The Nation Chronicles
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The conclusion of the trilogy begins here…
Ira killed the motor. The moon was clouded, and maybe, he reasoned, the boat would blow right by them. No sooner had he completed the thought though, then the clouds parted and the moon rolled out of the darkness. …
Annie looked at Willie closely in the glow from the boats dash-panel lights. She had watched him drink two full bottles of whiskey, without seeming to suffer any ill effects whatsoever. As quickly as he drank it in, it exited through the yellowed bandages that were, wound around his chest and stomach area. It seemed to seep out, and she was positive that it was the whiskey. She could actually smell the sharp scent of alcohol as it exited his body. He fairly reeked of it. He should be passed out by now, she thought. In fact, at the rate it was seeping through the gauze, he should be dead.
His skin also bothered her. It wasn’t the rich brown that it had been earlier. As soon as they had gotten underway on the cooler lake it had turned an ashen gray color, the rich brown had seemed to quickly fade away. How could that be? She wondered.
Another thing that bothered her was that he did not appear to be breathing. He obviously was breathing, absolutely had to be breathing, but it was so shallow that she could not even detect the rise and fall of his chest, or hear the inhale-exhale of his breath. How could a person in his shape be alive?
He had to be dying, she decided, and it struck her as odd that he didn’t seem realize it. He had not allowed anyone else to come along either, as if he really believed that he, in the condition he was in, would be able to withstand the trip. Annie couldn’t see how it would be possible. Although he seemed to be alert, and even seemed to be moving unimpeded, he could not last much longer. He was a dead man, she thought, he just didn’t know it yet.
She had no idea whatsoever how close she was to the truth. Willie was dead, but he knew it to be a fact. He also realized, that even without the whiskey, he was losing the sensation of pain. In fact he was slowly losing all sensation in his entire body. His mind seemed clear however, and his body seemed to still obey his will to move it. It was cold though, and that was unsettling. He apparently hadn’t lost his ability to sense and feel the cold.