For @whumptober2021 - crush injuries | beaten | force
CW: Aftermath of car accident, dead person, car crash injuries described, hypothermia, being hunted, pet whump references, BBU
The only reason they don’t find her and drag her back is because no one looks under the fucking van.
When the van went off the road, it kept going after the driver’s head bounced off the steering wheel, his foot jammed down on the gas. They drove headlong into the darkness, into the pile of snow already built up and the still-falling flakes around them.
The screams of the others still ring in her ears, although she can’t remember any longer the second the van hit the tree.
At least it stopped.
It stopped with a crunch, the scent of gasoline slowly starting to rise into the air as it leaked out of the busted front into the snow around them. She’d looked to the side and seen the driver of the van slumped in his seatbelt. The driver’s side door had been totally crumbled in and he was crushed on that side, head resting bloodied on the air bag that had belatedly deployed, turned slightly to the side.
He was looking at her, except of course that he wasn’t, because he was dead.
“I’m sorry,” She had whispered. She had reached out and swiped some of the blood from his forehead and painted her own forehead with it, then closed her eyes and slumped forward herself. Her neck and across her sternum, down to her ribcage on the other side all burned from the seatbelt catching her. The airbag felt like a pillow, almost.
She heard shouting, the sound of men calling behind her.
The woman had inhaled deeply, and told herself not to breathe.
The others in the van - just a handful, five or six - who weren’t too hurt to move - scattered, running into the night. It was a mistake, but she couldn’t call after them to stop them, could she? It would put her own one chance at this too much at risk.
She heard their shoes crunching in the snow and the louder sounds of the men who chased them down, one by one. The way their batons sounded when they made contact with skin.
Only one of the men stopped to look in, and she listened to him yell to the others that the driver and front-seat passenger were dead. She didn’t dare exhale, held her breath until her lungs were burning, until she heard the crunch of him moving past her, into the night to help the others hunt down those who tried to run.
It’s too cold for that. If you run into the wilderness here, you’ll just die slow in the snow instead of living to find another chance to run. She had to think this through, be logical, try to come up with a plan.
She had swallowed down her terror, the panicked race of her heart, and leaned slowly over, unclipping the seatbelt and easing it back into place without making a sound. The driver’s cell phone was in the footwell now, and she could barely get around his limp legs, foot still jammed onto the gas pedal, to dig it out.
Her fingers were already chilling as she fumbled to turn it on. He’d told them all the temporary PIN, just in case. She typed it in: 9-7-8-3-8.
The phone unlocked and the home screen appeared. She swiped until she found the emergency app someone designed and built just for this, and she sent car reckt chase us sum alive send help and then pressed SEND LOCATION. She had no idea who would receive it, or if anyone was even close enough to.
But it was a thin sliver of hope, and she needed all she could get.
The woman climbed slowly out of the van. In some kind of miracle, the door didn’t creak and didn't give her away. Don’t panic, she had whispered to herself, in a constant litany. Don’t panic, don’t be afraid, don’t hurry, don’t make a sound or they’ll hear you.
She could feel the cold of the metal exterior of the van as she carefully moved to crouch down, happy for the heavy gloves she’d accepted, for the fake-fur-lined hood she pulled up over her head, her braids spilling out the front. She took a breath, exhaled a cloud into the air in front of her. Her nose was already cold, her teeth ached from the chill.
She heard the joyful whoop of a successful recapture and closed her eyes at the responding scream of the runaway pet they’d drag back to their own big van, drug them, throw them into the back and drive them… not home.
To the Facility.
The sounds of the beating were so loud she felt deafened by them.
She carefully crawled under the van, feeling snow shift and move under her. The gasoline smell was stronger here, making her stomach twist and turn, nauseous. Bile rose but she forced it down. She kept crawling, using the van to hide herself, until she was staring out into the night. There were trees looming over her, bereft of leaves except for the evergreen, whose pine needles provided what canopy cover there was.
Out here, the night sky was full of a billion stars, the softer haze of the Milky Way itself vaguely visible arching overhead.
She curled up behind one tire into the smallest ball she could make of herself, told herself not to throw up from the fumes, and waited.
