Hostile Ch. 05byNehkara©
Pain. All-consuming pain. That was all Alie could feel as she opened her eyes. Her whole body hurt and she was so overcome by it that she couldn't even make more noise than a whimper. She then began coughing violently as she realized there was a heaviness in her chest.
It took several minutes before she collected herself and realized her surroundings were unfamiliar. Then she felt something... NO... someONE pressing up against her back, including an insistent poking at her behind. She couldn't remember anything after leaving her camp to go hunting and she was suddenly terrified.
'Oh no... Jake kidnapped me. He hurt me! No... no!' Alie quickly entered a state of total panic as she realized her situation. Ignoring the IV hooked up to her arm, adrenaline rushed through her body and she jumped up and off the bed, tearing the IV out.
Alie's escape attempt did not get far. She tried to take a step on her left leg and excruciating pain wracked her body as she collapsed to the floor of Jake's tent. As she lay on the floor another wave of uncontrollable coughing shook her and she was left breathless, whimpering once more.
Jake, now awake from her attempted escape, got up and walked quickly around to the end of the bed. He knelt down beside her with a sad smile on his face and asked, "Are you okay Alie?"
"No," She began shouting in anger, "You kidnapped me! You hurt me somehow... just like I knew you would! Let me go!"
Alie could see that each of her accusations seemed to strike him just as if she had slapped him across the face. Her mind was too occupied with intense pain to understand the meaning of this, however.
Jake recoiled from her slightly and replied, "No Alie. I would never do that! Now, I am willing to tell you what I know about what happened but you have to promise me you will not try to leave the tent. Not right now, you are too badly hurt."
Alie reluctantly nodded and he easily lifted her into his arms before placing her back on the bed, wrapping her up in the blankets once more and, for the moment, leaving the IV disconnected.
Alie didn't know what to think. She was in such pain and she felt confused. After a few moments contemplation she decided that, for the moment, she would have to go along. More coughing spasms rocked her small body and she resigned herself to being stuck here with him for a time, even though she still believed he had been the one to cause these awful injuries.
Alie's silence prompted Jake to continue, "I found you on the shore of the pool with the waterfall and brought you back to my camp because I have medical supplies here. I am sorry you don't seem to remember what happened but I am only trying to help you. I couldn't leave you to die."
Jake's tone was a strange combination of hope that she would believe him and stern finality. Alie lowered her head and whispered haltingly, "I am not sure I can believe you but... but it is obvious to me that I can't deal with this on my own. I... I need... your help. So if you are as well-intentioned as you claim I will judge on your actions, Jake."
Alie began to feel uncomfortable and she rolled her eyes a bit at the inconvenience. She needed to relieve herself and knew she couldn't even come close to doing it on her own. Alie looked at him and said quietly, "Uh... I guess you can start now. I need help up so I can... go pee." She remembered the phrase she used years ago when talking to her mother.
Jake seemed to ponder the problem momentarily. He then produced a few white squares from the storage area and lifted her into his arms. It was painful but he was gentle. He walked them outside and then set her down carefully so she was sitting on the large log beside the fire pit. He helped her so she was sitting just on the edge and hovered nearby protectively as she emptied her bladder onto the sandy beach. When she was done he handed her the flimsy white squares and she quickly guessed their use and once she was finished with them she tossed them into the fire pit.
Jake then lifted her back into his arms, again with utmost care, and returned her to the bed in the tent, safe under a pile of blankets.
Alie had watched Jake very closely the whole time, she couldn't explain what she was looking for but she was intensely curious about the man even though that was tainted by her fear and mistrust of him. She also managed to note some of what she assumed were features of men. Between his legs was an organ she certainly did not possess or recognize but gazing at it gave her the faintest of twinges deep inside, even despite her poor condition. She also noted he was much hairier than her. His face, arms, legs, and chest all seemed to have much more hair.
Unfortunately even her curiosity couldn't keep her focus on him for long once she lay back in the tent. The pain she was feeling caused her eyes to flutter closed just as she broke down into another coughing fit. When it passed she gave another soft whimper and relaxed, exhausted.
She was very thankful when Jake gave her something to relieve her pain and let her rest.
I was worried. The MSM told me Alie was now running a high fever. Her escape attempt had been almost 12 hours ago and she had not been coherent long enough for another conversation. She was conscious fairly regularly but feverish and very weak.
I had suspected the problem and did a thorough scan of her lungs using the MSM. It reported that she was developing pneumonia even despite the antibiotics I had given her.
I began giving her a high dose of antibiotics through a new IV line I had set up. I hoped it would be enough as her breathing which had been getting better, was now beginning to degrade again.
