Nico and I sat at a table in the hideout, playing Risk in a vain attempt to distract ourselves. We waited in pure silence, trying our best not to cling to the idea that Vlad might have suffered a fate worse than death. Every minute we sat there seemed like an hour.
I was about to pick up a Risk card when Cheng walked into the room, wearing his lab coat, which had several bloodstains on it, both old and fresh.
“How is he?” I said, not looking away from the table.
“He’s alright,” said Cheng. “I stabilized him, gave him antibiotics, bandaged the wound properly, and injected a cure just in case.”
“You’d better not be fuckin’ with us,” said Nico.
“Nico, relax,” said Cheng. “He’s fine. He’s not going to die. But it will take him at least a week to recover.
“Better than being turned into one of those things,” I said. I stood up from the table. “I’m going to go talk to him, see if he’ alright.”
“He was asleep when I left him,” said Cheng, taking off his coat. “But go ahead.”
I walked down the hall towards our makeshift hospital room. Inside, Vlad was watching television, flipping through the channels.
“I tell you, there’s never a fucking thing on basic cable,” he said to me as I walked in.
“Tell me about it,” I said. “How are you feeling?”
“Oh, I’ll be fine. But next time we see a beggar, I’ll have my gun ready.”
“I certainly hope so,” I said. Vlad continued to stare at the TV, then looked up at me.
“Thank you for getting me out of there,” he said. “I’d be dead otherwise.”
“Not a problem,” I said. “I know you’d do the same for me in a heartbeat.”
“That I would,” said Vlad as he reached for his vodka flask. I simply sighed in sarcastic contempt.
“Here’s to a speedy recovery!” he said as he took a swig.
“Get well soon then,” I said. “That is, if you don’t die of alcohol poisoning first.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it!” he said as I left the room. I went back to the main room and joined Nico and Cheng. We soon went off to rest for the night, relieved that we had all survived to fight another day.