Her mind raced as the blood began pumping out of the shoulder wound. All she could think to do was scream. Moritz's eyes fluttered yet remained closed. Elise's trembling fingers covered the bloody wound in an effort to stop the flow. The red hot sticky liquid broke through the weak dam her fingers provided.
"Mo-Moritz, w-wake up! Pl-Please open yo-your eyes," she begged him. She pulled the boy closer to her chest, effectively staining the front of her dress in crimson liquid.
Her mind cleared but only slightly. She knew she had to get him help. But where could they find immediate help in the midst of the clearing?
"C-Cone on! St-Stand up!"
The girl tried to lift him from under his arms but this only intensified the pain. Moritz opened his eyes and released a hoarse scream. The pain was growing in his arm and upper chest. "I-I am so-sorry! Mo-Moritz, we ne-eed to ge-get hel-p!" Moritz groaned in pain. His breathing became laborous and desperate. His eyes lazily glanced over to his shoulder. His dark orbs instantly widened on seeing the amount of blood coming out.
"B-Blut! M-Mein blut!"
He screamed louder before the yell became hoarse and then ceased. He closed his dark eyes just as Elise began to support him upwards. She held his waist while trying to stand on her own shaky legs. Moritz's dead weight became too much for her and she slid back down to her knees. She looked around the dark clearing desperately. Her cries for help became drowned out with the thunder that rolled and echoed.
Moritz opened his eyes. They were dark, unfocused. His arm was throbbing: every single inch of it. His hearing buzzed in and out. He was entirely focused on the icy hot pain in his shoulder.
Elise's screams for help were somewhat muffled in his ear. He could still tell how utterly destroyed she was. His heart began to hurt as if a knife had been stabbed through it. Or perhaps a bullet shot through it he thought.
"I-I'm sorr' ," he slurred to Elise as he shut his eyes again. He was tired. He wanted to sleep. He wanted to pain of this world to ust go away. That bullet was meant to stop everything from hurting.
He'd failed at everything in life. It made sense that he would fail in ending life as well.
Moritz fell limp in Elise's arms. She bent over her beloved and let out a scream for help. "D-Don't close your eyes! Pl-Please Moritz!" They were alone. No one was coming. No one would care to help. Moritz could very well die here. Elise screamed in sorrow. No. NoNoNoNoNoNo. How could this be happening? Please, God. Help us. Help him.
A girl, not much older than Elise herself, sprinted over. Her eyes were frightened but brave. Her entire being trembled as she examined Moritz. "Is he...alive, Elise?" "Wh-Who-?"
"Ilse. Ilse Neumann," the girl replied. So, this is the girl Moritz is with now... "P-Please, Ilse. He's-" Elise broke out into cries. She hugged Moritz to her, effectively staining her dress with more and more of the boy's blood. "We must get him into town! Please, Elise, release him from your hold. We'll have to c-carry him." Elise shook her head. "Ye-Yes. Hurry. He needs help fast before he bl-bleeds out!"
A moan released itself from Elise's lips as she bent over in agony. This can't happen. No. It's a dream. He'll be fine and in my arms when I blink! "Elise, you ha-have to move. Now!" Ilse gently pulled Moritz out of Elise's lap and laid the unconcious teenager's head on the ground.
She laid her head on his chest. ThudThudThud...ThudThud...Thud..Thud...ThudThudThud...Thud..
"We need to get him to town! Now!"
"Get his upper body! I'll get his legs."
"He's c-c-cold! Oh Gott, HELP!"
He felt weaker with each passing second. The words, the voices, grew more and more muffled with each passing second. He felt so strange. His mind seemed to be releasing itself from his body. The heat that had warmed him since birth was slowly seeping out from his fingertips. He grew cold; unnaturally cold.
He couldn't see a thing. A faint glow was dancing outside of his eyelids. He wanted to look but he had no strength left in him. He grew colder and colder. Had he ever been this cold before? He...couldn't remember. What was happening?
ThudThudThud...Thud Thud Thu...Thud..Thud Th...Thud.
His heart was skipping beats. What? Was he dying?
Warmth poured over his body. Strength began to course through his veins. His eyes flickered open. He was somewhere dark..
