Harry Truman Ioki awoke to darkness, and the first thing that registered was the excruciating pain he felt. Something was wrong. A wave of confusion washed through his groggy mind. Where was he? What happened? Why was he...upside down?
Everything hurt. His head, his legs, especially his chest. Every breath was agony, and there was the metallic tang of blood in his mouth. He made the mistake of trying to move, but immediately stopped when a white-hot poker of pain lanced throughout his entire chest. It robbed him of his breath and threatened to send him into sweet oblivion once more.
But while the fierce pain weakened him, it also sent a jolt of clarity through his muddled thoughts. He had been on his way to meet the gang at their favorite pizza place for a night of fun. But he'd never made it. And this damn sure wasn't fun. Harry vaguely recalled seeing a dog in the middle of the road, caught in his headlights. He remembered swerving, narrowly missing the canine but driving nose first off the highway and down the steep tree-filled incline. After that, it was all a blank. He guessed his car must have rolled over; that would explain why the only thing keeping him in place was his seat belt.
Harry groaned, the sound loud in the eerie stillness. How long had he been out? There was no way of knowing. It was too dark to see the hands on his watch, even if he could move his arm. Which he couldn't. His arms hung above his head, his fingertips brushing he interior of the roof. They felt like they were weighted down with lead.
Something warm was trickling down--or up, actually--his neck. He had a sickening feeling what it was. Trying to gather strength and the courage, Harry clenched his eyes tightly shut. After a moment, he opened them again. Not that there was much more light with them open. Forcing strength into his right arm, he moved it slowly and painfully towards his chest.
What he found there nearly made Harry pass out. The source of his intense agony was from a branch, some two inches thick, sticking out of the right side of his chest. The warm trickle he'd felt was his own blood, pouring from around the wooden obstruction.
Bile rose in the back of his throat, and he was helpless to stop its journey. But retching jolted his body, causing fire to streak from the tips of his toes to the top of his scalp. The scream that tried to work its way from his throat ended up as more of a choked whimper.
Harry was cold. It had been a nice mild evening before, but now he couldn't stop the tremors that racked his pain-filled body.
He closed his eyes. He was so tired. So tired. Was help on its way? Would Doug, Tom, and Judy realize something was wrong when he didn't show up? Or would they think he just decided not to come?
Tears squeezed their way through the lashes of his closed eyes. God, please let them come, he prayed desperately. He knew he was in deep trouble. But he didn't want to die. Not today. And especially not alone.
"Harry?" Harry gasped, and his eyes snapped open. It was Judy. She was there, sitting right next to him. But how could that be? She was with Tom and Doug.
"J-Judy?" he whispered in disbelief, his teeth chattering against the increasing chill. She looked real enough, siting there watching him, a concerned look in her dark eyes.
She smiled comfortingly. "Yes, Harry, I'm here." Harry closed his eyes in confusion, and then opened them again when he felt her cool hand touch his cheek. "Be strong, Harry," she whispered. He watched, dumbfounded, as she leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on his forehead. He blinked, and she was gone.
"Judy!" he called out, his voice getting weaker. "Judy, don't go. Don't leave me! You've got to help me! Judy!" He was sobbing by now, unable to stop even though it caused more pain. Why did she leave? Didn't she know he was dying? Didn't she consider him worthy of saving? Didn't she care?
A few moments later, Harry succumbed to an uneasy rest. His thoughts were tormented with visions of his friends leaving him there to die. Tom, Judy, Doug, even Fuller. One by one, they visited him in his dreams. They would say a few words, then disappear in the blink of an eye. And no amount of pleading on Harry's part would bring them back.
When he woke up again, he wasn't sure if Judy was ever there in the first place. Maybe she was, maybe she wasn't. He just wasn't sure anymore. If it had really been Judy, she wouldn't have left him. None of them would have. They were his friends, and he theirs. He was almost convinced that it was all just a hallucination, a vision brought on by too much blood loss. Still, a small part of him remained uncertain.
If only someone would see the wreck from the highway... But he knew that was futile. There were no street lamps on the long stretch of road he'd been traveling.
He almost couldn't remember when he wasn't feeling the agony he was in now. And it seemed like a far off dream that he had ever been warm. It seemed like he'd been there forever. And maybe he had been. He had no way of knowing.
In fact, it all felt like a dream. Maybe if he tried to wake up, he would find himself back in bed, safe and sound. But he wasn't exactly sure how to go about waking up from a dream. Pinching himself? He tried, but that didn't get him the results he wanted.
Maybe he had to fall asleep in the dream so he could wake up at home... That wasn't hard. He could barely keep his eyes open. He felt so weak, so cold. He was dying. He didn't want to, but he knew he was. And there was nothing he could do about it. Except hope for a miracle.
So he hung there, in that place between wakefulness and deep slumber. He was too tired to stay awake, but the pain kept him from true oblivion. He didn't know if he should be grateful or what. As long as he was awake, he wasn't dead. But as long as he was awake, he felt immense discomfort and pain. Which would be better? He didn't have an answer to that.
Memories flashed through Harry's aching head. Memories of his family, of coming to America, of becoming a cop, of his friends. He now knew that they would never leave him like that. That had all been a dream. They would come for him. He knew that now. He just hoped they came before it was too late....
What was that? A sound? A sound like voices calling. And a faint light. His tired mind tried to put them together, but his success was minimal. Were they here? Did they find him? But the most important question of all was...were they in time? Harry didn't know, but he truly hoped they were. He'd hate to die after managing to hang on until they got to him...
The voices were louder, coming closer. A minute later, an anxious face peered in through the shattered driver's side window. A pretty face, with dark eyes, surrounded by a frame of unruly dark curls. His partner. "Judy," he whispered, the last of his strength leaving him.