GriffinThey found him puking up his guts near the latrine, wrist deep in mud, only partially hidden from the nearby pathway by a damaged tank and half a crate full of uniforms that were now only fit to be called rags. It wasn’t quite as bad as the proverbial getting caught with his pants down, but it is still very hard to run when you are on hands and knees, and you are so busy dry heaving that you nearly forget to breathe. It is equally hard to pay attention to your surroundings when all you can hear is the sound of retching, so maybe Griffin could forgive himself for letting the medics get so close before he spotted them. He wasn’t the first person to get afflicted with an unexpected plague of vomiting over the past couple weeks. At first everyone had just thought it was food poisoning or some potent stomach bug, but when bodies began to appear over the next several days, eyes sunken and tongue bloated from extreme dehydration, people began to take it a bit more seriously. By the time Atharia got around to sending a group of disease experts, the illness was spreading through the gathered soldiers with all the delicacy of a forest fire in a dry grassland. Even now they didn’t have a cure, and were only quarantining infected individuals and keeping them on a fluid drip until the virus vanished naturally. That was what made this illness so scary for Griffin. Not the risk of death, that was a common thing, but the many-day quarantine that would follow discovery of infection. While Griffin had no problems hiding his illness while it was nothing more than a headache and faint queasiness, it was much more difficult to hide when it bent him over double and barely allowed him to move more than a few feet at a time before he had to halt to try and force his stomach out his mouth once more. He had been trying to get out of camp, to vanish into the forest that surrounded the outpost and wait there to “recover” from his illness. He would return the next day, looking no worse for the wear except perhaps for a lingering smell of vomit, and would be able to avoid the quarantine. As soon as he had felt the nausea building he began looking for opportunities to get away, but it had seemed as though one task after another pursued him through the remainder of the day. It wouldn’t have surprised him if he’d thought about it. With so many men tied up in quarantine, and many days still to come before they’d be released, everyone who was still healthy, or relatively so, had to do twice the normal amount of work to keep the camp operational. In the end, though, he ended up waiting too long for the right moment to leave camp without getting seen. He had thought he would have plenty of time, and he didn’t want to risk getting shot in the back by some over-enthusiastic patrol officer who thought he was a deserter. But, of course, it turned out to be just his luck that this disease was progressing through him with a much greater rapidity than he had anticipated. Long before he made it out of camp after being released the nausea he had been fighting all day rose to an unavoidable height. So, instead of escaping into the woods to quietly endure vomiting and a headache that felt like it was going to rend his brain apart, and coming back to camp tomorrow when the illness was gone, he was found huddled near the latrines, desperately trying to puke quietly so that no one would notice him. When had that ever been his luck? Griffin tried to bolt as soon as the medics came into view, forcing himself to his feet and lunging wide to avoid stepping in, and probably slipping on, his own puddle of sick. He hurled himself over the latrine, desperately hoping he had managed to gain enough momentum in the few steps he had given himself, and barely managed to make it across the gap. On the other side, he raced forward for a good ten paces before his gut seized, his head let out a vicious throb, and he found himself kneeling once more, griped in a bout of spasmodic retching. The few precious moments where he could have still escaped were wasted in pathetic dribbling, and the medics caught up to him quickly. Both of the white-swathed men latched a large hand onto his upper arm to drag him away towards quarantine, mostly ignoring his weak struggling to break free. Through the layers of fabric and latex they looked more like clinical monsters in that moment than human doctors, and their fingers seemed to transform from flesh to claws when he tried to lunge wildly away from them and break free in order to continue his desperate streak towards the woods. “It’s okay,” one of them said, trying to sound reassuring. “We’re here to help you. If you don’t come with us, you’ll die.” Griffin shook his head weakly, unable to speak as nausea swelled within him again and he tried to clamp his lips shut. The medics paused when his efforts failed, perhaps seeking to avoid getting stomach acid on their clothes, and the friendlier one patted him sympathetically on the back. “We will help,” he promised. Of course, he had no way of knowing that Griffin was shaking his head to the “you’ll die if you don’t come with us” part, and not the “we’re here to help” part. Although both were equally applicable in the end, he supposed. If they were going to mitigate the effects of this illness, preventing it from killing him, it would likely end up being one of these medics that ended up killing him instead. Poor blokes. He gave one last ditch effort to escape once he finished puking, struggling weakly in their stronger, and much healthier, grasp, before finally collapsing back against them as his head gave another wild throb. He mumbled something incoherent, trying to persuade them through words rather than action to release him, but they just ignored him. If they even heard him at all. So, he relegated himself to muttering uselessly as they half-led half-dragged him through camp, trying to think clearly enough to find a way to escape. He’d endured much worse than a headache before this point; it shouldn’t be muddling with his brain as much as it was. Then again, maybe it was the dehydration. He couldn’t remember if he’d ever died from lack of water before, but he didn’t think so. The two medics laid Griffin down on a cot that smelled as though he wasn’t the first, or the fifth, occupant, hooking him into an IV drip with quick efficient movements. The second time, after they found him trying to leave the quarantine a few minutes after they had walked away, they added a couple of straps to the bed and hooked him into those as well as back into the drip, and threw in a dose of some drug Griffin couldn’t identify for good measure. Only moments after that was completed both men raced away, reacting to shouts coming from the other side of the field hospital. Griffin only managed to get his hand halfway unstrapped before whatever drug they had given him kicked in. His headache went away, mostly, but it also had the unwelcome side effect of turning the air into molasses. Griffin struggled futilely with the remainder of the strap, only partially unhooked, fingers feeling as though they had gone completely numb due to exposure to the cold. Combine that with the fact that the air seemed to resist his movement and he still had to stop every few minutes to heave what little bile his stomach had built up into a conveniently placed pail, and what normally might have qualified as a “simple task” became so difficult as to fall into the realm of “impossible”. All the same he continued to struggle, able to hold no thought in his head except how inconvenient it would be if he were to die here.