Back at base camp in the hangar, Selina sat in a chair alone while Nathanael scouted the surrounding terrain for evidence of the ancient road. Her head throbbing painfully while her back felt like it was on fire. She gritted her teeth as she endured the pain, which was slowly subsiding. I told you to be careful, she thought as she sensed that Hannibal was moving. A sigh escaped her lips and she concentrated on trying to strengthen him with her psychic abilities.
“How far is it to town?” Harry asked as Morrison drove through the battlefield.
“The doctor’s house is about three miles from here, just outside of town,” Morrison answered as they topped the hill. “It’s not far.”
Harry legs were completely numb and his torso was extremely cold and tingling. He looked over at Hannibal, who remained out cold, and sighed. I have to get word to Selina and Nathanael about this drastic turn of events, he thought as he became drowsy, finding it hard to stay awake. Within five minutes, he passed out.
Morrison gritted his teeth and struggled to maintain as he drove on, in spite of his wounds. Within forty minutes, he pulled into the back yard of a modest two-story house with a small shed in the back yard just at the edge of town. A tan Chevy Suburban sat next to the shed. His equilibrium fluctuated wildly, making him woozy as he stopped the ATV near the back door. “End of the line, pal,” he said to Harry. When he received no reply, he turned to see Harry unconscious next to Hannibal, who remained comatose. “Great,” he muttered, stumbling off the ATV so he could try to wake him. He gently shook Harry and said, “Wake up, Harry. Wake up!” Harry still didn’t respond. At that, he staggered to the back door and up the stairs, opening the screen door to knock on the door.
As Morrison raised his hand to knock, the door opened revealing a small red-haired Caucasian woman about five foot five with a petite build, wearing a denim dress and a white doctor’s coat with a nametag on it. She gasped in astonishment as Morrison fell through the door into her arms. She caught him and held him up. “What in God’s name happened, Johnny? You look terrible,” she asked as she saw the wounds that smeared blood on her doctor’s coat.
“I made it,” Morrison wheezed. “Arabella…I need your help. I have two foreigners out here who need medical treatment immediately. They got caught in my ambush by accident.”
“Really…they aren’t the only ones,” Arabella retorted. “If you keep messing with the General, you’re going to get yourself killed. It looks like you almost did this time.”
“It’s my fault,” Morrison returned weakly. “I didn’t know they weren’t part of the General’s troops. You have to help them.”
Arabella shook her head sympathetically. “All right,” she replied. “You sit here while I take a look.” She sat him down on the steps, went out to the ATV, and saw Hannibal tied to the stretcher, out cold with blood oozing from the side of his head. Harry lay next to him…unconscious with an obvious bluish tint to his face and hands. She immediately checked Hannibal’s pulse and breathing. His pulse was slow, but steady; however, his breathing was shallow and wheezing from the wounds he had received on his back and head.
Arabella then checked Harry and found his pulse slowing and his breathing very shallow. His complexion turned almost ashen and blue. Wet mud completely coated him from head to foot. She checked him for any wounds and found no apparent injuries other than the severe hypothermia he was suffering. “Johnny…we need to warm him up and quick!” she called out to Morrison. “Can you give me a hand?”
Morrison slowly rose from the steps and staggered across the yard. About half way to the ATV, he passed out, falling face first to the ground. Arabella sprinted to him and turned him over. “Oh, Johnny…why do you have to get yourself into so much trouble?” she muttered. “I have three gravely injured guys here and I’m not big enough to move any of them by myself. I have to get some help.” She quickly rose and ran into the house, heading toward the phone. As she reached the phone in the front hall, there was a knock at the door. She rushed by the phone, looking out the side window to see who it was, before throwing the door open with a relieve look. On the porch stood a moderate-sized Latino man about five foot six. “Boy! Am I glad you’re here!” she exclaimed. “I really need your help. Follow me.”
“What’s going on, Arabella?” the man asked with a puzzled look on his face.