One by one, the others were captured, dragged back crying and screaming, or silent and tearless, one newly unconscious, bloodied, and trailing red through the snow that seemed black in the night air. One by one, she watched their feet as they moved past her, their hesitant scraping steps and the stronger, more confident steps of the hunters.
The Acquisition team, sent to take them back by any means necessary.
“Every number on the list is accounted for,” She heard one of them say to another. “They only had one lib motherfucker escorting them, and he’s dead as dead gets. What’s your command, Fer?”
“Shoot the driver in the head,” The one in charge said, voice flat and full of power and authority. The woman shivered, remembering that voice in her nightmares, or one like it. It was hard to tell them apart, in training. They had all been monsters. “Send a message.”
“Director Ferrick?” That was another one. She could see their heavy steel-toed handler boots standing just a dozen feet away. She breathed only in the shallowest pants, pulling just enough oxygen is to keep herself alive.
“Director, I could’ve sworn I saw another one in the front passenger seat when we came through. Figured another body, but it’s not there now.”
There was a pause, and her heart beat so loud she was sure they’d hear it and find her, drag her out, take her back.
When one of them fired a gun into the body of the pet lib volunteer who had driven them this far, she had to clap her hands over her mouth until her lips jam painfully into her teeth to keep herself from screaming. Her eyes closed tightly against the rush of hot tears that would only freeze to her cheeks, determined not to let them out.
“Did you use your flashlight when you looked?”
“Did you double-check?”
“... no, sir.”
“And everyone on our list is accounted for? Every runaway on the list is in our hands again?”
“Then it sounds like we did our fucking job, doesn’t it? If there’s another libber out there running around, the fucker will die soon enough. There’s no one around here for twenty miles or more.” The one speaking - Ferrick - called out into the trees at the top of his lungs. “Do you hear that, lib trash? You’re going to fucking die out here! Have fun with the paradoxical undressing from hypothermia! Just sad I’ll miss it!”
He had laughed. Then he barked another order, and all of them had tromped back to the road where their van was waiting.
The van pulled slowly to one side, backed up, and then went back the way it had come from, easing slowly along the road, in no hurry now that its runaway cargo was safely reloaded. The woman stayed right where she was, counting to one hundred, and then to one hundred again. And then a third time.
Finally, she climbed out from underneath the van. Only now that the immediate danger was gone did she realize how badly she hurt. Her right leg ached from thigh to ankle, and she found herself limping a little as she headed for the road. She’d looked one way, then the other, but she knew the Acquisition commander had been right.
The whole point of this road, Craig the pet lib guy had explained, was that no one drove it. It was a safe way to a hidden border with Canada, the safest escape. But it came with its own dangers.
The cold had been a known danger, but not… not being hunted like dogs through the forest.
The woman had sighed, headed back for the van, and pulled out everything she could while the engine continued to tick quietly. The foil-lined blankets came first, the snacks and water bottles, an extra coat that no one was going to need anymore, the little hot packs. Finally, she took Craig’s phone, and she trudged slowly away. Under an evergreen she found ground that had no snow, laid down a blanket, and then sat down and pulled the other three as tightly around her as she could, still wearing her coat as well.
She cracked the first of the hotpads to get it warming and set it down, using the bit of warmth off of it to keep her warm underneath her covers of blankets.
She might die here, but she would try not to until the bitter end.
She barely blinked when the van caught fire and burned, leaning slowly against the trunk of the tree, looking occasionally at the flames. The van burned slowly to a husk of itself, and she hoped that Craig would think of it like a Viking funeral, sent to sea in a burning boat.
“You did right by us,” She whispered, a kind of eulogy for a man whose last name she didn’t even know. “I’m sorry this was the result.”
She checked the phone. Three hours had passed. It was the middle of the night, now. She settled in to doze, wondering if the slowly increasing warmth in her came from the blankets reflecting her body heat and the cooling hot pack, or if the hypothermia was killing her kindly, gently easing her to sleep.
All of that is how she ended up where she is right now, a city girl slowly freezing to death in the northern Idaho woods.
She kind of sad she won’t get one last slice of pizza. She always liked pizza best.
There’s a sound.
