Episode 5 - The Underground Hospital

Episode 5 - The Underground Hospital

A Chapter by Luke Steed
"

so this guy gets caught by a bunch of snatchers and he almost dies a few times so yeah

"

No matter how much adrenaline was pumping through my blood, I couldn’t move. Not even an inch. The only thing I could do was turn my head ever so slightly to see what blew the doors open. A parabeast could be seen over the men and over the invaders, another one of those awful things. Then gunfire flashed past my vision and I saw men being shot out of the corner of my eye, turning into swiss cheese.

The adrenaline could’ve made my veins burst. There was no way I could take cover in case a stray bullet made its way into my hide. I couldn’t panic either. The pain seethed in my nerves so that, even if I wanted to scream so badly I was going to die, I couldn’t make any other sound other than a short groan.

The gunfire continued, but not for long. It soon died down and a moment of silence followed. The invaders emerged victorious. A few voices echoed down the corridor, speaking in an unknown tongue, or possibly a familiar tongue but it was so hard to hear that it sounded like the unknown tongue.

The voices began to move closer, and as they moved closer, their speech became more apparent. There was laughing thrown in the mix.

“Hey hey hey, check this out boys!”.

BAM

The boys chuckled audibly from where I was.

Someone was shot, and it didn’t take a genius to figure out who it was. Someone was lying in their bed, probably just as scared as I was, saw a big group of snatchers walking toward him, watched them taunt him, and then stare down the barrel of a gun, watching for a split second the flash of the gunpowder before his life ended- as a joke.

The snatchers encroached further toward me.

BAM

Laughing.

BAM BAM BAM

More laughing.

BAM

And then the snatchers grew very close to me, and the parabeast’s stomps boomed louder. So close that I could almost smell them and their parabeast, and everyone and their mother knows what a bunch of snatchers smell like when they haven’t showered for days; wretched.

The next person they shot was only about ten feet away, this one being the loudest one of all.

BAM BAM

I hit my breaking point. My body had to do something. My shoulders took sudden, violent, painful jolts, and so did my legs. Pain seared across my back and I didn’t care. I could feel every fiber of my body standing on end, sensitive to everything. The bed rattled beneath me and I could feel myself inching closer to the edge of it.

And that was when I fell on the floor.

That was also when they noticed.

That was also when I screamed.

The militia approached me, roaring with laughter. I looked up at them furiously, painfully. But through the tunnel vision, I found someone among that militia who stood out, not laughing, having a strange aura surrounding him. His skin was an electric blue which matched the coldness in his eyes. Sure, the other snatchers were blue as well, but this one was special. His head claws spiked in a foreboding manner and I could tell, even through the pain, that this one would be the one to kill me- not the other insignificant idiots.

One of the other snatchers drew his rifle and pointed it straight at my head, “Look at how pitiful this one looks!” And then there I was, meeting that same fate as the men before me- staring down the barrel of a gun.

Then the leader did something unexpected. He also drew his weapon, but he didn’t point it at me.

BAM

My ears started to ring louder, something I forgot about while panicking. Next thing I knew, someone’s brains had been blown out, but they weren’t mine. There was no longer a rifle being pointed at my head. There was no more laughing either.

The leader broke the awkward silence. “From now on, nobody wastes these guys ‘cept me. Somethin’s off about this one, and if one of you idiots were to shoot ‘im…” The leader squatted down to took a closer look at me, “well, that’d be a damn shame, wouldn’t it?”

Was I supposed to know this guy? Who did he think he was?

The leader lifted up my right shirt sleeve and eyed whatever he found on my arm. Whatever it was, it was something I didn’t know about.

“What’s your name?” He asked.

“I-I don’t know,” I stammered.

“So you don’t know? Well, aren’t you useless. No wonder those quacks left you behind.” The leader looked back at his men and shot them a smirk, appearing to be the cue to start laughing. They mustered out an awkward laugh. “So what explains this tattoo on your arm?”

I stammered again, nervousness and pain interrupting my speech. “I have n-no i-idea… What tattoo?”

“This here on your arm. It’s a Founder brand. You’ve gotta have some sorta recollection of where it’s from.”

I tried lifting my head to take a look at it, met immediately by another shot of pain. I yelped and my head slumped back to the ground. The leader stood up and understood the situation and I could tell that he knew it could go two ways. I could either have been told by the Underground to say absolutely nothing to anyone and act like an amnesiac, or that I could’ve actually been an amnesiac and know absolutely nothing.

The leader faced his soldiers, “we’ll take ‘im in, treat ‘im and put ‘im up for questioning. If he really doesn’t know anything, we could have ourselves a spy.”

One of his soldiers spoke up. “With all due respect, General Clawson, are we really going to be picking up some huma-”

Clawson interrupted, “Yes, and I’m confident that this man right here is our key to the Underground’s headquarters. Load ‘im up in the parabeast and gag ‘im. We’re taking him to our infirmary.”

