Nothing Much Happens in Sommerville (Part Five)
(Hello loves! Sorry it's been so long since I did a Fiction Friday update! But after some requests, I'm going to keep going with this current short story! If you need a refresher or want to start from the beginning, you can click here! Thanks for all the kind messages & support! Hope y'all enjoy it! Love y'all!)
All Mallory could see was darkness as she ran for her life through the overgrown, foggy woodland.
Her breathing was ragged and her right leg burned like she had been stabbed, but she couldn't stop. She couldn't remember why, but she just knew that if she did, she would die.
Dozens of unsettling snarls and growls echoed behind her, growing closer and closer with each labored step. Her leg was fully on fire now and tingling in a way she guessed wasn't good.
She yelped as she ran directly into a painful thicket of thorns. The sharp edges tore at her arms, face and clothes but even that couldn't stop Mallory from pushing forward. She clawed her way through the bushes until she finally burst free, wincing as a chunk of her hair was ripped out on the strong, spiked branches.
Mallory's run was more like a stumbling lurch at this point, but she forced herself to keep going. Her heart raced as she saw something looming out of the fog. Something shiny, large and strong-looking, almost like a huge wall-
"And how are we doing today, Mallory?"
Mallory jolted upright in her seat at the abrupt voice, her hand immediately jumping to her burning, throbbing leg... and instead feeling wood. Right.
She could feel herself shaking as her mind slowly remembered reality. Slowly the pain and terror faded. What a horrifying dream she had just had.
Dr. Flora Nguyen's bright smile faded into a look of concern. "Everything alright?"
"Uh yeah," Mallory sucked in a deep breath, willing the tremble in her voice to go away. "Sorry. I must have fallen asleep and just... had a nightmare." She attempted a light-hearted shrug.
"Hm." Flora's gaze was knowing as she stepped towards Mallory. She pulled her stethoscope from around her neck and pressed it against Mallory's chest. "Take a breath."
Mallory breathed slowly but could tell by Flora's frown that it was no good. "I'm really fine, I promise," She said the moment the stethoscope was pulled away.
"Your heart-rate is higher than normal, although it was beginning to slow down," She walked behind Mallory's chair to retrieve some other tools for the check-up. "What were you dreaming about?"
"I have no idea. I was in the woods..." Mallory admitted. When Flora stood before her again, she couldn't help feeling slightly annoyed at the doctor holding a clipboard and pen. "It's really nothing."
There was something hard in Flora's usually perky tone as she continued to stare at her. Mallory frowned, before shrugging as nonchalantly as she could manage.
"I was running. Through the woods, I guess, although they weren't like any woods I've ever seen before. Everything was grey, and dead and," She thought over the right word for a moment. "Toxic. It was like I couldn't catch my breath."
"Mhmm." Flora nodded as she wrote notes down on her clipboard. "Anything else you can remember?"
"Well my leg hurt, like it was burning, and I know it wasn't from running. But that just proves it was a nightmare," Mallory gestured to her prosthetic. "And not real. Which means this is a waste of time."
She ignored Mallory's remark. "Why were you running?"
Flora's intensity felt too serious for a simple nightmare. "I'm not sure," Mallory said slowly, unease creeping through her. "I think I was being chased."
"I don't know."
"Surely you must have seen it?" The pen was scribbling far too fast over the clipboard.
"No, I didn't actually, because I was a bit too focused on trying not to suffocate and not get eaten by whatever was chasing me." Mallory crossed her arms. "What's it matter anyways? Like I said it was just some super bizarre nightmare. Besides," She didn't bother hiding her irritation. "Shouldn't we be worrying about actual, physical things? Like my pregnancy for example?"
Flora's writing immediately paused as she fixed Mallory with a dark look. Before she could interpret it, however, the doctor's expression immediately shifted into a sweet yet condescending smile.