Between coughing fits I could hear her occasionally wheeze or gasp for breath and as the day wore on my concern grew deeper.
At times I felt a hint of desperation set in, coloured with a touch of helplessness. I knew a good amount about basic medical care but if Alie needed an advanced procedure I was unsure of whether I could perform it.
While she was drifting in and out for hours I gently but thoroughly cleaned the cuts on her left thigh with antiseptic again. I then numbed the area with local anesthetic and slowly, painstakingly, stitched the long cuts closed so they could heal. I was not practiced at doing stitches but I found that I was quite good by the time I had finished. I was satisfied with my handiwork but deeply unhappy that I had had cause to learn the skill. Throughout the task I spoke quietly with her, explaining what I was doing, although I was unsure how much of my explanation registered with her.
If we had been at a colony or on Earth a hospital could have used a tissue regenerator to heal the gashes without stitching and she would be without scars. Unfortunately that kind of equipment simply wasn't available to me. When designing a survival kit apparently they decided to go with the basics only.
After I finished with the stitches on her leg I examined the wound on Alie's forehead near her hairline. As I suspected, it required stitches as well. I cleaned, numbed, and stitched that wound as well. I knew she would bear scars from the cuts on both her leg and forehead but the stitches would help heal the wounds and minimize the scarring.
I sat back and watched the young woman for a few minutes, feeling a deep determination to see her through this. I glanced at the monitors and her condition was unchanged.
I rose from the bed and gathered a small bowl of cold bottled water and a soft cloth and began slowly washing the fever-induced sweat from her body. She woke fully a few times, looked directly in my eyes with an unreadable expression before waves of coughing would wrack her body and result in her drifting off again. I took the utmost care in washing her, being very gentle as I could now see bruises blooming over many parts of her body to join the lacerations.
When I finished I gave her a dose of pain medication and then woke her gently. Her eyes snapped open but I could see, with an unexpected jolt of sadness, that she was very much in pain even with the painkillers and she looked utterly exhausted. I sat her up slowly and carefully and fed her half of one of my survival rations and insisted she drink as much water as she could handle. I laid her back down and tucked the blankets in all around her as another wave of coughing overtook her body.
It was getting late and once again I was exhausted. I began preparing a makeshift bed for myself on the floor of the tent when Alie spoke up for the first time since the morning.
"No. Jake. Come here."
Just those few words seemed to cost her significant effort and her voice was merely a whisper but she pushed aside the blankets slightly trying to make room for me to join her in the bed.
This time I was facing her and her eyes looked into mine, silently expressing a storm of emotions. I gently kissed her forehead and smiled at her before drawing her in closer. She obviously did not have the energy or inclination to carry on a conversation but she smiled very slightly and closed her eyes, indicating she was pleased with me.
I held her close as we both fell off to sleep. It felt so good to hold her, even better to have been invited to do so.
Alie was studying Jake's face. She had woken early and he still slept beside her. The man had made a distinct impression on her the day before. She still had an underlying suspicion about him... all her mother had told her about men could not be put out of her mind after only a day or so of knowing THIS man. But he had taken excellent care of her the day before.
She wondered how someone so gentle could be capable of the cruelty her mother had described. Maybe not all men were like that. Or perhaps he was just trying to get her to lower her defenses. It was possible.
The young woman had cared for her mother as she fought a similar illness to the one Alie was now battling. Alie couldn't help but feel that Jake had showed her as much care and concern as she had once shown for her mother. This was the cause for the bare beginnings of warm affection she felt for the man.
Alie didn't want to die but she was terrified that she would, just as her mother did. Alie's will to live was, in fact, stronger than ever. In part because there was a glimmer of hope in her heart that she would no longer be alone.
Alie felt safe in the man's arms. It confused her. What she knew of men from her mother did not, at this point, seem to apply to THIS man. He had been kind, gentle, patient, and made her feel good.
These thoughts didn't last long as doubts invaded her mind again, 'Maybe he is just fixing me up so I won't die, so he can use me like a slave. Maybe he won't let me go when I'm better. Will I get better? My mother didn't get better."
She felt conflicted but decided she wouldn't judge him negatively again until she saw reason to. She would observe him closely. For now she could not resist the warm comfort he so openly offered.
This morning Alie felt only slightly better than she had the prior evening. It felt to her like her fever was better because she could think more clearly but she still had pain and heaviness in her chest and a constant urge to cough. Her head, leg, and side still throbbed with pain but they were slightly better.
As her eyes fluttered closed again, fever and pain overtaking her once more, Jake's eyes opened.
