“Do you think she’s okay?” I whispered softly, glancing back up the stairs. My arms still ached from the bullets. Small marks showed where they had penetrated my shoulders, elbows, and wrists, gumming up my joints and leaving me helpless while I watched the fight. My gun hung from one hand, my purse lost somewhere in the chaos and melee up above.
I studied the map for the third time, my eyes running across it, trying as best as I could to focus. New York City’s reservoir system was one of the largest in the world, and covered an area several times that of the city itself. Consisting of several reservoirs and aqueduct systems to the north and west of the city, some of the most massive infrastructure projects in the world had been driven by the need to keep New Yorkers from dying of dehydration. There were comparatively few places that it could be accessed. The Jacqueline Onassus reservoir in Central Park was no longer giving anyone water. The same was true of the Jerome Park Reservoir. The closest was Hillview Reservoir in the far Bronx, but there were over a dozen other access points that might be involved, and no way to tell which had been chosen.
I awoke in the hospital. Twinges ran through every muscle, pain constantly buzzing at the edge of my awareness. I lay spread-eagled on the bed, and tested every joint. It didn’t feel good. Each one was like an overly tight spring, threatening to unwind violently at any moment. This would spell disaster for my poor overstressed body. It was like caffeine withdrawal on a scale most humans would never endure, combined with a hearty round of opiate withdrawal and some severe depression to add texture to the whole mess. I looked up, and saw Officer Blanski sitting in the bed next to me. He was in a hospital gown as well, and when he saw that I was awake, his arms wrapped around me. “Wait, wait-”
I watched as Dane sped off, and tried to stand up straight. I took a breath, and the world spun around me, my stomach coiling. I have not needed to eat food in the better part of a century, but there is still a phenomena I’m familiar. When you grow hungry enough, your stomach will hurt. In some cases, this can reach a point where it is difficult to tell whether you’re hungry, or ill. The body links the two experiences together, making you nauseous when you consider eating, despite the fact that eating is the only way to fix what is wrong with you.
When you reach a certain age, waking up resembles flying a plane. First, there is the awareness of the price that you have paid simply to reach the cockpit. Every night you go to sleep knowing it may be the last time. Waking cannot be taken for granted. Second, there is the preparation. You need to set a trajectory, to plan a course, because without that, your flight may take a terminal direction. And third, there is the pre-flight checklist. Every joint must be checked, every muscle tested, because if any part of your body is not in absolute prime condition, you may crash on takeoff. I went through the movements smoothly, checking for weakness, for tension, and heaved myself up out of the hotel bed.