The knife had penetrated his chest to its hilt, and while the paramedics were desperately trying to save him, I knew this one was long gone. The grey cloud of death covered him, the soulless body bouncing rhythmically during the chest compressions. He had no chance, but I couldn’t tell my team their efforts were pointless. There was no science to back up my claim, so medical training kicked in and, taking a deep breath, I issued the order.‘Stop chest compressions.’‘No, he has no pulse.’ The paramedic tried to argue, instantly making me wish Damian and Rysiek were here, but one look at my face and his voice faltered.‘He’s running on empty. How do you plan on restarting an engine without fuel?’ I said and turned to the team. ‘Secure the airway, prepare O neg and get me a thoracotomy set. We need to crack him open to plug this hole in his heart.’Like a Formula One pit crew, my team was ready in less than a minute. Pride surged at their response as I bent over to start the incision when the patient’s bright blue eyes snapped open in surprise, and a cold, male hand grabbed my wrist in a vice-like grip.‘Oh, hell no, you are not doing that.’ His voice was cold and commanding, and the man, about to be opened up like a giant clamshell, sat up, the dagger still fully embedded in his chest. What the actual fuck, I thought, looking at him in shock. It is one thing to feel like there is more to the world than science can explain and a whole other one to stare at this discovery in its smugly amused face.‘Did you just pull a Lazarus on me?’ I heard myself saying, despite my voice being drowned out by screams of terror and the clattering of fallen medical equipment. I didn’t care. Why would my attention be anywhere other than the talking corpse before me? Maybe years of conditioning, medical missions to war-torn countries and stories my grandmother told me; stories that had suddenly become very real prepared me for it because I was as calm as he was dead. I will never break a fucking mirror on the full moon again, I thought, observing him as he looked around, his gaze eventually falling on me.‘Pulled a what?’ He asked, still holding tight to my wrist, and for no apparent reason, I reached out with my free hand, pulling the knife from his chest. Some say emergency people are built differently, and while I still could barely believe what just happened, part of me methodically analysed the situation. This man was definitely alive, yet no blood escaped the wound, and I bit my lip, trying to comprehend the insanity. He didn’t even wince when I examined the gaping hole, poking it with an inquisitive finger. He just looked on with impatient annoyance, utterly unphased, before asking again. ‘I pulled a what?’
The knife in my hand looked odd. I’d seen my fair share of weapons, combat, folding, and kitchen knives, but this was different. It was vibrating… no. Looking carefully, it didn’t move, but something felt… tension. That was it. It felt as if it were under tension, like the cable on a bridge or, more accurately, a string on a bow, ready to release its murderous power, aimed at this man before me. In fact, it refused to be pointed anywhere else. Nothing about this blade was normal. Ornate Slavic engravings adorned the metal that, whilst bright and clean, felt like it belonged in a museum. I had to resist the urge to stab it back into the gaping hole in the man’s chest. I wasn’t sure whether the knife was driving the desire or my curiosity at seeing the strange man’s reaction. Then, the real, screaming, noisy world crashed into my consciousness, and I focused on answering his question.
‘Did you just resurrect on me, like Lazarus, or maybe Jesus would be more accurate as nobody here helped you? What the fuck are you, a zombie, vampire, or something else that sparkles?’ My rambling question made the very alive man laugh.
‘Yeah, or something. Now, be a darling and give me the dagger. It still wants my life, and I see you are keen to give in to the temptation.’ He commanded, looking into my eyes as if trying to reach into the depths of my soul, but his five minutes were gone. My anger broke through the shock of the situation. Now he faced a very focused woman with a powerful urge to tear him a new one… newer than the one that brought him here, anyway.
‘Pack it in, Romeo. First, the dagger is evidence, and second, I’m not your darling, so you can stop trying to make puppy eyes at me. I’ve seen this constipated look far too many times. That is borderline creepy. Who, or should I say, what, are you?’
‘We can eat in the hospital cafeteria if you’re busy, or if you don’t have time, I can pick you up after work for a proper meal.’ Leszek said this part much louder, and I noticed the waiting room grow quiet, with several heads popping out of the E.R. to eavesdrop on the conversation.
‘Fine, let’s go,’ I said, panicking and dragging him to the staircase. On the lower ground level was a corridor for the storage area that we often use as a route to the cafeteria, its quiet emptiness perfect for avoiding difficult conversations with colleagues and patients, but in my haste, I had forgotten one thing: Leszek and his overwhelming presence. As soon as we disappeared from the line of sight, the impossible man grabbed my shoulder, pressing me against the wall as his lips descended to my neck.
‘What are you doing? We are alone; there’s no need to pretend.’ I said, pushing him away, trying to find an excuse to break from his touch before it went too far. He inhaled deeply, and a shiver ran down his body as his nose trailed over my skin.
‘You promised me three months, Sara, and yet only this morning I find out you accepted a gift from someone else. Who was it? Nadolny? He is not for you, my little seer. He may have honour, but he is a dangerous man who would overshadow your light, moulding you to his desire. I cannot let that happen. We will go to your house so that you can pack for your move into my home,’ He said, and I found it challenging to focus on his words, his breath giving me goosebumps as it brushed over my neck.
‘And you? How are you different? All you can think about is how to lock me up,’ I said when he gently stroked my cheek.
‘No, Sara. I want to lift you to where your light burns brightest, but for now, you are in danger, and I will do what I must to ensure your safety. Gdansk is not safe for our kind, and until you can protect yourself, it would be suicide to be alone. I would never lock you up, my Firefly. My home is not your cage but your shelter.’ His eyes shone with tenderness laced with desire as he spoke, causing my heart to race in response. I wanted to protest and say something clever, push him away and go my own way, but I felt my hands sliding to his shoulders to pull him closer, feeling his heartbeat against mine.
As the tension grew, Leszek suddenly frowned, his magic overpowering my senses, and he lifted my fingers to his nose, inhaling deeply and growling at what he discovered.
‘Why do you reek of Czernobog’s filth?’