FACTS OF LIFE
This is just a pointless
little story that wouldn’t leave me in peace until I wrote it
down (stupid plot bunnies, chewing on my leg). Well, actually,
it was the first sentence. It popped into my head, and BAM! –
I had to write a story with it. It was fun to write.
My many thanks to quiller,
who corrected this story, suggested the title, and gave me
useful advice about adverbs.
some situations – lying on a floor in a pool of your own
blood, for example – that really put things into perspective.
you remember all kinds of unimportant things, little details
that were forgotten long ago or that are simply too
insignificant to be thought of in such a severe situation. You
do it because you don’t want to think about the life that's
oozing out of you with every drop of blood. You do it because
it helps you concentrate, helps you focus. You do it because
it gives you comfort. But most of all, you do it because it
distracts you from the mind-numbing pain.
My head is
full of such silly, unimportant things. Stuff like 'I
forgot to put my fave trousers in the wash' or 'I
wonder whether Grandma is making her apple-pie tonight'. I
remember my appointment with the dentist next week - that's
probably going to be cancelled now.
ironic, really. Here I am, bleeding on the ground, unable to
move because from the pain and the blood-loss, and I think
about food. I'm not even hungry. Yet my thoughts keep circling
around Grandma's delicious apple-pie, and whether I'll ever be
able to taste it again...
mechanism, as John always calls it. The mind wants to be
distracted of the devastating reality, and so it tries to
think of other things. It looks away from the pain and
concentrates on memories. Easy.
I have to
admit, my brother has got a way of words that I find amazing.
I'm a total sucker when it comes to describing things. I
just...I know the words, but when I need them, they don't
come. Never in my life would I describe a sunset as 'golden
sun rays that dart over the horizon like silver fish in the
water'. Of course, John never said that personally (he is
a Tracy after all, even though a weird one). But it was used
in one of those books he likes, the ones that get all poetic
I read the
book once and laughed. To me, a sunset is, well, yellow,
orange and red. It looks nice. But that’s all. Nice. A sunset.
that date I once had. A disaster. She was asking what I
thought of her, and she expected me to answer like some poet.
remembered John's advice: 'Women love flowery descriptions.
Just compare her eyes to the sea, the sky, a bed of roses, and
they'll love you.'
said than done. I frantically looked for something to compare
her green eyes with, but my mind came up blank. When she
continued looking at me expectantly, I mentioned the first
thing that came to my mind. 'Your eyes look like grass' (We
were standing in the park. And well, grass is green, isn’t
to mention that she wasn't very flattered (my brother, on the
other hand, found it hilarious when I had to tell him later).
immense relief (and John’s disappointment), I’ve become better
over the years (I was barely eighteen that time), but I still
find it difficult to speak that way. Compliments. Honestly.
Why not just say ‘Your hair is beautiful’? Why does it always
have to be poetic?
the facts, end of the story. Why the need to gloss over? It's
unnecessary and sometimes downright foolish.
probably going to die.
Not a very
nice fact, but glossing over that wouldn't be helpful
at all. I know my chances are limited; I can't move, and with
each passing second, I lose more blood. The rain isn't helping
either. If the others don't get to me soon, I might slip away.
Already I can feel the darkness looming at the edge of my
consciousness, trying to swallow me whole. I can't let that
happen. They'd be devastated. And besides, who would
coordinate the rescues?
So I hang
on with grim determination and curse the fact that I can't
reach Mobile Control to call for help.
to imagine that this morning I was angry at Gordon, because he
managed to sneak into my room and dye my underwear pink,
furious at Alan because he insisted on disobeying my orders,
and peeved at Virgil because he ate the last slice of
chocolate cake and didn’t leave me any.
went on the rescue and I had to swallow my anger and act
professional, something I’m quite used to, but which isn’t
healthy in the long run.
trying to breathe, even though it hurts like hell, desperately
wishing for one of my brothers to be here. The anger has long
gone and instead I feel weariness creeping up my limbs.
You're in deep trouble, Scott.
I wish I
could call for help. But moving hurts, and it aggravates the
wound. When I tried my watch before, I only got static. The
others are engaged in the rescue; they're probably wondering
why I'm not ordering them around. I really hope that they can
manage without my help, because honestly, I wouldn't be up to
it, not with a hole in my stomach.
