Power and Chaos – Chapter 8 – Part 2

“Power and Chaos” is the new Tribe book. It is based on the Tribe and tells a pretribe story of Martin (Zoot) and Bray. Over the next few weeks we are going to put up a chapter of the book for you – a few pages at a time.

Power and Chaos by Paula Boock – Chapter 8 – Part 2

ŒThere¹s something else. It¹s important¹
I waited. In the background the muffled hum of the electronic equipment combined with the greenish hospital light to give a surreal, expectant atmosphere. As if the whole place was waiting, waiting for some unknown horror that was dragging its relentless way towards us. ŒJarvell,¹ she said, and my stomach dropped. No monster, I knew, but I had hoped he¹d disappeared from Mum¹s life.
ŒYou have to contact him for me.¹ I nodded. ŒAnd  I¹m sorry about this, Martin, but you must promise not to tell your father. Or Bray.¹
I just kept nodding and nodding like an idiot, as the bed in front of me began to swim and I knew I couldn¹t trust my voice. Mum squeezed my hand tight, then shook it until I looked up.
I had to hear her say it, had to know. ŒYou  you love him, don¹t you.¹ I wasn¹t prepared for the reaction.
ŒLove him? Jarvell! Well, only as a friend.¹ She frowned at me, then gave a little croaky laugh. ŒWhat have you been thinking, Martin?¹ I stared at her. ŒYou don¹t have to pretend. It¹s okay. I mean, I understand. Dad  Dad hasn¹t been very supportive, andŠ¹
ŒYou think I¹ve been having an affair with Jarvell?¹ she said, incredulous. Then she started to cough, and it was horrible. Her whole body arched and convulsed, she went and awful purple colour, then held her breath for some time. When she eventually got her breath again she spoke in a very quiet voice.
ŒMartin, I have never been unfaithful to your father. And I most certainly wouldn¹t get anywhere with Jarvell. He¹s gay, I thought you knew that.¹
I shrugged. I¹d thought so too, butŠit was confusing.
ŒYou poor thing. That¹s what you think you¹ve been covering me for?¹ I nodded again, feeling stupid.
ŒNo Martin. It¹s much more important than that. Listen to me. Jarvell is researching the virus. He¹s working in a high security facility and Š¹ She broke off to cough again and I winced. ŒŠand I¹m helping him.¹ I must have looked surprised because she added, Œunofficially.¹
ŒThe thing is, you have to tell him something for me. Nobody else must know. I¹m trusting you. All right?¹
ŒAll right.¹
ŒGood,¹ She leaned forward slightly and lowered her voice so even I had difficulty hearing. ŒEmail him. You know how. Tell him I¹m in hospital but he should courier my order straight away. There¹s not much time. That¹s all.¹
I met her eyes and felt my back go icy. She didn¹t say anything else, just squeezed my hand then motioned for me to go. I did what she asked. I watched as the message was sent through to Jarvell, taking in all the smells of Mum¹s office and thinking about how she would probably never see it again, wondering where Jarvell was, and how Mum was Œunofficially¹ helping him. Then I went to bed without a word to Dad or Bray and, amazingly, fell into a deep, dreamless sleep. I woke to the sound of Dad coughing in his bedroom. Then, with a sinking feeling, I realised that the sound had been on the edge of my sleep for hours.
I threw on a robe and went through to his room. He was in the adjacent ensuite braced over the basin, his head hanging as he sucked in air. There was a towel around his nexk and shaving foam on his face.
He closed his eyes at the sound of my voice. ŒI¹m busy, Martin.¹ ŒDad, are you all right?¹
He turned to me and snatched up his razor in frustration. ŒOf course I¹m all right, there¹s something caught in my throat, that¹s all. There¹s no need to panic as soon someone coughs, you know.¹
Irritable. Just like Mum. There was a smudge of pink in the foam on his face where he¹d cut himself, and I could see the red blood welling up again.
ŒYou¹ve cut yourself.¹ Bray¹s voice came from behind me. I tried not to flinch at the sound of him, tried not to let on the depth of anger I felt whenever he was near.
ŒYes, Bray, I¹ve nicked myself,¹ Dad said, dabbing at the spot of blood. ŒHaven¹t you ever done that? Now get out of here boys, I¹ve got things to do.¹
He retired to the garage and stayed there most of the day, banging and thumping away at the motor home. At lunchtime we went into the hospital to see Mum and I gave her the nod to show that I¹d done what she¹d asked. She looked grey and tired, and the nurse told us she was on morphine now. We all tried to say the right things, then drove silently home again. Dad went back to the garage, Bray to his room, me to mine. The boys together, Mum had said, and not a word was being spoken about what was happeningŠ