Nicholas's Hope Ch. 01byNightGal©
Hello again everyone, and thank you for taking the time to read the revised first chapter of Nicholas's Hope. Thank you for all your comments, I hope you enjoy this chapter.
Again it was without an editor so I hope I have caught everything. I'm still working on finding one.
Hope you all enjoy!This story is of my own creation and all persons therein are fictional. All persons are over 18 if not stated.
Nicholas cursed, glaring icily at the root that had reached itself up as if by magic to trip him. His ankle was throbbing, and he knew from medical experience it was sprained or broken. A tender examination of his swollen ankle proved it to be a sprain, not as bad as a break, but still painful.
"That will teach you to hike alone. Now you have to navigate this forest on your own, injured..."
A clap of thunder followed by a torrential downpour had Nicholas groaning.
"Oh yes, and if that wasn't bad enough. You get to do it in the rain."
Still grumbling to himself about the weather and his predicament he searched his surroundings for a branch that looked to be strong enough to bear his weight. He was no small man, at 6 foot 3 with the body of the linebacker most people mistook him for; he was large enough that it made most people uncomfortable. People instantly looked at his body and dismissed him as anyone of intelligence, but that's what made him strive to prove everyone different.
Nicholas was a doctor, and not just any doctor. He was the director of surgical practices at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane, Washington. He had grown up in these forests, and had wandered the trails since he was a boy of 10. Wide-eyed and amazed by everything around him he had spent most of his summers within the woods camping with his parents.
The sudden flashback brought a sharp pain to his heart as he thought of all the summers his parents had come with him to these woods. The memories came unbidden now, flashing through his mind quickly. He had just turned 18, ready for the life of a college student when his parents surprised him with one last trip to their favorite site. They were going to spend a week in the Orestes, bringing in only light tents, and very few supplies. Nicholas had known his mom smuggled a chocolate bar into her bag. The one indulgence she couldn't leave.
It had taken a day of hiking to reach their spot, a clearing in the middle of the forest ringed with tall pines. A small stream wound its way through the forest, not far from where his family had always made camp. It was always nice to have fresh fish for dinner, or whatever small game that turned up in the snares his mother set on the small game trails. She had been trying to teach him how to set the snares, but Nicholas had never had the patience to set the delicate wires. Instead he and his father would often hunt the small game with a bow instead. They never hunted the large game; they simply would take enough for one meal, perhaps two, but never more than they could eat. Skins were saved, some organs eaten, others used for fishing bait. Bones were always thrown away on a hike away from camp for the scavengers to find later.
They always did their best to leave their special site as they found it. The only permanent fixture was a ring of stones where they built their fire. It had been there when they first found the site and it had been left as it was found.
The last day of the trip Nicholas had left both his parents to go foraging for food. Walking along the bank of the stream he had scared a duck from her nest. Knowing she wouldn't return he grabbed the eggs, checking their buoyancy in the Water to make sure they were fresh. When they continued to float Nicholas gathered them into a small leather pouch he wore on his hip during hikes. It was left with the hair of the rabbit inside the pouch and would protect the eggs well enough till he returned to camp.
It was on his way back to camp that he had heard his mothers scream, followed by a howl. The howl had been hasty, almost in glee and Nicholas rushed back towards his parents, instinctively not leaving a trail in his wake.
When he finally did reach the camp Nicholas found his parents gone, and with the amount of blood around the campsite, he knew wherever his parents were, that they were no longer living.
Shaking his head to clear the memories, Nicholas brought his mind back to the present and the situation at hand. His gaze skittered over a thick branch that had fallen close to where he sat. Wiping the water from his eyes he made his way over to the branch, praying that it wasn't rotten.
Standing slowly he let his weight rest partially on the branch, ready to catch himself if it snapped. Once his full weight was supported by the branch he breathed a sigh of relief. Looking around him, Nicholas looked down the trail. He had shown another streak of idiocy in leaving his compass at home, right along with his trail map.