Right now, you are useless.
to admit that, but it's quite true.
raining – no, pouring – and I’m lying only a couple of feet
away from Mobile Control. Tough luck. There’s no way in hell I
can reach it. The lights are blinking, mocking me and my
inability to move. I wonder where that madman got to. I’m
pretty sure I hit him with the gun, so he shouldn’t have gone
Things like that shouldn't happen. I don't want to die. But
more than that, I don't want one of my brothers to come back
and find my dead corpse.
Scott Tracy, you can't give up.
up, that's our motto. I find it increasingly difficult not to
slip away as the tiredness increases and increases. But I
can't allow myself that luxury.
mixes with the blood, the pool around me is getting bigger and
bigger. I can hear the strange, wheezing sound every time I
draw breath. Sounds weak. Pathetic.
hurts. So much.
imagined I would die on a rescue – getting smashed by falling
debris, falling off a cliff, something like that – but
somehow, the horror scenarios of my death never involved
self: Just call for help and forget your damn pride.
are on the rescue. I cannot distract them. It might be
dangerous. The watch is probably damaged; it wasn't working
listen to the insistent voice and raise my trembling arm. The
little motion of bringing my wrist to my mouth takes more
effort than I anticipated, and for a couple of seconds,
greyness tugs at the corners of my vision. I ignore it and
fumble for the watch instead. It's difficult to see through
the rain, so I try to go by feeling alone.
managed to evacuate everyone," Virgil’s distorted voice
penetrates the drumming rain. It works. I can't believe it.
The connection isn't the best, full of crackles, but hearing
the voice of my brother gives a bit of hope back.
a horrible weather. Hey, Scott, are you finished with Mobile
Control? We found that madman you were talking about, passed
out on the ground, the local police is taking him in…"
Funny, it seems so long ago. I dimly remember telling them
about the insane man with the gun, urging them to be careful.
It feels like aeons ago. Back in a time where I wasn't lying
in my own blood, spreading around me in a giant puddle of
drums on my face, pours down my neck and soaks my uniform. I
can feel the water trickling down my back, my arms, my hand.
It tickles, it itches, it hurts, but most of all, it's cold.
I lick my
cracked lips. "Virg…" I manage and immediately start coughing.
My chest aches horrible and I can almost feel how more
blood flows, aggravated by the movement. Then I taste
something metallic, a second or so before I have to cough
again, this time spitting out blood. Tears prickle in the
corners of my eyes.
Getting shot hurts. A lot.
Scott, is something wrong?" Virgil sounds worried. He must
have heard my coughing. I try to say something, but the pain
is too intense, has me churning in agony and the only thing
that escapes my lips is a groan.
Now he sounds panicked. "Scott, where are you? Are you hurt?
Hang on, I’ll be with you in a second." His voice disappears,
leaving only static. He doesn't even know where I am. Doesn't
matter. I wouldn't have been able to tell him anyway.
greyness becomes overwhelming and I close my eyes. Just for a
second, to rest them, but before I know, I slip away.
Don't trust yourself to stay awake.
have been out for long; when I struggle back towards
consciousness, I'm still lying in the rain, but I'm not alone
any more. Now there's someone talking to me. It takes a while
to make out the words – everything seems slow and sluggish.
stretcher, we need to hurry, he's lost a lot of blood..."
Virgil, I realize with an odd detachment. He seems frantic.
Why that? I hope the rescue went alright. I kind of lost the
touch after I was shot. Are the others okay? What about Gordon
is weak, breathing seems okay, though I don't like the
wheezing sound..." Virgil’s voice sounds professional and
aloof, like he always does when he's worried. There's a slight
tremble in his voice. Huh. I try to understand.
Virgil is worried. Very worried.
hurt. Very much so.
Conclusion: I have been injured and Virgil worries about me.
proud of my logical skills, even though a tiny voice in my
mind whispers that this should have been obvious. I ignore it.
You have to work with what you have.
Scott, can you hear me?"
