Suzy and her mom didn’t stick around much later. Her mom wanted to get her home and make supper. He had seen that she really wasn’t happy to be leaving, and he had thanked her for sticking around before they took off. At least one adult seemed to care enough to stay.
As soon as they were out the door though, he realized how tired he had become. It had been a long day, and he could feel it as he slipped back onto the bed, ready to shut his eyes and disappear into sleep.
“Long day huh.” He heard the quiet voice. He looked over and saw that there was a younger boy who was sitting up. Riley had almost forgotten that he shared a room, the boy had stayed quiet while Suzy had been there.
“So, skateboarding huh?”
Riley nodded, “Yeah, you?”
“Had my appendix taken out. Stuck here for a couple of days before they’ll let me go home.”
“Wow, that sucks.”
“Yeah, and no ice cream.”
“No ice cream?”
“Yeah, I thought I was supposed to get all kinds of ice cream after surgery, but na, nothing.”
“That’s your tonsils I think.”
“Oh, oh well.”
“Hey, I’m Riley.”
“Riley? Isn’t that a girls name?”
Yeah, sure, it’s a girls name, and I’m a girl. He wanted to say it, but he held his tongue. It wasn’t just a girls name, it would go either way. He’d heard just as many guys have Riley as a name, so no, it was not just a girls name. He held his tongue, with his teeth, to keep from responding.
“Last I checked, I wasn’t a girl.”
“Well that’s good to know, I like to strip down when I sleep.”
“T.M.I. man, T.M.I.”
The boy started laughing, but then stopped. Riley could see that it caused him pain. He would have to remember not to try to hard to get him to laugh.
“My name’s Bruce.”
“Cool, like Batman?”
“Sure, Let me grab my cape.”
“Might be hard, it looks like they have you tied up pretty good to that bed.”
Bruce laughed again, but the laugh drifted away into a fit of coughing.
“Na, don’t be.”
“And what do we have going on in here?” Came a loud female voice from behind Riley. He quickly turned and regretted it. His leg shot an electricity bolt of pain through him and he quickly pushed himself to sit up as he gritted his teeth through it.
“Hey now boys, how are ya doing?”
Riley nodded as he watched the nurse stroll over to him. She was an old woman a little larger around the waist and white hair high in curls. She made him think of some kind of motherly woman from TV and she looked nice enough. She actually looked at him like she cared, which was an oddity, and he wasn’t quiet sure how he was supposed to act around it.
“Cat got your tongue eh?” She said with a strange accent. “You shouldn’t move so quick like that. It’s going to take you some time don’t ya know to get used to that cast. Your body is still trying to move the muscles around the broken bone so when you jerk like that,” she was saying as she helped him ease his leg back to straight, “it’s going to jolt you pretty good.”
She nodded down to him as he eased himself back.
“Your welcome. I’m Nurse Jackie. I’ll be taking care you boys tonight. You need anything, just call that buzzer over there, okay?” She raised the pager next to his arm. “And if you need help going to the bathroom, just let me know. It might take a few tries for you to get used to those crutches.” She nodded to where they sat on his bedside. He looked at them and then nodded back to her.
“I’ll be fine.”
“Sure you will.”
She moved away from him, and as she went over to Bruce, Riley just couldn’t stop thinking of the old woman trying to help him to the bathroom. The idea of someone help him in there, someone old. well, ugh, that was just a huge ‘no.’ He knew no matter how much he screwed up, that was one call he would not be making.
He didn’t know what it was, but he suddenly felt so tired. His head was so heavy and it sunk deeper into his pillow. The world around him grew dark and his eyes lids just kept fluttering. He just wanted to..drift..off..to sleep.
* * * *
“No! Stop! Please!”
Riley was suddenly awake, the room around him dark, but the screams he heard were unmistakable. He had heard the cries for help and they had pulled him quickly from his own dreams. He had heard Bruce, though the voice he hadn’t recognized until he realized just what room he was in. He was still in the hospital, it was dark, the door was closed, and when he looked over, he could see Bruce in the little bit of light that came in behind him from the window.
