Attaway, A Day in the Life: Part 5
Dawn was an older woman, near her 60's, plump, with a no nonsense kind of attitude. She had been in Attaway for more than a decade, but having grown up on the outskirts of the Wildehalls, she was no stranger to the strange and unusual. Nothing shocked her, and she went about her work with calm precision, even when crisis erupted around her.
Isaac was a younger man, with sunken eyes a hollow cheeks. He never spoke much, but he constantly vibrated with the sounds of the flies that were ever present around him, flitting from his shoulder to his cheeks. If you asked him about them, he would tell you that the flies could devour a grown man's corpse in under fifteen minutes. If you asked him how he knew that, he'd tell you his youth had been a complicated time. Isaac had lived in Attaway only a few years, but he and Dawn had bonded almost instantly. They were hardly ever apart, and made for a fascinating, if not sobering pair.
This evening, they were playing a quiet game of cards over cups of tea, a typical night for them, if there was no work to be done. Their peaceful game was interrupted, though, when distant shouting erupted across the still, and Dawn could hear someone frantically calling her name as they drew closer.
Isaac laid his cards down. "Better clear the table probably," he muttered.
Dawn was already picking up their tea cups and moving them to the stove.
A moment later, the screen door burst open and a large party of people pushed inside. Whitey and Kit were supporting Billie, who was white as a sheet and drenched in blood between them, followed closely by Adi, also covered in a fair amount of blood and holding several bloody rags.
They lay Billie out on the table. Her breath was coming in shuddering gasps. Dawn leaned over her. It was difficult with so much blood to really tell where the wound was, but she found another rag, soaked in gore, pressed against Billie's side, and gently peeled it away. "Tell me what happened," she instructed. All at once, the other three started talking over each other. Dawn help up and hand and added firmly, "One at a time. Kit?"
Kit looked almost as pale as Billie did. Their face was covered in sweat, and they trembled visibly. "We went on a run. We were just grabbing a box of guns but we botched it. They shot her. The vest broke. I had to run for it, but I only got halfway before the brew wore off, and I couldn't carry her any more. If Adi hadn't been waiting in the tunnel..."
Dawn looked over at Adi, who stood off in the corner with the bloody rags in hand. "Why were you out there?" She demanded. "You don't know those tunnels."
Adi looked down at the rags and then back up at Dawn. "I had a bad feeling."
Dawn turned her attention back to Kit. "Were you followed?"
"I don't know. I had a good head start, but I don't know if they grabbed the box and left or if they're still out there. They might have gotten turned around. Those tunnels are confusing if you don't know them."
She looked at Whitey. "Get someone to go back in there with you. See if you can't smoke those Lightfoots out. And then seal up the door to the Warf. We're not going to be able to use it for a while."
Whitey nodded and left without a word. Dawn turned back to Billie. "We have to dig that bullet out of there. Gimmie more rags. Adi, make tea. Kit, sit down."
They set to work. Isaac stood at Dawn's elbow, handing her tools and fresh gauze. Kit watched from a chair in the far end of the room, still shaky and pale. Adi stirred a spoon around in her tea, clinking the sides of the cups in a repetitive pattern.
Billie groaned softly from time to time, but otherwise made no sound as the surgery progressed. Dawn was starting to feel concerned. Most of the time Billie never shut up, so it was hard to see her now, quiet and still, looking more like the grave with every passing minute.
When they were nearly finished, Isaac stepped away and dug out a deck of long cards, covered with bright drawings and strange symbols. He shuffled the deck three times, and then laid a line of cards out on the counter. One by one, he flipped them over. On the other side of the room, Dawn was silently stitching up the wound in Billie's side.
Kit couldn't handle the tension any longer. "Well?" They demanded sharply. "Is she OK?"
Dawn didn't look up from what she was doing, but answered, "Isaac?"
Isaac flipped another card. "She'll live. This time."
Kit leaned back into their chair, relieved. Adi let out an audible sigh, as though she had been holding her breath. She set down her cup and moved to stand at Billie's side. As Dawn snapped off the final thread, Billie opened one eye and glanced around the room. "Am I gonna make it, doc?" she breathed.
"This time around, but I couldn't get the whole bullet out. That's going to be a pain when it rains."
Billie looked at Adi. "I should have taken your advice," she said softly. "I'm sorry I didn't listen."
Adi half smiled. "Don't be sorry. Just try not to be dumb anymore."
Billie smiled weakly. "As if. Don't make me laugh. You'll have me in... stitches..."
Dawn rolled her eyes. "If you can make jokes then you can go home. Get off my table and go to bed."
Kit stood as well and along with Adi helped Billie slide off the table to her feet. Together they supported her as she limped out the door.
When they were out of earshot, Dawn turned to Isaac. "Why do you think Adi brought those rags all the way into the tunnel?"
"Can't say," Isaac answered slowly. "But it gives me a bad feeling."