You’ve entered the world of The Realm Jumpers. The adventure with Riley and his trusty gang of genetic misfits continues…
Hope flicked my ear. “What’s up with you?”
I poked her side. “Other than annoying friends flicking me?”
She laughed. “See, you’re getting a sense of humor. You’re a quick study.”
“So, this is what your bad mood looks like? Nice to know.” She hopped up from stiff waiting room chair. “Come on.”
I wasn’t in a bad mood, but sitting here waiting for her X-ray was totally boring.
“Honey, where are you two goin’?” Janet asked.
“Can we run get a soda?”
“That’s fine. I’ll text your phone if they call for us before you’re back.”
Hope grabbed my hand and tugged me behind her. For someone so small she was strong. “Look.” She pointed to an empty wheelchair. “Give me a ride?”
I glanced around. “I’m sure that’s not—”
She hopped onto it. “Just down the hall. Super fast. I’ve always wanted to do this. Please?”
“Since you said please,” I said, laughing.
I gave it a good push and we went soaring down the hallway. “Yes,” Hope squealed.
I saw a turn coming up and took it. The hallway was long enough to get some good momentum. Hope grabbed the handles. Her giggles bounced off the walls.
A nurse’s station came into view so I slowed down. Two people shuffled around behind the desks. One walked out with a tray of something.
Sure didn’t like the bleach smell here. Felt like it was soaking into my skin, and it gave me a queasy feeling in my stomach like I’d eaten too many PBJs. I wasn’t sure how I knew it, but I didn’t like hospitals.
Why were they so white, too? That made the smell worse.
We snuck by the station, and I took off again.
“There!” She pointed to the right. “Go that way.”
I did and she pointed left. “Soda.”
“How come your aunt and uncle didn’t bring you here?”
Hope slouched. “Doesn’t matter.”
“Sure it does.” I steered the chair toward the soda machine.
“They’re—they—um—they didn’t come home last night.”
“What?” I stopped the chair.
She hopped up and got a can of Pepsi for each of us then sat back down. “Faster this time.”
“Doesn’t matter. Okay? I—Janet—takes care of me.”
“You called your aunt and uncle crazy once. Are they sick?”
“Look. Are you gonna drive or what?” She pounded on the chair handle.
“Why won’t you tell me? You make me tell you stuff about me. It’s only fair.”
“I’ve created a monster.”
“Okay.” I gripped the handles behind her. “Hold on!”
She squealed when I popped a wheelie, and a giggle spilled out from the room beside the soda machine. I leaned over and peeked in.
A tiny girl lay in her bed watching us. She was bald and holding a teddy bear. “Hi.” She waved and that’s when I saw a cast on her right arm.
It was pink. Jeez. It was like every girl—except Hope—had to have pink.
“Hi,” I said.
“Lemme see,” Hope said, and I pulled the chair to the door.
“Whatcha doin’?” the girl asked.
“Playing.” Holy cow, I was playing! Like a normal kid!
She giggled again.
I wheeled Hope into the room as I looked around. She was all alone. “Where’s your mom?” Hope asked.
“Had to work.”
“What’s wrong with you?”
She held up her casted arm. “Broke.”
She couldn’t have been more than seven or eight years old. Why was she bald?
I glanced at the whiteboard on the wall. Breathing exercises every hour. Scar massage. PT—whatever that was—two times per day. This little girl had a lot more going on than a broken arm.
Hope got out of her chair and stepped up to the bed. “Cute bear.”
The girl’s eyes drifted closed then opened in a slow blink. She had dark circles under her eyes. And suddenly looked so tired.
Hope nodded to the cast around the girl’s wrist. “Want some practice?”
“We should go,” I whispered.
Suddenly, I didn’t feel very safe at all. This was a total stranger. I’d healed someone once. I had no idea what I was doing. What if I hurt her?
“What better place to practice than a hospital? People are sick and hurting. You can help.”
“No time for your new humor and awesome new language skills. Come on.” She grabbed my hand. “She’s just a little girl.”
I glanced at the tiny thing lying in her bed. Her eyes were closed and she was breathing evenly. She’d fallen asleep despite Hope squawking around like a crazy person.
I could practice or walk out. I should walk. This girl shouldn’t be my test subject. But then again I could help her. Make her feel better. That’d be good.
Didn’t seem fair, though. What if I hurt her more? Made a mistake?
I glanced at the doorway. “Watch for someone.”
Hope quietly jumped up and down then hustled to the doorway and gave me a thumbs up.
“Okay, little girl, just stay sleeping.” I reached over and touched the tips of the fingers protruding from her cast. I got a better view of her and saw there was a scar along her scalp. It was super long, too. Wonder what happened to her.
I wasn’t really sure what to do, so I kept touching her fingers. No warmth or anything. No tingling. Nothing.
“Working?” Hope whispered.
“I don’t know how to turn it on.” Maybe what happened with Hope was a fluke. Or something else entirely.
We couldn’t have both imagined it. Maybe this really was a power of mine. That’d be pretty cool.
At least until everyone found out what a freak I was. No more playing like a normal kid if that happened. What if they kicked me off the soccer team? Maybe I shouldn’t do this. I—
“Hurry. Nurse down the hall, coming this way.”
“Crap.” I squeezed the fingers a little harder. The girl whimpered.
Then the heat turned on. The tips of my fingers brightened. Started out pink like the shirt on the teddy bear she held. The heat bubbled. It leaked into the girl’s fingertips, too.
Yes. It’s working.
The girl whimpered, and I pulled away. Her cheeks were rosy now. Not that pale yucky color. And the dark circles under her eyes weren’t as bad.
“Crap,” Hope said a little too loud. “Janet’s texting me.”
I hadn’t felt my phone vibrate, but I pulled it out and there were two texts. Oh man. I must have been really focused to miss those.
“Come on.” She grabbed my arm and we pushed the empty wheelchair down the hallway, opposite the nurse barging down the hall.
We hid around the corner, both breathing heavy.
“You did it. Didn’t you?” Hope whispered. “Healed her?”
I looked at my hands. “They glowed again. She kinda made a noise, too.”
“And she looked better.” She sat back in the wheelchair. “Okay. Time to get an x-ray of my arm. Maybe that’ll tell us something, right? I mean. Would it show up if it was broken?”
I pushed her toward the waiting room Janet was in. “I read up on x-rays last night. Might show something. But probably won’t help me figure out what I did to you.”
“And the girl.”
Yep. Might be time to tell Janet what happened. Because I needed to find out exactly what I was.
Join us Wednesday for Chapter 10 of Watcher of the Realms. Be sure to subscribe to the site to not miss a single chapter of Riley’s adventures.
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See you soon….