As he went to take a breath liquid flooded into his lungs. He began to choke and gag. The instant pressure of water swirled around his body. A dim light appeared at the surface of the water. His instinct told him to reach for it. And that is just what he did.
Something cold and hard gripped at his ankles. Hands. The hands swarmed all around the boy and began to drag him down into the darkness. His throat let go of a shrill scream, releasing tiny bubbles from his lips. The fire in his shoulder intensified weakening him even more. He wanted to give up and let the hands drg his soul away. Give up. Give up both his mind and the voices told him. His eyes began to close. Surrender. Surrender.
A limb shot into the water. His eyes gazed upwards to the limb. Moritz! Moritz! a new voice screamed. His kicked the hands away and desperately swam to the limb: a hand. He grabbed it tightly.
I want to live! I want to live!
He was pulled away from the darkness and into the light.
"I cannot see his breathing! Oh Gott!"
"Elise calm down!"
The girl was in hysterics. Ilse was panicking as well. She wanted to cry her hardest. Her old friend might be dead. They may be too late to save him. Ilse bent down and laid Moritz's bottom half on the ground. "Wh-What are you doing?" "Can you stay with him? I am going to be back!" "I-Ilse WAIT! DON'T LEAVE US!"
She pounded on the door, screaming her loudest and shrillest.
"Open the door! There's been an accident!"
Time moved so fast yet so slow. She remembered seeing Fraulein Grossenbustenhalter faint at the sight of the bloodied Moritz and Elise. She remembered Hanschen running over to his sister and screaming in fright at the blood stained on her clothes. She had seen Father Kaulbach command two of the alterboys to fetch a doctor immediately. Then, Elise had passed out as well just as Moritz was being taken away hurridly. Ilse ran out the door of the church, desperate to find Melchior. He would want to know what had occured.
Hanschen felt his sister's forehead as she lay on the church pew. He watched her chest rise and fall and her eyes flicker to and fro underneath her eyelids. He bowed his head. What had happened? How had all this happened? How did his sister get herself into this situation? He took her red-stained hand in his own. Someone had sent for his parents. It wouldn't be long until they arrived.
What would they say? What would happen? He didn't know.
A timid, frightened voice called to him. Hanschen turned around slowly to face Ernst Robel. The boy's eyes were red and fearful. Hanschen had remembered Ernst nearly falling to his knees upon seeing Moritz and Elise laying on the steps of the church.
Ernst knelt besides Hanschen. "I-Is she alright?" "I believe so," he said lowly. Hanschen shook his head in disbelief but said nothing more. The silence that followed was a calming one. Ernst laid a shaking hand on Hanschen's shoulder. "Th-They'll be alright. G-God is watching them." Hanschen's icy eyes flickered above them to the curcifix that stood on the altar.
Still, he said nothing. Ernst held Hanschen's shoulder for a long time, not wanting to let go. "I-I'm here i-if you need me." And with that, the boy left. Hanschen bit his lip. He wanted to go after the boy. He wanted to pin him against the wall and kiss those virgin lips with all his might. He wanted to scream and cry and let Ernst calm him. He wanted comfort. He wanted all this from a boy he didn't even love. He wanted to feel something other than the pain and worry he felt right at this moment.
No...your sister needs you..
Hanschen laid his head down on the pew and closed his eyes, still holding his sister's hand. Just a little rest. It'd been nearly two hours of stress and Hanschen was emotionally drained. Sleep..
The loud flash and BANG of the gun caused her to scream. She forced herself away from Moritz. Her own hands searched her body. There was no pain. She desperately tried to see his face. "M-Moritz," she asked in a teary and panicked tone.
She could practically hear his sigh of relief and joy. "Elise!" His arm reached out to her in an effort to comfort her. Elise wanted to take him into her arms and cry. She wanted to scream at him for trying to leave her alone here in life. She wanted to cry in relief that he was still alive. She wanted to kiss his warm lips and feel him be with her. She wanted to tell him how sorry she was for denying him and driving him to this.
But then she heard him gasp. That one gasp shattered her even more. His arm tensed then dropped. He staggered towards her then collapsed as if struck down. She was screaming.
Moritz was gasping in shock as Elise's own fingers traveled over his shirt to find what was causing him pain. The hole, the blood... She screamed her loudest.
This was a dream. This was a horrible nightmare that she would wake up from. She would be in her bed and this would all just disappear...
