Chapter 3 - Emergency
The sun was low now. The river had twisted back and forth. And at every bend Remy had hope that around the curve lay a bridge, a town, a dock… something. But there were no signs of life. Thankfully, the movement kept her mind focused. The throbbing had subsided substantially and though her limbs were tired they didn’t feel sluggish like before.
Her thoughts touched on the reason for her being here. Maybe she had died. She laughed at the thought; if that was the case, then the afterlife is NOT what people were expecting. She quickly turned sombre and wondered about home. She had been stabbed on a train. It’s unlikely her body just disappeared from there and is now here. And if it had… well, she’ll be all over the news. Technically, she would be in either case. Someone stabbed on the train, dead or disappeared, either way it makes for good press.
She thought of her parents. How worried they would be. Her little brother would be upset too. Her friends and classmates probably shocked. Remy Dalton, 25 year old medical student, killed in train stabbing. The thought of the phrase just plain sucked. Tears burned at the corner of her eyes and her throat grew tight.
She cursed under her breath again and pushed the thoughts from her mind. She blinked back the tears and concentrated on the riverbed. The shadows were getting long and soon night would fall. Remy hoped to find something before it was dark. She was rounded another bend in the river and could feel anxiety twisting in her tummy. Maybe this time…
Nope… just more river and – and a body? Thirty feet in front of her the crumpled figure lay on the rocks.
Remy stopped in her tracks. Was it dead? She began to walk closer. She had seen a corpse before in her cadaver class - but seeing a body outside of a school setting gave her a completely different feeling. Instinctively her hand went to her cell - still no service. Oh, please don’t be dead….
Then she saw it – it moved! The crumpled body shifted. Remy’s feet moved before her mind realized what was happening. Before she knew it she was crouched beside the body. Her hand touched the skin to find it warm. She move it quickly in front of the person’s mouth to feel a faint breath and her other hand on his wrist checking for a pulse. They were still alive – good start.
Remy took in the situation before her. Male. Long black hair. Complexion was dark but even so his skin looked pale. She frowned. She examined him further. He wore a red rob-like top that wrapped his torso and beige wide legged pants. The material was linen-like in texture. It was definitely an odd outfit but Remy’s mind didn’t linger long on the fact. She saw blood - lots of it. The man lay on his side with his back to where Remy was crouched. The blood pool from his chest and wove its way in small crimsons river between the rocks toward the river. She followed the dots that drizzled across the bedrocks. He must have had wandered out from the woods.
Remy quickly checked to see if there were any other major wounds. Her hands patted down his legs and she checked her palms for blood. No red flags for any other injuries. She took a deep breath and steadied the man body by placing one hand on his shoulder and the other on his hip. With a controlled pulled she rolled him toward her onto his back. She couldn’t help but gasped when she saw the gash across his chest. The wound was approximately 15 inches in length running diagonally from his right pectoral, crossing the sternum, and ending in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen. Remy would have to clear away some of the blood to see the degree of its depth.
Her hands dove into her med bag and she pulled out the notebook that held the knife. She quickly unsheathed it from the pages. She would need some clothe to wipe clear the blood. Remy eyed the rob-like top. It wrapped around his chest and tucked into a cloth belt at his waist. She pulled one of the sleeves taught and carefully cut free the material about midway up the arm.
She returned the knife to the notebook and exchanged it for the water bottle in her bag. She darted to the river. She dumped the contents of her water bottle and refilled it with fresh water. She dipped the piece of cut clothe into the river and wrung it out so that it was slightly dampened.
She returned to the man and went to work. Her hands untied the belt around his waist. The clothe fell way and she moved to pull open the his robe. Her mind was set on work and Remy had fail to notice that the man was now awake. She was alarmed by the hand that took hold of her wrist. She instinctively pulled her hand back but found it held fast. For someone with a wound of such calibre he was awfully strong.
His eyes were open and watched her without blinking.
“My name is Remy,” she heard herself say, her tone soft and reassuring. She slowly raised her free hand and placed it on his arm. He didn’t waiver in his hold. She kept eye contact with him and continued, “I’m here to help you.”
She didn’t try to pull away from his grasp. She didn’t feel afraid – instead she felt an overwhelming sense of certainty.
“Please,” she began -.
Before she could finish she felt the grip on her wrist loosen. She gently moved his hand away and pull her hand back to her chest. Her wrist flushed red and burned – his gripped hand been incredibly tight. She watched his eye flickered and the clarity in his gaze fade. Within seconds his head fell limp and he was unconscious. Remy checked his vitals again. Still alive – good, he’ll be easier to work on this way.
She went back to pushing away his robe. The material was heavy and sticky with blood. She had a clear view of the wound now. She noted that it was no longer bleeding and the blood was beginning to crust and coagulate. She began clearing away the blood with quick strokes from the clothe paired with splashes of water from her water bottle. Five minutes later and two trips to the river to freshen the bloody clothe, the wound sat cleaned.
The cut was smooth and approximately a half-inch deep. It showed no signs of the flesh being torn so it must’ve been made with something sharp – like some kind of blade or knife. She turned back to her medical bag and rummaged through it. On her way out of class that morning she had grabbed a couple extra suture kits. After the outburst with her instructor she had planned to practice when she got home. On pork tenderloin of course - of which would become her supper afterward.
She held the suture pack in her hand. This was no pork tenderloin, that was for sure. Though her mind felt the effects of the shock of her current predicament she found her hands continued to work without hesitation. The packet held a piece of thread secured to a small curved needle. As aseptically as she could, she brought the needle to his skin. Her hand floated above the edge of the wound. Well, here goes nothing….
