Sensing the Enemy
They walked for hours that night; alone in the darkness. They made some good progress that way, under the stars, but it couldn’t last forever. On the third hour, Migelle fell. His knee buckled on him, and he went down to the sand.
“Migelle? What happened?”
He just moaned. Con set Evie down beside him.
"He fell, Vodka." Con whispered.
“You fell? Are you alright? What happened?”
Evie moved her hands over to his wound and felt that it was once again bleeding. She frowned and checked his shoulder; it was the same story.
“Why didn’t you say something?”
“I was more worried...about you.” He panted a bit; he had been bleeding ever since the fight and his wound was starting to open a lot more.
Evie touched his cheek and un-wrapped his leg. “How bad is it, Mister?”
"Well it ain’t good. Needs a stitch if ya ask me."
Evie was speaking to Con, but Migelle looked up. “Stitches? I can’t get stitches! We’re still ten hours of walking away from Baggs, at least. It can’t be that bad.”
Evie turned to Con. “He says it’s that bad.”
Migelle sighed and sat up with a groan, reaching for his pack. He took out a small sewing kit he had bought and handed it to Evie.
“This is all I have for stitches, but stitches are hard. I can’t do it, because of my arm. It’s shaking too much.” Migelle frowned; he didn’t want to put this pressure on her.
Evie ran her fingers over the supplies he had given her. There was a small spool of strong. She ran it over her palm; it was leather. There was a needle and some scissors in there as well. She took a breath and showed it to Con.
“I’ve never had stitches. I don’t know how.”
"Well I guess we’ll learn together."
“What did he say? Does he know how to give stitches?”
“Um... Well, you see...”
Migelle laid down on the sand.
Evie dipped the needle and leather thread into one of Con’s beer bottles to sanitize them. She felt around the thick top of the needle for the thread-hole and fed the leather through. It took her a few tries, but Con helped to aim her hands. Migelle stayed laying on the ground; he preferred not to watch, for obvious reasons. A blind twelve-year-old and a drunk acting as doctors didn’t exactly inspire confidence in him. Con poured some beer onto Migelle’s leg, and he gasped.
“Did that hurt?”
“Of course that hurt! It fucking burns, Evie!”
Evie took a breath and hung her head. “I’m sorry. Last time you were asleep, so it didn’t hurt.”
Migelle sighed. “Look just...give me something to bite down on, okay?”
Evie nodded and felt around for something. There were some rags in the pack, and she gave him one. He stuck it in his mouth and she continued.
Once the blood was washed away, Con guided her hand to the start of the cut. She squeezed the flesh together and punched it with the needle, threading the leather through. Migelle bit down hard on the cloth, breathing in sharply through his nose. Con led Evie’s hand around as she sewed up the cut, then tied the leather, cut the string and bound the wound again with a rag. Every time the needle had entered Migelle’s skin he had sworn into the rag. He squeezed his eyes shut and breathed deeply.
“O-Okay. I’m done the leg now.”
Migelle took the rag from his mouth and gasped. “Can we wait a minute, please? Don’t...do my arm yet.”
Evie nodded and helped him sit up. “Con said I did a good job.”
“I’m sure you did. It just...it hurts.”
Evie hugged him. “I know. I’m sorry. I don’t want you to get hurt.”
Again Migelle sighed, and he held her with his good arm. “It’s okay, geeze. Calm down. Let’s just...do my shoulder now, okay?”
Evie nodded and Migelle scooted himself to a rock to lean on. Unfortunately, his arm wasn’t quite as easy to deal with.
When Evie sewed the first three millimeters of it, Migelle was already screaming into the rag. She had to put the needle in four times before she could successfully feed the thread through the other piece of skin. The cut here was on a bad angle, and she had to stitch that angle tighter than she had with his leg. Migelle grabbed at the sand.
"Ask him if he wants a drink. It’ll numb the feeling."
“Do you want some of Con’s bottle?” Evie asked. Migelle shook his head and bit down harder on the rag, which was now partially soaked with drool.
By the time the stitching was finished, Migelle had almost passed out. Con rinsed the wound once more with some beer, and Evie wrapped it tightly with the rag. She had to pull the rag from Migelle’s now-locked jaw, and peeled pieces of it out of his braces. Migelle leaned weakly against the rock he was on and panted. Evie had been crying dry heaves for the past few minutes, and hugged him tightly now.
“I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!”
Migelle put his good arm around her once more and closed his eyes. After that, he passed out.
By the time Migelle woke up, the sun was out and Evie was asleep on his chest. He sat up and rubbed his neck, which was more than sore from his stone pillow. He looked down at Evie and the beer-and-blood stains on his clothing.
