poet. writer. imposter.
I could hear Spiggy moving around about 6:30. He knocked on my door and then cautiously opened it. He’d found his clothes and dressed himself.
“I made eggs and coffee,” he said.
I beamed. Breakfast in bed!
“Hope it’s okay. I don’t cook so it’s . . .”
“It’s fine. I’ve not seen anyone in five years. To wake up and find breakfast made for me is amazing. Thank you.”
As I started to eat, he asked when we would set off to find Mook. I told him about getting a medical pack ready and we’d go as soon as we got the animals out and he tensed and looked concerned.
“How long does that take?”
I think he thought it would be a couple of hours, but when I explained that all we had to do was open a couple of doors and pick up half a dozen eggs, he relaxed.
I could see that he was agitated. I tried engaging him in conversation, asking him what he did before he got here. He’d just graduated in English Literature and was working part time in a coffee shop as a stop gap. He didn’t say to what. He mostly hung out with Mook who had done a degree in electronics. He wasn’t entirely sure whether that was engineering or computers or what, he just seemed in awe of Mook’s ability. They had been school friends, Mook – Luke Mann – was the kid who was always picked on and Spiggy was the guy who always stood up for him and fended off the bullies. A double act.
I finished my breakfast and thanked him again. Got up, had a shower and got dressed. I asked Spiggy if he’d get some food together for the journey and maybe make some coffee for the flasks. He said okay. While he was doing that, I went to the animal enclosure and sorted them out.
After locking the doors again, I walked back to the living room, picked up the medical supplies and put them in the van. Spiggy followed with a bag of food and I locked the door behind him.
“You ready?” I asked. He looked at me and tried speaking. He just squeaked which I took as a yes. I started the van and ask for directions. I asked him why he hadn’t used the roads, they were mostly clear?
“I didn’t know where I was or where the roads went. I didn’t know if there were roads directly to you. The quickest space between to points . . .”
“Is a straight line . . .”
“Good thinking,” I said and pulled a map from the glove compartment. I found a working but temperamental biro in there too and asked which direction he had come from. He remembered approaching from the south west. He indicated this by describing the first thing he saw being the woodwork room and then walking along the eastern side to the main doors. So I drew a line running from the woodwork room southwest and asked if there was anything on his route that might be identifiable
Spiggy had walked over a lot demolished housing estates, so we had trouble following his route. Some of the roads were blocked so we had to find ways round. The Bedford wasn’t really capable of off-roading and certainly not negotiating mounds of rubble and debris. But the line gave us direction and hope.
He hadn’t walked that far. Maybe eight or nine miles but it had taken his the best part of six hours to get to me. He told me that he’d got careless a couple of times and fallen into deep holes that had been covered by rotting wood or fallen billboards. Luckily, he managed to break his fall or the bottoms we still soft after the rain the other night. The climb up from these traps and the scrambling over piles of rubble had made his journey that much more difficult. His hands were pretty scratched up. I noticed that last night. It’s a miracle he got that far and in one piece. It’s a treacherous, unforgiving landscape now. I suppose it always was in it’s way.
I’m a bit surprised, actually. I had no idea that the bat-signal could be seen from such a distance, but I suppose given the lack of streetlights and other light pollution, it must be incredibly obvious at night. In all honesty, I’d forgotten that the beacon was on the same circuit as the UV deterrent. I’d forgotten it even existed. At least it worked; at least it saved at least one, and maybe two lives.
After searching for several hours, we found the remnants of a house that Spiggy recognised and stopped the van. There were so few houses intact or even partially so, that the became recognisable landscapes instead of the generic buildings they had once been. He remembered the colour of the door and the “We live here” sticker on the glass indicating that there had been two german shepherds resident in happier times. About forty metres from the door there were two rooms from a different house. One of them was open to the skies, the other was covered by furniture and rocks.
“I barred the door,” he said, “tried to make it safe against those things.”
I certainly understood that!
We set about pulling the barricade away and once the door was open, I bounded back to the van, pulled the medical kit out and ran back.
I came back and found Spiggy kneeling beside his friend, holding his hand.
“I came back, Mook, I found help.”
The briefest flicker of recognition passed over Mook’s face before sinking back into a restless delirium. Mook was breathing, but barely. He was covered in sweat and as Spiggy had said, in the throes of a terrible fever. The broken leg had swollen so badly that it looked like a small barrel and I feared that we were far too late to save him. Spiggy looked at me and pleaded with his eyes.
“Do something,” he then mouthed, not wanting Mook to hear his desperation. I bent down and kneeled on the other side of Mook and reached into my bag. The first thing, surely would be to give him pain relief and antibiotics. So, out with the morphine and penicillin. Erik had left a few written guideline instructions about amounts that I was to administer in given situations and I followed that instruction.
