Chapter 24: First Aid
I was still the canyon, and though the sense of it was fading, I still knew where I was and where the rider had crashed, like some kind of mystical GPS in my head. I’d outpaced Kaitlyn considerably with my longer legs, but I didn’t wait for her to catch up. I just called back over my shoulder, “Hang back around the corner!” as I streaked right around it, still naked, not caring about modesty and awkward questions in that instant.
There in the middle of the wash was a crashed motocross style dirt bike, the rider a good twenty feet further back toward the entrance. I could see the sandstone outcrop he must have hit, endo’ing the bike, the bike’s greater inertia and less floppy nature carrying it well past the point where the rider had come to a stop. That was the source of the gasoline spilling over us…no! No, the gas was spilling on the canyon floor, not on me! I struggled to recall my sense of self. I am Devindra Bhat!
It had taken us a good fifteen minutes to run back to the rider, and he was now passed out from his injuries. As I approached, I could see that one ankle was obviously broken. He was probably in shock from the pain. I needed to get his high-tech protective gear off to heal the ankle.
Deciding the guy was going to stay down for a while, I realized that it didn’t matter whether we were naked or not, so I yelled back to Kaitlyn, “Go to the bikes! I put the first aid kit in one of your panniers, but bring the whole bike!”
She took off running past us.
I pulled the boot off the rider’s broken foot as gently as I could manage, knowing I was doing terrible damage to it anyway. He didn’t wake up screaming in pain. I didn’t know a lot of first aid, but I was pretty sure that was a bad sign.
After I got his foot clear, I stripped off the long sock, too, then I unzipped the cuff of his riding pants and peeled it back up his leg to completely bare the area so that I could work. I dropped back into a trance and concentrated on his foot, then I healed his ankle break. It took a lot more energy than fixing my road rash back in the alleyway, but I had the full power of Gaia behind me now, and I’d been marinating in her power for most of the day besides. Good as new, easy peasy.
I had a quick brainwave just then and decided not to heal the bruising in the ankle area.
He had to have more injuries or he wouldn’t still be unconscious. That’s another of Hollywood’s lies: that you can get hit in the head with a blow that knocks you unconscious for minutes or hours with no worse after-effect than a headache. The fact is, any head injury that knocks you out for more than a second or two has almost definitely caused brain damage.
With that in mind, I began looking around his neck without touching his helmet or collar, just checking for obvious signs of injury. I didn’t see any, but I did see a neck brace. Well, at least he’s not a complete idiot.
I couldn’t take off the helmet. That risked wrenching his neck, which could kill him if he had a marginal injury. I could see that he was still breathing, and his heart was still pumping; I wanted these autonomic processes to continue.
I decided the next best plan was to get his jacket open, which would let me magically peer up through his torso into his neck from the inside to check for injuries while keeping far enough away from the tech armor to avoid losing the spell.
Fortunately, the armored riding jacket zipped up the front, and I didn’t need to get it all the way off, just bare his breast. I could even leave on his elbow armor, gambling that his arms weren’t damaged. Even if they were, I had bigger worries to address first.
His jacket open, I was foiled again: he had a tee shirt on underneath. I decided to just tear it up the center and lay it open like the jacket. There was a convenient hole in the shirt near the bottom, so I stuck a finger in there, ripped downward, and then took the new shirt tails and gently ripped upward, stopping at the tougher collar. Good enough.
I was finally able to delve into his torso and up his neck into his head. He was fine above the neck, thank Gaia, so that wasn’t what was keeping him down, but along the way I found out what was: his innards were a mess! Several splintered bones had cut up his internal organs…he was bleeding out internally! Gaia help me, I’d have to work fast. I gathered the bone fragments back into their proper shapes — using my own body as a model — and knit them back together, then patched the organs up. I left behind most of the bruising here as I did around his ankle. It wasn’t life-threatening, and I was going to make use of the bruising later.