“Evie? Evie are you okay?”
She woke gently and sat on her knees, facing him; she nodded.
“I am too.”
She smiled and hugged him once more. “I’m sorry. This is all my fault...”
He blushed a bit and stroked her hair. “No it’s not. I should have said something before and-”
“No, it’s my fault. If you hadn’t been fighting all those people this never would have happened. Without my sister’s, I’m useless. I couldn’t help you at all.”
Migelle frowned. “It’s not your fault. You never needed to be able to fight...”
“Well I do now. I don’t want to just sit back and watch you get hurt! Mister can’t get hurt, so I...I forgot that you could!” She held onto him tightly, and Con frowned; he had forgotten too.
“W-Well you’re blind, Evie. I don’t expect you to-”
“No! I’ve been blind since I was made; it’s no excuse! I need to learn to protect myself; to protect you!”
Migelle stroked her hair once again and smiled a little. “You’re not gunna let it stop you, are you?”
She let him go and sat on her knees, shaking her head. “I never needed eyes before. I can do this. I just...need some help.”
Migelle nodded. “Then I’ll do my best to help you.”
Migelle needed rest that day, and Evie needed help. She decided that since they weren’t going to be walking anyway, now would be the perfect time. She stood in front of Migelle and waited as he looked her over.
“Okay. I have a plan.”
Evie smiled. “You do?”
“Uh-huh. First, where is Mister Con?”
Evie pointed beside him, where Con stood, leaning against a rock and drinking.
“Very good. But, how did you know that?”
“Well I...I can feel him.”
“Exactly. You can sense him, because he is an energy; or something like that. Now, what is he doing?”
Evie cocked her head to the side. “I don’t know. I can’t see him.”
“Hey, I thought that didn’t matter. I thought your blindness didn’t matter.”
“Well it doesn’t but...”
“Then focus. Concentrate. What is he doing?”
Evie took a breath and thought. She focused on the energy she could feel, and began to feel it. In her mind, she ran her hands over it, feeling its position and movements. It felt like a warm liquid, and it was...
“Leaning! He’s leaning and...and drinking!”
Migelle turned to the floating bottle he knew was Con.
"Yeah. I am."
Evie jumped and clapped her hands.
“Good. Now all we have to do is get you to do that faster, and with people who...aren’t dead. So, what am I doing?”
Migelle started waving. Evie tried to concentrate again, but it was hard. She could only feel Con, because she could always feel Con. He was dead so, to her, he was something to feel. At first she tried to block Con out, and focus on whatever was left, but she couldn’t. So she expanded instead. She felt Con, felt him leaning and drinking; felt his liquid mist. She then began to feel around more with her mind. She used Con’s mist to sense a heartbeat. She heard it; loudly.
Evie focused on the sound, and the vibrations it made. She could still feel the mist that was Con, and she moved it to the sound. She felt the sound, and the vibrations. She followed the sound with her mind and felt its boundaries. She felt that there was a...body attached to it. A slim container for the sound; the vibrations. She focused more on it, but the more she focused on Migelle, the less she focused on Con; and the less she focused on Con, the less mist she had to feel.
“Migelle, this isn’t working. I can’t feel you, I can only feel Mister. Maybe if he stood closer I could... I just don’t know.”
“Okay, wait a second. Take a breath.”
“So, what can you feel about Mister Con?”
“Well I...I feel this warm liquid. It’s like a thick mist, and it swirls around.”
“But what is that? Why is that Mister Con? Why isn’t that just... air?”
“Well it’s...it’s his soul, isn’t it?”
“If it is, then focus on mine. I have soul; or at least I hope I do...”
Evie took another breath and Migelle continued to wave. This time she felt for Con, then moved her attention to the side. She felt around for another mist; a mist that was Migelle’s. Her eyebrows furrowed as she focused. The beating sound she had felt before as helpful was now in the way. She couldn’t feel past it. She formed a hand with her mind; a part of her that could reach out to him. She felt the vibrations in Migelle’s chest, and reached deeper; through them. She reached and focused. Something...was there. She could feel it. Something warm lay beneath the pounding of his heart. The deeper she went, the louder it got. It filled her head but still she reached. She reached until the sound was deafening, then she reached further. She reached and focused until, finally, the sound stopped. For a moment, she heard nothing. She opened her hand, and finally, she could feel it. A liquid mist; one that was hot. It swirled less; still bound by a body, but it was there. She followed it bindings and felt him. She felt him from far away, and “saw” him.
“You’re...waving. With your...left hand and...sitting. You sitting and waving at me. Your legs are...crossed and...and I can... I can feel it.”
Migelle smiled and put his hand down. “Congratulations. You are no longer ‘blind’.”