A few hours later, the sun has departed and we are left with the illumination of a hastily made campfire. The soft lighting of dancing flames causes shadows to play around the tents. My mind distracting itself by focusing on the wisping fire.
The ice in my shoulder had to come out, as the spike was starting to melt. This would have probably caused me to bleed profusely if uncontrolled. Currently my shirt has been tied around the wound, tight enough to cut off all feeling in my left arm. I do hope I will get that back.
“I found some medicine!” Angie, the shy girl who had the darting eyes before, shouts out. We had found the cultists campsite, and the others were ransacking it while I rested by the fire Mike started.
The group reconvened around me. Angie is pulling bandages and vials of strange liquids out of an old leather satchel. Mike is kneeling to look at all the items. Jess, the other woman survivor, is just looking around aimlessly. Occasionally glancing at me for extended periods of time, however when I look back she pretends to have been simply passing over me. I do notice her face changes briefly while looking at me though.
“Do you think these could help?” Angie is looking at the medical supplies she managed to loot. Trying to make sense of the strange vials.
“I don’t know the bandages seem basic enough, but I don’t think we should trust the medicine.” Mike is looking the cloth strips over, apparently wanting to give up on the vials.
“May I see one?” I reach out my good hand to receive the glass bottle. It is stoppered at the top by a cork and filled with a strange yellow liquid. The vial is labeled as “Quixley’s Quick Acting No-Bleed Coagulant- Product of Howe- Batch #31 4127” followed by instructions that list it as an oral solution that lasts fifteen minutes.
“Are they all Quixley branded?” I ask with a slight chuckle. The label reminds me of the old fashioned designs popular in the 19th century. Entirely in black, with large swirling letters.
“Yeah. All Quixley. There is two disinfectants, a mild regeneration, a laxative, and a lot of tubes of ‘Gentleman’s Stallion.’” Mike says looking at the labels in the light of the campfire. I am partially disappointed one of them was not actually snake oil. Mike continues reading over the labels, and a grimace graces his face when he finally realizes what the last one is.
“Well, I think I would like to try them. I am no good if I am down for weeks with this. You would probably leave me out to die in that case.” I say in good humor with a smile, although I do not think I have stopped grinning since we got here.
“We wouldn’t do that.” Mike says in all seriousness.
“It’s a joke. Don’t be so touchy.” People never get my humour, but I am glad they are willing to help. The group make a plan to treat the hole in my shoulder with the available strange potions. Grabbing the coagulant, I prepare to drink while I watch Angie carefully pouring the disinfectant on a cloth as per the instructions.
“If I don’t make it, see you on the other side.”
“Don’t talk like that.”
“It is a joke, so sensitive, aren’t you Mike.” I drink the no-bleed potion.
The next fifteen minutes are a blur. My lungs felt as if they were trying to breath soup. My heart jackhammering enough to break concrete. The world spinning, nothing is real. What is that in my mouth?! Is it a slug? I try to bite it but it bites back every time, causing me to retract my teeth.
After the quarter of an hour, the world uncoiled itself and I regained my thoughts. I cannot really remember what I was thinking about. My shoulder feels better, if a bit sore, but now my tongue hurts for some reason.
Angie is tightening the bandages on my arm. Mike is cataloguing the potions again. Treating them with more respect this time. I notice him sneak a stallion potion for personal use though. Jess is off at the edge of camp, keeping watch of the forest.
“So, how did it go? Good news doc, will I get to keep the arm?” I say to the girl binding my shoulder. She has short dark hair and a short stature, which matches with her mostly Asian features.
“Ah! You’re alright. You were out of it…” Angie trails off, quietly retracting into her shell, and returns to her work on my shoulder.
“The no-bleed only works fifteen minutes, but it was quite a ride. Kind of worryingly so.”
“Um, you should be okay. You were breathing quite hard. Your heart rate rose to the level of someone after a marathon, but not too far into the dangerous zone. Your eyes also glazed over. But during all that, the bleeding had stopped when we unwrapped the wound.” She has a wide grin on her face, and is relatively fast now. “The regeneration was magical. It was amazing. Like watching someone stich the individual muscle fibers together.” She had stars in her eyes and was obviously completely in love with the potion.
“If it is so great, why do I still need bandages?” I prod Angie from her praising.
“W-w-well there wasn’t enough or it wasn’t strong enough, sorry, I followed the instructions it said to pour all into the opening after disinfection and it just stopped working after a few minutes, sorry, you should be fine though don’t move the arm too much and keep the bandages on I could try stitching we have more disinfectant but we don’t have needles but it will scar if we leave it should I try improvising something, uh, uh, uh, sorry.” How in the world did she say all of that in one breath?
“Sorry!” Angie is completely wound up. A trap ready to spring again. I do not want to hear the worlds longest sentence again.
“Don’t worry about it.” I try to move my arms in a soothing gesture, but my left is still numb and cannot move well. “You know quite a lot about this though.”
“I’m a med student.” She is now talking quietly, precisely, and reservedly. Afraid of losing herself again, probably.
“Well thanks. You also wrapped my arm originally. I am glad someone here knows what they are doing.” I keep smiling at her. She is a bit strange and awkward.
“I wouldn’t say I know much.” She is keeping her head down. I do not think she has looked me in the eye this whole conversation, except when talking about muscle fibers. A bit worrying.
“More than me. But that’s not saying much. I’m just a college dropout, store clerk.”
“Then how did…?” She lets the sentence fade out. Her eyes go wide, like she has had a sudden revelation. After about half a minute of waiting for her to finish, I speak up.
“‘How did’ what?” Hopefully, my gentle but curious smile will coax out the rest of her question.
“Nothing! I need to go clean up.” Angie leaves very briskly. Head down, shaking slightly. Entering a near run when she turns around and sees me staring at her.
“What was that about?” I say to nothing and prepare for bed.