Who's Afraid of the Dark?

Sacrifice

By Sassy

This story is about two people for whom time is running out. Only one is certain to survive. So who lives and who dies?

I don't own the characters, so don't sue. The only currency is "pleasure".

April, 2001


God, if you get us out of this………………….I know I don't pray very often, but………please……………..please let us live. Give him another chance. She wrapped her arms tighter round him.

The hatch clanged shut, the light sucked out leaving them alone in the velvet black. Her quivering fingers reached out, seeking the reassurance of his presence. Their hands bumped in the darkness and his big strong square hand closed over her slight one, stilling the trembling. She felt a surge of confidence, which evaporated rapidly when she heard the rushing of water.

An icy coldness sloshed round their feet, dropping the temperature in the space even lower.

"The water's rising."

She felt him turn round, search the boundary of their prison for the breathing kit that their tormentor had left them. One only.

"Put this on." His hand reached for her again.

"Alphonse, no!" she grasped his hand. "What about you?"

"I'll be fine!" she knew he was lying. He knew that he was lying. The water rose higher, the intensity of the cold was making him shiver. She was freezing, quickly he stripped off his padded shirt, and wrapped it round her, forcing it on her when she protested.

"Chrissy, you're freezing. I'm okay." The cold was seeping into his bones.

He pulled the aqualung up behind her, helping her put it on. She protested again, but he was relentless. Take it. You have to take it, coz if you don't everything will be in vain.

"Alphonse!" She paused. "What will you do?"

The truth. I don't know. Royo, this is the first time you can't cheat. "I saw this programme, how this child was dragged under the ice and drowned, and the cold kept her body ……..and somehow she survived." He stopped, the shivering of her body intensified as she took in what he was saying.

"Alphonse, noooooooo!" she sobbed, the enclosed space seemed smaller and smaller. "No, I won't let you, we'll share this thing and the others………..they'll find us." Clinging at straws, desperate.

"Chrissy, it's no good. We both know they're gonna take ages to find us, and you have to have some kind of chance. If I drown……you can get them to bring me back. But not if we both die." Suddenly terrified, he wrapped his arms tight around her. "Chrissy promise me……………….promise me you'll live."

The intensity of feeling shocked her into answering. "Alphonse, I promise." She put her hand up and stroked his cheek. "I promise."

"Y'know when I was a kid, I was afraid of the dark." Shaky laugh, the cold was biting. He started to talk to her about his childhood in New York, voice shaking with emotion and the pain of the cold, as though somehow he could make a record of himself before time ran out. Chrissy held him close and listened without interruption, even though her soul was being torn apart.

He gently kissed her, a wealth of love and sorrow in that kiss. Goodbye Chrissy. Do it quickly before you change your mind. He knelt before her, wrapping his arms around her waist, locking his hands tightly into her belt, cheek pressed against her abdomen. Then let go, his body jerked and shuddered as his lungs filled with water. Chrissy held him tightly as he drowned in her arms.

Finally he was still.

God, give us a chance,……………….don't take his life away now! Please……someone find us before it's too late.

Hands lifted Chrissy. She was too numb with cold and shock to speak. Hands pulled the limp body from the chamber, laid him flat on his back.

He was examined. Voices argued in the negative. Ice and Charlie's voices raised in a storm of emotion. They fought for him.

Ice started CPR, kneeling on the frozen ground, not willing to give up hope.

Five times they shocked his body, trying to get a pulse, five times they failed.

ICU, dark and deserted, apart from one occupant. Anxious watchers waiting for a sign, any movement. The quiet and insistent beep of machinery, the breathing apparatus, moving up and down, doing his breathing for him.

"There is brain activity, which is good. But unless he starts breathing on his own, I put his chances of survival at about 5%. The next 24 hours are crucial. If he starts to breathe on his own, his chances will improve, but each day that passes will decrease his long term prospects." The doctor didn't want to be cruel, but he felt the expectations of the patient's friends were too high. Best prepare them.

"'Phonse is a fighter. He wouldn't just give up." The younger of the man's two partners glared at the doctor. "He'll come back to us." He stood up from the chair at his friend's bedside, as though unconsciously protecting Alphonse from the doctor's words.

Ice moved closer. "Yeah, man. He's strong, he can beat this thing." Turning to Charlie, "He survived a nerve toxin, he can survive this." Silent promise passed between them. They would get Alphonse through.

Time stretched out endlessly before them.

It was Charlie's turn to sit with him. They'd worked out between them so that he would never be alone. They took it in turns to reassure him of their presence, that they all cared, and please would he come back to them.

Charlie picked up the limp hand in both his own. The fingers seemed chilled, a legacy of the watery………………watery what? Grave? Nah, 'Phonse is life itself. He revised his thoughts, watery prison. He gently warmed the fingers between his own, as though he could breathe life into the rest of the body that way.

"Y'know, you can beat this thing. What is it, a little cold. Like a big strong guy like you's suddenly afraid of the cold. And, breathing…………….now breathing's not so hard is it. Y'lungs take in air, then pushes it out again, that ain't so difficult when you think about it?! Y'could even open y'eyes, like let us know y'still here." The last words cracked a bit, he looked down at the sheets covering the still body, the machine moved, in and out, in and out, working the lungs. A tear slid down his cheek, followed suddenly by a flood.

He raised the hand, "C'mon 'Phonse, please for us. Don't leave us this way,………we……..I can't do this alone. We need you."

Where am I. Someone keeps talking………..and crying! God, make them stop. I can't open my eyes now, it's too much effort. Nah, c'mon, push yourself you idiot, you can't answer, something's blocking y'throat, but show them you're alive.

Charlie composed himself. The fingers had moved. They had definitely moved. He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand, and concentrated. C'mon 'Phonse, please do it again,………..do it dammit………..so I know you're alive for certain.

The fingers convulsed, stronger this time. Charlie was on his feet, pressing the buzzer frantically. A nurse came running.

"He's coming round." Desperate. Please say he is.

The nurse checked him over. Charlie waited in a fever of impatience. C'mon, c'mon, what's taking you so long. The nurse looked at him.

"Yes, I do believe he is. Mr Royo, can you hear me? Move your fingers if you can." Agonising wait, before almost imperceptible movement.

"Y'trying my patience now, y'know. C'mon man. You can do it." Ice sat and waited impatiently for movement. Alphonse was responding to his environment, but Ice wanted more.

"C'mon Alphonse, wake up. We need you………..I need you to wake up!"

Goddammit………can't I get any rest. It's just too much trouble to open my eyes.

"Alphonse."

Okay, okay, that's my name, don't wear it out.

Dark brown eyelashes fluttered, and the eyes opened a slit. Ice leaned over and squeezed the hand tighter.

"That's it, man. C'mon."

The eyes opened a little further and took in their surroundings, Ice's beaming smile and words of encouragement.

Chrissy took her turn. He was almost well enough to breathe on his own now. She took his hand between both her own, the blue eyes opened in response to her touch.

She looked into the eyes she'd thought she'd never see again, "Alphonse, what you did for me………………." She trailed off as she struggled to find the words. Strong fingers closed round her hand, gripping it, he couldn't speak, the breathing tubes which were still down his throat prevented sound, but he could tell her. Through a mist of tears, she saw and understood the silent communication.

Anything for you, Chrissy.