As the morphine took hold, Mook let out a sigh and stopped writhing. The antibiotics went in next. I waited for a few moments, until he was breathing a little easier, and instructed Spiggy to get the stretcher, splints and bandages. From the bag, I pulled some antiseptic wipes and saline; the wound was beginning to smell so cleaned it out and sterilised it as best I could. Mook began to wriggle again, clearly uncomfortable, but there was so little fight left in him that he presented no real problems. We tried to align the bone and that garnered a scream, but we did the best we could before elevating and splinting his leg. I probably got all that in the wrong order, but we had a clean wound, a stable leg, pain relief and antibiotics doing their job.
That in itself was a result.
Spiggy threw himself at me and hugged me hard. I could barely breathe but found the repeated thank yous oddly satisfying. I returned the hug saying, “your welcome”. He pulled away noting that I was slightly embarrassed at the outbreak of emotion and gave a shy grin.
“C’mon,” I said, “We need to get him back before nightfall.”
Spiggy grabbed the stretcher and laid it down next to Mook. We wondered how to move him as painlessly as possible but after two or three failed attempts, I pumped some more morphine into him. He might feel pain, but he wouldn’t care. Once the second dose took effect, we rolled him onto the stretcher and carried him back to the van. Getting back to the school didn’t take too long. I knew where we were and knew the roads. We were back long before nightfall.
The cats were cautiously interested in this frenzied activity but were not so concerned with that, more that I’d forgotten to feed them this morning. They mewled their dissatisfaction, but I had other things to do at that moment.
We manoeuvred Mook into another readied room, cut the bandages off and cleaned the wound out again. That would was going to take constant work and probably needed stitches. I was reluctant to suture until I was sure the infection was under control. Again, I don’t know if this was the right order. I closed the wound with bandage hoping that keeping it together would help. Spiggy stayed with him. I explained I had some essential chores to do and he was to call me if anything untoward happened. Before I left, I pumped Mook with more antibiotics.
Truth be told, I just needed a few moments of quiet. Since Spiggy arrived last night, it’s been full on. I barely slept, I’ve been in a high stress situation and I took a moment. I made sure Mook was comfortable before I left, so I don’t feel any guilt and I knew Spiggy would look out for him while I was away.
I went to the animal enclosure, put plenty of food into the sheds and coops, rounded up the animals (all to keen to get to the food) and shut them in for the night. I did the rounds, making sure everything was safely locked up; checked the UVs, did a bit of weeding and fed the cats.
I love that I have visitors.
Such intensity is tiring.
I put some potatoes in the oven. I fancy a baked potato. I’ve got salad and cheese and a whole heap of pickles. I’ve also got some soup on the go in case Mook comes round, or if we get peckish later, but I suspect it will just go into the fridge for tomorrow.
I was making some drinks when Spiggy came to find me. He looked concerned and told me that Mook was waking and looked like he was in pain. I asked him to finish making the tea and to turn the soup right down; I’d go and look.
Mook looked terrible. His skin had taken on a sallow translucent quality and the sweat on his brow was making him clammy and shivery. I undid the bandage wrappings and saw that the wound was, again, full of pus. I was doing this wrong. I got more morphine and more antibiotics ready and injected him. Spiggy arrived with drinks and I told him we needed to do a little sewing. He blanched.
I told him that at the very least I’d need him to hold the wound together while I sewed. He look queasy. I slipped a plastic sheet under Mook legs and got ready to clean the pus out. Again, it took a lot of saline, a lot of antiseptic and several stops to gag as the smell had become intolerable.
With wound clean. I reapplied saline and antiseptic and sprayed it with an antibiotic solution. That’s not what you’d call medical procedure, but as I said, I don’t know what I’m doing and I figured that direct application couldn’t hurt.
I got Spiggy to push the sides of the wound together while i readied the sutures. This is only the second time I’ve done sutures and the first time was on a small cut across the fleshy tip of a thumb. This was a world away. I tried to remember what Erik had told me and after numbing the area with some local anaesthetic, I made a start.
It wasn’t the neatest piece of work and it would without doubt leave a huge scar, but it was the best I could do. We strapped the leg up tightly. I didn’t want to risk a cast yet, in case the infection came back. Mook had lost the pale translucence and was getting a little colour back. So was Spiggy. I made sure Mook was comfortable and sleeping, then dragged Spiggy off for some food.
Naturally, he said he wasn’t hungry, but give me a person in pain and I become the archetypal clucky mother hen. We ate, drank and went to the sofas to relax for a while. He sprawled out and I took to the Grand Piano to play Satie’s Gymnopedies. By the time I’d finished the third, Spiggy had crashed out on the sofa. I took blanket from the stores and covered him up. I looked in on Mook and he looked to be sleeping much more peacefully. Strong, regular breathing and the clammy, sweatiness had given way to pink, warm skin. I took a moment to clean his face and he mumbled something. Couldn’t make it out.
It was only around 9:00pm and I set the alarm to ring in four hours. This was so that I could sort out some more pain relief for Mook.