Chapter 11: Lacerations and Band-Aids (A.K.A. - A Long Time Coming)
Michelle, with Luna held securely in her arms, Twilight, and I followed Fluttershy and her mountain man of a companion as we made our way back towards their camp.
“Name’s Doug,” the man said over one shoulder, holding a tree branch for us to pass by.
“Nathan,” I responded before anyone else could say anything, giving a pointed look at Michelle and Twilight. Until we knew who this ‘Doug’ was it would probably be best to keep our real identities close to our chests. “That’s Michelle, my fiancé, and you know Twilight and Luna.”
He nodded and let the branch snap back into place before turning to follow Fluttershy. His longer stride allowed him to easily catch up with the pink haired girl.
It certainly felt far too convenient to find another pony out in the middle of nowhere, Luna’s magic notwithstanding, but I wasn’t feeling up to puzzling out the mystery until I had a good bit of sleep or was back in my camp.
I have no idea how Fluttershy was able to navigate her way back to her camp without the aid of a light. It was pitch black, and I could not count the number of times that I tripped.
We walked in silence for several minutes, the moon and Fluttershy guiding us through the gloom and darkness.
It wasn’t long before we could hear the sound of voices coming from somewhere ahead.
I opened my mouth to ask Doug a question but my words died on my lips as every animal in a 3 mile radius dispersed in a wild rush.
“Hello?” Doug called to his tent after a few moments of awkward silence.
“Oh thank god,” gasped a male voice from inside of the tent, the sound of a large object hitting the ground as fingers fumbled for the zipper on the tent. “Doug, Jesus, what the hell ha-”
Out from the tent climbed a young man that had clearly seen better days. Even under the pale light of the moon I could see fresh bruises beginning to blossom on his face under and around his glasses. There was a cast on his right arm and he was definitely favoring that side, he hid a wince as he stood to a slightly slumped height.
Before anyone could make introductions, Fluttershy dashed over the young man and took the non-cast bound arm in her hands, rolling up the sleeve. “John! My goodness, you’re hurt!”
Her hand cupped the bruised side of his face, it was dark but only slightly swollen. I could see him hide a wince as the young woman’s finger brushed on sensitive skin, Fluttershy noticed as well and took a wounded step back, her head lowering.
“A-Angel just got a little u-” John started to say, either stuttering from pain, or because of his close proximity to a pretty girl. I couldn’t tell which, but before he could finish, another child threw himself out of the tent and buried his face into Fluttershy’s stomach, wrapping his arms around her midsection as tight as he could.
“Do you need medical attention?” I asked before I could think better of it, my hand pulling my kit around to my front, the buckle opening easily.
The new child looked far worse for wear, lacerations all up and down his arms, many of which were an angry red. That much I could tell even in the dim light of the moon.
“Angel!” Fluttershy cried as she wrapped her own arms around the child. “Oh, you’re hurt too! What happened?”
“The wildlife went a little crazy,” John said after a considerable pause. He avoided her gaze, his face flushing with embarrassment.
“They did what?” Fluttershy gasped in horror, one of her hands going to her mouth. “Oh no! Oh no, oh no, oh no, I didn’t want this! I just wanted you all to be safe. I thought that maybe…”
My legs tensed, just in case she was about to faint. John was in no condition to catch her safely, and neither was the little boy clamped to her waist. Fluttershy took a shuddering breath and composed herself, took the boy into her arms, and slipped into the tent. I think that she said something to John as she passed him, but it was out of my range of hearing.
As the tent flap opened, I saw another child just inside the tent, a small girl, maybe a little older than Luna, with a shock of red hair and pink bow.
“John?” The little girl asked as she climbed out of the tent cautiously. “What the hay is going on?”
“I’d like to know too,” John said, turning to Doug and the rest of us. “Doug, who are these people and why were you screaming earlier?”
“And what about the princess?” shouted a busty pink haired girl as she bounded out of the tent, seemingly oblivious to time of night and atmosphere that darkened everyone’s mood.
“It’s a long story,” said Doug as he rolled his shoulders with a sigh. “The princess is here. So is Twilight, but right now we need to get the injured taken care of.”
That was my cue.
“Shall I?” I asked Doug as a pink blur flew by me and all-but tackled Twilight. I was holding my kit up and gestured to the tent that Fluttershy and the boy had disappeared into.
“Please,” he replied after a long moment. “Pinkie is going to be a while, and I’ll introduce the two of you later.”
I did my best to not let the flash of images from Pinkie’s name show as I turned and climbed into the tent myself.
Fluttershy was on the floor of tent, kneeling over the boy that she had laid out on the floor under the electric lamp. She was humming something to him as she pulled gauze out of another first aid kit.
‘Good,’ I thought as I adjusted my own pack and pulled the flap closed after me. ‘They have their own pack, I won’t need mine.’
With a sigh, I knelt down next to the boy and cracked my neck.
“Oh!” gasped Fluttershy, jumping ever so slightly and pulled her hands back from where she had started wrapping his gauze.
“Hi,” I said, doing my best to give her a warm smile. “I’m Nathan, a nurse.”
“Fluttershy,” she replied, a touch of shyness in her voice and on her face. She didn’t want to be there with me, I could tell, but the condition of the boy kept her from leaving. “And this is Angel.”
“Your son?” I asked as I pulled my own light off of my jeans and gave Angel a once over. I knew that he wasn’t her son, but it would keep a conversation going and make it easier to help the two of them.
“Oh no!” she exclaimed, her face going beet red.
I held one of Angel’s arms closer to the light, cursing the fact that I had lost my pen light in the past few days. The mag light I had bit in my mouth was unwieldy and uncomfortable. Angel was covered in various degrees of lacerations, some very minor and a few that still dribbled blood down his unusually pale skin. His shins were in a similar condition and his feet were in a condition all their own; they would have to be dealt with later.