“I have three gravely wounded guys in the back yard, Peter,” Arabella answered as she led him through the house. “Johnny has gotten himself into trouble again; big trouble. I need some help to bring them in and treat them.”
“John still hasn’t learned to stay away from the General’s men,” Peter answered as Arabella led him into the back yard. Morrison lay unconscious on the ground and two other men Peter did not recognize lay unconscious on the stretcher. He cursed in Spanish and said, “He’s really done it this time.”
Arabella went to Harry first and ordered, “We need to deal with him first. He needs to be warmed up right now. He’s in shock from severe hypothermia. Let’s get him into the bathroom and put him in the tub.” Peter grabbed Harry around the chest and picked him up. Arabella grabbed Harry’s feet and they began to move him to the house.
“Man…this guy is really dirty. It looks like he’s been swimming in the mud,” Peter commented as they went into the house. A few moments later in the bathroom, they stripped Harry to his long underwear and T-shirt and propped him up in the bathtub.
Arabella began to run some lukewarm water in the tub. “Can you bring Johnny into the examination room?” she asked Peter. Peter nodded and went to fetch Morrison after quickly cleaning the mud off his clothes. Arabella took a cup and filled it with some water as the tub filled, slowly pouring it on Harry’s head and face. She did that several times, and then stopped as she cut the water off. “Don’t worry, honey,” she said softly. “I’ll be right back.”
Arabella rose, quickly washed her hands and arms off in the sink, and then sprinted to the examination room, where Peter had just deposited Morrison. The small room came equipped with all manner of medical equipment. Two examination tables sat in the middle of the room. She quickly examined Morrison, checking his pulse. “Let’s get the other guy and put him on the other table,” she ordered, leaving the room, heading out to the ATV. Peter followed and a few moments later, they returned with Hannibal, placing him on the other table.
Arabella examined Hannibal as he lay on the table on his back. She cut his shirt off with a scalpel and examined his chest. “Oh, my god,” she gasped with astonishment, seeing the numerous claw and bite scars all over his chest. “Who is this man?”
“I don’t know,” Peter replied. “But he’s really been through the grinder.”
Getting over the initial shock of the scars he sported, Arabella noticed that Hannibal showed extensive bruising on one side of his chest. She gently probed the ribs with her hand and announced, “He’s broken some ribs. Let’s turn him over and check his back. Be careful…we don’t want to make his condition worse.” Peter helped Arabella gently roll him over. He removed the shirt, revealing many more scars and a half a dozen shrapnel wounds. She quickly examined the shredded back. “It’s not bad,” Arabella declared. “He’s got some shrapnel embedded here. Peter, can you clean it up while I deal with Johnny?”
“Sure,” Peter said as he washed up, donning surgical gloves, a mask, and scrubs. He retrieve some forceps, tweezers, gauze, and cotton balls and went to work cleaning the shrapnel out of Hannibal’s back.
Arabella washed up too, exchanging her dirty bloody doctor’s coat for scrubs, surgical gloves, and a mask. She went to Morrison and proceeded to work on him, probing the wounds for bullets and other foreign matter. “Johnny got lucky again,” she commented. “Nothing vital was hit.”
“Same here with this guy,” Peter replied as he continued to clean Hannibal’s wounds. They worked on the two for nearly two hours while Harry lay virtually comatose in the tub. The warm water slowly brought Harry’s body temperature back up and the fog of unconsciousness gradually began to lift.
Meanwhile back at the airfield, Selina laid her tent crying in intense pain. Each time Peter probed and cleaned the shrapnel wounds, she felt it as if she was there on the table having it performed on her. She cringed and cried out in excruciating pain, rolling around in the tent, fully aware of what was going on, and that it was a necessity. Nathanael came in from his search and heard Selina screaming in pain. He rushed to her in the tent, seeing her writhing in agony. “What’s happening?” he asked in a very concerned manner, gathering her into his arms.