I notice that my brother has been calling me for quite a while
now. I must have been drifting again. There's a slight hitch
in his voice that I don't like. Is he okay? I need to know.
that does it. Virgil rarely pleads, and the fact that he does
portrays the seriousness of the situation. I try to crack open
my eyes, but boy, it hurts! I see a slit of blinding light and
groan as the pain slams into me. I've been kind of floating
for the last minutes, but now that I'm awake again, the agony
hits me full force.
Virgil manages to sound relieved and worried at the same time.
He's looming over me, face soot streaked and tight. "How do
to answer, but I simply cannot gather the energy. So I try to
smile at him, but it comes out as a grimace. Don't worry.
I'll be fine. I had worse. I can't remember when, but I'm sure
didn't you tell me that you've been shot?" Virgil demands and
does things to my lower abdomen that make stars explode in my
head. I reckon he's trying to stop the bleeding, but damn,
does it have to hurt that much?
he?" another voice asks, and then I see a blonde head above
me. My youngest brother, a long scratch on his face, bends
over me and smiles when he sees that I'm awake. "Hey, Scott."
The smile doesn't hide the concern in his eyes. Huh. He’s
worried. Even though we had a major row this morning. He was
so mad at me and now he’s worried.
think he's really awake yet," Virgil explains after I don't
answer. I'm insulted. I'm not out of it – I'm just not saying
anything. That's a difference. A rather big one. "The injury
over to inspect my stomach (yeah, very interesting sight
indeed). His face turns a delightful shade of green. "Shit!"
he breathes. "We have to get him to a hospital!"
really? No kidding.
kidding." Virgil’s dry remark reflects my thoughts. I would
have chuckled. If I had the energy. Which I have not.
Being too exhausted to speak is not a good sign.
me. That guy with the gun...oh man, had I known about this, I
wouldn't have been so easy with the bonds."
bleeding an awful lot."
the rain isn't helping to improve things."
cold...and he's gone into shock. We need to get him away from
called Gordon, he's getting the stretcher."
again, understanding only snippets of the conversation going
on above me. Soon, a third voice joins in and I see red hair
and a mischievous face, even though it doesn't look very
mischievous right now. Then another voice floats through the
air, deep, gruff and commanding. Dad. I would have recognized
him anywhere. Someone must have contacted him. His tone is
clipped, and I know that he's worried. He's always worried,
but it's worse when one of us is hurt.
get what they're telling him, but judging from the tone of
their voices, it's nothing good. The atmosphere is heavy,
depressing, and I yearn to say something, to lighten the mood,
but I can't utter a word.
Gordon when you need him? Oh right, he's here, just beside me,
but he isn't joking. Strange. Gordon only stops joking when
it's really serious, but I…I...forgot what I was thinking.
voices. Seems as if John has joined the fray, talking with Dad
over the comm link.
they're all assembled to see their oldest brother bleeding to
death. How appropriate.
It's all a
matter of perspective, I remind myself; I need to think
positively to let the positive happen.
thought in mind, I almost manage to fall asleep again.
Suddenly, I'm being moved (without asking first; I'm quite
peeved). But I quickly forget being peeved as the pain flares
up again, racing through my body like a thousand hot needles.
I scream and thrash out, try to stop the pain. Someone holds
my hands, trying to calm me down. It doesn't help. The pain is
too intense and I groan in agony.
down, we need to move you, I'm sorry, it'll be over in a
some painkiller, for God's sake!"
closed my eyes, feel the tears running down my cheeks.
Tracy men don't cry.
it's okay, we're going to get you to the hospital, you'll be
fine, you'll see...", a voice babbles. To me it sounds as if
the speaker is trying to convince himself. Ha. Nothing is
fine. Not with a hole in your stomach.
asleep, Scott. You're the field commander. You can't fall
asleep. You can't leave your responsibility.
I need to
make sure that everyone's alright. Is the rescue completed?
What about Mobile control? I certainly hope they're not
leaving it. And who's going to fly Thunderbird One? As much as
it pains me to admit, I'm in no shape to do so.
I try to
open my eyes again, but I only see blurred shapes. Speaking
doesn't work either, but someone notices my struggle and puts
a comforting hand on my shoulder. "Just relax; we're taking
care of everything."
words I wanted to hear. Feeling a little bit relieved, I sink
into the darkness, too tired to care about anything any more.
