“Where are you now?”
Christiana read the text and glanced at the clock. It was coming up to 12pm and the room she was in was unbelievably hot and sticky. It didn’t help that the place was packed with 14 different consultants and head nurses.
“I still think that this case is valid.”
Someone was arguing, Christiana knew that she was currently looking after the patient that they were discussing so tried her hardest to push thoughts of the text and what they implied to the back of her mind. This was about as useful as running through mud however as Connor had been in the forefront of her mind all day and it only seemed to be getting worse the closer to the date it got.
“I’ve told you before, there are queries in this incident that haven’t been fully explained. If I’m perfectly honest, I think that the patient has every right to complain about what happened.”
Christiana relaxed a little more, they were talking about a previous admission for this patient on another ward, she wouldn’t need to chip in as much as she thought. Her mind quickly started to wonder again. Her phone vibrated once more.
“How much longer is the meeting going to be?”
Christiana smiled to herself, he seemed eager. It gave her a quick thrill. She tuned back in to the meeting for long enough to figure out who was being discussed now. They were about halfway through the list of incidents. It wouldn’t be finished for at least another half an hour. She hid her phone under her bag and discreetly wrote her reply.
“Sorry, another half an hour and I’m all yours. Xx”
No reply. Five minutes went by, followed by another ten and nothing. The meeting had appeared to get stuck on one particular patient, adding another twenty minutes to it’s likely duration. Christiana chewed her lip, worried that she may have upset Connor by making him wait.
“Hope you’re not mad, I wish I could get out earlier but I’m stuck! Xx”
No sooner had she sent it, someone knocked on the door to the conference room and Connor walked in.
“I’m really sorry to disrupt, but I have a very urgent problem that I need to discuss with Christiana straight away, I’m afraid I’m going to have to take her out of the meeting.”
Everyone looked between Christiana and Connor as she stared dumbly in response to his intrusion.
“I’m sorry, but who are you?” Professor Carrington, the Clinical Director for the hospital glared at Connor with his large eyes.
“My name is Connor Mayhew of the Royal British Army sir and I need to discuss a matter with your colleague of great importance.”
Christiana didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. This was ridiculous. Connor had not only barged into this meeting but he was using his job to lie about it. Holy crap, she was going to have to come up with an amazing excuse for what this had been all about when she was asked about it later.
“Well go on Christiana, we can survive this once without you.”
“Thanks Professor.” Christiana stuttered out, collecting her bag and shoving her notepad inside. “Sorry.”
She hugged her bag to her and, giving Connor the most incredulous look, she walked out the room, Connor’s arm resting lightly on the small of her back as he led her out.
As soon as they were out of earshot and heading to the car park, Christiana smacked Connor hard on the chest.
“What was that about?” Christiana asked. “People are going to think that I’m being arrested for something dodgy! How the hell am I meant to explain that away?”
Christiana expected Connor’s response to be light and jokey, but instead all she was met with was the same steel expression that he had held in the conference room.
“You were late.” He said.
“Just as I told you I would be.” Christiana replied, her mood dropping slightly to match his. “You couldn’t wait half an hour?”
Connor looked at her for a moment, and then pushed her into a quicker walk. “Come on, we’re already late.”
This was a side to Connor that Christiana rarely saw. It was his work side. The side of him that meant business. She stopped walking immediately and waited for him to stop and turn to face her.
“What’s wrong?” She asked.
“Nothing,” Connor said, “I’ll just be happier when we are at the restaurant.”
“You’re lying to me.”
“Christie, please, we don’t have time for this, just get in the car and out of this heat. I’ll explain it all to you when we get to the place.”
Christiana really was sweating at this point, it was ridiculously hot out and she could feel the burn of the sun on her arms. The mere thought of the air conditioned car appealed to every one of her physical needs at the moment but she couldn’t will her feet to move.
“I’m not going anywhere until you start explaining to me what’s going on with you.”
Connor rolled his eyes and let out a deep sigh, dropping his head. “Christie, you are going to hate what I’m about to do, but trust me, it is for your own good.”
“What are you...?”
