Peter awoke in an uncomfortable metal bed, Amy seated in a white plastic molded chair beside him, asleep. He sat up, trying to figure out where he was when he saw the little mirror with the gold plated handle. He was sore, and it took an effort to get it, having to reach across his body as his right hand had a tube coming out of the back of it. After a moment of rest, he brought the mirror up so he could look into it, and remembered the day before. The black eyes ad the possibly broken nose. The edges of the bruising was already beginning to yellow, which he took as a good sign.
“Hey,” Amy said, yawning and sitting up straight.”
“I still look like shit,” Peter said, dropping the mirror into his lap.
“Yeah, but you bought Kyle the time he needed to make it inside.”
“I’m just glad you saw my heroics, ‘cause I sure as hell don’t remember them.”
“How are you feeling?” Amy asked. Picking up his chart from where it hung at the foot of his bed.
“Sore, but I think I’d like to walk some if the doctor will let me.”
“I’ll go get him. Just take it easy for now.” Amy stretched as she stood, the pink top she had on lifting enough that he could see her flat stomach. “Be right back,” she said.
Peter sat up, it took some time, he vaguely remembered Zach saying something about broken ribs, and the way he was feeling, he was pretty sure they were. Finally, after a minutes rest, he swung his feet over the edge of the bed. That’s when the door opened and a young man with a black eye came in.
“So, you’re the one I owe an apology to.” Peter said, looking at the man before him.
“I guess so,” He held out his hand, “Matthew Shepherd, but you can call me Matthew.”
Peter took it, and pumped the man’s hand, liking his strong grip. “Peter Graham.” He realized as he said it that he had not said his last name since he had realized the Other that haunted his dreams had stolen his jersey.
“Well Peter,” Matthew said, “How are you feeling?”
“Sore, but ready to be out of here.” Peter stated, scratching the back of his hand where the tube was.
“Ok. Let me listen to your breathing now that you’re sitting up.” He pulled a stethoscope out of his lab coat pocket and placed it in his ears. “Lift up your shirt.”
Peter did so and for the first time saw his right side, covered in bruises. “Damn,” he said as the cold metal pressed against his chest.
“Sounds good,” Matthew said a moment later “I really don’t see any reason for you to stay here any longer. Do come back though if you feel worse. And I’d like to see you again in about two weeks time, just to make sure you’re still doing ok.”
“Thanks doc.” Peter said. He reached for the tape holding the needle into the back of his hand.
“Let me help you with that,” Amy said, coming in behind the doctor. “Do you have anything to give him for the pain?”
“See Tiffany out front. I’ll make sure he gets something, but we can’t spare any of the hard stuff right now.”
“That’s fine,” Peter said, “Just something to take the edge off will work fine.” He winced again as the needle slid out of his arm, trailing a small drop of crimson.
With a cotton ball, and a piece of medical tape, Amy covered the wound. “Don’t scratch at it.” She admonished him as he reached for it. “You ready for this?” She held out her arm, which he used to steady himself as he got down.
“Thanks. So, how far is it to our place?” Peter asked.
“I’ll go let Tiffany know you are leaving now,” Matthew said as he left the two of them alone.
“So, what’s it like out there?” Peter asked as he gingerly walked to the door, leaning on Amy for the entire ten feet.
“Come on you big baby,” Amy said as Peter leaned against the doorframe. “I know, I’m just not sure I’m ready for this.”
“You need a chair?”
“No, I mean this, we’ve been running for so long.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean, and it isn’t over yet.” Amy said, speaking his own fears, as she led him down the hall toward a a pair of solid looking doors.
“Do we know what’s going on? I mean, why haven’t we been attacked yet?”
“I don’t know, they won’t talk to me. Let’s take this one step at a time, I’m sure the mayor will want to talk to you, and so will Darrel.”
“Ok. Sure. So, what is Boulder City like.”
“See for yourself,” Amy pressed a button set into the wall and the doors swung open, light from the waiting room windows flooding the hallway.
“Nice to see you up and about.” A redheaded woman sitting at a desk said.
“Hey Tiffany,” Amy said, taking the bottle of pills from her when it was offered. She looked into the yellowish bottle and counted six round red-brown pills. “Thanks.”
Peter smiled at Tiffany and managed a small wave, heading toward the glass door that led to the outside.
He noticed the kids first, running across the street, half a dozen boys and girls no older than Kyle was, playing tag. “And you said we lived where?” Peter managed, holding Amy’s hand as they walked down street after street, until finally they stood before a small complex, three similar looking white stucco buildings with red clay roofs.
“Hey Peter,” Zach called from one of the balconies above them.
“What’s up Zach?”
“We’re neighbors!” Zach said.
Peter looked at Amy skeptically. “He’s a pretty lousy neighbor, playing rock and roll to all hours of the night and cooking smelly food every day,” she said loud enough for Zach to hear.
Peter laughed. “Well, keep it down,” he said to Zach, “And keep off my lawn!”
“Yes sir,” Zach sighed.
“Where’s everyone else?” Peter asked, looking at the other buildings around him.
“Julie’s probably picking Kyle up from school-“
“Yeah, and I bet Sam and Brian are down at the coffee house. They’re burning through all of their leisure chips pretty fast.”
“Yeah, it’s basically money to get extra stuff. Food, clothing, water, all of it is provided to a point.” She fished a few of the copper colored disks out of her pocket.
“They look like pennies.”
“They are, but I have both of ours if you want some coffee.”
“I’d love some.”