I woke up from my nap and took a look outside the window. We were still on the road, with the station half an hour away. As I turned my eyes, I noticed Xina sweating profusely and struggling to breathe while sleeping.
I initially assumed she was having a bad dream, but as time passed, her condition worsened. Her breathing became more labored, and her body trembled with each gasp for air. I tried waking her up by shrugging her shoulders, but she won’t even budge.
“Hey! Get up! Are you fine?”
It’s my third time trying to wake her up. Her sleep is not even seeming normal at this point. Her breathing had also begun to become short time by time.
Without wasting any time, I immediately instructed the cab driver to take us to the nearest hospital. But to my dismay, he informed me that there was no hospital nearby and the only option we had was to wait until we reached the station.
“How should I wake her? Has she fainted or what? The station is still 15 minutes away and waking her vigorously can also affect her breathing.” I thought to myself while still trying to wake her up.
I decided to call Mr. Norman. I switched on my phone to see 6 missed calls from him. For a second I felt like I had fallen into a void.
“Should I call Mr. Norman?
No way. He’s going to rage through hell if I call him now.
Well, this is not important now. I should call him.
Whatever happens, would be seen later.”
I called him after collecting all my wits. He picked up the call on the first beep only and asked a question immediately.
“Have you arrived at the station?”
“Not yet. You see, Xina is traveling with me and she is not able to wake up from her sleep. I have called you t-“
“Can you see her backpack, there is an inhaler inside it. She often faces these problems while travelling. Spray it in her mouth, immediately. “
I quickly rummaged through her bag and found the inhaler. I shook it well and sprayed it into her mouth, hoping it would provide some relief.
To my relief, Xina’s breathing slowly became more stable, and her sweating started to subside. She still seemed to be sleeping, but at least her breathing was no longer as labored as before.
“Well, that worked instantly.” I relieved myself while putting the inhaler back in her bag.
Thank God she wasn’t traveling alone. Wait, did Mr. Norman already know that she was going to face such a problem? Then why did he call me? Did he already know that I was with her?
I turned on my phone to call him back. Just then, a message popped up on my phone from him describing-
“Xina is a patient with both asthma and anemia. From her childhood, she has suffered from illness for most of the year. Despite her efforts to appear strong, kindly assist her whenever you notice her struggling, just as you would with a friend. Although I am aware that you do not typically make friends, I earnestly request that you take care of her.
And one more thing: I had fixed the cab for you. Please don’t ask Xina anything about it, as she knows nothing. She was stubborn about travelling alone to not make any of us worry. So I had no choice but to make you travel with her.”
For the first time ever. He made a request to me.
Mr. Norman always acted normal even if I used to talk rudely to him. He even paid my middle school fees when my uncle passed away. He even used to pay my room rent when I was still searching for work. But above all of them, he stood with me just like a parent would do, helping me without asking for anything in return.
5 minutes later, I tried to wake her up again. This time she woke up with just a single call.
“Have we reached?” She asked while rubbing her eyes.
“No, we haven’t. Are you feeling fine now?”
“I am fine. Does something happen?”
“Nothing. Your father had called me to advise you to keep your inhaler within reach at all times.”
“Oh, thanks. I had really forgotten about it.”
10 minutes later the car stopped.
We had reached the ‘Fret’ station gateway. Xina and I got off the cab. As I was trying to fetch my luggage, the driver called me near.
“Sir, If you go straight from here and take a turn at that corner, there is a medical ward. If she’s still not feeling well, you can take her there. If you can’t find it, I can accompany you there, just give me a call at my phone number.”
“Thanks for your help. I’ll sure call you if I need your help.”
I again went to Xina who was taking her luggage out of the cab.
“Um…, are you really feeling ok? I mean…, any breathing problems or just some fatigue?”
“I told you I am fine. My father must have worried you by telling you about my health issues. But it’s not that serious. Please do not worry excessively on my behalf.”
She said so while having a smile on her face and started walking towards the ticket counter. But I can’t believe her. Not at all after watching her condition in the cab. If it was anything serious, I couldn’t think of anything further.
I quickly walked to her and took the suitcase from her hands.
“Hey! I told you I am fine.”
“I know. Just walk ahead.”
“If you think of me as a friend, let me carry it.” I tried to use some cheesy words.
She looked at my face for some moment and then she started walking with me. I don’t know, but I think it worked.
After some minutes we reached the ticket counter. We booked seats for the train near each other. Until the train arrives, we decided to sit in the waiting room.
We boarded the train which arrived just 5 minutes later.
We also chatted during the train ride. However, my responses were usually limited to one word or sentence while the conversation topics mostly revolved around her. We also exchanged contact information.
2 hours later, we reached the “Axel Jn.”. We proceeded outside the station where we noticed a large gathering of individuals within our age group. Upon inquiry, we discovered that they were also new students at SOAA, and the staff was gathering all of us from the train station to take us to the academy’s dormitory together. As our train was the last one to arrive, they were waiting for us.
After a few minutes, a few buses arrived. The officials informed us that the buses would take us to our respective dormitories where we were going to stay. They separated boys and girls into different buses. I said goodbye to Xina as I got on the bus.
The bus started moving. After a few minutes of entering the city, the fellow individuals sitting inside started causing a ruckus after taking look outside of the window. Being curious, I removed the curtain from the window to take a look outside.
As I look out of the window of the bus, I was amazed at the sight of the city before me. It was a well-established city, with tall and sleek buildings that seem to touch the sky. The streets were clean and bustling with activity, as people walk and commute using various modes of transportation. The vehicles were mostly electric, and the air was fresh and clean. I could see parks and green spaces dotted throughout the city, providing a peaceful respite from the busy urban life. The buildings were equipped with the latest technology, and I could see holographic billboards and advertisements everywhere. It was clear that the city has made significant advancements in science and technology, and it feels like a glimpse into the future.
“So this is what a modern city in the 15th century looks like.” I thought myself being amazed.
Half an hour later, the bus left us in front of the boy’s dormitory. It was a 15-storey building with the ground floor serving as a parking lot.
I approached the receptionist to inquire about a specific room, and she directed me to the 8th floor. The floors of the building were entirely covered with illuminated tiles, and the building boasted a system of four elevators. I selected one of the elevators, which took me to the 8th floor in a mere 15 seconds.
I entered the room which was allotted to me. The room was overly well furnished with all essentials required. It consisted of a study table, an A.C., a kitchen, a bathroom, a wall totally covered with an empty bookshelf, a dining table, a sofa and some chairs with a table kept front and a balcony with another set of tables and chairs.
“What could be the cost of spending a night if someone rents a room here.” I thought myself while checking all the other facilities.
While taking a look at the room, I noticed a strange thing kept in the bed. It was a package covered with paper.