I stayed with Chloe all night. I must have dozed off at some point, but I can’t remember when. I remember watching her scurry from boulder to boulder, lost in a place I couldn’t reach. I remember worrying and crying and shouting at her from time to time.
I remember her collapsing.
I remember panicking.
I remember checking her pulse and pupil dilation and whether she was breathing! You had me so worried!
I remember feeling her temperature. Too hot!
I remember splashing water on her face, forcing some down her throat, then wrapping her in my jacket when she started shaking. I remember praying to whatever deity cared to listen. Just let her be alright. Just bring her back safely!
I remember hearing her start crying and vomiting and just being thankful she was alive!
You put me through hell, Chloe. Don’t leave me now.
Opening my eyes was like trying to pry open an ancient pickle jar. My head was pounding and something had crawled into my mouth and died gruesomely. I tried to sit up.
“Argh…” I didn’t even have energy to groan properly.
“Thank god!” A pair of arms yanked me upwards and squeezed me tight. I choked. My blouse felt wet.
“Thomas?” I mumbled.
“Who else you fucking moron?!” He looked pissed! Then he hugged me again and muttered something about me scaring him.
“Don’t do that again!” He squeezed me tight and then started yelling. “Wandering off in the desert without food or water or a map! While asleep on your feet! What the fuck, Chloe?!”
“‘M sorry,” I mumbled, trying to look contrite while wishing he’d be quiet. Really, my head couldn’t take that! My whole body felt sluggish and my stomach threatened to empty itself.
“What were you thinking?!”
I tried to remember. A rush of information flooded the forefront of my mind. Too much to convey. “MorcuCorp…they’re bad…real bad.” My eyes closed. I felt like death.
Thomas sighed. “Why do you do these things?” he whispered. Was he crying?
He gave a sharp laugh, more of a bark. “I’ll bet.” He helped me to my feet. Then, half stumbling, half walking, we made our way out of the desert.
I honestly don’t remember the walk out of the desert. I think some tourist bus picked us up, because we made it back to camp by noon. We must’ve looked like shit. Chloe’s hair was all over the place and her eyes were bloodshot. Our clothes were rumpled, stained, and torn in places. Lucy started crying when she saw us.
“What happened?!” demanded Medea. Her voice shook slightly. She stared at Chloe.
What happened? I peered over at Chloe. I’d like to know that myself.
“Bad cactus,” I answered. “She needs some sleep now.”
Instead of backing up like the girls, Donovan stepped closer and peered at Chloe.
“Looks like the hallucinogenic effects of Opuntia basilaris.” He pried open her eyelid and scrutinized her eye, which was more red than blue. “I suggest forcing some milk down her first. It’s important to flush any remnants from the system and milk contains proteins that should counteract any residual effects of the cactus juice.” Donovan studied Chloe’s face for another second. Then, more to her than to me, said “I’ll grab your bottle.”
I’d just gotten Chloe to drink a large glass of milk (still warm from the goat), when Donovan came over with a blue water bottle. Chloe took a swig. A few seconds later, she was out cold.
“She was more tired than I thought,” I muttered, bundling her more careful in her sleeping bag and closing the tent.
Donovan shrugged. “Hallucinogens can be mentally draining.”
I glanced over at my youngest sibling. “How do you know so much?”
He shrugged. “I wrote a paper on commonly found natural hallucinogenics when I took that online bio-chemistry class from Sim University.”
I ran a hand over my face. Sometimes, Donovan acted so much like an excitable puppy that I forgot that his IQ was right up there with Chloe’s.
“Will she be okay?” The voice was so soft and timid, I almost thought it was Lucy asking. But no, Medea stood behind me, looking small and scared, and trying hard not to show it.
“This isn’t the first time Chloe’s done something stupid,” I chuckled, ruffling Medea’s hair. “She’ll be up and bothering all of us tomorrow.” That got me a small smile.
Medea took a shaky breath and sighed it out. “Okay,” she whispered. “Okay.” Lucy reached out and hugged her, for once, looking like the supportive twin.
Donovan started expertly roasting some fish while the girls chatted quietly.
As for me, I sat down outside Chloe’s tent. When you wake up, I’m getting answers!
Note: I swear I’ll lighten up. Promise…>.>
Thanks for reading! ^_^