Savage Things (Chaos & Ruin Book 2)

BOOK: Savage Things (Chaos & Ruin Book 2)
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Callie Hart

Copyright © 2016 Callie Hart

copyright © 2016 Callie Hart

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the author, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at [email protected]


This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to peoples either living or deceased is purely coincidental. Names, places and characters are figments of the author’s imagination, or, if real, used fictitiously. The author recognises the trademarks and copyrights of all registered products and works mentioned within this work.

Chapter One


A bird flew into the window of the house when I was a kid. I can’t remember what kind of bird it was. Its wings were brown, golden in places, and the tips of its feathers were tinged with a subtle blue that could only be seen at a certain angle when the light caught at them. The bird was broken. Its tiny chest rose and fell rapidly, its beak gaping open, its black eyes filled with fear. My father, high as fuck, just like always, had picked it up and placed it into my hands. I was seven years old, and he told me to wring its neck.

“Look at it, boy. It’s done. Ain’t no point in bringin’ it inside and having it shit all over the house.”

I’ll still never know why he was so concerned about the tiny, broken thing shitting all over the house. It was in no position to fly anywhere. The light in its eyes was rapidly fading as I cupped its shattered body against my chest, the cold biting fiercely at my bare hands, and I knew my father was right. The bird was dying. He didn’t have very long left to live, and I was well aware of it. I couldn’t just snap its neck, though. I couldn’t. When my father grew impatient with me, realizing that I wasn’t going to kill the creature in my hands, he tried to snatch it away from me so he could get the job done himself.

I ran.

I ran out of the yard and down the side of our duplex, vaulting over the toppled, dented trash cans, shimmying past mountains of heaped black garbage bags that were spilling their guts out onto the cracked paving stones between the building and the graffitied fence that separated our home from the dingy women’s shelter next door.

I hooked a left and ran down the street, past a row of rusting eighties muscle cars and Mr. Wellan’s broken down Ford F250. I dodged puddles, not caring when I couldn’t dodge them, when my flimsy tennis shoes sank into the shallow pools, immediately soaking wet through. I wasn’t dressed for being outside. I’d been eating dinner—fish fingers and dehydrated mashed potato—when the bird had careened into the kitchen window, startling my mother, so I’d been wearing my pajama bottoms and a thin t-shirt. Outside, with the crisp winter air stabbing at all the bare parts of my body, I was aware that it was too cold to be dashing about like a madman in next to nothing, but I didn’t have a choice. My father wasn’t going to give me one. I’d seen that mean, spiteful look in his eyes before. I knew he wouldn’t be happy until the little sparrow or blue jay or whatever it was was dead.

I ran until my feet went numb, either from the cold or from the pounding of the sidewalk underneath them. Eventually, I stopped in the doorway of a breakfast diner, panting, my heart racing, eyes stinging. I couldn’t tell if they were stinging because of the cold and the running, or because I didn’t want the bird to die and I knew there was no avoiding it. I didn’t over analyze. I just held the bird to my chest and tried to catch my breath.

I stood there for a long time, pressing my back against the prickly brick wall of the breakfast diner every time someone wanted to go in or out, pretending not to notice their concerned or annoyed expressions as they went about their business. Slowly, softly, carefully, I stroked the pad of my index finger over the bird’s broken wings, over his back, so, so gently over his tiny head. Every time I did that, he closed his eyes, only to open them again, staring up at me, obviously afraid, obviously dying.

After a very long time, he didn’t open his eyes again. His minuscule heart stopped fluttering against the palm of my hand, and his wings stopped twitching and shaking. I carried him back home, dragging my feet, feeling like I’d lost a battle somehow. I’d known I couldn’t save him, and yet the fact that he’d died in my hands felt like I’d failed him somehow. I should have been able to outrun death. I should have been able to carry him far from it, helped him escape his fate somehow, but it hadn’t happened. It hadn’t been possible. I’d let him down.

That was a long time ago, now, and yet I still remember the tiny bird and his blue tinged wings. I remember how small he’d felt in my hands. I remember how damaged and hopeless he was, and I remember the sorrowful look in his eyes as he lay cradled against me, his life slipping away. I remember it all too well now, as I hold my sister against me in the back of the ambulance, clinging to her, refusing to let the EMTs take her from me, because she feels the same as that small bird. Like her life is slipping away from her and there’s nothing I can do about it.

“Sir. Sir, you really need to put her down now, sir. We can’t monitor her properly if you don’t.” The woman with the paramedic’s jacket zipped tightly up underneath her chin holds out her hand to me, imploring me to cooperate with her eyes as well as her words. “We need to take a proper look at her, Mason. She’s going to be right here the whole time.”

Above us, the siren on top of the ambulance wails urgently, frantic and bullish. White spots dance in my eyes. Millie’s legs jerk over and over again as she seizes, her tiny toes curled unnaturally tight against the soles of her feet. The EMT breathes slowly, hand still held out to me, eyes locked on mine, and I see something in her that gives me the strength to let go of my sister and place her down on the gurney next to me. I feel like I’ve betrayed her in the worst way as the woman, a stranger, begins to check Millie’s vitals.

