<<< Previous Chapter Next Chapter >>>


The knock on the door woke him from a fitful sleep.  It took him a moment to collect his bearings, and he realized he had fallen asleep, once again, with a watchful eye on the closet.  His position on the ground immediately explained the pain in his neck and the stiffness in his back.  He groaned as he pushed himself up into a seated position.  In his sleep, he had slumped against the wall and tilted to the side.  The blanket he had curled up as a make shift pillow had dropped to the floor and offered no comfort.

He had to stop falling asleep like this, before his body permanently deformed into this shape.  A second knock on the door reminded him of what had stirred him from his sleep, and he began the painful process of righting himself on legs still very much asleep.

When he finally managed to open the door, he only opened it a crack.  He squinted for a moment, trying to clear the sleep from his eyes.  It took a few more seconds before he recognized Lenore standing in the hallway.  “Can I help you?” he did not mean to transmit such a harsh tone, but he was exhausted still and did not appreciate unexpected visitors.

She held up a bucket of water, and Nathan realized he must have slept through a storm.  Typically she or Davidson, or both as the case may be, would invite themselves into the apartment and deposit the water into the sink for them.  He knew, as a silently agreed upon rule, they were to leave their apartments unlocked the majority of the time for occasions such as these.  She probably hadn’t expected their door to be locked, but they weren’t exactly entertaining visitors these days.

“Thanks,” he told her, as he opened the door just wide enough to extend his arms to take a hold of the bucket from her.  He could feel her hesitate as he tried to take the bucket from her possession which made it next to impossible for him to grab it without running the risk of spilling the water all over the floor.  The last thing he needed to do was draw more attention to himself.

“I actually need to take this bucket back up onto the roof for collection since it is still raining some.  I hope you understand.”  Of course he understood, the “rules” were well known around the building.  But that didn’t mean that he needed to let her into the studio apartment to snoop around.  Not very easy to hide one’s doings when all their possessions sat in one open room.

“I know the rules.”  Once again, the words came out harsher than he meant.  He gave a slight tug on the bucket.  She loosened her grip enough that he was able to pull it from her arms.  “I’ll bring it back in just a sec.”  Before she had a chance to open her mouth, he shut the door and carried the bucket through the disheveled living room to the cramped bathroom off to the right.  He didn’t even bother to check on the state of the water currently in the sink before he set the edge of the bucket against the lip of the sink and tilted the contents over.  As soon as the water ran empty from the bucket, he carried it back through the living area, opened the door, and tossed it into Lenore’s startled arms.  “Anything else?” he asked.

Her mouth hung agape, and he realized for the first time that his abrupt behavior was likely to only increase suspicion, but from the look on her face it was clearly too late to concern himself with that now.  “Is Hayley feeling any better?” she asked, and it was as if someone punched him in the gut.

He had known it would only be a matter of time before they started asking questions.  After all, he could only make excuses so long before they started to ask questions about why she no longer showed up to help out on her scheduled assignments.  “She’s finally turning the corner.”  He didn’t mention she was taking a turn for the worse.  Nathan knew there would come a point when he would have to make the others aware of the situation, but he just couldn’t bare it.  Not yet, not when there was still a chance that she could get better.  He couldn’t put her under that scrutiny.

“Can I duck in and say hi?  I can’t remember the last time I saw her.”

It was a reasonable enough request, but he couldn’t help but think she was suspicious.  The question immediately put him on the defensive side of the dialog.  “She’s resting right now.”  Again, not exactly a lie.  “But when she wakes up, I’ll tell her you stopped by.  If you would like.”

“Yes, please do.”  She eyed the space between the door and the door frame and he instinctively took a step closer to her to block as much of the gap as possible.  “Is there anything I can get for her?  Anything you guys need that you’ve run out of?  I can have Seb look on his next shopping trip.”

“We’re fine for now, thank you.  If I think of anything, I will let you know.”

“Please do.  Take care, Nathan.”

When the door shut, he was finally able to breathe in relief.  But he felt the noose around his neck tighten, and he knew the clock continued ticking.  Hayley only had so much time before the rest of the group came knocking on their door.  He still wasn’t sure what he would do when it came to that moment.

<<< Previous Chapter Next Chapter >>>

No comments:

Post a Comment