At first, she thinks it’s is in her head - a droning buzz that grows slowly louder. Part of freezing to death, maybe. But it continues to grow, and then she realizes it’s two buzzes, two different things. Not even a buzz but a low roar, a rumble, the sound of… engines?
Are the Acquisition handlers coming back?
She shivers, unwilling to leave the faint safety of the foil blankets, hoping the branches of the evergreen will be enough to hide her.
Then two things that look like motorcycles, only with treads instead of wheels, come flying up from either side of her through the trees, coming to a stop before the van’s sad, still-smoking skeletal hulk. Two figures wearing heavy parkas not unlike her own stop and slide off, stepping around, looking it over.
One, much taller than the other, says in a deep voice, “What do you think?”
“I only see one body,” The other person replies, slightly higher-pitched but still, she thinks, sort of masculine sounding. “Maybe Donovan sent the location before he died? I don’t see the others.”
Craig’s phone. Donovan must be his last name.
These must be-... pet lib people, these must be the people from-
The woman’s throat nearly closes but she pushes herself to her feet, stumbling out of the tree, sending snow drifting from its needles to the ground. The two spin around to face her, their expressions hidden behind snow goggles and masks that cover their noses and mouths. “It’s me! It was me!” The woman calls out, voice ragged and cracking. “Please, please, it was me, I sent it! Please help me!”
“Shit,” The taller one says, muffled. He reaches up, pushing his hood back to reveal he wears a knitted heavy wool cap underneath, and takes off his goggles and pulls down the heavy cloth mask to reveal a grizzled, older male face. “You’re a runaway?”
“I, I am, Box Babe 988554, Designation Romantic-”
“That’s all right,” The man says, raising gloved hands to stop her. “We don’t need that. I’m Brock. Is anyone else alive?”
She swallows, shaking her head. The tears are getting harder to hold back. “No, they-... they took everyone else. I hid under the-... under the van, and I wasn’t on their list, s-so…”
“Okay.” The man slowly nods. He pulls what looks like a walkie-talkie from his belt and speaks into it in a low voice, code-words she doesn’t recognize and doesn’t even try to. “All right. We’re going to take you with us, all right? We’re from-... well, you were headed towards us.”
“I was?” She inhales sharply, the cold biting deep into her lungs.
God, they must have been so close to safety.
So, so close.
And she’s the only one to make it.
“Yes. Why don’t you hop on my friend’s snowmobile here and he’ll take you. I’ll look over the crash here and see if I can come up with anything else to bring back. You’ve had a rough time of it, but we can get you home to Hope.”
“Hope.” She breathes the word like a prayer. All the runaways have heard of Hope, if they choose to run for Canada. It’s the safest way across the border, and a town full of pets who have started over together. The smaller one helps her to sit on the snowmobile, their hands carefully supporting her when she hisses in pain moving her legs.
Then they slip their own goggles and mask off and she sees it’s a boy, maybe, with curly dark hair sticking out from under his own cap and a bright, contagious smile. “Don’t worry,” He says quietly, pulling off his hat to help her pull it down over her own head. Her ears press to her scalp, warming slowly, aching from how cold they’d been. “We’re going to get you warm, and we have a doctor. It’s okay now. It’s going to be okay.”
She nods, slowly, and lets him pull her hood back up over her head. He pulls an extra face mask out of his pocket and she pulls that on, too. Immediately her face feels better and she shivers a little.
She isn’t going to die here.
“Hold onto my waist, and just stick your face against my back. I don’t have any more goggles and I need them for the ride, sorry.” He climbs in front of her and she follows his advice easily. He’s so slight, under the layers of his coat and clothes. But he’s warm.
“What’s your name?” He asks, glancing over to the other guy to give him a thumbs-up. The guy responds in kind. He’s speaking into his walkie-talkie again.
It occurs to the woman that she never asked Craig if he had family, or siblings, or anything like that. She has no idea who will mourn the man who died trying to help runaways.
She decides that she will, even if no one else does, and that will be enough.
“I had a friend who called me Juliet,” She replies to the boy’s question. “I always liked that.” She speaks against the back of his coat, feeling her lips move against cloth that is so well-waterproofed it feels more like plastic. “You can call me Juliet.”