“Pulse is shallow. Pupils dilated. Non responsive.” She swings around, pinning me to the wall of the ambulance with her surgical gaze. She seems far too calm as she says, “Has your sister been diagnosed with any pre-existing conditions?”

“Fuck, yes, of course she has!” I slam my hand against the wall beside me, trying to breathe, to stay in control, but it’s so fucking hard. “I explained everything to the woman who took the 911 call. She has Lennox Gastaut Syndrome.

The EMT nods through my angry words. “I’m sorry, Mason. They give us as much information as they can, but we have to check. We have to be sure before we can administer any treatment. I promise you, we’re going to take care of Millie, but right now you need to give me a rundown of her history, okay? As quick as you can. Is she taking any prescription medication?”

This makes me laugh. Millie’s been downing a cocktail of multi-colored pills twice daily since she was a baby. I reel off the list of Millie’s anti-seizure meds that I work my fingers to the bone to pay for, and the EMT nods some more as she checks Millie’s airway and pinches her hard on her arm.

I’m used to this. I’m used to people poking and prodding at my tiny, tiny sister, but it never gets any easier. I know she’ll be black and blue by the end of this episode. That’s best-case scenario. Worst-case scenario: she’s hospitalized for days. She gets pneumonia like she did last year, where she had to spend eight days in an induced coma so that her body could heal. She misses school and her friends. I have to leave her there in the children’s ward, despite how much it kills me to say goodbye to her every morning, because I have to go to work to pay for her healthcare.

The bills are always more than my paycheck. I always seem to manage to scrape enough cash together to cover her, though. I’m terrified that one day that won’t be the case. Maybe one day she’ll get sick and I won’t have worked enough hours at the garage. I won’t have put in any overtime. I won’t have curried favor with Mac, and he’ll have given his extra work to David or maybe even Marcus.

The EMT rifles in her jump bag, looking for something. She produces a hypodermic needle and a glass bottle filled with clear liquid, and she smiles. “This is clobazam. Should make your little sister feel more like herself soon enough.”

It won’t, though. Millie reacts badly to clobazam, but there’s nothing else that will bump her out of the seizure. She’s going to be throwing up for hours when she emerges from this fucked up state; the last time this happened, I had to hold her all night while she cried and fucking puked everywhere. It was better than this, though. It was better than seeing her eyes unfocused and vacant as her whole body shook and threatened to rip itself apart.

I watch as the EMT efficiently administers the contents of the hypodermic into the crook of my little sister’s elbow, and I cover my mouth, waiting, hoping that Millie sucks in a deep breath and snaps out of this shit right now.

Come on. Come on. Come on, please…

My heart is tripping over itself, staggering to get me through this moment. My peripherals are a blur. The only thing I see is Millie—her perfectly formed head kicked back, the tendons in her neck straining under her skin like cables pulled taut, her hands, a quarter of the size of my own, twitching, fingers opening and closing involuntarily.
Come on, Millie. Come on, baby girl. You can do this. You got this. Come

Nothing happens.

“I’m going to give her something else, some sodium valproate, Mason. It’s okay. It’s normal for people to need a little kick sometimes.”

She doesn’t realize how many times I’ve been through this. She doesn’t realize that I know twenty CCs of anything is abnormal. Well, unless it’s being administered to a fully-grown male. It definitely shouldn’t be shot into the circulatory system of a miniscule six-year-old human being. I keep my lips clamped tightly shut, though. I watch as the EMT does her job, handling Millie carefully as she gives her what she needs.

This is fucking bullshit.

fucking bullshit.

Millie pulls in a ragged, drowning gasp, her eyelids fluttering as she drags herself free of her seizure. She makes a pained, sorrowful keening sound, like an animal caught in a bear trap, and then her eyes roll back into her head and she’s unconscious.

“Probably for the best,” the EMT says. “Better for her body to take a beat, I reckon. She’s okay now. She’ll be okay, just you wait and see.”

Millie will be far from okay. I know it. The EMT knows it. She’s trying to be kind, to be reassuring by feeding me white lies, but her casual blurring of the truth only serves to make me angry. When have lies ever solved a problem? And when has blind ignorance ever helped a person prepare for what is to come?

As the ambulance tears through the streets of Seattle, following a route I have seared into my head like a goddamn brand, I have to remember to breathe. If I don’t, I’m going to tear this EMT a new one, I won’t be able to stop myself, and that won’t help anyone. Least of all Millie.



Nothing shocks me anymore.
. I’ve seen it all. Motor vehicle accidents are the worst. The ones where people are brought into the trauma room, talking, asking questions, concerned over their loved ones, maybe complaining of a mild stomach ache but otherwise seemingly okay. And then the next minute their skin is ash and they’re coding, and the mild stomach ache they were telling you not to fuss over actually turns out to be severe internal bleeding, their organs mashed to a pulp, and they’re dying because it’s too late, it’s far too late for anything, and then it’s all over.

Shock. Shock does strange things to the human body. It numbs you, keeps you running, functioning when you should be still. You don’t even realize your injuries are far greater than you first thought until things have progressed past the point of no return, and then that’s it. The end. Nothing to be done.

BOOK: Savage Things (Chaos & Ruin Book 2)
12.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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