Two snatchers came over and hoisted me up on their arms. Then there was the funny thing- I didn’t think the pain could get any worse. But it did. And it far exceeded my expectations.

I went stiff as a log in the snatchers’ arms. My skin seared cold and my vision blackened along with my other senses. Was I losing blood? The snatchers threw me into the caravan of the parabeast and I ragdolled on its floor. I groaned.

Then I heard murmurs, and not just the murmurs of whoever was talking around me, but murmurs inside my head. It was like a blurry vision.

General Clawson. Drigo Clawson. The Drigo Clawson?!

“Drigo…” I groaned.

Two different snatchers entered the caravan, looking like black figures in my vision. “We didn’t have to throw him in,” One of them said.

“Drigo…”

One of them squatted down and wrapped some dirty cloth around my face and stuck it in my mouth. Salt pervaded my tongue. Sweat and blood, probably. The snatcher stood back up.

“Yeah, but ya know, I don’t think he’ll last that long in this state. Looks like he’s in a real world of pain,” One of the snatchers said. “But hey, at least we won’t have to deal with this meatbag ‘til we get to the infirmary.”

The other comrade elbowed him hard in the side. “But what if the general knows that we didn’t take care of him when he told us to. We could lose our positions! Or worse, we could lose our lives!”

“Oh, c’mon. You’re just being dramatic.”

“No! I’m serious! You remember what happened to Celtoy?”

The snatcher’s voice grew sad. “Oh right. Celtoy…”

Who is Celtoy!?

“Well, let’s get him a cleaner rag and lay him straight on his back. Get him a pillow too.”

The snatchers left the caravan and returned with a pillow and a cleaner rag. Every time they touched me, more pain pulsated throughout my body. They adjusted my body straight on my back and then they lifted my head and placed the pillow under it. They untied the nasty rag attached to my face and tied the clean one on. Next, they tied a rope around my arms and waist. I felt at least ten times more uncomfortable than before, but hey, at least I wasn’t tasting someone else's sweat and blood anymore, and I had a pillow too.

Everything that happened seemed only second-nature in my mind; as if everything was a thought and not a reality. It was just the pain getting to me. I was self aware, but I didn’t think I could remember being in a normal state now. This was my little thought until someone would care enough to help me snap out of it.

I heard a indistinct shouting from outside the caravan, and the parabeast lurched forward. Every stride of the beast made the caravan move up and down slowly, sickly.

I faded out of consciousness. My own brain didn’t think it could take it anymore.

~////////////~

Soon, very soon it felt like, light crept through my eyelids and my brain faded awake. I was still looking at the ceiling of the caravan, but there was no movement anymore. We’d come to a split in the tunnel. It was there, yelling over the silence, that Clawson was trying to make a plan to split the militia up into two groups. One group would head right, where the snatcher infirmary was, and the other would head left, where more unknown territory was. Clawson commanded a small group of snatchers to take the parabeast and me right, and he and the majority of the militia would head left.

Before we set off, two figures entered the caravan. I wasn’t sure if these were the same ones as before, but I didn’t care. One of them squatted down to my neck and attached something to the back of it under my shirt. I could feel its sting agitating the skin of my upper back.

“Wha…?” I groaned.

Both of the snatchers remained silent and left. I layed there wondering what they attached to the back of my neck for a few minutes before we started moving again. It had to be of some importance if Clawson went out of his way to put this on me. Perhaps it was some sort of weird device to tell where I was if I ever got lost.

The parabeast lurched forward, and there I was, staring at the back of my eyelids again.

~////////////~

When I woke up, I found myself laying in a hospital bed, my upper body elevated. Curtains enveloped the bed area and I could feel a tube attached to an IV bag injected into my arm. The whole setup was very hodge-podge and seemed to be collected from old hospital dumpsters. The bed was rickety and the metal tables beside the bed were rusted. The IV bag seemed okay though, like it had just been stolen from one of the ‘Underground’s’ infirmaries. The curtains were bloody and stained with other stuff that I couldn’t name.

I was surprised that I was awake. I thought for sure that I was going to die with the treatment I was getting from the snatchers, but no. There I was, laying in Copperoton’s sketchiest hospital bed, still incapacitated, waiting on my back to heal, which I wasn’t even sure would happen at this point. Where even was I? How far had I come? Yeah, I was under the city, but there was this dreading feeling that I had gone too far… Like I wouldn’t make it back… But where was back?!

Then there was another question I had to ask myself before going any further into thought. It pulled at my subconscious and tried to drag it all the way to hell.

Who was I?

Well of course I didn’t know my name when Clawson asked it! Of course I didn’t know where I was when I woke up! Of course I didn’t know why I was trying to defend my own life on top of that apartment building!