“They’ve found a doctor and he’s cleaning and removing pieces of the grenade from Hannibal’s back,” she wept between the surges of pain. Just then, a fresh wave swept over her and she bawled in utter anguish.
“This is no good,” Nathanael said. “You’re being tortured by this. There has to be something I can do to relieve it. It’s killing you.”
She clung to his arms as she writhed in torment. The pain subsided to a tolerable level for a moment and she managed to get out, “It has to be done, dad. The wounds have to be cleaned. This pain is all in my mind. I can’t escape it.” She then shrieked and howled in anguish as Nathanael held her in his arms, powerless to do anything. Selina sank her claws in his arms as she gripped them tightly through the pain, drawing blood. Nathanael gritted his teeth when she did it and sighed in relief when she let go. “Please dad, knock me out!” she begged. “I can’t take any more! Do it now! Knock me out!”
Tears welled up in his eyes. “Very well,” Nathanael replied with tears in his eyes. “This will only last a moment.” He pressed on a special pressure point in Selina’s neck and her eyes rolled back in her head as she fell unconscious in seconds. Her bawling stopped, but the pain she endured remained etched on her face. Nathanael embraced her and prayed, “Oh, my Lord. You see the terrible agony and pain my daughter is enduring. I’m powerless to do anything beyond knocking her out. But even unconscious she feels the pain. I can see it. She cannot stand much more of this, Lord. The link between her and Hannibal has her feeling everything he does. Please, do something to relieve her suffering. I beg of you, do not abandon her in this hell. Oh, Jesus, Lord of all that is, please be merciful and sever the link that allows her to feel this pain or just dull it to a tolerable level. Please do something, Lord Jesus.” He wept for her pain as she continued to writhe in her unconscious state, moaning. “Help them please. Only you can perform this miracle. Father, have mercy in Jesus name,” he pleaded.
Suddenly, a peace flooded Nathanael’s soul. He instantly noticed Selina’s moans had subsided and she slowly stopped writhing in his lap. Nathanael looked down at her, weeping both for her pain and for joy that his prayer had been heard and answered so quickly. He ventured a brief touch telepathically with her and immediately found the part of the link between her and Hannibal that caused the pain had not been severed, but dramatically diminished. He felt that she was still receiving pain from Hannibal, but that it no longer was so overwhelming and tormenting. Tears of relief streamed down his face as he hugged his daughter tightly. “Thank you, Lord. Thank you,” he said softly as he gently lay her down and covered her up. “Sleep, my precious daughter; you’ve earned it,” he said, sitting there weeping and pondering what he had just seen while holding pressure on his arm where Selina had clawed him to stem the bleeding.
In the examination room at Arabella’s house, Peter continued to clean and dress Hannibal’s wounds. Arabella finished with Morrison before Peter finished with Hannibal, so she went to check on Harry in the bathroom still wearing her scrubs. Kneeling down by the tub, she checked his pulse, finding it stronger and his breathing more regular. She checked his eyes and looked at his complexion. His eyes were still dilated, but his complexion looked much better and not so ashen and blue as it was when he was first brought in. Testing the water finding it cold, she pulled the plug and let some of the muddy water out of the tub. Arabella then refilled the tub with water much hotter than she had done at first. As the water slowly rose in the tub, she examined Harry’s hand to see how cold it was. Gently putting Harry’s hand down in the hot water, Arabella turned the water off after it filled the tub. She patted him on the shoulder with a gratified smile and proceeded to leave the room. As she walked through the door, Arabella heard a splash and turned around to see Harry sitting up with his arm hanging out of the tub. He rubbed his face and wondered why he was in a bathtub dressed only in his long underwear. Arabella darted back to the tub and dropped to her knees. “Are you all right?” she asked.
Harry slowly looked around, finally looking her in the face. “Where am I?” he asked slowly.
