CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and FOURTEEN
Monday early-morning — 2:48 a.m.
Nelson realized that his eyes were open. Closing his eyelids felt like dragging sandpaper over eye balls. The pain was as intense as the relief. He pressed his fingers into his eyes.
And then he realized that he had no idea where he was. He tried to get up. A large hand pressed him back to the bed.
“Úbi sum?” Nelson croaked.
“Hospitium,” a male voice responded with “Hospital” in Latin.
Nelson’s mind jerked awake at the Latin. He looked over to see Tres Sierra.
“Blane?” Nelson asked.
“He doesn’t speak Latin,” Tres said with a smirk. He pressed his hand into his chest. “I happen to be fluent in Latin. You’re welcome.”
“What?” Nelson asked.
“You were raving in Latin when you woke up. Only I could help you. Well, there was that guy from the pharmacy. He was here when I got here.”
“What?” Nelson asked.
Tres just grinned at him.
“It’s good to see you, man,” Tres said. “We’ve been out of our minds with worry.”
“How long have I been gone?” Nelson asked.
“Couple of years, according to Delphie and Heather,” Tres said.
“A couple?” Nelson asked.
“Seven,” Tres said. “But in regular, non-Templar time, it’s only been a little more than a month. You got back just in time for the biggest and brightest pandemic in the last hundred years.”
“I should get to work,” Nelson said, trying to get up. “The ER must be swamped.”
“You need to sleep and rest,” Tres said.
Nelson weaved. He flopped back onto the bed.
“What’s wrong with me?” Nelson asked.
“Besides the fact that, according to the doctors, you’ve had the shit beat out of you for years?” Tres asked. “Your dad?”
“Never,” Nelson said. “War. Wars. Many wars. Jacques. Miserable fucking Templar training.”
His eyes welled with moisture. He shook his head.
“You’ve had surgery,” Tres said. “Three. Your ribs had been badly broken and set wrong.”
“Pushed off a horse,” Nelson said.
“You have been freed of your spleen,” Tres said.
“Infection?” Nelson asked.
“Injury,” Tres said. “The docs said that if you hadn’t gotten here when you did, your spleen would have likely burst. Uh. ‘Like a ripe berry.’ That’s a direct quote.”
Nelson lay back in the bed. After a moment, he turned to look at Tres.
“Why are you speaking French?” Nelson asked.
“Oh, Tres, I can’t believe you’re fluent in French now,” Tres said. “How ever did that happen?”
In a deeper voice, Tres continued, “Well, my dear friend and brother, Nelson, speaks fluent French. I thought that it would be good to learn so that when he shows up spouting languages like a cross between the Exorcist and a Pentecostal Christian, I could translate. Because, really, I have nothing better to do.”
Nelson snorted a laugh. He grabbed his ribs and moaned. Tres grinned.
“But why isn’t Blane here?” Tres said, imitating Nelson. Back to his imitation of his own voice, he said, “He’s asleep, like you should be.”
“No, really,” Nelson said.
“I know that it will surprise you, but we’re in the middle of our own drama,” Tres said.
“Shocking,” Nelson said.
“Blane’s been working like a madman,” Tres said. “He’s sleeping so that he and the others can work like madmen again.”
“Why aren’t you resting?” Nelson asked, and yawned.
“Because I know something he doesn’t,” Tres said.
“Sounds like you know lots of things he doesn’t know,” Nelson said. “What’s the deal with the languages?”
“I’m good at languages,” Tres said, with a shrug. “But mostly, I learned Latin for my high school project. Spanish was my first language, so it wasn’t a huge stretch.”
“You should be in the diplomatic corps,” Nelson said.
“I wouldn’t be here to have this scintillating conversation with you,” Tres said.
Nelson grinned at Tres.
“I missed you,” Nelson said.
Tres opened his mouth to respond, but Nelson was asleep again. Tres got up to get the nurse.
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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