Blade didn’t believe in hospitals. He thought that despite their ability to heal people, they were still associated with the government that oppressed us.
I agreed with his feelings about the government but I also knew that they performed a vital service; one that was desperately needed in the world that ours had become.
I couldn’t remember when it had changed. All my memories now seemed to bleed and blend into each other. I had trouble distinguishing one day from another which is why I’d started to scratch lines into the wall each morning when I awoke.
I think though that even Blade had to admit he might have needed the hospital that fateful night he came home.
He’d been at work in the tunnels and I remember the door had almost broken down with his pounding. I still don’t know how he managed to walk or drag himself home but he had. I remember throwing open the door to have him collapse upon me and have him lose consciousness almost straight away.
I didn’t need to cut open his trousers where the wound was because it had already been shredded by the machine that had caused his accident. I had almost vomited when I saw that the artery had been severed. He’d wedged a giant ball of cloth in to stop the bleeding but I knew as soon as I removed it that it would start again and without proper medical care he would almost certainly die.
“Blade, we had to get you to the hospital! You need sutures,” I’d said.
He’d regained consciousness at this point and managed to shake his head and reply. “Cassie, you’re better than any doctor I know. Fix me up, you can do it.”
It was the only time I’ve been genuinely scared. In a society like ours, fear was something constant and eventually you just became so used to it that you forgot all about it. That sounds horrible, but it’s true. Death was always lurking on the sidelines ready to pounce at an opportune moment.
I realised then just how much my brother loved me. He might have been hard on me and yelled at me a lot, but he only did it for my protection and because he cared. He’d trusted me with his life and had more faith in me than anyone I’d ever known. It was because of him that I’d mustered the courage to try.
And I’d succeeded because today, five years later, my big brother was standing right in front of me.
I was also the first self-taught and officially recognised doctor in the slums where we still lived.
The oppressive government was still in control, but somehow we’d managed to survive and thrive in even the harshest of environments.