“You’re in my house,” Arabella answered. “It’s the clinic for this town for those who can’t afford the hospital. Johnny brought you here. You’re suffering from severe hypothermia. Had you not been brought here when you were, you’d be dead.”
“Who’re you?” he asked, finally noticing Arabella’s scrubs.
“My name is Arabella Bishop. I’m a doctor. John Morrison is a friend of mine,” she replied. “What’s your name?”
“Harry,” Harry replied softly as he sat there for a moment digesting what he heard. Suddenly, he realized that Hannibal wasn’t around. “Hannibal! Where’s Hannibal! He’s seriously wounded!” he exclaimed weakly, trying to get up. His legs refused to support him and he slipped, sloshing back down in the tub, sending water out on the floor.
Arabella quickly dodged the water and squatted back down by the tub. “Calm down, Harry,” she cooed. “Your friend is going to be all right. We’re cleaning and dressing his wounds right now. He’s very lucky the shrapnel didn’t hit anything vital. Right now, I’m more concerned about you. How are you feeling? I just noticed that your legs don’t seem to be working properly. Do you have any feeling in them?”
Harry shook his head no. “I still can’t feel my legs,” he stated. “It’s like they’ve gone to sleep. My arms are not much better. I can barely feel them. My core feels like ice and I’ve also got this terrible blistering headache.”
“I have something I can give you for the headache,” Arabella reported, “however; your arms and legs are going to have to come back of their own accord. If I may make a suggestion, you’re still suffering from hypothermia. You’re core still hasn’t warmed up sufficiently. You need to continue to bring your core and limb temperatures back up gradually. If the cold blood in your extremities reaches your heart or brain before it’s warmed sufficiently, it could kill you. The cold blood could cause a heart attack, stroke, or aneurism if it reaches those areas so just keep calm and stay in the tub. A spike in your blood pressure right now would be a very bad thing. Gradually warm the water over time by adding more and more hot water. Eventually, your body and blood will warm back up to a safe range and you may regain feeling and strength in your arms and legs. I’ll bring you some painkillers for the headache. Just relax.”
Arabella rose to leave and Harry called out, “Wait. We have some colleagues out at the airfield that are waiting for us to check in. You say Hannibal is here?” She nodded and he said, “Check his belt. There is a small pouch on it with a walkie-talkie on it. Could you bring it to me so I can tell our people what has happened?”
“Sure,” Arabella answered. “I’ll be right back.” Harry nodded as she left the room. She returned to the examination room and saw that Peter had finished cleaning the shrapnel wounds and he was applying antibiotic ointment in the form of aloe gel infused with colloidal silver. He dabbed the wounds with the ointment as she found the communicator on his belt, removing it from its pouch.
“What’re you doing with that?” Peter asked as she looked at the strange communicator.
“This is one strange-looking walkie-talkie. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one like this before,” Arabella said. “The guy in the tub just woke up and asked for it. Apparently, they have some friends up at the airfield waiting for them to check in.” She then went to the medicine cabinet and got some high-powered painkillers. “I’ll be back in a minute to help you wrap that,” she added as she walked out of the room. “I wonder what they’re doing up there? The General doesn’t allow anyone except his elite troops at the airfield.”
Arabella puzzled over it as she reentered the bathroom to see Harry using the water to wash the mud off his face. She sat the communicator on the sink, got a small cup from the cup holder at the sink, filling it with water. She approached Harry and handed three pills and the cup of water to him. “Here you are,” she said. “This’ll help with the headache. They’re high-powered ibuprofen. What you need to do now is endeavor to warm up your arms and legs while bringing your core temperature back up.”
Harry nodded and clumsily took the pills, handing the cup back to her afterwards. “Where’s the walkie-talkie?” he asked.
Arabella went to the sink, retrieving it and a towel. She first handed the towel to Harry so he could dry his hands. “Your friend is called Hannibal?” she asked.
“Yes...He’s Hannibal Smith and I’m Harry Clint. Both of us were originally from America,” he answered formally as he first handed the towel to her, and then took the communicator.