“Nice to meet you, Juliet.” He has a cheerful smile, but there is a deep sadness in his eyes that tells her that he was a pet, too, once.
He turns the snowmobile back on, and above the roar of its engine as he pulls slowly away into the trees, steering easily with his hands on the handles, she yells, “What’s your name, by the way?!” right against his ear.
He winds through the trees like he was born on a snowmobile just like this one.
Over his shoulder, he yells back, “I’m Esteban!”
“Nice to meet you, too, Esteban!”
She falls into silence as he takes her back through the woods, deeper and deeper, through small open meadows. There isn’t a soul but the two of them, and the sky is so vibrant she feels like she could fall up and land in it, rather than it simply being the vacuum of space.
She looks at the Milky Way and thinks, Made it, Romeo.
She hopes he made it to safety, too.
John Ferrick belongs to @what-a-whump. Juliet previously appeared in this piece and this one, while Esteban has his own story.
Tagging: @astrobly @finder-of-rings @burtlederp @doveotions @mylifeisonthebookshelf @what-a-whump @whump-tr0pes @boxboysandotherwhump @whumptywhumpdump @thefancydoughnut @raigash @outofangband @endless-whump @gonna-feel-that-tomorrow @orchidscript @sableflynn
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Vampire Chris and jake get stranded in the middle of nowhere one night. Maybe a car crash or something. As they walk back the sun starts to rise.
CW: Car crash, bruising, seatbelt burn, vampire whumpee, caretaker turned whumpee
The moment of the crash is gone.
He opens his eyes to the aftermath.
Jake blinks, the world spinning, and his head drops back against the headrest of the driver's seat. The world is still lurching, sickeningly, in circles around him. Something is ticking, the engine maybe, slowly cooling down and shit, at least it's not on fire.
The air bag has a smear of terrible vibrant red against its pillowy white as it slowly deflates, and all he can do is stare at it until he realizes the blood must be his own.
One hand comes up to touch at his forehead, and his fingers come away wet and red, too. What he'd thought was sweat is a head wound, bleeding down one side, tickling his cheekbone and jaw. It stings, a little.
The pain seems distant, somehow, like it's being held at arm's length. As if he's looking at his pain from a distance further than he can close.
"Ch-... Chris, you okay, buddy?" He turns, and the passenger seat is empty. The air bag deployed on that side, but there's no blood.
The door is standing open, dome light still on. It takes a long few moments of staring before he can understand that the door is open because Chris forced it open, closed his hands on the metal and squeezed until it bent beneath his strength and let him out.
Jake's body aches as he shifts forwards, fumbling to unbuckle his seatbelt. All the pain is filtering into his senses, piece by piece as if he can only understand a wound once he sees it.
He can't remember the crash.
They were at a four-way stop, listening to some of the terrible pop music Chris loves about the modern world, and Jake had pulled through. They were laughing at some lyric that Jake had had to explain, that had made the little vampire boy flush a little at the definition.
Then there were headlights blinding him, overtaking everything. Chris had yelled something and Jake had yelled something and then-
The moment is gone.
So is the entire back half of his car.
He turns around with a hiss to stare right out a giant gaping hole where his backseat should be into the cool, clear night.
Parts of his car are strewn haphazardly across the road and the grassy ditch he's come to a stop in. As he looks, he can see the frame of a door, crumbled metal that must be his trunk, a tire. Another tire. The bumper on the ground. Glass and metal everywhere.
The stop signs at the fourway are all standing totally untouched, except for one bent at a hard angle, leaning like a man fighting a strong wind.
The sweater he'd been wearing when he got in the car - removed and tossed carelessly in the backseat to pick up later - is hanging off the bent stop sign.
It's fucking spotlessly clean still.
Blinks some more.
What the fuck?
He'd driven Chris up into the hills to go star-gazing, making the most of Chris's bubbly energy that only comes out at night and his classes being canceled tomorrow because of some issue with the campus water supply. This is countryside up here, with houses miles and miles apart. Remnants of old orchards and homesteads, still kept by the descendants of the men and women who traveled out here. Nobody drives out this way this late. It could be morning before someone finds him.
His phone. He can call for help.
Jake looks around, but his phone is nowhere to be seen. He digs around the footwell, what he can touch of it, and there's nothing. Nothing nothing nothing.
