“I’ll call him,” said Othello. He dialled, listened for a while then hung up. “It’s gone to voicemail.”
“Maybe he’s on his way but can’t answer while he’s riding.” suggested India.
“Yeah, but I would have thought he’d be here by now, anyway.” said Othello.
“Maybe he got sidetracked by a garage sale on the way here or something,” joked Prada.
“Perhaps we should take the car and backtrack the route, see if we can see him.” Said India.
“Good idea,” said Mercury, “You drive, and you might as well take the demon with you, seeing as its at a loose end.”
Harold’s face lit up while Mercury’s suggestion had the exact opposite effect on India, making their two faces look like Comedy and Tragedy. Wisely, though, India didn’t say anything as Othello tossed her the car keys.
A crowded vegetable market. Everybody towering over him and no sign of Mommy in the throngs of people pushing past him without so much as a downward glance. The panic welling up and the hot, stinging tears starting. His mouth opening to begin bawling.
A taste of honey, sweet on the tongue. Abigail’s slim brown hands offering him another helping of honeycomb, fresh from the hive..
A lynx, lying in the dappled shadows, tail twitching lazily, glutted and sleepy after a kill.
The buzz of summer insects floating on the still air.
Himself, shaking and chilled to the bone, dragging himself over the frozen assault course under a lead-coloured sky which promised yet more snow, while Sgt McAllister yelled himself hoarse, letting him and everybody else in the group know in no uncertain terms that he was the single most useless maggot of a cadet it had ever been his displeasure to train.
The sudden silver flash of a fish just below the surface of the lake. His dad, showing him how to catch them, teaching him how to bait the hook and send the line far, far out over the water.
"Sir?" the mellow, husky voice broke into this dream, scattering lake, fish and dad. "Sir? Can you hear me? Can you squeeze my hand? That’s good, that’s very good . Can you open your eyes for me please?”
Box opened his eyes then quickly squeezed them shut against the harsh white light. All around him he could hear the noise of people talking, machines beeping, doors banging and general hustle and bustle.
The pain in his leg was now just a dull throb, its power to distract his attention marginal at best. His head felt like it was stuffed full of warm cotton wool and he floated in pleasant drowsiness . They must have given him something for the pain - a pretty powerful something if the vividness of the dreams was anything to go by. Box dimly remembered riding the bike into the hospital parking lot. He’d tried to stop gracefully near the entrance to the ER, but in had ended up slowing right down and pretty much just falling over sideways, unable to dismount. Still, he had reached the shelter of the hospital and they had taken him in, away from Infinity Recycling – assuming it was them who had been following in the white car.
He was safe for the moment then.