The voice startles me to a stop, although I don’t let go of Graham’s hand. Jude stands there. He glances at Graham but returns his gaze to me.
“What are you doing here?” I demand. “Why aren’t you home? Are you homeless?”
“I knew you would go,” he says. “I saw you have only one pill left.”
“It isn’t for me,” I say. “It’s for Graham. He’s all out of pills.”
“Good,” Jude says.
I want to scream at him, but before I can, Graham is there. His fist flies forward, catching Jude in the cheek–hard enough that Jude falls onto his back.
“Good?” Graham repeats, shaking ou his hand. “This is my life we’re talking about!”
“Jude,” I say, before he can retaliate, “you’re out of pills, aren’t you? Come with us. You can get an emergency pill for yourself.”
Jude shakes his head, standing up and wincing as he presses his jaw to his cheek. “I won’t, and you shouldn’t either. Don’t you see? The pills are the cause of all this.”
“All what?” Graham says. “If you haven’t noticed, the pills have cured the Insomnia Epidemic. They protect us from the Nightwalkers. What more do you want?”
“The pills are all wrong,” Jude says, walking beside us as Graham tugs me along. “If it weren’t for the pills, there would be no Nightwalkers.”
“That makes no sense,” Graham says coldly.
“I can’t blame him because I’m furious too. How dare Jude make a mockery of the pills? They’re the most important thing in our world. We would be lost without them.
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” Jude says and abruptly stops walking.
I glance back toward him, but Graham doesn’t slow his pace, causing me to stumble.
“Sorry,” Graham says, breathing hard.
Although I don’t remember the walk to the mansion-like, cream-colored building of the Somnology Institute, we’re there almost immediately. People are already beginning to gather, but the line doesn’t seem too long. Graham glances at me with a smile crossing his face before hurrying toward the end of the line.
Something hot swings out of nowhere, catching me in the head and tossing me painfully to the ground. The grip between Graham’s hand and mine is broken. He spins around, eyes widening in shock. A Nightwalker looms over me, its arms held above its head. It might look comical if I didn’t know if could kill me.
Out of habit, I reach for the pill bottle and then remember there’s only one left. Does this count as enough of an emergency? And what about Graham?
Two more Nightwalkers come up by Graham and grab his arms. He whips his head around desperately, looking at them both but doesn’t even dare try to break their grip. Desperation throws me into motion. I kick out at the Nightwalker above me. The blackened bones shatter but also burn through the soles of my shoes. Ignoring the hot bone shards raining over me, I leap to my feet and toss my pill bottle to Graham.
He catches it, even though the Nightwalkers still hold onto his arm. He pries open the lid and gets ready to pour it into his mouth…and stops. His eyes turn to me.
A thin stream of blood comes right down the center of his lower lip. Slowly, he sinks to his knees and tumbles forward. The pill flies out of the open bottle and lands at my feet. Behind him stands a third Nightwalker, holding Graham’s bloody heart in his skeletal fingers.
My legs collapse beneath me. I pick up the pill, struggling to process what just happened. But at the same time, I don’t want to. I don’t want to understand because this can’t be. Not Graham. All I can do is stare at Graham’s prone body, at the gaping hole in his back. Just hours ago, I was talking about our wedding. Not Graham.
All three of the Nightwalkers bear upon me. The Nightwalker I kicked reassembles itself and joins its friends. They come toward me menacingly. The pill is still in my fingers but I can’t even imagine taking it. I toy with the idea of letting them get me. If Graham is no longer here, what do I even have to live for?
Snippet Saturday is my chance to share bits and pieces of my writing.