It all made sense now.

Then out from the curtain, a snatcher appeared, dressed in a usual uniform, a red cross patched on his chest. A medic.

He looked at me for a split-second and then poked his head back outside the curtain.

“Are you guys kidding me?”

There was a faint mumble outside.

He reentered the room and took a long squinting look at me. The silence was short, but painful. “Okay…” He rubbed his temples, “okay. I’ll treat you. That doesn’t stop me from hating your guts though. It’s taking every fiber of my being not to abandon you right now.” He was told about their orders to keep me as a spy.

I finally found the strength to speak normally. “Okay well… I’m not sure what I did to you. I haven’t seen your face in my entire life.” Then I digressed for a moment. I had amnesia- of course I’d never seen this person.

“Yeah? Well me neither.”

The snatcher sat down on a stool and took another glare at me, clearly contemplating something. Then he reached over and started poking me in my torso in search for the injury. His pokes were painful, but not unbearable. I could tell he was being aggressive. It was when he reached my lower side that the pain spiked again, and badly. I gasped and convulsed. This only made the pain worse. The medic stood up, nodding his head. He reached for the clipboard sitting on the bedside table and marked something on it.

“It’s definitely your back. Best case scenario for you is surgery, and even then, you’ve still got a painful recovery. Serves you right.” Then he got up and started heading out.

I looked up at him, squinting. “Hey man, I have no idea why you’re so angry at me even though you’ve never seen my face before. That makes no sense.” He stopped. I digressed again while the snatcher’s back was still turned. What did make sense anymore?

He turned back around and gave me a wild look, like I was some new creature he’d never seen before. “You don’t remember the past of your people? You don’t remember what you did to us? All of you humans are scum. Every last one of you are scum for what you did.”

“Yeah? And what was that?”

“Our exile? Our oppression? The genocide of my people? Any of that ring a bell?” -Now there was another thing I didn’t know.

“No, not really. So, all humans are scum for that?”

“Yes, and there’s nothing you can do to change my mind about it.”

“Okay, well I don’t really know why you started ranting about this to some loser you found in a hospital bed. Don’t you have anything better to do?” I said.

He scoffed. “No, you’re the first patient to arrive here. And then there’s my luck,” he crossed his arms, “the first idiot to get turned into an empty snatcher infirmary is a human, of all creatures.”

“Well look, I don’t remember doing any of those things to any of you people. I do have amnesia, but I don’t think I would’ve done anything bad like that to anyone.”

The snatcher laughed. “Amnesia?! What do you know?! You don’t even remember if you did do those things. Well what if you did do them, huh? What then?”

“I don’t know. I’m sorry, I guess, but my point is, you can’t just start bashing someone for what they might not have even done. You don’t even have any proof that I did those things! You know, maybe if you think about it, there might be more people out there like me- innocent people with no reason to express prejudice toward anybody.”

The medic uncrossed his arms and stood for a moment. He had no response. He sat back down on his chair and stared at the floor. He was musing about something, perhaps rethinking his view, I hoped. For an instance, I began to feel compassion for this medic, like he had been hurt personally by a human before and he was just then thinking about all the things he had done to innocent people like himself. Humans like him.

These were my thoughts. They were fresh and felt natural, like these were the things I’d believed in the past coming back into existence. I didn’t know though. For all I knew, I could’ve been just some other prejudiced, snot-nosed idiot like anyone else that the snatcher pictured inside his head. The amnesia was just a surface façade of what hid underneath. The true reality could be ugly, or it could be okay. My hope was the latter, but I had an itching, scratching feeling that it might actually have been ugly. Very ugly.

There was a tense silence, and oh was it bad, but it was better than the other silences I had experienced during the past few moments I’d been conscious. It was almost a relief- a partial respite from conflict.

Then something broke it.

A gunshot. But it wasn’t a loud gunshot, like from a rifle. It was from a pistol, maybe with one of those suppressors attached to it.

The medic rose from the stool and grabbed his gun from its holster. He crept toward the curtain slowly. Slowly.

Someone had just died. Probably one of the nurses. The snatcher peeked out of the curtain.

POP

The medic blasted backward and hit the floor. He didn’t make another sound.

The shooter entered the room and jolted his pistol straight at my forehead, as if I was a threat now. I found myself becoming more and more numb to having a gun pointed at me.



© 2018 Luke Steed


Author's Note

Luke Steed
neat

My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register




Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

107 Views
Added on April 30, 2017
Last Updated on April 23, 2018


Author

Luke Steed
Luke Steed

Fort Worth, TX



About
My main project right now is Copperoton: the Snatcher Saga, a long sci-fi adventure book. The first couple of chapters are still being worked on, with the first being the most heavily focused on. My o.. more..

Writing
Copperoton Copperoton

A Story by Luke Steed