This weeks sample is the second scene from The Outsider. If you missed it, you can read the first scene here.
The Outsider (continued)
Jacob stood with the town doctor and watched as the man slumbered restlessly on the bed. Jacob’s young daughter watched the stranger with a combination of fear and curiosity from the doorway, while his wife stood behind her and looked on disapprovingly.
“So, he will recover then?” Jacob asked.
“Oh, yes,” replied Doc Tanners. “Luckily, his wounds weren’t too deep, and we caught the infection early enough so he won’t need too much medicine. He’s been out in the sun for at least two days, but he made it here just in time. Probably wouldn’t have survived another few hours in the sun. He owes you his life.”
“I just hope I made the right decision,” said Jacob.
“Saving a man’s life is always the right decision.” Doc Tanners put a reassuring hand on Jacob’s shoulder. “Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Just stick to the treatment schedule that I gave you, and he will be up and about in no time.”
“Thanks again, Doc.” Jacob led him out of the room and showed him to the door. “I really appreciate everything you’ve done for us.”
The doctor nodded and left. Jacob returned to his daughter and reproachful wife.
“He’ll be fine,” said Jacob, trying to generate some enthusiasm from his wife.
“So I heard.” His wife’s tone suggested that she wished the news had been the opposite.
“I couldn’t just leave him out there to die, Samantha. He needed our help.”
“Couldn’t you? Who is he, Jacob? What’s his history? How do we know he’s not dangerous? How can we trust him when we know nothing about him?”
“We know he’s from Mayfield,” said Jacob.
“Yes, a town that doesn’t exist anymore because raiders attacked and killed everyone. Aside from your friend here, apparently. How do we know he’s really from there? How do we know that he’s not some criminal on the run from the law?”
“We don’t.” Jacob looked at the floor.
“The rules are there for a reason, Jacob. You know that. The only reason we have survived for so long here is because we trust no one. We have no idea what a visitor could actually be. The friendly merchant could really be looking for a nice young boy or girl to steal away and sell for a few coins. You remember what it was like out there, living in fear of raiders, or worse, from day to day. When Tracy built this town, we finally had a place to feel safe, somewhere we could raise Hope without fear or hardship. Now, you turn around and let a complete stranger in, and not only that, you bring him into our home. For the love of everything, tell me why.”
“Because I wanted to help someone,” said Jacob.
“Mrs Parker needs her roof fixed. You could have helped someone with a hammer, a few nails and some tin.”
“Not like that. I mean really help someone. Make a difference. We live here, all safe, and I wanted to make a difference to someone out there. Someone in trouble.”
“You wanted to play the hero,” Samantha stated flatly.
“All right, yes. I wanted to play the hero. Is that so bad? Are we supposed to let someone die because we’re afraid?”
“This isn’t about the man, is it? This is about Lewis and that incident.”
“That has nothing to do with this,” replied Jacob, looking away from his wife.
“The hell it doesn’t. You were following the rules. It’s not your fault he couldn’t accept that and went out scavenging. When are you going to realize that? He was old enough to make his own decisions, and whatever happened to him has nothing to do with you.”
“But he went out because of me!” Jacob turned back to look at his wife. “If we hadn’t argued, he never would have left that day.”
“You mean the argument where he wanted to let in outsiders, and you pointed out that it wasn’t safe because we had no idea who they might be, or if they were a danger to us? The same idea that you’re now abandoning?”
Samantha snorted. “I was wrong. You didn’t want to play the hero. You wanted to make yourself feel better by bringing a stranger into our home, like Lewis would have wanted to do.”
Jacob stood silently.
“Fine. I just hope you playing the hero doesn’t get us all killed.” Samantha got up and, taking their daughter, left their small house.
Jacob wandered back into the bedroom and sat on a chair next to the bed. “I did the right thing, didn’t I? What Lewis would have done?” he pondered aloud. “It’s not wrong to help someone, is it?” He sighed, looking at the man. “Samantha’s right — I don’t even know your name.”
“Ray,” muttered the man lying on the bed.
“What?” asked Jacob.
The man opened his eyes. “My name is Ray — Ray White.”
“I’m Jacob,” he replied. “Jacob Harkins. My wife is Samantha, and my daughter’s name is Hope.”
Ray smiled faintly. “My wife was named Hope.” He drifted off to sleep again.
Read the rest of the story by purchasing The Outsider from Amazon.