I wrote this little short while recovering from ankle surgery, from the point of view of a new member of our crew of the Locus (from Undead Reckoning, my zombie novel), rescued while on a supply run ashore. Enjoy!
The pain had been intense, shooting up my leg, searing my brain. I had never broken a leg before, and this was worse than I had imagined, if I'd ever even though about it. It took all my effort to make it into the tree, trying to escape the grasps of the moaning figures that then amassed beneath me, trying desperately to reach me. The pain, and the effort of escape, finally were too much, and I succumbed, allowing unconscious oblivion to take me in its forgiving embrace.
When I awoke, there were fewer of them gathered beneath the tree. They seemed to be uncharacteristically losing interest, the crowd dwindling and eventually I was left alone. Perhaps there was a more interesting meal elsewhere, but I didn't care the reason, I was just thankful they were moving on.
The pain was still there, but dulled somewhat by a numbness that was perhaps more alarming. I was too scared to make any sound, fearing the return of the moaning horde. I didn't want them anywhere near my family, or our home. I doubted any of my family survived their previous onslaught, though, and my sadness at that thought devastated me. Yes, I was alone again, with only my pain and my sadness, and they were not very good company. Again, oblivion overtook me.
The sun rose and fell a few times. At first, I dared not stir, for fear of the moaners, but later I found that if I moved even a little, the pain was too much. At first I also made no sound out of fear of the moaners, but later I discovered that lack of water had parched my throat, silencing even my most strenuous attempts to speak.
My thirst became even more of an obsession than my pain. There was something else that had grown on me, or in me, as well: a fever borne of my throbbing leg, spreading throughout me, fogging my mind, and making me dizzy. This sickness my only company.
Into this helpless state swum a face. A young boy with words of encouragement and soothing. A trickle of water down my throat. Accompanied by words, that meant nothing to me, "Not too much all at once." Not a moaner then, all I could think. Another face, a man with that ropey hair that some men have, in the tree with me, but soothing my alarm. I remember being borne out of the tree in the embrace of strong arms, and I let myself go once again to my recent best friend: oblivion.
When I awoke, I felt a bit clearer. The fever must have broken. My leg was wrapped in some kind of cloth, bound tightly to a support of some kind that was keeping it straight. The pain was still there, but dulled somewhat, the edges not quite as sharp, I felt a little numb, but comfortably so. My mind was not working quite right, a dull lethargy and slight swimming sensation that reminded me of a lake somewhere in which I had swum.
The boy's face came into view, and he spoke to me. "You're awake! Good! I'm Jeremy, and you're on our boat, safe. Mum gave you something for the pain. Rest now, I'll be here when you wake up." The words sounded soothing, but my brain made no sense of them. I lay there and tried to make a sound, but despite clearly having been given water, my throat was not cooperating, and after a while of making gasping noises, I gave up the effort, and let this new numbness take me.
When I awoke, once again voices surrounded me, but their meaning didn't register through the fog. "Can she stay with us?" "Another mouth to feed." "Every hand needs to help, and I'm not sure what she brings to the table." "Don't be so heartless and calculating, Kevin." "That sounded wrong, but you know what I mean, Yvette, we've scarce enough resources as is." "But she's hurt, and needs our help, Dad!" Somehow the tone of the discussion registered, and I wanted to say something. The numbness in my head was like the embrace of some furry serpent, warm and alarming at the same time.
A sigh. Some more muttered discussion, sounds of relenting.
The boy's smiling face swam into view, saying "Dad says you can stay with us!"
Again, just words to my addled brain, but the tone was reassuring, and the smiling face soothed my panic, as the furry serpent uncoiled a bit from around my brain, releasing the part that controlled my voice.
"Quack!" I happily replied, ruffling my feathers and stretching the webbing of my good foot.