But it wasn't. It was real. Moritz was hurt. The illusion shattered. Danger was present. Death was creeping up on them.
The sudden jolt of his sister's hand and her scream woke him up immediately. Hanschen jumped to sit on a free space of the pew and let Elise lunge into his arms. He held her back as her screams and sobbing poured out of her body. She cried Moritz's name, saying how 'Sorry I am for leading you to this'. Hanschen stared blankly at the wall while he rubbed Elise's back.
"Mo-Moritz..wh-where i-is he-he," his sister hiccuped. Hanschen, holding his sister into a tight embrace, said nothing.
"...He lost a lot of blood," he replied simply, emotionlessly. "Most is o-on your dress. It's been nearly two hours since you th-three came here." Elise's fingers dug into her brother's arms. "I-Ilse?" "I do not know." "O-Oh, Hanschen...He-He was go-going to k-kill-" She moaned in distress at the memory. Hanschen bit his lip and hugged his sister tighter. "How did he-?"
The doors to the church flew open, letting in the cool nighttime air. A loud wail of distress echoed through the lonely church. Hanschen heard a feminine voice cry out, "MY BOY! MY DARLING BOY!" He spotted an emotionally destroyed Frau Stiefel come flying down the aisle. She was a complete wreck. Words could not describe her condition. Following behind her was Fraulein Grossenbustenhalter, who had awakened from her fainting spell. She, too, was very emotional.
"Where is my son! Oh my boy!"
Elise sobbed before turning to see Moritz's mother. Hanschen let her lay her head on his shoulder and threw his comforting arms around her. "Sis-ter," he quietly said. His sister's body tensed up.
Melchior Gabor came sprinting into the church. His eyes were wild, shirt untucked. By his side ran Wendla whose eyes were watery. "It's not true! T-Tell me it isn't t-true," Melchior half-sobbed. Wendla covered her mouth with her hand and broke down into tears at Elise's condition. Her friend was covered in blood from her torso up. Even her blonde hair had flecks of blood in it.
"Wh-Where is he," demanded Frau Stiefel in a wavering tone. Father Kaulbach, coincidently, entered the room from his office. His face was grave and somber. "Frau Stiefel, you must want to see your son." "Fa-Father! Mo-Moritz-?"
"Frau Stiefel," the priest repeated, ignoring Melchior's sudden question. "Come with me. Is your husband here?"
The woman moaned and began to sink to her knees. Melchior supported her upwards, though he was weak with grief himself. Hanschen covered Elise's ear at the last question. No. She cannot hear this. Not now..
It was the oddest thing he had ever experienced. He was staring at his own body. His right arm and neck area was completely covered in blood. Bandages lay scattered everywhere, both used and unused. His arm was twitching slightly from the doctor's delicate fingers prying into the wound as quickly as he could. It was funny; he could feel the pressure of the fingers in his arm now.
The door flies open and his mother bursts through the door. And...Melchior? Melchior stepped foot into a church?
His mother's crying so hard. It pains him now to see her like this. He wants to take her into his arms and say that it's okay: he's fine. He can't feel anything. The pain is gone.
Melchior is covering his mouth with his hand. He's trying to stay strong. But Moritz knows he wants to break down into tears right now. He takes a timid step towards Melchior and places a hand on his shoulder. "Melchi," he says to his old friend. "I'm okay."
It seems as if Melchior can hear him for a brief second. Moritz asks, "Where's Elise?"
Then the light shines again. A voice says gently in his head: "Not yet."
The light burns brighter. Moritz tries to shield the light from his eyes, but he's drawn to it again. Please, he thinks, let Elise get through this. He follows the light and feels a sharp burn course through his body. The darkness blinds him once more. And then, it's as if he drops down from a long fall.
His heart thuds loudly. Then louder. Then the beats become more and more rapid.
The beats get faster and faster. He feels real again. He feels like he is alive. The burning fire in his shoulder returns. The strength is returning.
His eyes flickered open, chest rising and falling at a frantic pace. His vision was stilled blurred but he could hear perfectly. His Mama was crying his name out in a high voice that nearly caused him to cringe. He coughed loudly as the doctor tried to hold him down. "Frau Stiefel, Herr Gabor, leave the room now! He needs room!" Melchior's eyes widened and he began to protest, but gave in and nearly had to drag out his friend's mother.
