Chapter 4 - Awake
It was dark and Remy’s eyes felt heavy. The warm heat from the fire made her want to curl up and sleep. She shifted in her seat. She couldn’t fall asleep. She was sure she had a concussion and couldn’t risk it. The night was cool but not cold and she was thankful. Next to the crackling fire, the running river, and the chittering nightlife of the forest it was far from quiet. She found it quite soothing and laughed to herself when she remembered spending 10 dollars for a music subscription just like it – she was told it would help with her studying.
She frowned at the thought of school. She didn’t want her mind to wander to the ‘what if’s’ generated by her circumstances. For now, she would just stay the course – she was here and she found a person. Hopefully, if they didn’t die, they could lead her back to civilization.
As tired as she felt she pushed herself to her feet to check on her patient. His pulse was steady and Remy was hopeful that it was getting stronger – though it was difficult to tell. His breathing rate 12 breaths a minute – which was good and meant the wound hadn’t affected his lungs. Upon waking, however, Remy suspected the taut stitches might take away from his depth of breath. His temperature was warm but not hot – which meant he was infection free… for now.
She pulled back the blood crusted robe and gently lifted a corner of the fabric covering the wound. It was oozing a bit and in the firelight it was difficult to tell but Remy guessed that fluid was clear.
She replace the bandage and was about to cover up his chest but something caught her eye. Under the streaks of blood and dirt on his chest was what looked like another scar.
Remy grabbed her water bottle and the rag she used earlier and wiped the area clean. It was another scar. It ran horizontally along the seventh rib on his left side and curved around his back. The scar was wide and smooth. To Remy it look odd – almost too perfect but not. Like imperfectly prefect. The smoothness hinted at expert skills in repair but the width of the scar was questionable. It meant that the original wound would’ve had to have been extremely large. There was no markings from stiches of any kind - it had to have been treated by a really talented surgeon.
A confused ‘huh’ left her lips and she examined his torso further. She hadn’t really taken the time earlier in the day to really get a look at him. She went from sewing him up, to hunting for fire, to cleaning herself up, and ended with a period of exhausted dazed staring – of which took her late into the late evening. She had noted that he was dressed curiously, like that of a traditional oriental culture but she couldn’t pin point which culture considering she’s at very little exposure.
She found three more curious looking scars on his abdomen and chest. One reached over his shoulder onto his back. Her eyebrows raised - this guy has had some bad days. She covered his chest with his robe, again.
A small scrape of something hard against rocks caught her attention. Something had shifted beside his body - on the side facing away from the fire. Remy reached around his and felt for the item. She found the belt she untied earlier and gave it a tugged out of the way. The sound - she heard it again. She got up and rounded the body.
She pushed the fabric away and saw what looked like a long back tube. The shadow cast from the firelight made it difficult to see. Remy grasped the tube and gave it a pull. To her surprise the it slid toward her with ease. Her eyes grew wide when the length of the tube produced a blade. Shit – she was holding a sword!
Why did this guy have a sword? How hardcore was he? Wandering in the wilderness like it was what – 15th century China? It was seriously weird. There had to be some reason - a blog, a youtube channel, maybe a really weird joke.
But still – Remy didn’t know much about blades but she could tell it wasn’t cheap. She carefully pulled the sheath out from under the man body and slowly replaced the blade. The sheath itself was black and embossed with delicate cravings. The hilt matched the sheath in that it sported black cloth that woven tightly around a dark wooden base.
Remy placed it on the ground next to the man. She knew she should feel bad for snooping – but really, how could she not? You don’t come cross a ninja, or samurai, or whatever he was on a regular day. But then again - this was no regular day. She sighed a moved back to her place by the fire. Once he woke up she could ask him all about it.
She folded her hands across her knees. Just stay the course she reminded herself. Regardless of how weird things got she just had to stay the course and she would get home.
Remy was dreaming. There was a man standing in front of her - his back facing her. He was wearing a brown suit - old fashion in style like she had seen in black and white movies. He even wore a bowler. He began walking away from her and Remy shouted for him to wait. He threw a glance of her shoulder but continued on. Remy tried to catch up but her feet were so heavy and she felt like she was sinking into mud. The man in front of her was gaining distance. She forced herself forward but her feet sloshed awkwardly. It was like she was walking through water. It felt so wet - so cold - SO REAL.
Remy woke. She was still on the river bank. The sun shone bright in the sky as Remy got her bearings. She wiped a bead of sweat from her brow remembering her dream. It was so vivid that the feeling of the water on her feet still lingered. Wait- her feet were wet! Remy sat up and pulled her feet up to her chest. She rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. The river has risen over night and Remy had awoke to her heels in the water. They had been at least five feet from the water the day before.
The river sounded louder and Remy could see small rapids rolling over the rocks. It must’ve rained hard somewhere upstream - maybe in the mountain somewhere.
Remy surveyed her camp and leapt to her feet when she saw that the water was lapping at the bottom her of medical bag. Her patient slept quietly unaware of the water reaching for the tips of his long hair. Remy would have to move camp. If she could just get them up the embankment they could have the comfort of the grass and the shade from the trees.
It didn’t take her long to find a small clearing sheltered by a circle of young bushes and a couple of large trees. She had brought along the stranger’s bag and sword and set them at the base of a tree. The clearing was about 30 feet from their camp – it would be a difficult move for her patient and she hoped he would be capable of walking.
