Chapter 16

The packed SUV drive towards Wells, a settlement packed with shops that residents in Gedan outskirts liked visiting due to convenience, for Wells was only a ten minute drive away. A light rain began as Angela pulled into an isolated car park.

Kurtis and Samuel were applying pressure to Lee's wound in the middle while Nicole sat at tge back throughout the journey amidst his groans.

"Here," Angela said, "let me see that wound."

Kurtis tore the right section of Lee's shirt off and dumped the cloth soaked with blood at the back. His shoulders were a bloody mess; a huge oozing, gaping hole was where his armpit should be and white slivers of bone could be seen nestling under the flesh. The sniper bullet had hit right in his shoulder bone and exited through his ribs.

"Keep an eye outside Nicole," said Angela, "any strangers looking suspicious, you holler."

"You got it."

She turned to Lee.

"Do you have a first aid kid in the car?"

"Are you kidding?" he spluttered, "I am not the kind who is in danger of an anti materiel round to my shoulder..."

"Miss Hiller," Samuel spoke up, "let me run over to the shops for that."

Angela nodded, "get some antiseptic and bandages."

As Samuel went off, the four of them spent the next few minutes in the car in silence. Angela kept a wary eye on the parking lot while Nicole kept hers away from Lee's wound as he sprawled across the floor, breathing heavily.

"Oh, yeah," Kurtis suddenly remembered. He pulled out the silver locket from before and nudged Nicole.

"Thank you..."

"Now you know how I found you," smirked Angela, "it was a huge gamble to think you would go back for that locket..."

Angela turned to see him offering her a puny vial containing pink fluid.

"And this is...?"

"It was where Patcher died," said Kurtis, "have it."

Angela took the vial and gave it a good look. It sure did look important, being stored in some high quality glass. Marlowe's face popped into her mind and this caused her great discomfort: to think that she would need to drag another person into this affair.

Nicole nudged her, "It's Sam."

Samuel ran towards the car, a plastic bag swinging widely at his side. He opened the doors and spilled the contents on Nicole's lap.

"Hey..."

"Samuel," said Angela, "the antiseptic first. Hurry."

He reached for a small turquoise bottle and hurriedly unscrewed the cap. As he reached out to let it drip into Lee's wound, his good hand shot out and grabbed Samuel's.

"Lee...?"

The bloodied man half smiled, half grimaced as he slowly shook his head.

"Lee, I need to disinfect the wound..."

Lee silently shook his head once more.

Angela got off her seat and squeezed into the back.

"Damn it Lee, now's not the time for...!" It was only when she grabbed Lee's hand did Angela realize just how weak his pulse was, not to mention that his skin was cold to the touch.

"Lee?"

"It's been a fun ride, I'll admit," he said, weakly, "now don't you fret about me now..."

"Fuck, Lee!" said Samuel, "don't die on us now!"

Lee gently put Samuel's hand aside. "...and you," he croaked, "you still got a shit load of life ahead..."

He mentioned for Kurtis to come closer; Lee pulled him close with his good arm and uttered his last words:

"...may you find peace in this hectic world..."

Kurtis watched as he lay back down with a final sigh. The man that had visited him and Angela numerous times with an ever cheery expression now lay completely still on the floor of the car; all the blood had drained from his face but his smile remained.

Lee Turnstall was buried in an isolated field not far from Wells; Kurtis had wanted to bury him with the pistol he made but Angela encouraged him to keep it.

Once again, he found himself overwhelmed by an emotion he unfamiliar with. Kurtis clawed at his face; something other than the drizzle was wetting his eyes.

Both Angela and Nicole were trying not to show their sorrow; as much as Angela wanted to bring herself to cry, she found herself unable to.

"What do we do now...?" asked Samuel.

Angela looked at Kurtis.

"We are going to have to grasp at straws here," she said, "if my hunch is correct, you have been on Heinjal for over 30 years."

"Qiang Cun..." said Kurtis.

"Yep," she said, turning for the car, "we are going to start at where Qiang Cun ended."