She jumps from the moving train, not waiting for it to slow, her only thought; getting there in time to save him.
Her skirt flies above her knees as she runs recklessly, off the platform, down the stairs, through the tunnel leading to sunlight. Blinking in the sudden brightness, she checks her wrist band for direction. Following the compass, she heads off through the green trees of the park, past mothers pushing children in strollers, toward the ever present tower. The tower, old and decrepit, hovers above the city like a shared black curse. It still stands straight and tall, after years of abandonment. She pauses, sacrificing precious seconds to remove her spiked high-heels with an ink-stained thumb. Desperate to make up lost time, she pushes herself harder. Her bare feet slap on the pavement, she winces as a sharp pebble spikes pain into her soles. She must be on time. Around a corner and past a store-front, she slows, her path blocked by an outdoor market, vendors shouting and crying their ware. Checking her wrist band again, she turns to follow the river, cursing its wending path through the city. Coming to a narrow pedestrian bridge, she walks carefully across, the unstable cables and chains making her dizzy, the swaying threatens to overwhelm her with vertigo. Across the bridge, she swings her fist at an angry goose blocking the path, honking and flapping in her face. The bird ducks out of the way, but not before taking a clip on the beak. Squawking, it shakes its head and waddles away, fleeing down to the safety of the waters edge. Ahead of her, a squat brick building sits, cowering against the threatening clouds overhead. The first spatters of rain pelt her hair as she crosses the green lawn. She reaches the building and bursts through the sliding doors. Carried by momentum, her bare feet slip on the slick tile of the entryway. Limbs flailing, body sliding, her face smashes into a gurney parked off to one side. She feels a crunch as her nose breaks, tears well and blood streams down her face. A male nurse at the reception check-in yells something, but she is already past the desk. Ears ringing, vision blurry, she frantically pushes herself up off the floor and darts for the emergency stairwell. Slamming her fist against the crossbar to open it, alarms sound from the speaker above the door, adding to the pain pounding in her head. Red light dimly illuminates the stairs as she races up, half touching, half floating, pulling herself faster using the handrail. Tears blur her vision, cascading down to land among discarded cigarette butts and forgotten dust bunnies. Passing the eleventh landing she stops, panting, needing to go on, her knuckles press into a painful stitch in her side. She looks back, a trail of blood traces her mad rush up, but only two more flights to go. She takes a deep breath and climbs the final steps. Blood from her nose, drips down her legs, making a slick mess of the floor. Heedful of the wet surface under her feet, she wishes for the shoes lost during her tumble. Peering through the crosshatches of the safety glass, she checks the hallway, catching sight of her reflection. Her face is a mess. Roughly, she scrubs at her bloody nose with a sleeve, crying out at the pain. Hands wipe fresh tears and snot from her nose, she sniffles and steels herself, calmly walking out into the hallway. 1421, the only thought in her mind. Counting, watching the doors, avoiding nurses and orderlies as they move room to room. At last, 1421, grimacing, she eases the heavy door open, trying not to wake him. After the bright fluorescent light of the hallway, the small room is dim, lit only by display panels on the beeping life-preserving machines. Wires and tubes run around and under a grey curtain, on circular rails above the bed, wheezing emanates from within. She wasn't too late.
Her hand shaking, she reaches out and pulls back the curtain.