Chapter 2

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The girl's eyes shut, her whimpering stops, and her breaths become steady. Blood is pouring out of her bullet wound and all the other marks up and down her small, frail body, but yet, somehow, she's still breathing, still clinging to life, but only barely.

Kayden's nagging still goes on, but I choose to ignore him and instead focus on my course back to camp.

We come to The Crossing, the end of the small portion of land that's lit by sunlight and where the darkness begins. We enter the dark, colder side, where Aerurbem block off the light. A shiver runs down my spine as the temperature dramatically decreases as we go deeper and deeper into the ruins of a once great city. We walk down a cracked road with deserted and smashed cars, fallen lamps, and scraps of metal. Only to be guided by the faint light of the street lamps that haven't been broken, and where there aren't any, metal trash bins with fires in them.

Formerly magnificent skyscrapers, are now crumpled down. Bricks pile on the earth, closing us in the streets. Sometimes I find myself wondering what these cities were like before the war changed everything. Wondering what a person my age would do in their everyday life if they lived in the earlier version of this city, wondering if they would be worrying about when their next meal might be, or if their only worry was how they looked. I guess if I went to the sky city, I'd find out.

Kayden and I -and the girl- make our way through the rubble, nodding to a few other people in our small group of individuals trying to survive, walking around, making their way to their own destination. Turing the corner on a street, whose name I can't make out thanks to the rusted street sign, we go into the smallest building in a long line of bigger ones. I duck my head under the fallen beam that once supported the doorframe and enter our community's infirmary, a lengthy, constricted room. Beds perimeter the room holding the ill. In between each bed lies a wooden box holding many different medicines and bandages, in and on top of it.

"Alec and Kayden and . . . who's this?" Doctor James asked as we walk down the isle of beds filled with the sick, toward him.

The stench of all them hit me. Suddenly I'm aware of all the coughing happening around me and the cries of the folks tortured with something incurable. I shudder at the though of having to be here all day.

When we get to Doctor James in the back of the room, my gaze goes from him to the body laying still on the bed he's standing over. The girls face is a deathly pale shade, and her eyes are shut. Her short red hair lays tangled over parts of her face. No breaths fill her lungs. I knew her. Sarah. A few years separated our ages. I remember scavenging with her a few months back. We didn't talk much, but from what I know, she was nice. I look away from her and to the girl in my arms hoping that this girl's fate isn't like Sarah's.

"She's a Skyrunner," Kayden raspy voice chimes in quietly, pulling my attention from the girl to him. Now I'm in trouble, I thought. There's no way the Doc is gonna be okay with this.

With that he grabs Kayden and me and pulls us over to the back corner of the room where many of the beds lay empty.

"Well what's she doing here? You know I can't treat a Skyrunner, the Council would replace me in an instant!" James whispered worryingly.

"Come on Doc!" I pleaded. "She's hurt real bad, if we don't help her she'd die," Kayden made a that's the point face but I continued on. "Besides after the kind of shape we found her in, I don't think she's much of a Skyrunner anymore."

There was long period of time after I finished where I just stared at Doc and he and Kayden stared at me. Then Doc finally broke it.

"Oh Alec, the things I do for you." He says, his voice a little louder, then he runs a crippled hand through his messy gray hair. "Fine, fine, lay her down on a free bed."

The side of my mouth tips up into a smile and place her gently down on the bed next to me. I gaze down at her. Her once tied up chestnut colored hair has fallen out of its place and it knotted in some areas. She wears a light blue, knee length dress thats now covered in blood -especially around the bullet wound in her abdomen- and dirt. Cuts and bruises decorate her body, causing her to lose even more blood. With all of this, some people might think the word 'hideous' but all that I can think of is beautiful.

Next thing I know, Docs mumbling something to me and handing me an object. I look up at him and to his hand. In it is a small cloth. I take it and inspect it.

"I don't think this is going to fit around her abdomen, it's to short." I say

I look to up and see Kayden mouthing Oh my God and shaking his head while Doc, in the corner of the room getting supplies from a small wooden crate, gives me a weird look.

"Didn't you hear what I told you? I said put it around her bicep to cover up her . . . you know," Doc says in a whisper again , then goes back to digging around through the crate.

"You want to hide her-?" I stop and realizing my stupidity, I say "Oh," If our people found out, there would be chaos.

I quickly wrap the cloth around her small bicep, hiding her numbers. Then I hear Kayden walk up behind me.

"If one person finds out about her being here, just about every Landrunner will know just like that," Kayden whispers, snapping his fingers at the end of his statement.

I turn around to face and meet his cold stare with my own. "No one's going to know Kayden," I told him keeping my voice above a whisper as if to assure him.

"How do you know?" He replies matching the loudness of his voice with mine.

"Would you two quit bickering?" Doctor James interrupts as he makes his way back to us, his arms filled with bottles containing some sort of liquid and strips of cloths. He sets them down on one of the wooden boxes. "Treating a patient, remember that?"

"Sorry," we both say in unison. For someone who's only forty five, he's as grouchy as a sixty year old. I guess that's the price of being stuck in the infirmary with the sick smell of death everyday.

James made us leave after that so he could fix the girls wounds without distractions. So we said our goodbyes and left waiting for the former Skyrunner to wake up.

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