s incessant barking throughout the night. She was so preoccupied with the conversation she didn’t notice how Buddy’s wounds were already almost completely healed.
Go to Chapter Five