"Well of course, you're absolutely right Mallory. That's why I was asking about the nightmare, to get a gauge of your stress levels." Flora set down the clipboard, noticeably paper-side down as if she was trying to hide the words. "Stress is really bad for the baby, after all."
Mallory watched Flora calmly wash her hands and get tools for an ultrasound. She still felt unsettled as she watched the doctor approach like nothing strange had passed. Not to mention the passive, subtle berating that seemed way out of character for Flora. Usually she listened to all of Mallory's concerns with empathy, not annoyance.
"I know stress is bad for the baby," Mallory said timidly. "That's why I don't understand why you wanted to know so much about the nightmare-"
"I'm sorry, but last I checked, I know more about these things than you do," Flora said with an uncharacteristic flash in her eyes. Mallory's jaw dropped in surprise but before she could respond, Flora just smiled sweetly and continued. "Alright, now let's see how you're both coming along!"
The rest of the check-up went by in a blur. Even seeing the blob of cells that was her baby for the first time couldn't shake her from her unease. Mallory's mind was still grappling with Flora's unexpected reaction as she tried to rationalize what could make her friend of three years act this way. By the time she was being ushered out of the room, she still couldn't figure it out.
"Now be sure to take it easy, Mallory." Flora ordered her as they walked outside. The doctor gripped Mallory's arm tightly as she added, "There's no need to be so worried. You are safe in Sommerville. Alright?"
Mallory froze, her skin crawling at what sounded almost like a threat. But how could being reminded of her safety be a threat?
She gently pulled her arm free of Flora's grip and plastered a smile on her face. "Alright. Of course I don't need to worry. I'm safe here."
Tye was sitting in his office, his usually smooth and straight suit wrinkled with the amount of times he had paced around the room. He was slumped over his desk, glaring at papers that showed far too little resources for Sommerville's size. As he stared at the frighteningly low count of pigs and chickens still alive, he angrily gnawed at the end of the pencil he was holding, as he tried and failed to relieve his stress.
God, he missed cigarettes.
He didn't even look up at the knock on his door.
"What?" He snapped, already knowing it was someone he didn't have to keep his false optimism around for.
Dr. Flora Nguyen stepped into his office with a worried frown that did nothing to settle Tye's nerves. She made a point of glancing around his office, before firmly closing and locking the door before walking towards him.
Tye's stomach sank as Flora sighed and placed her hands on his desk before leaning forward and whispering, "You were right."
Tye was silent as his deepest, darkest fear crashed over him like a tidal wave.
"She's starting to remember," Flora continued, just as quietly.
He felt like he was drowning.
"What do we do?"
For a moment, Tye just wanted to laugh. Or cry. 'What do we do'- the same damned question he was asked by every single person inside this godforsaken sham of a town. From morning to night, it was on him to know what to do. And for what? Why was Tye the one who had all the answers? Why did they all look to him?
Who was he supposed to turn to when he needed to be told what to do?
He inhaled slowly, ignoring his own clamoring thoughts before slowly meeting Flora's concerned gaze.
"Go back to your office. Take care of the sick and wounded." At Flora's confused expression, Tye smiled coldly. "Thank you for alerting me to this, Doctor. I'll be handling this on my own."
Of course he would. All Tye ever did was handle things on his own. No one else could be trusted.
From the look on Flora's face, Tye could tell she was already regretting telling him. Well, that would just be something for her guilty conscience to deal with. Still...
"I assume you already know not to speak of this to anyone, including Bennet." He arched a brow. "I'd hate for Sommerville to have to find a new physician."
All the color drained from Flora's face as she nodded frantically, nearly tripping in her efforts to leave his office. "Of course, Tye. I won't be saying anything."
Tye watched her leave, confident in the doctor's silence. Worst-case scenario, he would just make her forget. He could make her forget everything if he needed. Sometimes people just didn't need to remember certain things. It's what made Sommerville work.
And now, Mallory Haynes was a threat to that.