The end of this serialized novel finds Shreya escaping her underground trap only to end up in the hands of her worst enemy and her greatest temptation, Enoch.
To purchase this and other books by Sheryl Kaleo, please visit her Amazon Author page.
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~ In Which I Break My Promise ~
When I look back at everything I’ve done since I started running, all I can see is a girl who’s willing to help people as long as she can do it from a safe place. Even now, with what I’m about to do, I’m doing it under the safety of anonymity and stealth. And even now, Mama’s training that’s all about self-preservation is so deeply ingrained in me I feel all kinds of stupid. And yet there’s a perverse part of me pushing ahead. I don’t really know why, except that part of me feels all new and tingly and . . . dangerous. Yup. Stupid.
So, I do what I always do with things I don’t want to look at too closely, I tackle it like it’s just an ordinary problem—with two parts. The first part will be painful, but easy enough to do. Although, heaven help me, I hope never to do it again. The second part is more difficult. But I have my best bud Jenna to credit for what little I know. I can’t count the number of times she’s rescued some poor animal. Dying baby anythings are her specialty. So, I have a clue what’s needed. But heaven help me, as I—Shreya Helene Adams—do exactly what Mama warned me never to do, for a zombie no less. I’m an idiot. If Mama could see me now, she’d slap me sensible.
I fill a small, medicinal cup with my blood—thankfully, it’s still red—after cutting the palm of my hand. The damn thing hurts like hell, especially since I can’t find the spray-on bandage and have to apply some sort of stick-and-peel adhesive. I grab more just in case the wound heals and I have to cut myself again.
However, my hand’s sore. What if I need both hands to fight in the next hour? I should have cut something else. Anyway, I sit down in the chair that’s right next to the bed, holding the cup and a medicine dropper I found in the cabinets at the front of the solarium.
My goal is to feed the child like a baby kitten, dribbling blood down her throat. Wearing the pearlescent gloves I found with the dropper, I try to get the Cyborg child’s mouth to open. To say that’s difficult is an understatement.
“Come on, Candace.” The more I try to force or even entice her mouth open by rubbing a little blood on it, the more she clamps down. I pass the cup in front of her nose. I try to stick the dropper past her lips and end up smearing blood all over them.
I try everything short of gripping her jaws, standing on the bed, and prying them open.
Finally I sit back and wipe my brow with my rolled up sleeve. Just one drop will bring the blush back. That would be enough to give her a fighting chance wouldn’t it? But I can’t get her to take that single drop. What now?
One transfusion could cure the ailments of the sick and dying. But one single drop could bring about a war and the end of mankind’s existence—Yeah, yeah. What choice do I have?
If starting a war means healing a five-year-old child, can I say no? Except . . . a transfusion means some sort of venipuncture injection doesn’t it? I’m not a nurse. What if I hurt this child? But she’s dying anyway. And I might save her life.
I rummage about in the cabinet until I find one of those old fashioned syringes SST used on Dax. I fill it, then squirt some back into the cup to make sure it’s empty of air—I know that much is important from med-tech class. Then I pray that I don’t hurry this girl’s death along. Before I lose my nerve, I pull down the blanket and stick it in her arm, emptying the syringe.
Is that enough? Is that the same as a transfusion? Should I inject her with more? What if Mama is wrong? What if she’s been lied to? What if Master Fred is right and I’m a Gargoyle?
But faith, providence—or whatever it is that helps stupid people like me who don’t know what they’re doing—helps me. Candace rolls over and gasps for air. Immediately, I use the medicine dropper to dribble the contents of the cup into her mouth. At first I have to slow down when the back of her mouth fills up and it seems like the blood is going to spill over. But slowly, little by little, it goes down, and then she swallows. That’s when I feed her the rest from the cup by pouring it in. When the cup is empty, she smacks her mouth as if needing more. God help me, but I remove my bandage and give her more, reopening the wound that was almost closed.
I hold her down. I’m not stupid enough to let her put her mouth on my cut and infect me. But I squeeze my hand over her lips, and the wound drips into her mouth.
She inhales a deep breath and I find myself gasping with her. But as her breathing smoothes out, mine comes more easily, too. And what happens next is truly a miracle. If I doubted Mama, I don’t anymore. The jagged flesh wound at her neck starts to turn pink.
There’s something about seeing this child so close to death suddenly gasping and licking her lips. I don’t know what comes over me, but suddenly, feeding her becomes more important than anything else in my life. More important even than finding out what I’m turning into. More important than ever making it back home. More important than living.
I become a zealot with my blood. I take out one of my knives, puncture my wrist, and press my wound to her lips. She sucks as I pour everything into her. How can I not? She has someone who wants her to live. Who do I have?
“What are you doing?”
I look up and the sudden movement makes me dizzy and ready to throw up. Maybe I’ve given a bit too much blood, but all I can think to say is, “Huh?”
Enoch bares sharp pointy teeth and snarls. “You’re killing her!”
Of the many times I thought I was going to die, I am one hundred percent sure that this time, I’m not only going to die, it’s going to be painful.
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To purchase this and other books by Sheryl Kaleo, please visit her Amazon page.