After the Binding ceremonies, Chase and Marissa are talking. Suddenly, he senses movement behind him. Turning his back to it, he pushes Marissa down to protect her. Unfortunately, whatever it is, hits him and he goes down.
Brian and Jordan had very pointedly left their friends behind, delighted that they had made a committment to one another. Pleased with the outcome of the night, they were wrapped up in one another, kissing happily.
A scream ripped the happy silence.
“Marissa!” Jordan yelled, pushing away from Brian.
He followed, overtaking and passing her easily. He stopped a few feet from Chase, assessing the situation. He was face down on the ground, his skin an ugly, mottled color with dark lines following the pattern of his veins. Marissa squatted beside him, tugging at something in his left shoulder.
“Don’t touch it!” Brian said. “Get Claude,” he told Jordan.
Scanning the woods, he looked for clues, but saw nothing in the once over he gave it. Dropping to his knees, he took Chase’s pulse and checked his eyes. They had the same black lines as the rest of him. His gaze was fixed and stony.
“He’s not breathing!” Marissa screeched. “Not breathing! Oh, my God! Don’t die. Please, don’t die! Chase. Honey!”
Brian gently pushed air into his lungs, helping them to expand and contract.
Neil arrived first, followed closely by Claude, John and Roy Curtis. The doctor had a bag with him and he dropped by Chase’s prone form.
“Is he breathing?”
“Barely, but I started pushing air in his lungs as soon as I got here. His pulse is weak. I don’t like how his eyes look.”
Claude was already looking at Chase’s eyes. “Here’s what we do,” he said, digging in his bag. “He’s been poisoned. It’s similar to what Brian was given last year.” He pulled out a flask, a silver spoon and a stick of iron. He poured liquid into a small cup, stirred with the silver and iron before handing it to Marissa. “Bathe the wound with that, after I pull out the dart. Try not to touch his skin with your hands.” He handed her a nitrile glove and a piece of sterile gauze.
“We’ve got this,” Neil said to the other men. “Y’all go up to the house and stay with the others.”
“I’m staying here,” Brian said.
Claude nodded. “Keep the air flowing. You’re doing great.”
His own gloves in place, Claude gingerly pulled at the dart and cut Chase’s shirt away. The wound was ugly, red and swollen, black lines traveling rapidly from the center. Gasping, Marissa did as instructed. When she had finished, Claude put his hands on either side of the wound and pushed hard. Black blood oozed out. Marissa mopped this away, burning the gauze in a small fire that Claude had started. They repeated the progress until the blood running from the wound was red.
Chase looked better. His color was returning to normal, but the black lines were still evident. Claude prepared another mixture, stirring it with the silver and iron.
“Help me turn him,” he told Neil. “Careful. Don’t touch his skin or shirt.”
Together, he and Neil carefully turned Chase over. Supporting him, Brian helped Marissa put the cup to slack lips. Using his powers, he forced the liquid to stay in his friend’s mouth. Chase swallowed automatically. Gradually, he drank everything in the cup. The black lines receded. Brian didn’t realize he’d been holding his breath, until forced to expel it.
“Brian!” Jordan’s cry startled him so, he nearly dropped Chase. “Brian!” The tone was emphatic, laced with shock and a modicum of fear.
Leaping up, he tripped over Chase’s arm. Neil helped him up.
“Stay here,” Neil ordered Andre and Marissa. He and Brian ran to see what was wrong with Jordan.
Dashing up the back steps, they saw what had her concerned before they got in the house. His mother, hers and Marissa’s were all struck with the same darts that had felled Chase. A tiny form lay very still under the downed body of Maribelle Casey.
A horrified wail escaped Brian. “Elise!” He sprang forward, approaching without caution. Neil grabbed his arm, holding him back.
“We don’t know what that poison is,” he said. “It hasn’t affected the baby, but it has your mom. You take Elise after I raise Maribelle off her. Jordan, get Claude.”
“Yes, sir.” She hurtled down the steps and across the yard, calling for the doctor.
With the greatest care, Brian checked his baby sister. He could tell that his mother had done her best to protect her as she fell, cradling the little body against hers. Elise was breathing and there were no signs of the poison. She was breathing and Brian thought she might simply be asleep. Unsure, he looked around for the doctor. Claude took the steps two at a time. He did a quick assessment of the baby.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
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