Hostile Ch. 04byNehkara©
That night and the next morning I examined in my mind the conversation I had had with the beautiful young Alie. She had obviously been very frightened throughout despite her much more advantageous position. However, she HAD given me terms on which I could return and speak with her again. So that was something at least. Her comments seemed a little strange. She seemed to believe that simply because I was a man I would hurt her.
Early in the morning I finally decided to stop turning the events over in my mind and take her up on her carefully worded allowance of another conversation.
I quickly ate my standard breakfast of water and a survival ration-bar. I was only a few days into being stranded and the rations were already starting to grate on me.
After breakfast I began the hour long walk to Alie's camp.
When I arrived in the clearing across the river from her camp, I couldn't see any sign of Alie. There were a few wisps of smoke rising from the fire pit indicating that there had been a fire there in the past few hours but it looked as though she was not present.
"Alie?" I called out to see if she was perhaps nearby or in her dwelling. I called her name a few more times but when it was clear that she was not around I just laid back in the grass to relax, awaiting her return.
Alie woke early in the morning feeling unsettled. Her thoughts were chaotic and that was an unfamiliar sensation. Living alone for so many years she rarely felt strongly conflicted about anything. Now she did. Part of her desperately wanted to trust the man but that part was losing a fierce war with the rest of her being that insisted he was a threat.
She knew that she needed to sort out her thoughts before he came back wanting to talk. She silently berated herself for even giving him terms by which he COULD speak with her again. It had been a moment of weakness.
After starting a small fire and preparing a quick breakfast she decided to go hunting for the morning, it was an activity she loved and it always seemed to calm and focus her.
She collected her bow from the hut and took off at a bit of a jog towards the pool and waterfall.
Alie knew she didn't need a large animal as she had just finished cutting and smoking the deer meat the day before. With this in mind she decided to hunt Gebins. Unlike the deer they did not look much like any animal her mother knew of from Earth or the colonies so they had come up with a name for the creatures.
Gebins are fairly small animals, about 15 lbs, with blue fur covering their entire bodies. They possess six extremities, the hind four used for walking and running and the front two for grasping or walking. They eat plants and have only one eye with a small forking antler above it. Their mouth and teeth are similar to that of the beaver on earth as they eat very fibrous plants and even trees on occasion.
For Alie a Gebin is a treat, her favourite food.
She had seen some in the area north of the pool and waterfall so that was her destination this morning.
She walked briskly and after a short time she was standing on the shore of the pool. Her gaze focused on the beautiful waterfall and she smiled, this was truly her favourite place. She shivered slightly as the mist from the falls cooled her skin, prompting her to move along.
Alie walked carefully but quickly around one side of the pool where a break in the brush was visible, as was a steep path that led to the top of the cliff and the forest beyond.
Her climb to the top of the cliff was uneventful and she soon began stalking quietly through the woods, keeping her eyes alert for any sign of her prey.
She kept an arrow nocked as she crept along, as ready for the sudden appearance of a Gebin as she could be.
Alie spotted a flash of blue disappear into a tangle of thick brush just ahead of her and she stealthily stalked around to the other side of the small animal's hiding place, looking for an opening in the bushes to shoot through.
As she rounded the bushes they parted just slightly and she could see the Gebin crouching, munching on the tough branches of the brush that had concealed it. Alie drew her longbow with practiced ease and let fly an arrow that downed the small animal after it leaped once to try and escape the sudden pain in its side.
Alie noted that the animal had already died by the time she walked up to it. She leaned her bow up against a tree just outside the bushes and drew her knife from a sheath attached to her belt, beginning the process of gutting the Gebin. She did not get far in her task.
The young woman heard a soft footstep nearby and her head snapped up to stare into the eyes of a Jungle Lion no more than 10 yards away. Its four long fangs hung from its upper jaw and glinted in the sun. The Lion obviously was regarding Alie as a nuisance. He wanted the Gebin and she was in his way.
Alie quickly realized to her horror that her bow was out of reach and all she had to protect herself was her knife!
She reacted instantly in a moment of panic and broke into a full-out sprint, directly away from the Lion.
The Jungle Lion's instincts kicked into high gear, it felt an irresistible need to chase the fleeing woman.
Alie chanced a glance backward and her heart hammered fiercely in her chest as she saw the predator leap after her and begin the chase. Unfortunately for Alie she was nowhere near fast enough to get away.
Just ahead through the trees Alie saw the rushing river. She knew that the Jungle Lions were not partial to water and if she could just get across the river perhaps she would be safe. She was running all out, jumping over fallen trees and dodging through sparse undergrowth.
She almost made it.