Muttering obscenities at himself Nicholas picked a direction and started to slowly hobble his way down the path. The rain dripped into the back of his jacket, winding its way in cold little rivers down his back. At the rate he was going he was going to have to find or make shelter sometime soon and get a fire going. Deciding he had a way to go he continued down the trail till it split. Looking down each trail Nicholas tried to decide which way to head. The sound of the rain covered any sounds a car on the highway might make. Deciding his best option was to head towards his left he did so.
Nicholas walked slowly, his eyes scanning his surroundings for any signs of something he could use for shelter. A loud crack sounded through the air, lightning flashing across the sky, and the noise of a tree falling close by startled him. Birds rushed by him, obviously fleeing from the falling tree. It could be used as a temporary shelter and seeing as the rain was not letting up Nicholas turned towards the direction the sound came from and hobbled slowly that way.
It wasn't even 5 minutes that he had been walking that he came across the tree. It was a huge oak its trunk scorched black where the lightning had sliced through it, red embers glowed in the dim light and Nicholas knew if he worked quickly enough he could be warm and dry in the matter of an hour. Making his way up the truck Nicholas looked for the thickest growth of the limbs giving him the best possible cover from the rain. Pushing his way through the limbs Nicholas stopped dead in his tracks, his mouth dropping open slightly as he stared dumbly at the sight before him.
A woman, in her mid-twenties if he was to guess by the spread of her hips and her well proportioned body, lay unconscious beneath several limbs of the tree. Her short brunette hair was curling gently around her face, matted somewhat with leaves and blood. Her face was heart-shaped, her lips full though busted and bloody. Her body, with its generous womanly curves, was marred with scratches, some of them deeper along her ribs and torso. A particularly wicked looking gash ran from her hip to her knee, the blood seeping into the ground to mingle with the leaves, dirt, and moss below her.
Nicholas shook his head, stamping down the spurt of desire he felt course through his body. She was obviously injured and all Nicholas could think of was running his hands on her himself, firmly directing her moist and warm... "STOP!" Nicholas exclaimed to himself, running his hand through his hair roughly. Surveying her body now as a patient Nicholas slipped his pack from his body, rummaging through it. He pulled out a small medical kit that he always had handy, knowing it contained a suture kit. Next he pulled a small hatchet from there, normally used to cut kindling for his fires it would serve to chop through the branches that held her body down as well as give him a more comfortable area to treat her in.
Pulling his poncho out of his bag he pushed his way through the branches to lay it across the top of the tree, letting it completely block anymore water from hitting the ground below it. Returning to the woman, Nicholas picked up the hatchet, starting to chop gently at the thickest branch that pinned her. The hatchet would dull quickly and if he got the thicker branches out of the way first he could break the smaller ones by hand if needed.
It was tedious work, stopping every few minutes to check her breathing and pulse. She was blessedly unconscious through him clearing the branches from her body. He kept a few that were brittle and dry to start a fire to help warm her. The few touches he allowed himself to have as he checked the area where a branch was pressing, making sure it had not imbedded itself in her body before he removed it, let him know she was rapidly becoming chilled.
As soon as the last branch was cleared Nicholas removed his coat, covering her body as best as he could without moving her so that the warmth of the coat might fight off some of the chill of her body.
Removing a tinderbox and a flint from his pack Nicholas elected to try to start his own fire as the embers from the fire were likely rained out by now. Cutting open his jacket and removing some of the goose down and filler he quickly got a spark caught and after a few tenuous moments a small fire blazed. The branches insulated their small haven well and soon it was warm enough that Nicholas removed everything but his boxers and hung them in the branches to dry.
Picking up his suture kit, he grimaced and prayed that she wouldn't wake through this. He had nothing to deaden the skin or keep her asleep. Using the canteen he irrigated the wound as best as he could, flushing whatever dirt and debris he could from the wound. Holding his breath as he picked up the curved needle he kept his gaze on the woman for a moment. Her breathing was shallow, and he could see the steady beat of her pulse in her neck. Threading the needle he bent forward to the task, sending up another silent prayer that she would remain asleep and blissfully unaware.
