‘I need to rest,’ Bade said, sitting on the side of the road. Lola paused with him. They had been walking for roughly an hour and Bade had bled through the make-shift bandage, he was feeling weary and light-headed as a result of the blood loss. The road was dark except for the moonlight, trees rose up on either side of the road, no habitation in sight and they still had no idea how far they would have to go to get to the hospital. Rather than risk going the way the fanatics had come from, they had continued further down away from the camp and the road leading to town.
‘Bade we need to move on. I have no idea how to stitch your wound, you could end up bleeding to death right here on the side of the road.’ Lola said, starting to pace restlessly. Bade nodded his head drowsily.
‘Just let me catch my breath and I would be willing to walk to the end of the earth with you,’ he said with a tired smile, his eyes closing.
Lola walked backwards a few paces so as to see farther down the road they were coming from and ensure that they were not followed. She came back a few moments later to see Bade slumped over on his uninjured side. She bent and shook him awake.
‘Come on, we have to keep moving. We can’t afford to stay on this road.’ She got an arm under his shoulder, and this time when she helped him to his feet, he didn’t e push her away.
‘Do you have any idea where we are going?’ Bade asked groggily.
Lola bit her lip to stifle her first response. She had no idea, but they had to keep on going, and if he lost the will to continue, there would be no going forward. ‘We are almost there,’ she whispered in his ear, ‘just hold on’.
He smiled weakly at that. ‘And here I thought I was the one who was to protect you.’
‘You saved my life back there,’ she said, choking back a tear, ‘I would like to return the favour. Now it is my turn to protect you.’
The cold rose as they shuffled along, biting into their faces and the surface of exposed skin. Bade started coughing as his body tried to fight the cold, but he had lost a lot of blood, and he was already feeling cold enough without the wind adding to his discomfort. Everything seemed to have become hazy. His mind felt disconnected from his body, his fingers numb from the cold, both internal and external, and very soon, his whole body was numb. He didn’t know how he was putting one foot in front of the other, but he was determined that he would not let Lola down. He could see she was also starting to struggle in the cold, her breath uneven and coming out in white puffs as she bore her weight as well as his. But he could also see it on her face that she had no intention of stopping, and that gave him strength.
‘You are staring,’ she said with a smile, her eyes still on the road.
‘I know, but looking at your face takes the pain away.’
‘Well, that’s definitely the first time I have heard that line.’ Lola chuckled.
‘No, I mean it. I can almost see what’s going through your mind just by looking at your face, and that’s what’s given me the strength to continue.’
She looked at him then. ‘Don’t worry, we’ll be fine, we are almost there.’
He started to laugh, but then coughed again, the spasms racking his entire body. ‘You do know that line is going to get old very soon. We are not almost anywhere.’ But he still kept on with her. The cold was really starting to get to him, he had been fighting the urge to close his eyes for the past few minutes, but it was becoming harder to do so.
Lola noticed and shook him gently. ‘Bade, you have to stay awake. Keep talking.’
He straightened up a little. ‘What do we talk about?’
‘Tell me how you feel about me?’ Lola asked, her eyes on the road again.
‘Uh,’ Bade opened his mouth, and closed it again, he was sure the cold had finally gotten to his brain and his mind was starting to freeze.
He began again, ‘How I feel about you? Urm, let’s see, I think…’ But his voice faded out as they came around a bend in the road. Ahead of them on the right side of the road was a little bungalow with a low fence around it. It wasn’t a beautiful house by any means, the walls weren’t painted nor were their flowers on the path, but the lights shining through the windows made it seem like heaven to the young Corpers.
‘Haha,’ Lola said with an excited laugh, ‘told you we were almost there.’
Bade too had felt hope stirring in his chest. ‘But this isn’t a hospital.’
‘Yes, but they would know where one is, and they might even have a car. Cheer up, I told you you’ll be fine.’
There was renewed vigour, their pace increasing as they hurried towards what looked to them to be succour. But suddenly, a humming sound filled the night, and moments later, they could hear the sound of rapidly approaching car engines. They both looked back, fear and hopelessness marring their features, but they couldn’t see anything around the bend in the road. They both knew that it was only one set of people they had left behind that could possibly be behind them and Bade voiced out what was in both their minds.