Moritz gasped loudly in pain as the doctor began to cut into the wound. He screamed in pain at the new wound. "Father, will you give me the syringe?" The priest handed an empty syringe to the man. The doctor filled the needle with one hand while holding Moritz down. He took out something Moritz couldn't see and wrapped it around the wounded teenager's arm.
He stuck the needle in the boy's arm and pumped in a liquid. Moritz's muscles relaxed. His eyes rolled back in pleasure and the screaming stopped. His breathing slowed as the injected liquid coursed through his veins.
"Wh-Wha' is thi'," he slurred. "Morphine." He felt numb. The pain went away and dizziness came in its place. He lied back, letting the doctor search for the bullet. Moritz's vision grew hazy and blurred while the doctor searched with his forceps.
After what seemed to be an eternity of pressure and discomfort, the doctor took a needle and stitched the wound shut. Moritz groaned loudly, being heard throughout the entire church.
The blonde sister heard the moan loud and clear. "M-Moritz! Ha-Hansi, it's h-him!" The brother looked up at his sister's change in tone. He caught glimpse of Melchior returning with a shaking Frau Stiefel. "He-He's awak-ke," Melchior told the siblings in stunned tone. Frau Stiefel covered her mouth with her handkerchief and ran out of the church.
Melchior ran to follow her. He saw the older woman run off in the direction of her home. He walked back into the church and into a doorway to the religion classrooms where the others were staying while the situation was being investigated.
"Hansi-i, h-he's awake. I-I ha-have to go to hi-him," Elise said adimantly, despite her brother's murmuring of "No". "Lise, he's probably too exhausted to see you." "I do not c-care! I-I am go-going to him!"
The girl broke out of her brother's arms and ran into the sacristy. She broke down into tears again seeing Moritz's ashen face as he lay unconcious on the makeshift cot. A man was standing over him with a bloodied bandage. Elise held onto the wall for support and she slid down. "Oh, Oh!" There were no words for this. She went to his side and knelt by him.
"I-I am so sorry, Mor-Moritz! If I ha-had said 'Yes!'- Oh, I wish I d-did!"
"Fraulein, you cannot be here!" "Yes I CAN," yelled Elise, swatting the doctor's hand away. She took Moritz's in her own and pressed it to her lips. "P-Please wake," she begged, "I-I want t-to know-"
"...I-I missed yo-you."
Moritz opened his eyes weakly to see Elise. He had heard her lovely, broken voice. Oh he had missed it terribly. He now feared not seeing her face, not being with her. Death would have taken him away from her: the person he truly loved and was loved by in life.
He managed a smile before grimacing in pain at the returning sting in his shoulder. "Stay he-here," he told her quietly. Elise nodded and sucked in a breath. "Y-Yes." The doctor left the room, muttering something about returning in forty minutes. He spoke with someone outside the sacristy door (most likely Father Kaulbach) and left.
"I-I know. I am sorry.." He hissed in pain again. Elise watched him weakly take her still bloodstained hand. "L-Lie down with m-me," he asked. "I-I do not w-want to be alone n-now. I wa-want you to be with me wh-while I rest."
A pair of percing blue eyes watched the girl lie next to the wounded Stiefel boy on the cot. She faced his eyes and allowed him to shakily press his lips to her own. The girl laid her head on Moritz's bare chest, as his shirt had to be torn off in order to view the bullet wound. Moritz's left arm laid itself around Elise's shoulder. Almost immediately, the two drifted off to sleep.
Hanschen turned away and looked upwards to the ceiling. He did not know how to feel. He was not angry. He felt...happy? His sister had someone who loved her. She was complete now; shaken, but healing. Had he been wrong to judge Moritz Stiefel in such a manner?
A moving figure in the distance caught his eye. Ernst made his way to a pew. He wiped his eye and knelt, folding his hands in a silent prayer.
Hanschen turned back to his sleeping sister and wounded classmate. Love. This was love. He'd never known love with another. What he and Bobby had was not love, but lust. Was this how he felt about Ernst?
He looked at the boy again. It was something new. He took in a breath. God help us all he prayed. The next few hours are to be the must difficult of our lives.