Mari’s heart was pumping out of her chest.
The ambulance sirens wailed around her as she followed closely behind it, her shaking fingertips tightening around the steering wheel.
The technicians hadn’t looked hopeful as they’d loaded the bodies into the back of the van.
There had been so much blood.
The memories flashed like fireworks every time she closed her eyes. She’d been standing in the back, barely paying attention, trying to focus on the set numbers. Then the explosion had bloomed across the room. She had felt the sonic hum deep in her chest, and the ringing in her ears still burned, even now.
Mari slammed her fist into the steering wheel, letting out an ear splitting shriek as she let her emotions bubble over. Her friends might be dead. She had never thought that it would actually come it this.
She thought that they were safe now that the Titans were gone.
Sohinki’s words now echoed hauntingly in the back of her mind.
The ambulance in front of her ripped into the hospital parking lot. Personel in white coats and white gloves ran with crash carts from the front door as soon as the ambulance stopped.
Mari found a parking spot quickly, putting the car into park before running towards the van, barely thinking to lock her car behind her. She could see them pull a gurney out of the back, moving it quickly towards the front entrance as doctors and ER techs shouted numbers at one another. Joven stepped out of the back, out of breath and sweaty, covered in blood.
“Joven, how are they?“
“Boze is stable, but still unconscious, they still bringing her in.” He swallowed quickly, his lip quivering. “She’s going to be fine as soon as she wakes up.”
“And Shayne?” Mari felt her heart squeeze. She’d gotten to know the guy well over the few years, and he was a good man. He didn’t deserve this. If anything happened to him—if he couldn’t come back from this—she knew that everyone at the Jackrabbit would be devastated, Damien especially.
“The technicians…” his voice rattled in his throat. “They said that it doesn’t look good.” Joven was shaking, and Mari felt the remnants of the shock and terror bleeding off of him. “Is everyone, they’re all okay? I should be with them right now, Wes and Damien, oh god, Damien, he must be a wreck.”
“Hey, hey,” Mark grabbed him as he stumbled forward. “They’re okay, don’t worry, I’ve got it under control. We need to get you some water.”
“Mari, I’m fine.”
“No, you’re not. You’re clearly still in shock, c’mon, let’s get you warmed up a little.” She felt Joven stiffen and then melted on her arm. Mari could feel him shaking beneath her.
“Mari, what have I done?”
“You didn’t do anything.”
“We should go back to the club, the strippers are probably terrified, and Damien, oh my god, he must be in pieces, we should go back.”
Mari furrowed her eyebrows, turning Joven towards her. She studied his eyes for a second, steadying his head in her hands. “Shit, you must’ve hit your head.”
“I think you have a concussion.”
“Mari, I’m fine.”
“No, c’mon, we’re getting you checked out.”
Mari forced Joven to see the doctor after some prodding, and the doctor, a nice young guy who bore a strange resemblance to Tanner, confirmed that it was indeed a concussion. Joven sat on the examination table, paper crinkling under him as he fiddled with the edge of his coat as the doctor entered his data in under the fake name Mari had given him.
“Are you two are coming that bombing at the strip club?” He raised an eyebrow, his eyes were kind, but strained. “We’ve had a few people come in after that, all similar symptoms and levels of trauma.
“Yeah,” Mari nodded. “We came with some friends that were injured pretty badly.”
“Oh,” the doctor’s eyebrows shot up. “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s not your fault,” Joven grumbled, half-concious. “But whoever did do it is going to pay.”
“I’m sure the police will figure out who was responsible for this,” the doctor nodded.
“We’d be lucky if they even give us a nice look in the first place,” he grumbled back. “I’d be surprised if they come by at all.” Joven popped his head up, narrowing and widening his eyes. “I think I’m gonna throw up.”
He ran for the bathroom, leaving Mari and the doctor alone in the room.