Bruce was thrashing around, like he was fighting for dear life. He was asleep, Riley was pretty sure of that, but it looked like he was fighting something and it was really kicking the crap out of him.
“Hey man, you okay?”
“Get away from me! Stop!” Bruce was crying and whatever he was fighting in his dreams, it seemed like it had let him go as he was trying to back away from it in the bed.
“Come on man, you gotta wake up.”
“Don’t come any closer!”
Riley knew he wasn’t talking to him, but man, it was getting creepy. He looked around the room again, just making sure there wasn’t someone else there he wasn’t seeing. He’d heard of people having night terrors, those nasty dreams that were worst than the average nightmare, but he had never heard or seen anything like this. This was something straight out of a horror movie, how Bruce was reacting to something with his eyes closed and that Riley couldn’t see.
It was really freaking him out.
“Bruce, come on! Wake up!” Riley was leaning over his railing on the side of the bed and the cold metal was digging in to his side. He wanted to go over there and shake Bruce out of it, but the cast.
He looked at the crutches leaning against the night stand. He hadn’t had to use them yet, hadn’t needed to go to the bathroom, but he could try now. He’d used ones not meant for him before, when his aunt had sprained her ankle. He had just been kidding around, both his legs were fine. He had done okay with them then right? This would be easy.
“Come on!” Riley yelled again. “Hey, Batman!”
Bruce looked like he was grabbed again as his hands were held up at an odd angle, both hands together. It was so unnatural, and didn’t look like he had enough of his body on the bed to support how he was held up like that.
That’s it, he had to do something.
Riley reached out for the crutches and pulled them over to him. He had a brief moment when he thought he was going to drop one of them when it had slipped through his hands and he had felt it falling to the ground. He got lucky as he fumbled for it, he had pushed it towards him, so when it fell, it landed against the metal railing along the bed and got lodged there. He grabbed for it and brought them both closer to him. Then he slid down the railing and eased his casted leg over the side of the bed.
There were a few twinges of pain, but he tried not to actually use his leg, just let it dangle there. Though as he brought his other leg over, he wasn’t used to the weight of the cast on his leg and with his balance off, he felt himself starting to slide, his butt threatening to slip off the side of the bed.
He pulled the crutches to his sides and didn’t worry about the sliding. He couldn’t, he was going to do this, wether he knew how he was going to do it or not. He slid them quick under his arms and leaned forward. The sliding off the bed actually helped him as he was able to use it to get himself up, thankful he didn’t lean to far forward as he wasn’t sure how he would stop himself from falling.
“Please, don’t hurt me.” Bruce was whimpering to whatever had him in the dream. Riley couldn’t imagine what could instill that much fear, but with how insane nightmares were, it could be anything. He might be held by one of those things from “Attack on Titan” or something, and he was getting ready to be eaten. That would not be a fun dream. Well, not unless you were one of the hunters, and were getting ready to take the titan down.
“Don’t worry buddy, I’m coming.” Riley said, and he took his first step forward.
Riley was so glad the beds were not that far apart. He had made the first step forward, though the second step was made largely out of the momentum from the first step and the third step, well that was about to be a large mess of a fall forward as he had lost his balance. He had been falling towards Bruce when he had slammed into his bed.
The “falling” stop was such a shock to Riley that he was surprised it hadn’t woke Bruce as he was still struggling with his dream monster. The dream really had a hold on him, Riley wasn’t sure if it was the med’s the doctors gave him or what, but he was out.
Riley shook the bed some more, trying to get some leverage to really shake it. Bruce still didn’t wake up, and in the dim light, he could see the tears running down Bruce’s cheeks. He was truly terrified by whatever he was seeing.
“Come on, man, you got this.”
Riley grabbed Bruce by the wrist intending to shake him awake, maybe smack him on the cheek to bring him out of it.
Instead, the world around Riley disappeared, and he was no longer in the hospital room. He was still with Bruce, but now he could look up, and he saw what was holding Bruce over the large pit of lava below him. Rilly looked up, and saw the dragon.
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