Dust: Chapter 20 Part 2

The good doctor immediately trained her pistol on me again. “Don’t…”

I ignored her and walked over to Kitty.

“Dust.” Kitty moaned when she saw me. “Please.”

I knelt down beside her and offered her my hand. “I’ve got you.”

Kitty flailed at my hand and grabbed hold. Her grip was a lot tighter than I expected, until I saw the look of desperate concentration on her face. I pulled her to a sitting position, then reached around her waist and stood up with her.

Kitty’s feet dragged across the floor as I walked her towards the cytech shop in the shallow end. She never tried to take her own weight, then I felt some of her blood seep onto my hand and I wondered if she’d been hit in the spine.

The two doctors followed at a safe distance.

I hit a snag when I reached the edge of the steel flooring. The workshop was in the pit, and I didn’t really have the strength to get Kitty down there anymore.

I exhaled and turned towards my audience. “You want to hurry up and give me a hand here?”

They eyed my suspiciously.

“Or do you want to stand there and watch her bleed to death?”

The Doctor Clarksons moved Kitty to the shop’s hospital bed and began operating. I put my back against the nearest wall and sat down while they worked. Timothy scrubbed up and played nurse for his wife as she ran the operation, asking politely for instruments and materials from the Bag-o-Doctor Tim had under one of the workbenches. Which was a good idea, seeing as this building’s function required angle-grinders and acetylene torches.

A calm, quiet drama played out over the cybertech bench as they worked to stop Kitty’s bleeding.

Mrs Dr Clarkson’s movements were direct and methodical, calling out the names of instruments and the quantities of medicines as she needed. Mr Dr Clarkson was a real Johnny-on-the-spot with everything his wife required. He was so comfortable with the materials and the procedures I got the impression he regularly played nurse for her.

After some time the tension bled out of their conversation and their pace became more relaxed. Mr Dr policed up the used surgical tools and got to cleaning them while Mrs began applying the spray-skin. She applied the pencil-thin nozzle attachment and drew a fine line that fused Kitty’s open flesh together as opposed to shooters like me who blot the stuff all over like shaving cream.

After all the instruments had been sterilised, Mr Dr gathered up the supplies and was about to put the bag back under the bench when his wife put a hand to his shoulder.

“Wait. We’ll need that for the others.”

He looked up at her, indicating me with a tilt of his head. “What about him?”

“I’m not going anywhere Doc. You go out, heal people, get your witch-hunt together and then you come back here. We’ll see what happens then.”

He looked at me distrustfully, glancing at his wife for support.

“Let’s see to the others.” She said. “I’ve had enough conflict for one day.”

And so they left.

Which left me, mercifully, alone with an unconscious Kitty. I brought my head down to my knees and did nothing.

Sometime later Kitty bolted upright with a gasp, then with a wail of pain she collapsed back down onto the bench.

“Wha? Where am I? Is anyone there?”

I stood up so Kitty could see me. “I’m here. You’re going to be okay Kitty.”

My appearance (especially with all the dirt, mud and shit on my face) did not put Kitty in a better mood. She tried to move away from me but couldn’t.

“Why can’t I move my legs?” She asked me accusingly.

“I don’t know.” I said flatly. “It’s probably from when Atom shot you.”

Kitty’s hand reached across to her stomach, she opened up the hole the Clarksons cut out of her shirt to operate on her and saw the freshly closed surgery scars. They technically weren’t even scars yet, just lines where the spray-skin held her flesh together.

She pulled her hand away and looked at it, like she was trying to find the blood the doctors had sponged away.

I crossed the distance to her and put a reassuring hand on hers. “Kitty, you’re going to be okay. The doctors patched you up.”

Kitty gave me the upgraded mark II scared version of the idiot look. This one thought I was so dumb I must be contagious. “Then why can’t I move my legs?”

I took my hand away. “They stopped you from bleeding to death. They’d need to have you back in the infirmary to do anything about your spine.”

“It hurts.” Kitty winced. “It never stops.”

The bullet must still be lodged inside her. I grimaced in sympathy. That can’t be fun.

Kitty sent me a chat request, with the tag line: [Normal speech hurts too much].

[Alright.] I cyped. [What’s up?]

[Well…] She flicked her eyes up at me and immediately turned them away. [I want to apol…]

[Don’t bother.] I said. I walked over to side of the shop so I could lean against the wall.


[Don’t bother apologising. I don’t care. When the Doctors come back with their lynch mob none of it’s going to matter.] I looked down at my boots.

Kitty reached down beside her and found the controls for the bench, she raised herself up so she could look at me.

[What are you talking about? You’re just going to sit here? Why did you come out here in the first place if you were only going to give up?]

[I wasn’t thinking, I just moved on autopilot. Now that I’ve had a moment to sit down I can’t see the point anymore.]

[We have to keep moving Dust.] Kitty said. [We have to get out of here.]

[And do what?] I said, looking up at her. [We leave, then what? I tapped out every last nuyen I had gearing up to steal Atom back from PR. I’ve only got the shirt on my back and I can’t even take it off.] I held up my hand to show her the cuffs, which were too big to get my sleeve over. [I should have just stayed in the hole.]
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