The sun had fallen behind the tree line and the shadows reached across the river creeping toward the opposing bank. Remy used the decorative blade to cut free the remaining thread of her final stitch. She tucked the needle back in the package and stored both the blade and needle into her bag. She sat up and stretched her back. It popped and cracked at the release of her tensed muscles. She inspected her work – and to her it looked good, for first time field work anyway. Definitely not pretty – but it would hold. She frowned at the thought of it being exposed. She would have to cover it somehow, but without some sort of antibiotic cream it there was a risk that infection would set in regardless.
Remy looked at the face of the man she had spent the last hour tending to. It lay relaxed and free from the pain that would be waiting for him when he woke. She leaned over and brushed his black hair away from his face. His skin was slightly darker than hers and his complexion, though pale, was that of a healthy young man. If Remy had to guess she would say he was slightly older than her – possibly late twenties or early thirties.
His cheek bones and chin were sharp. Remy would admit that even in this state he was rather handsome. She blushed suddenly and sat up abruptly. She grabbed her med bag and adjusted its contents. Shifting the rocks of the riverbed to make space she placed the bag under her patient’s head. She carefully moved his body to a more comfortable position. He would be out for a while – it was all she could do to make his state a little more bearable. She decided to leave his rob open in hopes that it would dry the blood more quickly, so that by night fall it could provide a bit of warmth.
Nightfall. It would be dark soon. Remy had grown up in the country, and even though she had spent her most recent years in a large city she remembered that when it got dark – it got REALLY dark. She would need to make a fire – somehow.
Thankfully, her parent had put her in boys scouts growing up - she was never much for selling cookies. She remember the basics to building a fire. Although, starting it would be a problem. Perhaps if she could find some dry moss she could try the whole stick twirling method.
She stood and dusted of her pants and began to look for kindling. As she made her way up the bank she inspected the trail of blood that led from the forest to where she and her patient were camped. The drops had been thick and heavy. She had been lucky she found him - had he been left alone…
There was a bag. Well, more like a sack tied closed. It was sitting at the edge of the embankment. Remy looked back at the unconscious man - considering his weird outfit perhaps the sack belong to him. The sack was close to the trial of blood. He must have dropped it when he came stumbling out of the woods. Remy too a seat on a large rock next to the bag. She took one last look at the man – he was still. She tugged it open.
Remy carefully took out each item in turn and set them out across the rocks in front of her. A half a loaf of bread wrapped in cloth. A hardened chunk of white cheese. Two stones just smaller than her palm, both flat, one smooth and the other rough. A piece of metal, small and shaped like a C. A roll of fine string spooled around a small rectangular wooden block.
Remy dropped the spooled string when she felt a prick on her finger. She carefully picked it up and examined it further and found a small metal hook tuck into strings. The hook look like one that could be used for fishing. She placed the fishing tool onto the rocks next to the other contents of the bag. It was nearly empty now - the last remaining item was a small round wooden container.
She place the empty bag on the ground and took the small container into both hands and raised to her eyes. It was beautiful. It was sanded so smooth she could barely see the seem in the wood between the lid and its container. She tugged off the top and found it filled with a golden coloured ointment? She held it closed to her nose to smell it. It was sweet…
She paused, then dipped her finger it in and tasted. Yep. Definitely honey.
Wait. HONEY! Remy stood and rushed back to the man. Without hesitating, she scooped out a bit of the honey and carefully applied it to the wound. She used her knife again to cleave a piece of his other sleeve off and using the cleanest side she gently covered the wound. She was sure she had read that honey had antiseptic properties. She remember being fascinated by the fact that honey was so dense and nearly anhydrous that it created a environment that was too concentrated for microorganism to survive.
Remy used half of the honey. It had been a pretty rough day - but at least her luck hadn’t completely failed her. She returned the honey and the other times the items to the bag - minus the two flat stones and the piece of metal. She brought all the gear back to where the unconscious patient lay.
Remy went about collecting a small amount of firewood and kindle and built a makeshift fire pit complete with a teepee style fire starter at the center. She then sat with both stones and metal piece laid in front of her. It was just past twilight.
She brought her hands together as one would in prayer and rested the her finger tips against her lips. She often took this position when she was thinking - when she was thinking really hard. Remy evaluated her situation. It was definitely weird that this man was wearing what looked like traditional Asian fashion from the 15th century. It was definitely weird that the contents of his bag were that of a 15th century individual. But this was definitely a weird day to begin with so why start drastically questioning things now? Remy took a deep breath. Some strange historical enthusiastic just so happen to be wondering the woods and got himself hurt. Perhaps he was one of those survivalist enthusiast and had blog about journeying into the woods and living like it was a historical time - being an internet celebrity can prove to be quite lucrative.
Regardless, Remy knew that at least this unconscious gentleman had conveniently came prepared when entering the wilderness – complete with food, fishing rod, and what Remy hoped was flint set. She picked up the rough stone took a closer look. She wasn’t sure which stone was the flint. She had never used flint before.
She swapped the stones and took a look at the smooth one. On closer inspected she found it had small nicks and chips. She picked up the piece of steel and stuck the rock. SPARKS! She smiled and let out a involuntary and loud triumphant ‘HAHA’. She glanced at the man – still sleeping. She regained her composure and went to work coaxing a flame out of a tiny shower of sparks and dry grass.