Chapter 2

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As Rachel drifted back to reality, she felt a deep throbbing in her left hand. Her head felt like it has been hit with a thousand of bricks. Gradually, she became aware of her surroundings. She was lying on what felt like a bed, covered to the neck with a cotton sheet. As the memories of her last wakeful moment flooded into her mind, she decided not to open her eyes yet, afraid of what she would see. Worst case scenario, she was in the Al Shabaab militant’s stronghold.

Al Shabaab which means ‘the youth’ in Arabic is the largest militant organization fighting the UN backed government of Somalia. The group seeks to establish an Islamist state according to its strict interpretation of the sharia law. It has pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda and has accepted responsibility for several bombings in Somalia and East African countries that contribute peacekeeping troops for instance Uganda and Kenya. All things considered, death would be better than getting kidnapped by the Al Shabaab especially if you were a foreign peacekeeper.

But as Rachel considered the possibility, something didn’t add up. This room did not stink like she imagined a rebel’s prisoner hold would. Instead there was a divine scent of a manly perfume accompanied by a faint smell of antiseptic and medicine. There was an occasional voice and distant footsteps. As a nurse, she had a feeling it was a hospital room.

“Doctor Tilleman, please report to the maternity ward.” she heard the sound of someone speaking via intercom. The accent was of a person of a Bantu tribe from Uganda, Baganda.

Immediately, she felt safe enough to open her eyes and they landed on a white man, a doctor judging by the white lab coat he was wearing.

He was seated on a chair facing her Liliputian bed. His head was bent, eyes glued to a big book on his lap. She watched him until he looked up, making her look away at the speed of light.

“You’ve woken up,” he said in a deep raspy fruity voice.

Rachel regarded him. “Hello.”

He smiled. This time she drank in every detail on his handsome face. He had green eyes, fringed with long eyelashes. His thick eyebrows were arched impressively, as if an artist had spent time curving out the edges. He had a straight nose and full pink lips. He was wearing a white shirt and blue tie under the white lab coat. A stethoscope hanged on his neck, making him look hotter. Since when did stethoscopes make men look so hot?

“How do you feel? “He asked, studying her with piercing scrutiny. This broke her thought train. She glanced at her bandaged arm and raised the other hand, the good one to feel the small bandages scattered on her chest, near the neck.

“Terrible,” she replied. She glanced up at the decorated ceiling and back at him.

“Even after waking up to the presence of a man like myself.” His lips curved into a million dollar smile. “That’s disappointing.”

Rachel gave a half smile, unsure of what to say. The statement sounded flirty. She was not a fan of doctors who flirted with their patients but going off at him didn’t seem like a good idea at that moment. She didn’t want to come off as rude. But then again, when had she cared about being rude to people who deserved it?

“Does your head hurt?” he asked.

“A bit,” She lied. It felt as if her skull was grinding her brain like a mill but she did not want more attention than she had got already.

“And the hand?”

“Not so bad” she replied.

He placed his book on the table and stood up. Rachel tensed when he touched her shoulder, right above the bandage to examine. Her heart hammered faster than normal in her chest and she was afraid he would notice.

He slightly pressed the area. “How bad is it?”

“I’m a nurse so I can take care of myself now that I’m awake. “She pulled herself into sitting position and it felt like her head had finally cracked. She slid back down with a grimace on her face and sighed.

He stood up straight, shaking his head. “You’ve been unconscious for many hours. You might be a strong military nurse but you still need to rest.”

Rachel heaved a long suffering sigh, hating the vulnerability. She was a strong woman who could handle anything and she did not like this man acting as if she was a little girl who couldn’t handle a simple gunshot.

He stood up. “I have to go to the now. I’ll send a nurse with some medication.

“Okay.”

He picked up his book. “See you later. Oh, I forgot. My name is martin Tilleman but you can call me Martin.”

“Okay, Martin, where are am I?”

“Kismayo,” he said. Kismayo was the town they had been travelling from before the attack that left her bed-ridden. She wanted to ask him about how she was saved but she observed that he was in a hurry.

“What?” she felt more annoyed than disappointed. “Which hospital is this?” the hospital she had been working in had rooms way better than this one.

“Level Two force hospital,” faint amusement played on his face. “Mogadishu.”

Rachel heaved a sigh of relief. Level Two Force Hospital in Mogadishu was managed by the army she belonged to.

He nodded and took his leave. If he thought she would appreciate such jokes, he was terribly wrong.

A few minutes later, a chubby nurse pushed a trolley into the room with a tray of medical supplies.

“How are you feeling?” she inquired in a nasal voice. She started to pick out drugs from the tray. “Martin has prescribed these drugs for you.”

“Who is he?” Rachel queried.

“The doctor who just vacated this room,” the nurse retorted, her smile fading.

“I know that. I mean, he’s clearly not Ugandan. Where is he from? Why is he at this hospital and who does he work under?”

“He considerers himself quite the Romeo and half of the female population is smitten with him,” she prattled with the attitude of a seasoned gossiper. Rachel had no interest in any of that.

“You’ve not answered any of my questions,” she mumbled, attempting a sitting position so as to take the medicine properly.

“Why are you asking me too many questions that you should have asked him? Let me guess, you are attracted to him too?”

Rachel rolled her eyes, “No, I feel nothing of the sort. I was just curious but forget it.”

“It seems more than curiosity to me.”

“Does it? Well, I have told you what it is. I don’t care what you think.”

“Are you sure?”

Rachel felt like raising her hand to give the woman a hot slap.

“Give me the medicine,” Rachel said. “And tell me where Rita is. I need to know what happened.”

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