“Don’t worry, that’s normal for concussion patients-“
“I know,” Mari nodded. She moved her head slightly. “I was Pre-Med back in the day. So I also know to give him plenty of fluids and to force him not to look at screens too much.” Her lip curled up slightly. “Though that might prove difficult.”
“Ahh,” the man nodded his mouth open. “I suppose that’s how you knew that he had one in the first place.”
Mari nodded, tight-lipped. She cleared her throat, opening her mouth before closing it and then opening it again. “I really don’t mean to pry, or annoy or anything, but would you happen to know how the two people that came in around the same time we did?” Mari racked her brain for Boze’s pseudonym. “Boze Erickman and Shayne Topp?”
“I wish I could tell you,” the man frowned apologetically. “By unfortunately I only specialize in this field, I couldn’t touch the ER Branch even if it boosted my salary tenfold.” He turned away, stopping for a second before turning back. “But I did hear one thing. People talk between shifts, and this bombing has brought in a wave of people. There were some paramedics in the break room between shifts, they were talking about a victim who was in really, really bad condition.”
“White guy, blondish-brown hair?”
“Yes.” The man drew in a breath. “From what they were saying...if they haven’t gotten him stable by now, he might not make it at all.”
“Do you think that they couldn’t stabilize him?”
“There’s a 50/50 chance.” The doctor pulled up a clipboard, signing it quickly. “But for now, it’s a waiting game. If you believe in some higher power, I’d suggest praying to it.”
< < ^ > >
“Is he alive?” Damien’s voice crackled over the phone.
“I don’t know,” Mari walked down the hall, her arm threaded through Joven’s to keep him upright. “They haven’t let us in yet. Joven just got out of the doctor’s office.”
“What happened to him?”
“Just hit his head. He has a mild concussion.”
“She’s stable, but she’s in a coma. She broke her left arm, her right wrist and her left leg, and they’ll have to check her for brain damage when she wakes up, but for now, she’s alright.”
“That’s good to hear,” Damien sighed. “It’s only been bad news on bad news here. I’m heading over as soon as I hear about Shayne.”
“Damien, no, we need you there.”
“Wes has it under control, and the club will be okay, the police have left now, they’re all done questioning everyone. I sent the strippers to Courtney’s. They’re all going to stay together there until we get the all clear.” He paused for a second, swallowing slowly. “And I need to be there when he wakes up.” Damien’s breathing sped up enough to be noticeable. “I need to…”
“I get it,” Mari murmured. “I get it.”
Damien cleared his throat, his tone changing. “There’s some more bad news.”
“Shit, did a patron get hurt?”
“No, luckily,” Damien’s voice wavered. “It’s Leo.”
“The blast got to the basement?”
“No." There was a pause. "It’s worse than that...He’s gone.”
“What!?” Mari stopped in her tracks, a slightly loopy Joven trying to focus as he leaned up against a wall. “How did he get out?”
“I don't know," his voice grew increasingly more frayed. "He didn’t do it on his own, the door was opened from the outside.”
“Somebody helped him.”
“That's what I was worried about." He paused again. "And it was probably the same person that set the bomb in the first place.”
“ Shit ,” Mari swore. “You're probably right.”
“I’m not one hundred percent sure,” he murmured. “But it’s the best bet.”
“Damien, are you okay?”
His voice was low and quiet, “I’ll be fine as soon as I know that Shayne’s okay.” He didn’t sound angry, almost disappointed. “I should’ve apologized, and now-” he seemed to catch himself. “Just call me when you can go in and see him, I’m driving over.”
The phone call cut off before Mari could reply. She picked Joven off the wall, pulling him towards the nurse’s desk.
“Hi, can I help you?” The woman at the desk has a nice voice, and Mari was glad for some calm.
“I’m looking for the room numbers of Boze Erickman and Shayne Topp.”
The woman gave her a nod and a smile, looking down at the paperwork. She checked a few boxes looking up at them. “Are you two family or friends?”
Mari smiled, trying to keep Joven from slipping.
“Family.” She nodded, tight lipped. “We’re family.”