Ber

 

Ber

Rise of Faust, Book 3

 

CHAPTER ONE

Violet

The urgent pounding on the door has me bolting from my chair so fast, the back hits the wall then the base hits the floor with a metallic squeak. “Just open it,” a man demands loud enough to be heard through the door.

“Coming-coming-coming.” The distress in his voice has me sidestepping the desk, leaving the dog-eared medical journal I’ve been skimming for the umpteenth time.

Two men shuffle in sideways, struggling to carry someone covered in blood between them. The man’s head is lolling forward as they move. If he’s a local, I should be able to recognize him.

“Dr. Carter,” Jonah, one of the men who walks the perimeter of the wall, calls out to me.

“Bring him over here.” I push open the door to the exam room I’ve set up in the small home where I’ve spent the past year. Anxious faces watch as the men disappear inside.

“Will he be okay?” a boy asks, his gaze on the doorway as a young woman bawls loudly.

I give him what I hope is a reassuring smile. “I’ll do my best.” Then I shut the door behind me, trying to cut off the anxious chatter from the gathering crowd. “What happened?” I go straight to the sink, scrubbing as I take a better look at the patient. If I’m not mistaken, it’s Ambrose, the mason’s son. I snatch a latex glove from a nearby box and pull it on.

Franco, the other man helping carry Ambrose, runs the back of his arm across his forehead. “I just got back and came across them heading to the gate.” He points toward the two men.

“Ambrose, he was out searching for the teacher that went missing,” Jonah continues then finishes what he’s saying in German.

I shake my head. “Jonah, English, please,” I insist, only understanding one or two words.

“Sorry, Doctor.” He lowers his head, contrite. “Heard his scream then a shot went off. People ran in every direction.” He wrings his hands.

I nod, focused on my patient as I adjust the second glove. He’s in his early twenties, a few pounds too heavy, and currently covered in blood due to a leg shredded by sharp claws. “How many more people are out there?” I may need to prepare the room for someone else coming in.

“The whole town’s out. Faust wants her found.” He studies Ambrose again. “Now there’s a passel of kids crying, afraid the cat got their teacher.”

Oh goodness. Taking the trauma shears, I cut away the material, uncovering the jagged edges of skin. “He’s lucky the femoral artery wasn’t severed.”

“Argh.” Jonah steps back.

“I have a feeling I know what happened to the teacher.” Franco exchanges words with his companion, in German, and the other man rushes out, shutting the door firmly behind him. Not everyone has the stomach for this job. The scent of blood alone can be enough to put someone off. It’s probably best he left. “I’ll stay, in case he comes around,” Franco offers. “His English isn’t the best.”

When I first arrived, I was fascinated by the fact the people in this small town were primarily German speaking. Over time, I’ve learned this isn’t exactly a town, it’s more of a compound.

Something I wish I’d known before I agreed to come to the middle of the jungle.

“It’s a blessing he passed out.” I continue removing his clothes so I can clean the wounds.

Franco rubs the back of his neck. “He may have had some help with that.”

“How so?” I ask, flicking a glance at him.

“He was kicking and screaming as they were trying to carry him to the gates. I knocked him out so we could get him here.” He adds the latter without an ounce of remorse.

While I don’t agree with his methods, I can’t argue with the result. I move to the cabinet to gather what I need. We’re in an unexpected situation, with the opportunity to have a conversation with nobody around. Something we were going to try to do later this evening. It doesn’t mean Franco will be up to having an open conversation.

Glancing in his direction, I find him checking the cabinet. I clear my throat, intent on distracting him. I’m fully aware of how he makes money on the side and don’t need him getting any ideas of raiding my supplies. “How was your trip?”

His gaze snaps to mine, narrowing suspiciously before he clears his expression. Is he trying to decide if I’m working on getting information, or did he figure out I’m trying to take his attention away from what I have locked up in the cabinet?

Crossing his arms, he leans against the wall in a relaxed pose. He stares at the floor for a moment before answering. “There was more traffic than usual yesterday.”

I may as well have had a bucket of ice dropped over my head. “Oh?”

He shakes his head in a slow, intent manner.

My hand shakes the slightest bit as I open the package of a sterile syringe.

“There was a truck behind us that ate our dust for half the drive. We made a quick stop at the village at the midpoint to grab some food.”

I fill the syringe with anesthetic then move back to Ambrose. “Well, that’s good, isn’t it?” Please let it be good.

“It’s a backup plan, in case one of us gets hungry.” He makes a cutting motion with his hand then adds a little hop at the end. “If not, all we have are a couple of fish shacks. And at the check points along the route, if those guys smell anything, they’ll want to take it. They’re always hungry.”

I nod, piecing together the story as I wheel over the cart with all the equipment I’ll need to treat the wound. It isn’t unusual to get injuries of this manner in the jungle of Guyana. But usually they don’t come to me with this severe a wound. He was lucky to get away with his life. I have to keep that in mind because, when it comes down to it, it’s my fault this happened.

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