“Don’t worry,” I said. As I smiled at Fluttershy, she had a worried expression on her face. “He’s gonna be just fine. Would you hand me the first aid kit?”
She held it out for me and I took it from her.
It was nearly empty. There was a pair of gauze scissors, two antiseptic wipes, and some burn cream packets. Without a word, I pulled the scissors and antiseptic out of the kit and set it aside, grabbing my own, better stocked kit and pulling it out.
“Do you want to help?” I asked as I pulled another pair of scissors, some gauze, and antiseptic out and set them in easy reach.
“Of course,” replied the pink-haired girl with more resolve than I expected.
“Good,” I said, letting the years of training and trials take over. “I need to to take those bandages off.”
“Why?” she asked, taking Angel’s arm in hers, her fingers dancing over the fresh gauze. “I just put this on.”
“And you did a good job of it too,” I replied, opening one of the antiseptics and pulling out the moist towelette, a mild disgust in the back of my mind. I would need my isopropyl for the larger areas. I handed the towelette to Fluttershy and pushed the rest of them over to her. “But we need to make sure that everything’s clean before we bandage. We don’t want anything nasty getting caught up in there do we?"
‘God only knows what kind of crazy bacteria live in Australia,’ I thought to myself as I prepared a set of cotton balls with the alcohol.
Angel winced and hissed as we cleaned his arms and legs with the alcohol. I hadn’t realized that he was awake, but Fluttershy calmed him before he could jerk away from me.
I could hear discussions going on outside the tent. The voices of Michelle, Twilight, Pinkie, and Doug were clear, but my mind was fully on Angel and getting him cleaned up.
Fluttershy hummed a song as we worked. It was soothing, and soon, despite the discomfort that he were causing him, Angel was quietly started snoring.
“You’re very good with children,” I said as I dropped the last cotton ball into my trash pile and Fluttershy finished wrapping his left arm.
“Thank you,” she replied with a smile. I could tell that she was tired, exhausted even. “You are too.”
I gave her a small salute before snatching up my tweezers, and grabbing Angel’s ankle and tilting the bottom of his foot into the light. There didn’t seem to to be anything stuck into the foot despite the number of cuts and punctures to the soles; maybe others had cleaned his feet before?
I didn’t let my mind linger on that thought for too long and proceeded to look at his other foot with the same result. The number of injuries had to make walking very painful, but not impossible. It certainly explained Angel flinging himself at Fluttershy earlier, rather than running to her.
“Wait,” I said to Fluttershy, stopping her from starting to bandage Angel’s other arm. “I need to make sure that big one there stays closed.”
I crawled over to her on my knees and pulled out a few butterfly stitches, I didn’t want to risk cyanoacrylate or real sutures at the moment; they aren’t fun, for anyone.
Fluttershy held his arm up, keeping it in the best light, and held my flashlight without needing to be asked. The cut wasn’t too big, but it was deeper than the others and warranted special attention. It still dribbled a bit of blood down his arm as I pinched it closed with my left hand a butterflied it with my right.
“Okay,“ I sighed, smearing a small bit of antibacterial paste on the overlap of skin. “That should be good enough.”
I cracked my neck again and sat back onto the floor of the tent for a few minutes before joining Fluttershy at Angel’s legs and feet. Compared to his arms, Angel’s legs were okay. They didn’t have the same number of lacerations as his arms, and the wounds that he did have had already scabbed over and didn’t need any help. I did instruct Fluttershy to help me wrap his feet though, just to be safe.
“There we go,” I said, putting his foot down and stretching. We had been at it for nearly an hour by this point and the voices outside had subsided. “He’s going to be just fine.”
“Oh, thank you so much,” replied Fluttershy, running a hand through his hair and looking at me with a grateful smile. “I don’t know what I would have done without you.”
“You did just fine without my help,” I responded with a smile of my own. I placed the leftover towelettes, cotton, bandages, and scissors back into my kit. “Do you need help with anything else?”
“No,” she said, not looking up from Angel. “I don’t think so.”
I smiled again at her and made my way out of the tent as quietly as I could.
Evidently, someone had rekindled the fire, as there was a small flame in the pit a few yards away from the tent proper. Doug was staring into the fire, a lost look in his eyes.
“Doug?” I asked, approaching him from his tent. “You okay?”
He didn’t respond, as if he hadn’t heard me.
“Angel’s going to be okay,” I said, walking around the fire, putting it between us. “Nothing was too bad.”
Again, no response.
I opened my mouth to ask where Michelle, Twilight and Luna were when my eye caught a glimpse of color from the other side of the camp.
I stopped short and rubbed my eyes.
It was my tent.
My tent that we had left, fully assembled and stocked some long distance away.
“You know what?” I asked Doug, who again, did not respond. “I don’t even want to know.”
I walked over to my tent and climbed in. Michelle was in her bag on one side, Twilight on her side, Luna was missing.
“She’s in our tent,” said an entirely too chipper voice that was obviously straining to keep quiet.
It took all of my self control to not jump out of my skin.
Poking her head into the tent flap was the girl with violently pink fluffy hair. She had a wide smile on her face and was waving.
“What?” I asked in a whisper, trying to keep from waking Michelle. “Who?”
“Luna, silly-billy,” Pinkie giggled. “‘Shelly put her in our tent with the other girls. I’m Pinkie Pie, by the way. We’ll have a party in the morning. To celebrate.”
With another giggle, Pinkie vanished and I could hear her skip away.
I mouthed “Shelly” to myself as I pulled my boots off and collapsed onto my bag.
I was asleep in seconds.