Kaitlyn came trotting up as fast as she could go with a bike awkwardly in tow by her side. She leaned the bike against a cliff, and I jumped up to grab the first aid kit out of the pannier where I’d put it when redistributing the gear yesterday. I handed it to her and quickly whispered in her ear, “You need to be seen as his nurse when he wakes; get him to focus on you.” I pulled a water bottle off her bike frame and handed it to her, saying, “Be ready to give him some water when he wakes enough not to choke on it. Small sips!”
With her tasked, I turned my attention to his lower half. I knew he’d landed on one foot hard enough to break the ankle, so there was a good chance of more injuries down there. I folded the damaged ankle’s riding pants cuff back down, unzipped the other one, unstrapped the knee armor, tossed it aside, and then started trying to pull his riding pants down his legs.
The pants didn’t want to come off, being compression pants much like a bicyclist’s rain pants, and they were trapped under his adult bulk. You don’t think about this difficulty when taking off your own pants, but try taking the pants off an unconscious guy and see how you get on. No, never mind, forget that. Please don’t go taking pants off of unconscious people. Not unless you really really have to. I had to.
Kaitlyn looked like she was going to get up and try to help, but I wanted her there by the guy’s side, right in his line of vision when he woke up, so I waved her back.
I briefly considered ways to levitate the guy’s hips off the ground, but I couldn’t see a way to achieve it. My best thought was to use a continuous blast of air, so I wouldn’t have to touch the high tech fabric directly and thus collapse my spell, but then I realized he wasn’t exactly aerodynamic, so he’d probably just flop around like a rag doll seized by a pit bull. Oh, and then the real problem: I’d still have to touch his pants to remove them, and then he’d fall to the ground, my air blast cut off by the suit’s innate technology.
There was a set of gauze scissors in the first aid kit, and I could cut the pants off, but then an epiphany hit: I was being stupid! I grabbed the pants’ waistband and peeled them down by main force, digging my heels into the sand until they got past his butt, and then I went back on mine, pants in tow.
I got back to my knees then finished pulling the pants off his legs. I then delved his legs and found my worry confirmed: the guy’s leg-first impact also twisted the knee badly. He must’ve pole vaulted on it before smacking into the large rock he lay beside, halting his forward progress and causing the torso damage. My body hurt just thinking about it! No wonder this guy was still unconscious.
I fixed the knee, then looked around some more, but saw no internal bleeding. I’d inferred that the femoral artery couldn’t be cut, else he’d be dead already, but there was no slow bleed, either. I checked the other leg, and it was just a bit bruised, so I left it alone.
Under the riding pants, he had on a pair of armored shorts. I judged that the chance of anything under there being damaged was pretty low. His young pelvis was still strong, and the padding and armor should have done its job. I peeked up his leg as well as I could from the inside, and saw nothing worrying. Then I peeked down his pelvis the other direction from the trunk side, and it looked good that direction, too. Our rider was keeping his shorts today.
That was a big relief. I’d checked him out about as well as possible short of completely stripping him.
“Back as soon as I can; I’m going for my bike,” I told Kaitlyn.
“No no, I grabbed your stuff while I was there. Look in the top pocket of my trunk bag,” she said.
I did, and there was my riding outfit. Wonderful girl! I turned and gave her a thumbs up as I started to dress.
I was about to invite her to do the same when the guy started to wake up. I was mostly dressed and off in his peripheral vision when I saw his eyes open, then he muttered something about “an angel,” clearly mistaking my nude girlfriend’s identity. I’d gotten my shorts and shirt on, so I jumped over to his side, knelt beside him, and stole back the role of nurse, attracting his attention to me. Kaitlyn handed the water bottle to me and I started dribbling water into his mouth and speaking soothing words. “You’re all right guy. Drink this. You’ve got it. Help is here.”
Kaitlyn dashed into her biking outfit out of the guy’s sight, his range restricted by the helmet. He probably wasn’t seeing too clearly yet, anyway. As soon as she was done, she was back by his other side, took the water bottle back, and took up her role of nurse again.
I got up and finished dressing, putting on my socks and shoes, but then stayed out of his line of sight. I wanted him focused on his lovely nurse. We were going to sell a short con here, and she’d do it a lot better than I would.
The guy gingerly lifted himself up on his elbow pads, looked down, and blearily demanded, “Why am I half naked? What happened‽”