Without the walls that surround the major cities to protect them, the humans in that town would be easy prey. He could use a lot more than that.
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He needs medical attention. But we make it safely to level ground and the horse trudges forward. The town, so small it seems threatened by the enormity of the surrounding desert, grows steadily larger.
I spot a windmill, hear the clacking of the blades echoing over the plain as the slight breeze turns them. The tiny buildings begin to take shape, their odd placement showing no evidence of planning, their even stranger form indicating a lack of craftsmanship. The only impressive things are the thick, clay roofs, which seem to be attached to the unstable walls by some miracle of architecture.
As we near, we get a genuine surprise: men, women, and children. They walk along boarded paths, talk to others in front of their homes. People are working: patching walls, gathering water from a well beneath the windmill, sorting a myriad of boxes. I see smiles. I hear the din of laughter and conversation.
Darkness Before Dawn Trilogy by J.A. London
We must look pretty sorry when we arrive at the edge of the town. A burly man with salt and pepper hair that matches his beard approaches. He must be a guard. A rifle is slung over his shoulder, and a sturdy stake-filled bandolier wraps around his barrel-shaped chest. The man helps me slide off the horse, softening my landing.
I nearly collapse when my feet hit the ground, my legs unsteady after the long ride. Michael tries to dismount, but his weakness is apparent as he begins to fall, and the man quickly catches him. Michael leans on the man and we all walk into the center of town. How have they managed to exist in this isolated place? Follow George. I slip under his free arm, determined to get him where he needs to be, even if it kills me. The outside of the building is crude and simple, like all the others, but the inside is clean and tidy. On one side of a living area is an open office with a large desk.
On the other, strings of beads serve as a doorway to a shadowed room. George walks straight through an opening that leads into what must serve as their infirmary. George lifts Michael onto an examination table that looks to be salvaged from some ancient scrap yard and hastily repaired. The gashes on his cheek look angry, swollen, and painful. I can only imagine how much worse the ones across his chest are. Jameson marches through the door, followed by a girl who looks to be about my age.
Her blond hair is pulled back into a long braid. There is purpose in her movements as she sets a bowl of water on the counter. The doctor begins washing her hands while the girl arranges towels and instruments on a small table near where Michael is resting. A dark-haired girl enters carrying two glasses with clear liquid in them. She gives me one. He finishes it off quickly. She settles him back down, takes my empty glass, and leaves the room.
I realize the other girl is gone as well. Maybe Dr. Jameson recognizes my determination to stay because she simply ignores me and steps over to the table.
Darkness Before Dawn
I cling to his hand, more for my sake than his. He must have been—still must be—in agony. Jameson says. What happened? Jameson dabs alcohol over the torn flesh. I feel helpless while Michael takes in a sharp breath and cringes. He tightens his hold on my hand. I wish I could do more for him.
She hands him a piece of wood, about the size of my forefinger, wrapped in rope. Michael places it in his mouth and bites down. As she works a needle and thread through the wounds, she tugs tautly to close the openings. With every puncture, Michael grunts and tightens his jaw as he transfers the pain onto the piece of bark between his teeth. With my free hand, I brush my fingers through his short hair. I lean over so he can hear me easily.
Go there, in your mind. He grows silent, and the doctor continues her work. I still feel the tension from his hand holding mine, but I can tell that my talking is distracting him. For a while he was more than that. When Dr. Jameson is finished with his chest, she closes up the gashes on his cheek. Four deep strikes across his cheek, nearly cutting to the teeth, sealed up by a railroad of stitches. The library card you previously added can't be used to complete this action.
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