Monday, April 20, 2015

The Midnight Call

It's rounding near 3 am, and she hasn't been able to shut her eyes yet. Her mind keeps dancing, keeps racing with things that it can't process, like an old computer stuck on defragmenting. It keeps flipping and turning, looking at things this way and that, trying to place or reason events that flashed through her mind, aimlessly, and without connection. She sighs, flips over on her back, and stares out at the shadows sliding across the ceiling above, illuminated from crawling cars just outside.

There was only one way she was going to get any sleep tonight.

There is a person lying on the ground. He's been shot and stabbed.
Blood ebbs at an even pace from his lower abdomen. The knife wound seeps through his jeans. 

Everyone turns to you for help.

She wasn't a medical professional. She didn't even study medicine. But she knew if she could focus hard enough on something, she could possibly lull herself into a mental mum and claim those last few hours of precious sleep. She shifted her thoughts back to high school, in health class. The torrent of information bent slowly to her will, before she was able to pull up something useful.

Make the person comfortable. Calm him if possible. 

Recruit others nearby. Send two to get help. Send one to call 911. 
Tell two or three strong ones to stand by.

Lift his shirt. Inspect the wound. 
The bullet seems to of went through. No visible debris.

She couldn't imagine actually doing this to a real person. In  real situation, she would probably be one of the people sent for supplies. She wasn't afraid of blood or emergencies in general, but, she reasoned, the chances of her being the most qualified in this situation were pretty slim.

For a moment, she considered giving this person a name. Make it somebody she knew, or somebody she cared about. Perhaps even somebody she loved. The generic mannequin of a man in her mind began to ripple and move, like oiled water, filling out details that otherwise wouldn't of been there. First his feet, squared in boots, then his legs, thin and covered in black jeans. A prominent belt buckle. A black shirt. Calloused fingers.

Then his face emerged, twisted in agony. Droplets of blood painted his cheeks. Lips pale with panic.

She visibly frowned. Even though this was all in her mind, it felt as if she had actually just hurt him. Her heart sank. She couldn't change it now.

Grab something clean. Take the white tee off of the person in the back.
Tell the strong ones to gently hold him.

Slide it under the wound. Grab someone else's shirt. 
Gingerly press with the second one.

She could hear it. The room she was in was completely silent, but somehow she heard the roar of his pain. She internally flinched, and forced her tongue on the roof of her mouth. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea. She looked over at the clock, and it was ten minutes past 3 now. If sleep was ever going to come, she was going to have to finish this. She mentally kicked herself for not going with something simpler, like a farming or cooking a favorite recipe.

Hold the shirts in place. Slow the bleeding.

Try to get him to settle. More movement means more blood loss.

She imagined the things she would say in this situation just then. Soothing, wonderful things. Words of assurance, words of care. Things that really should of been written down, if she had the mind to grab something to do so then. Not really anything of poetic value, but maybe something Hallmark might want in the future. She snorted at the idea.

She heard the sound of him hissing in pain, looking her dead in the eye.

Inspect the knife wounds. No visible debris.
Most are shallow, save for the one on his thigh, near a major vein.

Blood loss is steady, but not heavy.

Take my hoodie off.
Ready the strong ones again.

The odds of her wearing a hoodie any day of the year were pretty good, she reasoned. It could be 70 degrees outside, and she could still get a chill.

Slide it under his leg, above the opening.
Pull the sleeves up--

She paused. She knew the next step, but not how to go about it in this situation. She was working on a man, after all. And in a crowded situation like this, would she really check for something like that? The potential to cause more harm and then adding something bordering on fanfiction fodder made her squirm underneath her sheets.

She rolled over on her side, and pulled her legs up. The red lights on her alarm clock stared her directly in the face. She sighed.

He tucks on the other side today.

Pull the sleeves up. Grab a thick branch and tie the arms at either end.
Begin twisting. Keep the pressure steady.

Keep him calm.

Surprisingly, she seemed to remember most of what she learned, despite actually failing the class twice in school. She couldn't climb the ropes, or run the mile that was required, so maybe that had something to do with it too. Or maybe her teacher just didn't like the way she laughed at the tourniquet slides. They were made of construction paper, after all.

