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] [Part 10
Cutter woke up with one certainty fixed in his mind: fire was sucking the heat from his body. He shivered and tried to burrow deeper into the blankets, but that just intensified the burning; he scrambled out from under the blankets, shrugging out of the coat he was inexplicably wearing and only stopping when he fetched up against the headboard. He curled up there, shivering miserably and searching for the source of the burning.—————————————
With effort, he raised his head to see Cynthia standing in the doorway, looking sympathetic.
“I feel like I’m burning and freezing at the same time,” he responded through chattering teeth.
“Mm.” She stepped back, returning a moment later and taking a seat on the edge of the bed. “Open.”
He squinted at what she held; it was a thermometer. He opened his mouth obediently and she slipped the thermometer under his tongue. As she waited for it to register, she took the quilt he’d thrown on the floor and wrapped it carefully around his shoulders. A few seconds later, the thermometer beeped.
“One hundred point two,” she read. “You officially have a fever.”
“Does that mean I have to go back to the hospital?”
“With a hundred degree temperature? No. If it keeps rising, you will.” She regarded him steadily. “I suspect this is just your body’s way of adjusting to being burned. What were you wearing?”
It took him a moment to understand what she meant. “Last night? A—an undershirt and sweats.”
“So you didn’t burn your legs?”
He shook his head. “I … guess not.” He paused, and winced as a twinge went through his feet. “I think I got my feet, though.”
“That’s okay.” She rested a hand on his shoulder, gently grasping the quilt. “I think, if you’re covered from your armpits to your ankles, that should keep you warm without overheating the burns.”
“What do I do?” he asked.
“Lie on your back.” She took the quilt from him. He gave her a last, miserable look before slowly uncontorting himself, lowering himself onto his back on the still-made bed. She tucked the quilt around him, gently and efficiently lifting his arms out.
“I don’t usually sleep on my back,” he offered quietly.
“You’re going to have to,” she replied with a sympathetic smile. “Or you won’t sleep. You want some Tylenol?”
He nodded, clenching his teeth to keep them from chattering. She moved away from him again, returning with a large bottle of Tylenol PM and a glass of water. She supported him gently as he took two pills, then made sure he was tucked snugly into—or onto—the bed before smiling at him and leaving him in peace.
Link to [Part 12