His windshield is shattered, open to the outside, and he wonders if his phone flew out of it. It was on the dash, wasn't it? On Chris's side...
It could be anywhere in the grass, and he's a fucking moron who keeps his phone on silent or vibrate 24 hours a day. He'll never hear it out here.
First things first, then.
He settles for trying to open his door.
It's been crunched, just a little. Enough that it won't swing out, and he has to throw his shoulder against it, grunting in pain, again and again until finally it nudges just enough for him to fall onto shattered tiny squares of safety glass on the ground. A water bottle is lying there. It's Dasani.
He hates Dasani water, but it'd been free at the gas station they'd stopped at if he bought a bag of chips, so...
Oh, right. His car is full of fucking gasoline.
He groans, scrambling away from the vehicle, trying to remember what a safe distance will be if his car catches on fire or fucking explodes in the middle of the night. At least if it explodes it'll get someone's attention, right?
Shit, he's going to throw up.
Jake lays there, waiting for his stomach to settle, and then crawls again. He makes it up to the road, to the rough asphalt and the gravel that lines the side. The little pebbles sting his palms, rub dirt and dust into the cuts, but he ignores it.
He makes it to the road, twenty feet or so from his car, and then... then he just lays down.
"Chris..." He can barely think. Where has the little vampire gone? Why isn't he here, creeping out of the treeline to ask if Jake's all right? Did he run? Maybe he has Jake's phone. Maybe there was no signal and he's gone to try and find some, to make a call.
Fuck, it hurts to think.
Even just taking a deep breath hurts - something's wrong with his ribs. Bruised or broken. When he pulls his shirt up, he can see the seatbelt burn starting to deepen in color, a diagonal stripe from shoulder to hip written in bright red darkening to burgundy bruising, soon to turn purple and black. If he hadn't been wearing a heavy shirt it'd have torn his skin open. One side of his neck is rubbed raw, he can tell when he touches it and has to pull his fingers away at the spike of pain.
There are spots of dark on his pale shirt, blood seeping through or dripping from his forehead.
But, shit. It could be worse. Looking at the back half of his car, it seems like a goddamn miracle that it isn't.
Jake pulls his legs under him and tries to stand up.
His right leg just won't fucking do it.
Rather than take his weight, it buckles with a spike of pain so bad Jake cries out and collapses back onto the road.
As if it were a dam breaking, all the adrenaline holding off the worst of the pain seems to wear away at once.
Everything hurts, suddenly, a sickening wash of pain breaking against him like he's nothing but a shell to be worn to sand. He aches when he breathes, when he doesn't. A cough makes him whimper as his ribs creak and crack. His head throbs, his hands sting, his leg is swelling even as he looks at it, a broken bone. Definitely a broken bone.
"Jesus Christ," He groans, rolling onto his side, his face pressing into gravel and safety glass.
Nat won't notice they're not home until morning.
No one's going to know he's out here until after sunrise, until he's not up to get ready for class and Chris isn't curled up in the closet to sleep in his nest of blankets and pillows. No one's going to know what happened, and where the everloving fuck did his phone go?
Time passes. He doesn't know how much.
Maybe Chris figured they can't protect him and took the fuck off. Maybe he's going to find somewhere new to crash, some new people to care for him. Maybe he's hunting.
Who the fuck knows?
He comes and goes, in and out of consciousness.
He can't stand, and sort of scooting and crawling around does nothing to help him figure out where his cell phone has gone. No one else drives by on this mostly-abandoned country road, and it was a stroke of seriously bad luck the asshole who hit them and ran was there at all.
Asshole was probably drunk, driving back from the bar, trying to use the backroads to avoid the goddamn cops.
Bad. Fucking. Luck.
Jake wonders if the asshole will even remember hitting his car in the morning, or if he'll wake up and discover the front of his vehicle all fucked up and have no idea how it happened.
He thinks he might pass clean out for a while.
That can't be good.
His head hurts worse when he wakes up.
He raises his head slowly at the sound of a distant rumble, an ancient truck engine coming closer. It takes more effort than he ever imagined just to get himself up to sitting, ready to wave down whoever it is - whatever fucking angel is on this road at what has to be 3 or 4 in the morning by now.