The first stitch had Nicholas watching for any signs of waking, but she didn't and he continues on with the stitches. He tied them loosely but pulling the skin close enough that it could mend, but would leave a scar. He was afraid to fully close the wound in case there was anything in it he might have missed. Quickly moving down the long gash, he had lost count of the number of sutures he placed; instead concentrating on getting it closed in case she started to wake. When the last stitch was placed, Nicholas breathed a sigh of relief. There weren't any other gashes that were in need of immediate attention or sutures so he instead started to warm some water in his canteen.
While waiting for the water to warm to cleanse her wounds he ran his fingers lightly through her hair, removing the twigs and leaves while feeling for any breaks in her skull. Thankfully there were none, though there was a small gash that needed to be stitched. Using his knife to cut away the hair around the area he quickly irrigated it with water and started to stitch it in the same process as he had done her leg. They weren't his best sutures but considering the circumstances, he knew they would do the job they intended.
The water had warmed to a comfortable temperature and Nicholas ripped a section of his drying shirt off, pouring the water on it and starting to clear away some of the blood on her body. Remarkably some of the places he thought where small cuts were now simply just abrasions and only needed a quick swipe to clear the blood from her skin.
While cleaning her he checked for broken bones, carefully letting his fingers trace her ribs. Nothing seemed to be broken and he breathed a sigh of relief. Gently he slid his hands underneath her, checking for any injuries on her back, and making sure there were no broken bones in her spine before he moved her. No breaks that he could feel, but Nicholas gave an audible groan as his hand grazed the tops of her buttocks.
Quickly pulling away his hands and reaching for his shirt, he made sure it was dry before slipping it over the unconscious woman. Digging through his pack again Nicholas pulled out his only food, two MREs that he always had packed in case of an emergency. They weren't the best tasting meals that you could eat, but it was food, and would be hot so it would suffice for now.
Ripping through the contents he elected to eat only the main entre of the meal in case he would need to ration the supply. Slipping it into the heater supplied with the meal and pouring a small amount of water in to activate it, Nicholas leaned back against the dense branches, crossing his feet at the ankles while we waited for it to warm.
His gaze automatically fell on the woman again, and his thoughts drifted to how to get them both out of here.
Talking softly to his self, Nicholas started to plan. "A litter for me to drag might be best, if she doesn't wake. Though if she does she can hopefully walk and won't have to drag her on the litter.
Sighing Nicholas opened up the heater for the MRE, delicately plucking out the dark green package. Ripping it opened he discovered chicken noodle soup. He ate only the noodles, vegetables, and hunks of chicken out of the package, leaving the broth for the woman; he could finish what broth was left.
Lifting her gingerly and settling her in his lap he reached for the packet of broth and felt a stinging feeling on his shoulder. Grunting briefly at the pain, he pulled the packet of soup closer. He made a few final adjustments, cradling her head in the crook of his elbow as he supported her and trickled a small amount of broth into her mouth.
Reflexes took over and she coughed but managed to swallow some of the warm liquid.
"That's it baby, drink for me. It will help." He murmured encouragingly.
After an hour, he had only managed to get about half of the broth down her. It was better than nothing.
Still cradling her in his arms he settled to watch the fire, drifting off to sleep.
A loud noise startled Nicholas from his sleep, making him instinctively tighten his embrace around the woman.
She made no move or noise that she had been disturbed, so Nicholas set her gingerly down on the ground.
"Richard, I smell smoke." A woman's voice filtered through the branches.
"I know Laura, I smell it too. Look, there is smoke coming through that tree. What is that on top of it?"
Nicholas pushed through the branches towards the sound of the voice.
"Oh Richard, look! He's hurt!" cried the woman as Nicholas came into view.
"Man, what happened to you? Are you ok?" Richard rushed to Nicholas's side, supporting him from putting too much weight on his ankle.
Nicholas grunted, accepting the help as he said, "My...girlfriend and I were hiking and the storm struck this tree. It fell on top of her. I have to get her to the hospital."
Nodding Richard looked at Laura, "Call the rangers on the sat phone baby. I'll go see if I can get the woman out of the tree safely enough." Helping Nicholas to sit, Richard turned to push his way into the tree as Laura made a call on the phone. He could hear her relaying their coordinates off their GPS to the rangers on the other end.