She yawned, but still didn't feel tired yet. Closing her eyes, she tried to think of nothing, but nothing came. Her head was still so filled with restlessness, and her right eye began to twitch as if she had too much caffeine. She briefly thought about getting out of bed altogether before turning back to her imaginary reality, focusing as much as she possibly could on details this time.

Maybe if she made it more like a story, she thought, then maybe sleep would finally come for her.

The faint whine of police sirens echoed between the buildings, and the chorus of car horns blared loudly in the slow moving jam behind her. A soft wind weaved its way between puffs of exhaust and into the fabric of the crowd around her, all of them stupidly still gawking and unmoving, just as they were from the start. The man in front of her, still bleeding but nearly not, seemed to settle as well as anyone could, given the situation. His breathing became slower, and he wasn't moving around as much, which was good for not only him, but for the people who had to hold him earlier. She took her hand that was still holding on to the gunshot wound from earlier, and carefully eased up on the pressure until she had a free hand. Thankfully, the blood that was on his clothes and skin helped stick the wad of cloth enough to his side that only a faint dribble ebbed from beneath it.

She breathed in, and wiped her brow. A streak of clotted cerise marked her forehead.

Idly, she rested her hand back onto his torso, staying gentile yet firm on the wet wad. Help would be there soon, and then everything would be ok again. Only, something felt off now...

She moved her hand, and pressed it firmer. Nothing. She placed her hand on his chest and splayed her fingers flat, concentrating. Nothing. She dangled her fingers in front of his nose and waited. Nothing.

He stopped breathing.

Of course, she had to make it dramatic. Her overactive nocturnal brain dictated that it must be so. Because, if she cant manage something as simple and easy as sleeping, then why should anything else be any less cumbersome?

Perhaps storytelling wasn't what she needed right now.

Have someone take the tourniquet. Have another keep pressure on the wound.

Head tilt, chin lift. Sweep the mouth for debris.

The idea of actually putting her finger in someones mouth was a bit odd. Especially since, in this scenario, they were coated in blood. Granted, this was his own blood, so she reasoned that it cant actually be any different than putting your finger in your mouth after getting a cut.

Listen for a heartbeat...none.

Two fingers up from the bottom of the ribcage. Start chest compressions.

1, 2...listen. 1, 2...listen.

She could end it here. Just let him lie where he is, and wish him well on the river Styx. After all, this wasn't even real to begin with, so the consequences therein had no real meaning. Or, she could just as easily imagine a medical fairy, and poof! Everything is back to the way it should be. No need for gore, no need for realism, and no need for buried high school things that she wasn't even 100% positive she had right in the first place.

By the same token, she could just imagine pretty much anything else and wipe the whole fa├žade away. She could conjure an entire world where death, sickness and injury wasn't even a possibility. One where she was queen, and could rule it all with her feminine charm, beauty, and piles and piles of gratuitous, Scrooge McDuck money.

She smirked, and rolled her eyes.

A methodical process is what she wanted when she started it. And that process wasn't done yet. She took a short breath of air in, as she bit her lower lip in anticipation of the next step.

Pinch the nose...

Her cheeks, suddenly felt warm.

...and begin resuscitation. Seal his mouth with...mine.

1, 2...listen. 1, 2...listen.

Alternate breaths with compressions.

Keep calm, keep focused.

1, 2...listen.

1, 2--

A truck just outside her window sputtered into life as the man in front of her started coughing and inhaling ragged, rasping breaths. Her eyes flew open at the sudden collision of worlds, making her question which side she was actually on. She blinked a few times before she could remember.

Slowly, she reached back into her mind. She held her hand out just to be sure his breathing was ok, and then brushed away the stray hairs on his face. His eyes darted around for a moment before focusing on her face. The corners of his mouth weakly curved up in a smile of gratitude.

There...she had done it. She had saved her imaginary man. A feat altogether fruitless, yet, somehow, satisfying.

From where she was, she could see the inky skies of midnight giving way to the pastels of the morning sun, telling her that it was probably much later than she wanted it to be. Unfortunately, she still wasn't any closer to going to falling asleep. She rolled over with a small grunt, facing her back to the clock.

Only a few more hours to go before she had to wake up.

Maybe it was time for part two.

Until then.