"Please," He whispers, dry lips scraping against each other. "Please, please don't run m'over... please..."
Headlights wash over the scene of the crash, fading everything to nearly black-and-white. Jake raises a hand to shield his eyes, blinking rapidly, as the blue-and-white Ford comes to an idling stop.
A door swings open with a creak and then slams shut again, boots crunching on the glass and debris on the road. Jake raises his eyes to see an old man in worn jeans and a grayish t-shirt staring down at him. "Well, I'll be damned," The man says, his voice low, a little rough around the edges. His hair's dark, but speckled with silver that's visible even in the night air. "You all right, son?"
Jake slowly looks back at his wrecked, ruined car, then back up at the man. "I'm pretty clearly not," He answers, then winces at his rudeness. "Sorry. I mean... no."
"That's all right. We all of us get a little more honest when we're bleeding from the skull. I'm gonna bet you aren't a natural brunette and I'm looking at a big old ton of blood there. What happened?"
"Guy ran the stop sign, hit me... drove off."
"Well, damn. What're you doin' up this way this late at night?"
"Would you... y'believe me if I said... star-gazin'?"
The man chuckles, but it's a low sound, and he moves closer. He pulls a heavy old cell phone out of his pocket - one of those goddamn flip phones that never dies or gets destroyed. It's like Captain Fucking America. Jake has to hold back a half-hysterical laugh.
"Hm, I might. It happens from time to time. Y'didn't come with a young lady, did you?" The man looks over the scene of the crash, searching for more people.
"No, no... just... jus'... I'm just here." He thinks of Chris, the open passenger door, the total lack of a vampire nearby. Is he hiding in the woods? If he's seen, or found out, he'll be hauled back off to be locked up somewhere, milked for venom for pharmaceutical drugs, treated like an animal. They can't admit he was here, he can't be seen. He must be hiding.
Chris must just be hiding...
"Please, man, I-I can't find my phone to call for help-"
"I got you, son. I'll make the call. Likely your phone's just buried in the grass somewhere, we'll figure it out. You stay put right where you are, you don't want to move around and make any of it worse."
"Yes, sir." Jake stays where he is while the old man makes the call to 911, feeding him details when he asks, staring off into space when he doesn't.
They can pick Chris up when he and Nat come to get his stuff from the wreck tomorrow. They'll get him then. It'll be fine.
It'll be fine.
The old man hangs up and heads back to his truck, pulling out a battered old first aid kit. "You're lucky I believe in ghosts, you know."
"What? Why? Am I dead?" Jake looks down at his hands. They're scratched and bleeding, and he's pretty sure dead people don't bleed like that.
"No, son, no. But I wouldn't be out here if I didn't."
Jake blinks. "I... I don't follow."
"Well, had a little ghost show up at my bedroom window and refuse to shut up until I drove out here. Redheaded boy. Kept calling for a medic. Felt like I was back in the war for a minute before I realized it was him."
"Which... which war?"
The man fixes him with a stare as he crouches, old knees cracking as he does, in front of Jake. He opens the box and takes out some gauze and adhesive, antibiotic cream, something else Jake doesn't recognize. "You need medics in every kind of war there is, son. It doesn't matter which one. I've fought in two. But this boy called for a medic like he's seen the need for 'em before and didn't have time to save someone. Some kind of old ghost walkin' these roads saw you and made sure I knew."
Jake exhales, almost a laugh, and feels tears burn hot in his eyes. He realizes he's going to cry from sheer relief and exhaustion and pain, and he's not sure he can stop.
A ghost in the window means...
Chris left and ran for help.
"Thank you," he whispers, and he's not really talking to the old man at all.
@mylifeisonthebookshelf @insaneinthepaingame @keeper-of-all-the-random-things @burtlederp @finder-of-rings @astrobly @newandfiguringitout @pretty-face-breaker @endless-whump @gonna-feel-that-tomorrow @doveotions @boxboysandotherwhump @oops-its-whump @cubeswhump @whump-tr0pes @downriver914 @whumptywhumpdump @whumpiary @orchidscript @nonsensical-whump @outofangband @what-a-whump
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