I am pleased to share an excerpt from After the Fire by Will Hill and maaaaaaaybe, a little giveaway at the end!
I sprint across the yard, my eyes streaming, my heart pounding in my chest.
The noise of gunfire is still deafening, and I hear- I actually hear- bullets whizzing past me, their low whines like the speeded-up buzz of insects, but I don't slow down, and I don't change course. THe Chapel is burning out of control, its roof engulfed by roaring fire and sending up a huge black plume of smoke, and the amplified voice of the Government boos across the compound, repeating its demand over and over again.
"Put down your weapons and come forward slowly with your hands in the air!"
Nobody is listening. Not the other Governments, and definitely not any of my Brothers and Sisters.
In the distance, back near the Front Gate, the tank rumbles forward, crushing the flimsy wire fence of churning the desert floor. Somewhere, over the engines and the endless rattle of gunfire, I can hear screams of pain and pleading shouts for help, but I force myself to ignore them and keep going: my gaze is fixed on the wooden cabins at the western edge of the Base.
I trip over something.
My feet tangle, and I go sprawling onto the cracked blacktop of the yard. Pain crunches through my as my shoulder hits the ground, but I grit my teeth and get back on my feet and look to see what I fell over.
Alice is lying on her back, her hands clutching her stomach.
Her shirt has turned red, and she's lying in a pool of blood that seems too big to have all come out of one person. She's still alive though. Her eyes are dim, but they find mine, and she looks at me with an expression I can't describe. There's pain there, a lot of pain, and shock, and fear, and something that looks like confusion, like she wants to know how things ever came to this.
I hold her gaze. I want to stay with her, to tell her it's all right and that she's going to be okay, but it isn't all right, nothing is, and I don't know very much about bullet wounds, but I don't think she is going to be okay.
I'm pretty sure she's going to die.
I stare at her, wasting seconds that the still-functional bit of my brain screams at me for wasting, then run towards the west barracks. Alice's eyes widen as I start to turn away, but I don't see anger in them. I think she understands what I have to do.
That's what I tell myself, at least.
......my hand feels like it's wrapped in fire. My eyes open and everything is white and there's a beeping noise and something that has no face looms over me and I try to scream but nothing happens. I'm so scared I can't even think. My eyes roll back and....
....a man looks down at me, and his face is just eyes above a white mask. He shows me a huge needle, and I just stare at it because I'm too scared to move, and when he pushes it into my arm I don't even feel it because the pain in my hand is still so huge that it blocks everything else out. I know what doctors are from when I was little and TV was still allowed, but I've never seen one in real life until now. The Prophet is screaming in my head that the doctors are agents of THE GOVERNMENT, that every one of them is a SERVANT OF THE SERPENT, and his voice rattles and shakes my brain, and my stomach churns, and I'm so scared I can't even breathe while the doctor tapes the needle that;s inside my arm to my skin and connects it to a tube that leads to a bag of milky white liquid. He says something I don't understand, and then the liquid starts to flow. I watch it creep down the tbe toward my arm. I can't move a single muscle, but I manage to form a thought over the noise of Father John howling in my head: I wonder what is going to happen when the white liquid gois inside me, and I wonder if I'm still going to be me the next time I wake up......
.....the lights above me are blinding, but the pain is much less, and the plastic bag at the end of the tube is empty. I can just about raise my head far enough to see the big mitten of bandages that has been wrapped around my left hand. Sometimes a doctor stands next to my bed and stares at me and sometimes I hear raised voices in the distance and sometimes I start crying and can't stop. I'm too hot and too cold and everything is wrong and I really want to go home, because even that was better than this. A man wearing a hat and a uniform asks me my name, but Father John roars in my head, so I don't answer. He asks again, and I don't answer again, and he rolls his eyes and walks away....
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