As she took her first long stride into the river the lion leaped through the air, bringing its long claws down on her upper thigh and raking them towards her knee.
Alie let out a piercing scream as her whole body was wracked with unbearable pain and she collapsed into the river, her head striking a partially submerged rock.
The lion paced briefly along the shore, letting out a deafening roar before turning to go back to its stolen meal.
Alie blinked her eyes open and then pulled her head from the rushing river. She coughed loudly to clear some water from her lungs and tried to swim but her leg wouldn't move without excruciating pain. She was confused and disoriented, her vision blurred. She shook her head several times trying to clear her vision but once she did, all she felt was a deep foreboding for a moment and then the sickening sensation of falling, water all around her. She was carried over the waterfall.
As she fell towards the pool she had the presence of mind to point her toes, although even this hurt intensely, and she entered the water of the pool with enough grace as to avoid major injury from the fall. Alie was carried deep under water by undertow from the falls and she felt a pain in her side as her body scraped along the rocks at the bottom of the pool.
Horrible thoughts went through her confused and disoriented mind, 'So this is my death... alone in my favourite place. Perhaps it is for the best, I can't be lonely anymore if I'm dead, right?' She felt the strength pouring out of her through the deep gashes in her left thigh and cut along her forehead. 'It would be so easy to just give up,' she thought briefly.
Finally out of the depths of her mind came her instinct and desire to fight for her life.
Despite the deep ache in her head, her blood loss, and her lungs which felt like they were about to explode she found the last sliver of strength left in her and used it to fight.
'I will NOT die, not like this. Not here. Not now.'
She kicked her uninjured leg and began pulling herself towards the surface with her arms. Before she could get to the surface, her body demanded she take a breath and, not thinking clearly, she gave in. One short breath underwater caused water to flood into her lungs.
As she broke the surface Alie was coughing incessantly, water spurting from her mouth as she desperately tried to draw in air and displace the water. The spasms of coughing wracked her body violently.
As her coughing slowed slightly she realized she was nearly at the shore. With all the willpower she had left, Alie crawled up onto the sandy beach and before she could even get her whole body out of the water, her vision went black and she collapsed. The pain, exhaustion, head injury, and blood loss would not allow her to go any further.
I blinked my eyes open. I must have fallen asleep. Where am I?
After a few moments I realized I had dozed off while waiting for Alie to return to her camp so I could speak with her. When I glanced at the sun I realized it had been several hours since I arrived. I also noted I was covered in sweat, it was a very warm day.
I glanced around and it still did not seem that she was nearby.
"ALIE?" I called loudly, hoping she was just out of sight but once again there was no response.
After several long minutes of fighting with myself I decided to break Alie's rules and cross the river to explore her camp briefly, to see if she was hiding in her hut or if there was some evidence of where she had gone.
A quick look inside her shelter indicated that neither she nor her bow were there.
'Hunting. She has gone hunting,' I thought to myself, slightly irritated that she had not stayed in camp this morning since I had mentioned I would be returning.
Since there was no telling when she would arrive back at her camp I decided to take a walk up to the beautiful pool where I had watched Alie the day before, and take a swim.
For a few moments I stood, simply daydreaming about the memory of her amazing body emerging from the water of the pool. As my pants started to tighten, my erection painfully contained, I shook my head to dispel thoughts of Alie's beauty. I set off for the pool at a slow place, enjoying the beautiful day. When I arrived at the idyllic pool my heart dropped like an anvil.
I saw Alie. Her beautiful red hair splayed all around her head. She lay face down in the sand, blood covering her face and staining the sand from an open wound on her forehead. As my eyes, open wide with horror and sadness, moved down her body I saw angry red scrapes along her right side and deep cuts from her left hip down to her knee, blood still trickling from the wounds. A pool of blood surrounded her left thigh and her feet, still in the pool, were surrounded by a cloud of blood-tinged water.
I rushed over to her and carefully rolled the young woman onto her back. I noted that whatever ordeal she had gone through had shredded her clothes and they hung off of her in tatters. I quickly removed them and watched her carefully. I leaned in, putting my ear to her mouth and gazing down the length of her body. I heard faint breathing and saw her chest rise slightly so I knew she was still alive, for now at least. I quickly checked her pulse and it was rapid but weak.
My first thought was to take her back to her camp but I quickly disposed of that idea when I remembered all the medical supplies I had back at my tent.
I very carefully lifted her off the sand into my arms, holding her securely against my chest with one arm under her knees and the other under her shoulders. In order to try and stop the bleeding I pressed her lacerated left thigh to my body as tightly as I could. I could feel her shivering in my arms, her skin clammy and unusually pale. Looking down at her with sadness gripping my heart, I leaned in and kissed her on the forehead away from her cut and whispered, "Alie, I will take care of you. Just hold on for me. Please hold on."