For a long
time, there's only silence. I remember floating – somewhere,
in the darkness – a feeling similar to flying, but much more
peaceful. It's very relaxing, and I, who seldom finds time to
sit back and just be, enjoy the feeling. I don't have
to be anywhere, anyone; I'm all alone.
drifting can't last forever, and slowly, I start hearing
voices. They're like a low hum at first, too soft to make out
any words. But the more time passes, the clearer they become,
until I can make out what's being said, and, short moments
later, who's been talking.
conversations are quite meaningless, obviously not even
directed at me, just snippets of someone else's conversations
that I manage to overhear. The cut-off sentences float with me
through the darkness, accompanying me on my lonely journey.
we get lunch, we can..."
wish that I had a writer's soul to describe what I was
experiencing. I simply cannot find the right words, and so I
put it into facts again.
hear voices, belonging to people I know.
feel nothing - no hunger, no pain, no exhaustion, neither
sadness nor happiness.
Conclusion: I'm dead?
what you're dreaming about." someone whispers.
follow me again. I'm really getting annoyed; now there's
finally the chance to enjoy some peace and quiet (there never
seems to be enough of that on the island), and my brothers
keep on babbling through the darkness.
brothers are annoying. Like I want to listen to them.
what Gordon did today? He put angel's wings on Alan!"
Maybe I want to listen to that one.
silly, doesn't it?" The person chuckles, and I belatedly
realise that it's Virgil. "He sneaked into Alan's room when he
was sleeping and glued some of those fake angel wings on his
back, with superglue. Alan, of course, was furious. The glue
doesn't wash off easily and so he has to walk around with
wings on his back, until Gordon hands out the solvent. Don't
tell him, but it actually looks quite fitting. After all, he
has this tendency to pull the 'angelic little boy' routine."
hear that my brothers have fun without me.
sighs. "I really needed that. It has been very depressing with
you, well, out of it, and Gordon took the chance to make
everyone smile." He chuckled wryly. "God knows that we haven't
been doing that a lot lately – smiling, I mean."
Now that I
think of it, I haven't either.
time I win my struggle for awareness, everything has changed.
The darkness is gone; instead, bright light penetrates my
eyelids. There are sounds around me that I didn't notice
before; beeping and humming, the sound of a monitor, soft
music. Then the smells; clean, sterile, hospital-like.
longer lying in the rain, but flat on my back on something
soft, presumably a bed. The pain has diminished somewhat,
replaced by fogginess and a general ache. My thoughts drift
slowly, like icebergs, and it takes me a while to piece
Getting shot. Lying on the ground. The rain. The blood (so
much blood!). My brothers. The darkness. Floating.
feeling of having been incredibly far away.
open eyelids that feel incredibly heavy, as if they haven't
been used in a long time. The light hurts at first, so I wait
until my eyes adjust and look around the room. I recognize the
infirmary on Tracy Island (how did I get here?), a place where
I've been stuck more often than I'd like. Well, it is a
dangerous business after all.
I try to
remember what happened, but my mind comes up blank. Not
surprising, I must have been unconscious.
wander to the empty chair that's standing beside my bed.
There's nobody here beside me. I frown. No use lying around. I
could as well get up and do something...
to sit up and fall back with a groan. Ugh. Getting up with a
hole in your stomach is no fun. Even through the haze of
painkillers I can feel the pain, throbbing in my abdomen and
spreading through my whole body until everything tingles and
I wait for
the stars to disappear, and then try it again, this time more
slowly. It hurts like hell and I have to bite back a scream
more than once. But I can be incredibly stubborn, as my
brothers always insist, and in the end, I manage to sit. I
pant a bit, exhausted by the effort, and then grin. It's nice
to be doing something.
can start congratulating myself, the door opens. Dad steps
inside, running a hand through his greying hair. He looks
tired and worn, the lines on his face etched deeper than
normal. He seems to be lost in thought; at least he hasn't
noticed me yet.
tired," I state, surprised at how rough my voice sounds.
shoots up in a way that’s almost funny and he stares at me
blankly. Then a huge smile spreads over his face. "It's good
to see you awake, Scott," he rumbles, and before I know what's
happening, he crosses the room and engulfs me in a bear hug,
careful as not to aggravate my wound.
it's good to be awake," My reply is sincere and heart-felt.
