"Just what do you think you're doing with nobody around?"
"I've no idea what you're on about..."
"Don't play dumb! I saw you!"
James awoke to the sound of raised voices. He blinked as he sat up. Blinding sun was streaming through a gap in the trees. Hadn't there been a storm? No, that was his mind coming unhinged as he was dying.
James rubbed his hands over his eyes and groaned. He felt his chest, gingerly, finding only a hole in his shirt.
"Blimey, relax. Breathe a few times. In, out, there's a girl."
"I will not relax. You were about to ... to...!"
"Just a little thank-you peck on the cheek. Perfectly innocent, I'll have you know."
"Who does that when they're about to die?"
"What's a better time, then? It's exactly those situations where it'd be quite normal, I'd think."
"You guys..." James massaged his temples. "Keep it to a dull roar, there's a recovering dead person over here."
"Prez!" Casey turned from staring awkwardly at a tree. "Man, you had us worried. Thought you were really a goner for a sec."
"James!" said two voices in unison, followed two throaty growls. Kanade and August were glaring at each other, August sitting with her back against a tree and Kanade with her palms pressed up against August's injured thigh. There was a glow of healing around the wound, but it looked like what Kanade really wanted to do was wrap her hands around it and squeeze.
"So glad you're alright," August said, to James. "Let me just check to be absolutely certain you've—"
"Don't go near him!" Kanade said. "You ... pervert!"
"Come again?" James said.
"When we arrived," Julia said, stepping into his field of view, "we discovered Ms. Evans in a rather compromising position, vis-a-vis your cheek."
"She was trying to kiss you while you were bleeding to death!" Kanade's face was flushed as crimson as August's pant leg.
"Oh, you do go on." August turned her nose to the air. "Heaven's sake, as I said, just a thank-you peck, nothing to get your panties in a twist over."
"A thank-you peck," James repeated. Was he even awake? Maybe this was some bizarre fever dream as his mind slid down the long spiral into darkness.
"Exactly, a thank-you peck."
"Thanking me for what?"
"Saving me life, obviously. Look here, you lot, d'you suppose that arrow sprouted out of his chest by itself like a bloody beanstalk? James protected me and got shot up for his trouble. We were about to die, so I thought, what's the harm? And there you have it."
"Then I owe you two from earlier," James said. "The cliff and the chase."
"Righto!" August beamed. "I'll take delivery at your convenience, and much obliged."
Kanade looked appalled. "James! You're not condoning this ... person's actions?" Making person sound like a racial slur.
"I wouldn't have known either way if not for this dramatized reenactment, so I'm ready to put it down to heat of the moment and just be glad I'm alive. Speaking of which, what happened to you guys?"
YOU ARE READING
No Life to LoseMystery / Thriller
James Kirkpatrick's difficult life leads him to take solace in virtual reality—a momentary peace soon shattered by mystery, intrigue, and unseen forces bent on plunging the world into chaos. An epic tale of love, loss, and the boundless influence of...