"Whilst you're doing that I'll see to your arm." said Al eying the wood suspiciously. "This is going to hurt. Bite down on your mouthpiece."
I repositioned my mouthpiece. There was a horrible wrenching noise and I bit down hard and closed my eyes. He removed the dressing from my side (which has stopped bleeding by this point fortunately) and re-used the soggy bandages on my punctured arm.
"When did you get that wood stuck in your arm? You're so accident prone!"
"Not now Mike." I murmured and passed out.
When I came to I found myself lying on the tattered couch that I'd sat on earlier that day. I slowly shifted into a sitting position groaning slightly. Everywhere ached: my knees, my side, but my arm was the most painful. I could hear the others talking in the kitchen loudly.
"I told you this was a bad idea!"
"When's she going to wake up?"
They all started to talk at once. Kevin slipped out through the door in all the commotion. He sighed and came over to me.
"I see you're awake. Not too surprised with all the racket." he said sitting down next to me.
"What's going on?" I asked in confusion.
"Al's mum right?"
Kevin nodded and continued.
"-is trying to find someone to blame, Al is trying to show her how difficult she's being whilst reassuring the rest of us about you, Jessie is trying to support Al and Mike keeps asking questions."
I listened to the crowd of voices trying to pick out what each person was saying. Kevin's summary of things neatly matched the evidence.
"What about you?" I questioned.
"I was – trying not to think of Nicole." he muttered sadly.
"Don't be. It wasn't your fault."
I could see the hurt in his eyes.
"It wasn't yours either." I assured him. "I would give you a huge but I have a nasty feeling it would be painful." Despite himself Kevin chuckled but I could barely hear him over the din coming from the kitchen. I winced, it was giving me a headache and that was the last thing I needed right now. Glancing at forlorn Kevin I had an idea. "JESSIE!" I yelled. There was a silence in the kitchen for a few minutes. My friend soon scampered out to join us. "Can you hug Kevin for me please? He's upset."
Jessie frowned. She sat next to him then wrapped her arms round him. After a few moments of this he started to hug her back. A smile of glee flitted across Jessie's face. Then the rest of the team burst into the living room and the pair let go of each other awkwardly but instantly. I carefully concealed a smile of my own. It was obvious that Jessie fancied Kevin but until now I'd had no reason to believe he'd seen her as anything but a friend.
"Squeeze up!" announced Mike.
I rolled my eyes as he tactlessly sat inbetween the pair but was surprised by the lack of teasing comments shooting my way. I soon realised it was because Al had started yelling.
"WHY CAN'T YOU BE SUPPORTIVE? SHE SAVED YOUR LIFE!"
"AFTER NEARLY DESTROYING IT!"
I closed my eyes wearily. If I'd wanted to hear arguments I would've just stayed home. Al glared at his frustrating mother.
"Well if that's how you see it. C'mon kids we're leaving." Mike huffed slightly at being called a kid, I thought that was a bit rich coming from a teen who behaved like a toddler half the time. Al marched towards the door. "Well? What are you waiting for?" he snapped at us.
We quickly got to our feet. For me it was a little too sudden; my head spun and I felt light on my feet. Kevin and Jessie had already rushed forwards to join Al, fearful of his rage. I swayed slightly but then I felt the warmth of a hand slipping into mine. It lead me to the others, through the overgrown grass garden and back to the ambulance. My lightheadedness made it difficult to focuss on anything. Everything was a fleeting blur.
"Looks like I'm not the only one who needs looking after." echoed a voice.
I sat down and instantly felg better for it. I glanced at my hand but nobody was holding it anymore. I looked up and surveyed the ambulance. Everybody was squished into the back of the vehicle for what looked like a group conference. On realising this I tried to listen to the conversation instead of tuning it out.
"NO! We can't split up!"
I'd never heard Kevin so agitated before.
"Kevin's right." Jessie agreed. "Look at Aisha she is in no state to – "
"She's made it this far with numerous injuries. She should be able to make it further. I've given her painkillers, they should kick in soon."
"She should be allowed to rest." said Mike firmly.
"She won't be on her own, you'll split into pairs."
"Except for you." Mike pointed out sceptically.
Mike's persistence was annoying me. I'm no china doll!
"This is not a discussion!" snapped Al. "We've received three different signals coming from the same area and unless you want innocent people to die you'd better pair up!"
I got to my feet steadily and shook off the lingering dizziness before joining the group.
This seemed to settle the matter. Al and Kevin went round to the front of the ambulance and Kevin started to drive as we strapped ourselves in. Exhausted from the morning I dozed through the journey and was shaken awake by Mike's loud complaints about my snoring when we arrived. This time when the double doors opened we found ourselves looking out onto familiar city streets.
"London." I murmured quietly to myself.
I wasn't too far from home; I even recognised this part of town.
"Well duh!" interrupted Mike.
I shot a glare at him and got out of the ambulance. The clogged traffic and exhaust fumes hit me like a physical blow. We were barely a street away from my house!
I attempted to reign in my delight at the thought of seeing my parents but I guess some of it must have shown through.
"What are you so happy about?" asked Mike suspiciously.
"We're in London." I sighed joyfully.
I bristled in anger.
"What do you mean 'so'?"
By the time Al joined us me and Mike were bickering away. Al cleared his throat loudly which briefly shut us up.
"Right. Kevin and Jessie are going to together – " he announced, handing them a green rectangular device. It reminded me of my friend's playstation controller. Jessie smiled at her partner. I groaned. This meant - "and Aisha you're with Mike."
We too were handed a strange gadget.
"But –" we chorused.
"I'm not changing my mind. I will track my Schlepy alone. If you run into trouble you know what to do." I didn't. "We'll rendezvous here in an hour's time."
I glanced at my watch, then at Mike. The others were already gone. I eyed the green gadget curiously.
"So what does this do?"
"It's a tracker. Right now it's locked on to our Schlepy's signal." Mike explained.
I squinted at the map displayed on the screen.