Remy returned to her patient. His face looked as peaceful as ever and Remy felt a twist in her stomach knowing that he was soon going to wake to a horribly uncomfortable reality. The river had soaked through a corner of her bag. It had risen another inch or so in the last half hour. She didn’t have time to dawdle.
“Hey,” Remy said. She placed a hand on his shoulder and shook lightly. The man didn’t stir. She tried again with more force and this time the man brought his arm up to push away her hand. It was followed by an irritated groan. Remy was surprised to find herself wanting to roll her eyes forgetting for a moment that the man was not in perfect health. She tried again, shaking him enough to cause his head to sway while it rested on her bag.
The man grumbled again and muttered something in a language Remy didn’t recognize. He brought his hand up to push Remy away again. After he successfully pushed her from his shoulder his hand came to rest above his head and his fingers dangled over the back of the medical bag. He had, unfortunately, set his fingers right into the cold water. The startling temperature change caused him to crumple his brow and slowly open his eyes. Remy sat back and watched him bring his wet hand in front of his face to confirm that it was indeed dripping with water. His sleep drunk state began to subside and next she saw his attention shift to his wound.
He lifted his head slightly and dropped his hand to his chest. He pressed in against the wound and let out a soft hiss. She watched him discover that it was bandaged and knew he would soon be looking for his doctor. She cleared her throat politely.
But he didn’t hear her on the account that he had erupted into a disgruntled conversation completely and entirely with himself. Remy could his exasperation in his tone and she felt as though she would be interrupting if she spoke up. It wasn’t until he sat up that he noticed that she was there. She couldn’t help but gasp at his recovered condition – sitting up with such a wound without assistance wasn’t what she was expecting.
He stopped mumbling when his gaze landed on her. His eyes a were dark brown and starred at her unblinkingly. Remy felt heat rise to her cheeks. Something made her look away and she busied herself by collecting her medical bag. She looked back to her patient to find him still staring. This time she could meet his gaze. His face held an analytical intensity that seemed devoid of emotion. Remy wanted to say that she could see hints of confusions but they were elusive and transient only to appear for a heartbeat than to disappear again as soon as she noticed.
She breathed in a greeting but before it could escape her lips the man turned his attention away from her and resumed his disgruntled conversation. She watched him shift to stand and though he seemed to be well down the road to recovery – she anticipated that this wasn’t about to go well.
She was right. The man got to his feet, waivered slightly, and upon his first step he lost stability. Remy had rose with him and moved to catch him. His body felt solid as it fell against her. She had noticed the night before that he was lean but now she confirmed that he had an extremely athletic physic. His waist was slender and Remy could easily reach her arm around it. She slipped herself under his arm and steadied him. She felt his hair tickle her cheek and even slightly hunched he was taller than her – not hard considering Remy was below average height.
She could feel his stare again and turned to see if her aid was unwelcomed. His face held the same expression and just as subtle as the confusion Remy sensed his acceptance. Their faces were inches apart and Remy could feel heat returning to her cheeks again. She looked away and the word ‘unprofessional’ danced in her through her mind.
“Ra-ee-to,” he said. His voice was deep and Remy could feel it rumble through his chest. The infliction suggested it was a ‘thank-you’ of sorts and Remy nodded in acknowledgment.
Remy waited for him to take a step forward but found his free arm shifting around his robe. His head twisted to get a look at the ground. He was searching for something. Remy tugged at his sleeve and pointed to the embankment where his sword that sat leaning against a tree. That was it. He settled onto her and together they made their way to their new camp. After a few heavy steps she found that the man burdened her with his weight less and less. When they reached the edge of the riverbank he let go of her entirely and climbed it without her aid.
He settled beside his things and rested his back against the tree trunk. He sighed audibly and let his head fall back. His eyes closed and Remy was reminded of a cat lounging in the sun. She sat timidly on the ground beside him and desperately wanted to get a look at his wound. She was baffled by his speed of recovery. He was extremely capable for a person with such a severe injury.
They sat in silence and Remy stared at the rushing river. The water had covered their old camp and she realized that she probably could’ve grabbed some coals from the fire. Too late now.
She ran her fingers through her hair nervously and turned back to her patient to find his eyes open and studying her.
He pointed at the bandage on his chest and said some words in his language. Remy assumed it was along the lines of, “was this you?“.
She nodded. She felt a sudden wave of confidence and moved over to him. She reached her hands up to the bandage and paused.
“May I?” she asked knowing that he wouldn’t really understand. But, they have had pretty decent communication until now and she was happy to see that the inflection of her speech was enough to elicit a nod from him.
She pulled back his bandage and her eyebrows raised in disbelief. The cut showed signs of healing that would normally take at least a week to achieve. She saw his hand reach up and tugged at one of the stitches and before she could stop herself she slapped at his hand. He rose his hands in surrender and muttered what sounded like, “bendio, bendio.”
Remy tried to keep her demeanour professional but inside her heart flutter with a bit of shock. It’s a good thing she wasn’t in school - her teachers would’ve kill her for her current bed-side manner. She glanced to see how he took it and found his face still stoic, though rather than it holding the intensity earlier it was relaxed, even bored - but for the corner out his mouth which twitched upward suggesting the smallest of smirks.
Remy focused back to the wound. At this rate the stitches could be removed in a few days time. She replaced the bandage and leaned back. She wanted to give him thumbs up but figured she shouldn’t push her luck. She was impressed thus far that the linguistics held so many similarities already. It unnerved her, however, that his language did not sound like anything she could recognize. But, thankfully he was a person and would be her key to get back to civilization… provided he lived with the rest of civilization.