"How long have I been out, anyway?"
three days." He frowns. "It was a close call for a while; you
lost too much blood and we didn't know whether you received
medical help in time."
my dreams; yes, thinking about them I can certainly believe
that it was close. Even though I don't like thinking about
Scott Tracy isn't invincible.
knew that before. Smartmouth.
"Out on a
rescue. Mudslide in China." Dad's eyes twinkle. "They're
wrapping up and heading home at this moment."
okay..." I begin, when something springs into my mind. "Hang
on – who's flying Thunderbird One?"
I know the answer. My little kid brother is, since he's the
second pilot. He's going to have a field day with this. I
his face stretching into a smile. "He's doing fine."
better," I mutter darkly, thinking of all the ways our blonde
'angel' could damage my precious 'bird.
are you feeling, son?"
honestly startled. "I'm fine, Dad. Really."
raises an eyebrow, clearly indicating that he doesn't believe
me. "Scott, you have been shot, your life was hanging on edge
for a while and you were unconscious for several days. You are
far from fine. It's going to be a long time until you
feel fine again. So, how do you really feel?"
"Sore, tired, hurting, frustrated. High on painkillers." I
make a face. I really hate painkillers and the way they make
me feel. Disorientated, not up to my full potential. Weak.
Out of control.
– really laughs – since he knows me too well and knows what
I'm thinking. "Unfortunately, that's not going to change for a
while." He sobers a bit. "A gunshot wound is serious, Scott,
and yours was life threatening. It went through your
abdomen and injured vital organs. They had to operate on you
immediately, but you wouldn't stop bleeding..."
continue, but I knew what he was thinking. You scared the
hell out of me and your brothers, not to mention Grandma.
face hardens. "The guy who shot you is going to prison for
mental, Dad." I said softly. "I think he wasn't even on the
same plane as me. I honestly had no idea that he would react
that way...well, I guess I was at fault as well. For
I rub my
face. The exhaustion is climbing up my limbs and I feel as if
I could sleep for hours, even though I just woke up. I don't
like feeling so...so...dependant, but I don't have the energy
to fight. I know it's partly due to the painkillers; that's
the reason why I hate them so much. I'm used to being alert
all the time, and this...sloppiness of my thoughts and the
fuzziness in my mind drives me crazy.
to let you rest," Dad smiles at me. "You're exhausted."
woke up," I grumble, feeling like a little kid.
you're injured." he states in his no-nonsense tone. "And you
need your rest. Believe me, your brothers aren't going to let
you sleep once they're here. They’ve been quite anxious over
the last couple of days."
I open my
mouth to protest, but before I can say anything, he gently but
firmly pushes me back down on the mattress. I'm shocked at how
easy it goes; I must be weaker than I thought. Belatedly I
realized that my hands are trembling. Too much effort? I
quickly hide them under the bed covers, but Dad had seen them
Scott," he says and it's an order.
I know how
to treat orders. My eyes slide shut on their own accord.
Before I know it, I'm off again, wandering through the land of
think we should wake him?" I hear Alan whisper.
not. He needs his rest." That's Virgil, trying to be sensible.
doesn't look any different. How do we know that he really woke
up?" Gordon asks doubtfully.
Dad said so."
be standing close to my bed. Even though they're trying to
soften their voices, I can still hear them. I've always been a
light sleeper, more so after my years in the Air Force. Alan
would probably sleep through this like a log, but I wake up,
and once I'm awake I find it hard to fall asleep again.
did Dad say? Is he okay?"
going to be fine, isn’t he?"
my younger brothers, as always being annoying even without
intending to do so. If they don't want to wake me, they should
stay silent, for heaven's sake!
abandoning the last hope at some rest, I open my eyes (it
seems to have become a habit; I open my eyes while people are
standing around me and watching my sleeping/unconscious form.
Not a very entertaining thought) and look over to where my
brothers are gathered. Gordon, Alan and Virgil are standing
close to my bed, deep in discussion. On the wall I can see
John's face from the vid-screen; he watches the discussion
amused and slightly exasperated; and he's also the first one
to notice that I'm awake.
sleeping beauty has opened his eyes," he says smiling,
effectively cutting off every conversation in the room. The
three others turn to face me.
at them. "I'm not old."