“I need to help Peter wrap your friend’s wounds. If you need anything, just holler. We’re just across the hall,” she said as she sat a chair next to the tub with a washcloth, soap and a towel on it.
“I will,” Harry answered as she walked out of the room. “And thanks for helping. We would be dead men hadn’t it been for you.”
“You’re welcome,” Arabella replied as she walked out of the room.
Harry opened the communicator and said into the device, “Base camp…Base camp, are you there?”
A few seconds passed and Nathanael’s voice came back clearly, “Good of you to join us, Harry. What in the world is going on? Why haven’t you checked in before now?” Harry then informed Nathanael what had occurred since they had left the hangar. “Well. That explains a lot. Selina knew Hannibal had been injured and actually manifested the pain he was feeling,” Nathanael replied.
“You’re kidding!” Harry replied in amazement.
“I wish I were,” Nathanael answered. “She was in absolute mortal agony until I rendered her unconscious at her request.” He then proceeded to tell him what he had encountered upon coming in from searching for the road.
“Holy cow…is she all right?” Harry asked.
“Yeah,” Nathanael replied. “I think things will be all right now. Shall we come to you?”
“No, I don’t think so yet,” Harry said. “We’re relative safe where we are now. We need to find out some more about what’s going on here first. But be on your guard though. If soldiers show up at the base camp, take to the woods. Don’t get caught. The supplies can be replaced, you can’t. We’ll come get you once we find out exactly what is going on here. We’ve apparently landed in the middle of a civil war or something. Just keep an ear to the ground. We’ll be in touch.”
“Okay,” Nathanael replied. “We’ll hold the fort here and wait for your signal.”
“Good,” Harry said, “Over and out.” He snapped the communicator shut and sighed. The painkillers he took began to work, making him a bit sleepy as the headache ebbed away. He sat the communicator on the chair and leaned back in the tub, submerging his chest. He worked his fingers to restore their flexibility. A few minutes later, he prodded his legs with his fingers and felt absolutely nothing. “Drat,” he hissed wearily. “When are my legs going to wake up and when is my core going to stop feeling like an icebox?” The pain in his head subsided further, allowing him to relax a bit. Within twenty minutes, his legs began tingling and his core warmed significantly, bringing a slight grin to Harry’s lips.
In the examination room, Arabella and Peter wrapped Hannibal’s chest and back, and then cleaned his head wound, which had ceased to ooze. They dressed it and then let him lay on the table as they cleaned up. The pair then carried Morrison into the next room where a couple of beds waited. After depositing him on the bed and covering him with a blanket, they returned to the examination room and did the same with Hannibal, laying him in the other bed. Arabella pulled the blanket up to Hannibal’s chin and sighed, happy with their work.
“Good job, Peter,” Arabella congratulated as she took off her scrubs.
“You too, Doctor,” Peter replied, removing his scrubs and putting them in the used scrubs container while Arabella dropped hers in the hamper. “They wouldn’t have survived without your expertise.”
“I’m aware of that,” Arabella answered, walking back into the examination room with Peter. “But you underestimate your contribution. I couldn’t have done it without you, Peter.” She sighed deeply, adding, “Johnny has to stop messing with the General. He’s going to end up dead if he keeps poking that snake.”
“I agree,” Peter agreed as they cleaned up the tools and tables, disposing of used gauze, cotton balls, and bandages. “Gulez is going to go ballistic when he finds out what Johnny has done this time.”
“I’m sure of that,” Arabella answered. “Every time the General goes off, people disappear. Let’s hope he doesn’t look this way.”
“Amen to that,” Peter said wholeheartedly.
“Don’t say anything to anyone about what has happened here this afternoon. It could lethal to us all,” Arabella warned.
“Don’t worry, Arabella. I’d never rat on you or Johnny. Besides, if I did, Gulez would have my head on a plate right next to yours,” Peter assured. “I do plan on living a bit longer myself.”