Richard blinked in surprise as he saw the woman, "Hey man," He called out, "She doesn't have anything but a shirt on!"
Nicholas groaned. He had forgotten finding her naked in the tree. "Yeah, "he quickly lied. "Everything was wet last night and I couldn't get a fire started. I figured her clothes were best because mine would still fit her."
He heard an affirmative grunt as his backpack was pushed through the trees, and judging from the conversation he heard from Laura she had gotten in touch with the rangers and was giving them their coordinates from the GPS In her hand. Nicholas couldn't help but frown at the piece of technology. Didn't anyone camp without batteries anymore? Shaking his head, he gave himself a mental slap. That battery operated hunk of metal was getting him out of these woods with the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes on.
Nicholas moved towards the downed tree, pushing aside branches to help clear Richards's way out of the tree. Richard had laced his arms into the woman's armpits, supporting her upper half as her feet lightly drug the ground.
"Thanks man. Do you have any other clothing to put on her?"
Nicholas shook his head. "What you see is what I have. I'll wrap a space blanket I keep for emergencies around us both."
Richard nodded, following closely behind Nicholas as he slowly made his way to his pack. He pulled the small folded blanket out of the front pocket and moved to settle his back against a tree. Quickly ripping open the plastic bag of the blanket he spread it behind his back, motion for the woman.
Richard nodded, bring her forward and helping adjust her slight weight into Nicholas's lap. Her head automatically settled into the crook of his neck as he wrapped his arms around her. Richard folded the blanket around the couple and walked towards Laura.
Nicholas closed his eyes, tilting his head back to rest against the tree. A pent up sigh escaped him, and in the distance he could hear the faint buzz of engines.
"I hear the rangers coming" he stated, his eyes still closed.
Richard blinked, "Man, I don't hear anything"
Laura laughed, saying "I don't hear anything either, but just because you don't hear it means nothing. You have very selective hearing. So selective that I think you're deaf!"
Richard snorted, giving her a mock glare. "I resent that!"
Laura gave an identical snort, retorting" You would."
Sitting down next to Richard she leaned against him, snuggling for warmth in the chilly air.
About an hour after Laura's call the rangers, sitting on their large quads, pulled up next to the fallen tree.
A large man, almost the size of Nicholas, stepped off the quad, walking to the group of people. "Howdy folks. Everyone alright?"
Nicholas smiled faintly, replying, "Alright yes, but not completely fine. I have an unconscious woman here that I need to get back to a hospital."
The ranger nodded, "Not a problem. You think you can hold her while I drive? We only had one quad in the station, a couple of drunken teenagers got lost and my partners are trying to track them down. My name is Tom by the way."
Nicholas nodded, "I can manage if you take it slow."
Nodding Tom went to pick up the woman from Nicholas. His gaze drifted over her body as he coughed slightly, "You wouldn't happen to have her cloths would you?"
Nicholas colored slightly, explaining, "We were caught in the storm last night, and with everything wet I had to burn her clothing since I knew mine would fit her and would at least be dry. If you wouldn't mind, could you pull that solar blanket tighter around her, she needs it to keep her temperature regulated."
Tom nodded, gently tugging the edges of the blanket around her as Nicholas stood with the assistance of Richard.
"Good luck man, we both hope she is ok." Richard said quietly to him as he supported Nicholas in his walk to the ranger's vehicle.
Nicholas climbed up onto the quad, leaning against the small cooler that had been strapped to the rack on the back of the quad, it wasn't going to be the most comfortable ride in the woods he had taken before, but it was defiantly the most urgent.
Holding his arms out to the Ranger, Tom gently laid the woman in his arms. Nicholas held her firmly against him, letting her head rest naturally in the crook of his neck. He felt her breathe deeply and then felt her warm breath against his neck. Smiling slightly he nodded to Tom, signaling that they were ready.
Tom shook hands with Richard, "Good luck on the rest of your hike, and thanks for getting in touch with us about this."
Getting on the quad in front of Nicholas and the woman, he leaned forward to start the engine, after giving a small salute to Richard and Laura who returned it with a wave, he set the quad in motion and called back to the base.