When she finally opened her eyes again she gave a quiet squeak of surprise as Jake was now watching her as intently as she had been watching him.
His eyes sparkled as he looked at her. She immediately felt flustered but quietly asked Jake, "Can you help me up to pee again? I uh... after I would like some water and maybe something for the pain... please?" She remembered the simple expression from her childhood.
I examined Alie's beautiful face, and smiled broadly as she opened her eyes and made the adorable noise.
When she made her requests I smiled and jumped up and began helping her. I disconnected her IV line and quickly administered a dose of pain killers to her. Once again I carried her outside to relieve her bladder and after returning to the tent and tucking her back in I reconnected her IV. I gave her another dose of antibiotics and got her a bottle of water and a ration bar.
She looked up with a broad smile on her face and thanked me for everything as I handed her her breakfast.
I examined the readout from the MSM monitor. Her temperature had come down slightly but she was still running a significant fever. Her breathing had improved slightly as well. The rest of her vitals looked fairly normal.
I watched her eat and drink for a moment and then sat on the bed beside the supine woman and asked her quietly, "Would you like to hear more about how I found you? Maybe it will help your memory."
"I came to your camp two days ago in the morning to speak with you again as you had said I would be allowed to. I waited for hours but it was obvious you were gone. I'm sorry Alie I kind of broke your rules. I went to look inside your shelter and saw that both you and your longbow were missing. I assumed you had gone hunting. It was a very warm day so my thoughts turned to having a swim. I walked to the pool and... and... you were... laying face down in the sand," I paused for a moment to collect myself, my emotions threatening to overwhelm my control, "There was some... blood around your head and a pool of blood around your left leg. Your feet were still in the water..."
Alie sat quietly looking stunned and pensive for several minutes before looking up into my eyes and saying, "Thank you. Thank you for saving me."
As the words left her lips she furrowed her brow and continued, "Am I saved? How bad is it? I know I am hurt badly and I seem to also be getting sick... will I be okay?"
My eyes misted slightly and I had to draw a deep breath to stop the oncoming tears. I looked down into her eyes and whispered with conviction, "You will be okay, I will make sure of it."
"Your left thigh has four parallel deep cuts from your hip to your knee which I have cleaned and stitched. You have an angry red scrape on your right side which I have cleaned as well. Your other major injury was a blow to your head. You have a cut on your forehead near your hairline which I also cleaned and stitched. You also have many bruises scattered over your body."
"Alie, the main reason for your cough and fever is that you have a lung infection called pneumonia. It is dangerous but I am keeping a close eye on you," I paused momentarily, smiling slightly before continuing, "I will take care of you if you will allow me."
Alie looked slightly guarded but she nodded silently.
I thought for a moment she would not say anything but Alie suddenly it seemed all her doubts found their voice, "But you are a man! Why would you take care of me? Why did you save me? Just so you can use me and abuse me when I'm healed?"
Alie's eyes flashed with a mixture of defiance and accusation, tempered by a prolonged coughing fit and a gasp of exhaustion at the end.
I watched her silently for a moment, trying to let my frustration drain away, and then responded, "I am not sure what you know about men in general and I won't go into that. THIS man," I said with conviction while pointing to my chest and leaning towards her, "WILL take care of you. I will take care of you because you are a human being and I would do the same for any human being. This is only reinforced by the fact that you are the only person on this planet besides myself and I don't want to be alone."
I thought for a moment I was done but I found my voice again, "I would never hurt you. I would never hurt a woman. I would never even hurt another man unless he gave me cause."
I tried to stop but one final thought burst from me before I could control it, "I will look after you and take care of you because you are a beautiful and intriguing woman. The thought of you dying before I get a chance to know you is unbearable."
Alie's eyes were wide and her mouth open slightly. She looked completely shocked by my outburst and rant. After a few moments she looked away and then looked back with a much more collected expression and whispered, "Do you really think these things of me? Why are you so unlike other men? My mother... my mother was abused and raped and hurt by men. That was all she knew of men. That is all I know of men. Why are you any different?"
I sat for a moment and pondered her words. A lot of what had happened between us made much more sense now. I wore a serious expression on my face as I responded, "I am very sorry for your mother. She experienced only the worst kind of men. Most men are kind and would never hurt a woman physically under any circumstances. I know after what you have been taught it is hard to believe but it is the truth. I only ask that you judge me by my actions alone and not by what your mother told you."
Alie smiled slightly and nodded, her body relaxing.
The look on her face was hard to read but she seemed to be pondering something, she glanced at my face and looked as though she had made a decision. "Jake," she started slowly, "There is something my mother only mentioned in passing. I want to know more about it. Can you tell me about... sex?"