“I heard that,” Arabella replied as they finished cleaning up and putting the surgical tools in the sterilizer. “Go on home. I believe I can manage now. If I need any more help, I’ll call.”
“All right…I’ll see you tomorrow then,” Peter said as he started for the door. “Stay safe.”
“You too,” Arabella replied as Peter walked out of the examination room and out of the house. She plopped herself on the examination table and sighed as she laid down on it. I wonder who these strangers really are, she thought. Weariness brought on by the intensity of the work she had just completed showed on her face. She closed her eyes and began to drift off to sleep when a noise jarred her to her senses. Sitting up, Arabella looked around for the source of the noise. The sound repeated itself and she realized that it came from the bathroom. Harry, she thought. I forgot all about him. She promptly went into the house, finding some extra clothes for him to wear before heading to the bathroom. She entered the bathroom and saw Harry lying in the tub, snoring. She sat the clothes she had on the hamper and went to the tub, checking the water. It was getting cold again so she let some of the water out and put more hot water in it. She looked at his complexion and checked his pulse. Both were nearly normal. “You’re one lucky man, just like your friend,” she whispered, turning the water on and making it hotter than the last time. The water splashed and gurgled as it filled the tub, waking Harry. He yawned and saw Arabella at the faucet.
“Dag gone, I must have fallen asleep,” Harry said.
Arabella looked around at him and asked, “How’s the headache?”
“It seems that those pills worked,” Harry replied, yawning. “It’s gone for the moment.”
“How about your legs…are you getting any feeling back yet?” Arabella asked.
Harry noticed that his legs were tingling as the hot water rose in the tub. “I think so. They’re tingling. It’s feeling like I’m being pricked by a million needles,” Harry stated. “And my core is feeling almost normal now.”
“Good,” Arabella said with satisfaction. “There should be no permanent damage then. When your legs stop tingling and start to feel normal, you should be able to walk on them. I brought you some clothes. I’ll take these muddy ones and try to clean them.”
“Thank you,” Harry replied gratefully. “How’s Hannibal?”
Arabella turned the water off and said, “He’s resting comfortably. But he did have some nasty lacerations from the shrapnel, some of which we had to remove. He also has several broken ribs and a moderate concussion. But other than that, he’s all right. It could have been much, much worse. It looks like the Lord was watching out for you two today.”
Harry’s eyebrow rose. “You’re a Christian?” he asked cautiously.
Arabella nodded. “Yes,” she replied warily, “however, this area isn’t the nicest place to be a Christian. There’s a persecution going on here because of the civil war. The General that runs this area is a tried and true atheist. He destroys anything that even smells of God, so we have to be very careful who we talk to.”
Harry shook his head knowingly. “I know all too well what you’re saying,” Harry replied. “We’re Christians too…me, Hannibal, and our colleagues at the airfield. It’s nice to run into real brothers and sisters in the faith when you travel.”
“That’s true,” Arabella said. “I’ll leave you alone for now. Are you hungry? I can fix you something if you want.”
“Thank you,” Harry answered, smiling warmly. “That would be great.”
“I’ll be in the kitchen. It’s just down the hall to the left,” Arabella said as she walked out of the room.
Harry marveled at the providence of their meeting. The Lord really works in mysterious ways, he thought.
At the hangar, Nathanael sat in the tent with Selina, watching over her as he ate a modest portion for dinner. He had the perimeter activated earlier before making dinner. Looking at his daughter with the love of a parent, he sighed deeply. She lay deep asleep from exhaustion. The signs of pain and agony that he had seen earlier were gone. He smiled slightly as he finished eating. Setting his dinnerware aside, he retrieved Hannibal’s communicator and made a progress report to Dan before taking the dishes out of the tent and cleaning them. After washing the dishes, Nathanael returning to the tent where he laid down next to his daughter in his own sleeping bag. Slowly, he drifted off to sleep.