Connor was over to her before she could finish her sentence and had swooped her over his shoulder in one move.
“Connor? Are you insane?” Christiana called out. “Put me down.”
Connor didn’t respond, he just carried her over to the car, put her in the passenger seat and buckled her in.
“Stay.” He said, his face inches from hers, that protective fire still burning in his eyes. Christiana wanted to stay angry, but all she could concentrate on was how amazing he looked in that moment. She liked this side of Connor. She made a mental note to piss him off more often if this was the reaction she would get.
Connor walked round to his side of the car and started the engine. He sped out of the car park in record speed, narrowly missing slower moving cars as he went by.
“Is it even worth me asking you to slow down?”
Connor checked the clock on the dashboard. It was 12:40.
“We have to be there for 1pm at the very latest. Which means, I have to make a 30 minute journey in 20 minutes. So no, it isn’t worth you asking me that at all.”
“It’s only a reservation Connor. It’s not the end of the world if we don’t get there on time.”
Connor didn’t say anything but put his foot down even further and Christiana felt her whole body press back against the seat with the momentum. They travelled the rest of the journey in silence, except for the swearing from Connor and the screeches from Christiana whenever a car got too close to them.
The air conditioning didn’t seem to be doing a blind bit of difference to the heat in the car, even though it was on full blast. The sun was beaming through the windows with such ferocity that Christiana’s skin seemed to burn red in front of her eyes. She opened her mouth at one point to say something about it but then shut it quickly again when an old lady crossing the road got the brunt of another of Connor’s long swearing tirades.
With three minutes to spare, Connor pulled up in what looked like an abandoned car park and he was at Christiana’s side of the car, opening her door before she had even reached for the door handle. He pulled her out of the car.
“Okay,” Christiana said in a long quizzical tone. “What’s going on?”
Connor scanned the horizon before letting his eyes fall to Christiana’s once more.
“Please say you’re going to walk this time because you weigh a tone Christie.” His face was still sober but there was a small twinkle in his eyes that told Christiana that Connor was still there.
“I can walk,” Christiana said with a smile, “I could walk before- Ow!”
“What is it? What’s wrong?” Connor was suddenly alert and scanning around them once more.
“I’m burnt!” Christiana said, examining her arms. “Are they blisters?”
Connor took one look at her arms and started moving again, taking Christiana’s hand and pulling her into a run. Christiana didn’t argue this time, something felt wrong about this heat. She heard the scream of a woman and turned her head just in time to see a tree go up in flames falling onto the road.
Suddenly everything seemed to move in fast forward from then on, more trees exploded and even some buildings seemed to be on fire. People started collapsing and screaming all over, and suddenly it wasn’t only Connor and Christiana who were running. Everyone seemed to be desperately seeking shelter, somewhere away from the heat. She turned back to Connor and saw the back of his neck was completely covered in what looked like 3rd degree burns. Christiana pushed into her run even more so that she was running alongside him. She had no idea where she was going but she knew that Connor did, and that was enough for her.
They kept on running until they reached a run down old building. Connor had a panel open and was pressing Christiana’s fingers onto the pad, typing out four numbers. The entrance panel seemed to go on and on, asking her for different things from her; retina scans, fingerprints, all the while, her skin felt like it was on fire. Connor screamed a 4 digit number at her and she repeated it. Suddenly the door clicked open and she was thrown inside. She turned to check if Connor was okay but noticed that the door had shut behind her, locking him out.
“Connor?” She called out. Panic overcame her then, she started thumping her fists against the door, looking for some kind of handle or lever but finding nothing, just a smooth surface.
“Connor!” Christiana screamed it this time, throwing all her weight against the door in an effort to force it open. Suddenly the door opened again and Connor threw himself in, landing inadvertently on Christiana and sending her flying backwards and onto the floor. Her head smacked against the floor and suddenly everything started to blur. She tried to focus on Connor, checking to see if he was okay, but just as his face came into her line of sight, he started to blur away. She heard his voice call her name, and she wanted to respond, to say that she was okay, but she couldn’t find the words. She couldn’t find any words, or any sounds, or any images at all, she could only see darkness.