As I began quickly walking away from the pool towards her camp and the path to the lake, I noticed drops of water collecting on her abdomen. I looked up into the cloudless sky, confused, before I realized there were tears pouring down my face and splashing onto the woman in my arms.
Pure adrenaline was overriding my ability to process my thoughts and emotions... all I knew was that I needed to get Alie to my camp. I had to. In this moment it felt more important than anything else I had ever done.
I arrived at the path to the lake and quickly turned onto it. I walked fast, deftly avoiding the many obstacles the young woman had placed across the trail.
The most difficult challenge was the rock wall she had constructed. I very carefully climbed up and over it but it felt like it took far too long.
I glanced worriedly down at the beautiful, broken woman in my arms every few moments as I hurried to my tent. She was still breathing but her condition looked to be getting worse by the minute. I arrived at the lake and hurried as fast as my legs would carry me, around to the other side and my small camp.
When I arrived at my tent I carefully laid her on my bed and examined her again. She was holding on for the time being but her condition seemed poor. Her breathing was still shallow and her heart rate accelerated.
To keep her warm and hopefully quell her shivering I wrapped the blankets around her and then retrieved all the rest of the blankets I could find in my supplies and wrapped her up in them as well.
I quickly retrieved the medical case and opened it. I pulled out a box-shaped device and set it near her head. I pressed the button on top and the Medical Status Monitor or MSM whirred to life. It unfolded into a series of scanners and screens and immediately began assessing Alie.
Her blood pressure was low, heart rate high and respiration rate low. The display told me that her blood volume had decreased roughly 35%. I knew now that I had to give her blood.
Thankfully blood-typing was a problem of the past. One side of the MSM had a compartment where you could deposit donor blood and it would prepare the blood for transfusion into the patient using information gathered by its scanners.
Unlike injections of medication, the method for collecting blood had remained the same for hundreds of years. Thankfully I had an interest in medicine and during my long months in my shuttle I read a lot about the subject.
I found that inserting an IV line into your arm was not the same as reading about it. After several painful missed attempts with the needle, I hit the vein in my arm and secured the line in place with a strap. I connected the other end of the IV line to the blood preparation compartment in the MSM and over the course of the next minute or so the machine withdrew a unit of blood from my arm.
I disconnected the IV from my arm and carefully placed a fresh IV line into Alie's arm after freeing it from the blanket. I successfully got access to her vein on the first attempt which momentarily made me proud as I knew that it was always more difficult to put in an IV on someone who has lost blood. By the time I attached the IV line to it, the machine's display indicated it was ready begin transfusion. As I hooked it up I watched my blood flow down the tubing and into her body.
I sat back and stared at the monitors. I watched her blood volume climb along with her blood pressure, and her heart rate slowed. I knew she was stabilizing and as I gazed down at her I saw some colour return to her skin.
I finally breathed a sigh of relief and began shaking, the sheer amount of effort expended over the past hour coming back to hit me as the adrenaline-fueled high faded from my body. Tears once again rolled down my cheeks as I stared at the gorgeous and horribly injured woman laying in my bed.
After several minutes I was able to collect myself and went back to work. She needed a lot of care before I could relax again. I used bottled water and a soft cloth to slowly and meticulously clean her wounds and clean the blood off of her body. I took great care in my work, subconsciously examining wounds, her body, and her features.
Once the wounds were cleaned with water I used an antiseptic to further cleanse them and applied bandages. The blood transfusion was now complete and I inserted a bag of saline into the machine. It quickly scanned the bag and determined the proper rate before slowly beginning the infusion through her IV.
I was still concerned about her breathing which had only marginally improved. I decided to keep an eye on it and hopefully with time it would get better.
Her last bit of treatment for the night were doses of antibiotics, pain medication, and a sedative to allow her to rest.
It was early evening but I was completely and utterly exhausted. The emotional turmoil of the day combined with the physical exertion of carrying Alie had taken its toll. I briefly considered sleeping on the ground but Alie's skin was still fairly cold and I just felt a deep-seated need to be close to her.
I undressed and climbed into the bed, carefully rolling her onto her right side, and cuddled up behind her, gasping as I felt her chilled skin press against mine. My body was much larger than Alie's and I did my best to cover as much of her as I could, hoping to warm her with my body heat. Finally, I wrapped my arms around her, careful to avoid her IV, and quickly drifted off to sleep.
Due to my exhaustion I had not even given a single thought to how Alie might react if she woke before I did.