Little brothers are annoying.
enough, my comment only makes them smile. "It's nice to hear
that you're still the same grouch," Gordon says cheerfully.
"We missed your charming presence over the last days."
time you warn us about a ‘dangerous individual’, please heed
your own warnings as well," Virgil reprimands me. "We were all
very careful and overwhelmed him, only to come back and
realize that he had shot you."
kind of surprised me, too," I admit, remembering the sudden
bang and the pain in my stomach. I had been warning the others
about the escaped madman, not noticing that he was just around
the corner. Then the bang – pain flared up! - and I fell to
I saw the blood, spreading around me in dark crimson, I
realized that I had been shot. Reflexes saved my life; I
turned around, grabbed for my gun (I was very glad that Dad
insisted we wear them for safety measures) and fired. I must
have hit the guy, because he didn't advance, but fled instead.
certainly wasn't looking forward to getting shot." I continue,
grimacing when I try to move. The painkillers have diminished
somewhat, and while it makes my head a lot clearer, it also
worsens the pain, something I don't really appreciate.
not!" Alan exclaims with a cheeky grin on his face. Funny. We
had this major row, and he just forgets it. Guess that's one
of the advantages of getting shot.
says we can't disturb you for long," Virgil explains. "So we'd
better get going now – we have to clean the 'birds, they're
full of mud." He makes a face and I try to appear sympathetic,
knowing what for a mess it can be to clean Thunderbird Two,
especially when it's sticky mud.
brought you something." He steps back and retrieves something
from a spot that's out of my vision.
it's nothing that explodes into my face." I’m weary of this.
You can never trust my brothers. Since it's Virgil, I should
be safe, but with those brothers of mine, you never can be
sure. Who knows, maybe Alan and Gordon converted Virg to their
evil ways; or maybe they had hypnotized him. Put those two
together and you get a deadly mixture.
chuckles from the wall. "Really, Scott, we're quite
learned the hard way." I remark in a dry tone.
Virgil returns with a plate in his hands. "It's nothing that
explodes, squirts water at you, makes you itch, or produces
funny noises. In fact, it's something you should like." He
lifts the lid and shows the nicest, most perfect chocolate
cake I've ever seen. The delicious smell penetrates the air,
makes the water run into my mouth.
nods importantly "That, my dear Scott, is Grandma's famous
chocolate cake, made for you alone. Feel honoured."
to Grandma, we have to face severe punishment if we eat a
slice of it without your permission." Alan adds, a dejected
look on his face.
complain," John calls from the wall. "I'm not getting anything
for at least another week."
brothers all look at the innocent chocolate cake.
all mine, huh?" My face takes on an evil grin. "So I can eat
it all on my own and you guys have to watch?"
faces as if they're suffering their ultimate doom. "I guess
so," Gordon admits, sounding as if he just offered to cut off
doesn't say anything. Serves him right. After all, he ate the
last piece of chocolate cake last time, so that when I came to
the kitchen after a hard day's work, none was left. Payback
But when I
see their dejected faces, I feel my heart soften. I remember
the dark dreams and how their voices kept me going, even
though I found them annoying at the time. I think of the worry
I caused them, of the naked fear that I saw in their eyes
while I was lying in the rain, bleeding and bleeding like it
would never stop.
"Alright guys; get some plates. You can have a tiny – and I
repeat: tiny! - piece each."
Scott Tracy is becoming soft.
grumbles from the wall about the unfairness of it all, while
Alan darts out of the room. Gordon has a grin stretched over
his whole face. "You're the bestest, Scott, you know that?"
I am." I blink up at him. "The picture of perfection."
back in the pillows, thinking of what happened to me. I got
shot; I had all kinds of weird dreams and thoughts running
through my heads; I nearly died; everybody was worried.
And in the
end, I got a whole chocolate cake. In my opinion, it makes up
for certain things. That doesn't mean I have to like being
stuck in the infirmary. Nope, not at all. But right now, I'm
content. The rescue has been worked up, my brothers are alive
and well; the man who shot me is in prison. I'm here, I'm
alive, I'm still Scott Tracy and I can still order my brothers
And I can
eat the whole chocolate cake in front of their noses.
Being the eldest has its perks.