Conor didn't know how far he had gone but all he did know was that he was well away from Kyle and the rest of the staff at the hospital. He slowed down and breathed a sigh of relief. He was free. He slumped down on a grass verge and let himself catch his breath. He was getting some strange looks from some of the passers-by but he didn't let them bother him. He was grateful that he didn't recognise any of them. Suddenly he realised that the people weren't staring at him, they were staring at his shirt. He followed their gaze and saw a patch of dark red blood on his shirt from his shoulder to the hem at the bottom of the t-shirt. He cursed under his breath as he watched the stain spread until eventually he was wearing a dark red t-shirt instead of a white one. It was very uncomfortable but he didn't dare take it off because then he would have to face the bandage that the blood was coming from. He felt slightly sick and pulled a face, much to the amusement of a young child who was passing by with her mother on the pavement. Conor struggled to stand up and started to feel quite light-headed because of what he assumed was loss of blood. But, instead of heading to the nearest house or phone he just carried on walking. It was getting dark now and the street lamps flickered into life. He stopped to rest for a minute. A few minutes later he got quite a shock when he realised that the lamppost he was leaning on had a photograph of himself pinned to the wooden pole, flapping like a flag on a mast. He held it still and scanned the paper;
Please look out for this boy and
if you see him call this number.
Then followed his picture,
We would be very thankful for any news on Conor, as he had been missing for over two days. He is in a poor medical condition, At this Conor scoffed but then had to steady himself as his head swam and his vision temporarily went fuzzy. The poster continued......
and his mother and sister are anxious for any news and would be very grateful if you were able to locate him. There is a large reward for finding this missing boy before his condition takes a turn for the worse.
Many thanks, The Oakwood Hospital.
Conor took a shuddery breath. He hadn't thought at all about his mum or Aimee since he had gone.
He sank down and rested his back against the post with his head in his hands. What had he done? Almost in an instant, the confusion in his head became worse and he became muddled and very tired. The last thing he remembered before he blacked out was the paper he had been holding, drifted to the ground. He crumpled to the floor and rolled down the embankment into the dry sheltered ditch. He didn't hear the voices coming steadily closer or the hand on his shoulder.
Carter and his girlfriend were walking down the road when a piece of paper fluttered into their faces. He reached up and grabbed the paper before it was whisked away by the wind like a boat on stormy seas. Carter glanced down at it and saw a boy, roughly fifteen, smiling up at him. His girlfriend was shocked,
"What d'ya think happened to him?" she asked.
"I dunno but.........." Carter's voice trailed off as he saw a lifeless body lying in the ditch just up ahead. He sprinted to it and turned it over. His girlfriend gasped.
"Suzie, the picture!" She handed it to him and he squinted at it in the light of the street lamp and gasped. It was the same boy! As Carter pulled his hand away from the body, it felt quite damp. He brought it to the light and shuddered as he realised they were covered in a dark, red sticky liquid. His voice rough and slightly trembling, he whispered,
"Suzie, can ya get my car?" She nodded and ran off into the darkness and only a few minutes later the dark blue ford drew up beside Carter, who was kneeling with the boy. Together they manoeuvred the boy towards the open back door and laid it on the back seats. They both got in the car and drove almost silently through the dark streets towards Oakwood. Suzie sat next to Carter and as he drove she pulled out her mobile and phoned the number on the paper.
"Hello," a few seconds later a voice replied.
"Yes, we've found him.".....a pause,
"No, I don't think so..... Well his shirt is dyed red." a gasp, and Suzie paused as the person had a conversation with another person she assumed was a doctor. She then told the person how they had found him and whereabouts he was. A murmur of surprise was recognisable down the phone.
"Bye then." Suzie put the phone down.
"So what did they say?" Carter asked.
"Well, they said to bring him in immediately 'cause they think he has lost a lot of blood an' they were quite surprised when I told them we found him in Maistone. I don't think they expected him to get that far!"
Carter let out a whistle of surprise.
"If he got that far away then I think he was plannin' on never going back don't ya think?"
Suzie pulled a sympathetic face,
"Yeah but we are doin' what's best for him?"
"I s'pose so." By then they had reached Oakwood hospital. Carter reached up to brush the tears from Suzie's cheek.
"It's going to be okay!" he murmured, "He'll be fine!"
As if on cue, the boy stirred behind them and groaned which made Suzie jump.
"Where the hell am I?" the boy asked. He looked out the window and seeing the hospital in front of him, he let out a moan,
"no, no anywhere but here......" The moans got quieter until they subsided into noiseless sobs. Suzie, glancing backwards, watched the boy's shoulders heave up and down, his throat choked.
"No, Suzie ya know this is right." Carter replied watching the nurses' stream out the hospital towards the car.