Rand stepped out of the house on his way to the hospital; he was in a bit of a hurry. He’d had quite a row with his fiancé last evening and had spent the night alone; he hadn’t slept well. By the time he had fallen asleep, the morning was already close and he’d overslept. To make up a little of the lost time, he had skipped breakfast but he was still going to be late starting his rounds. He knew that his mother would come to see him sometime today. She always did after he and Brenda argued. She liked to play mediator between them.
He was running late but he stepped onto the lawn to retrieve the newspaper anyway. He was going to toss it up onto the porch but when he reached it, what was lying at his feet was no newspaper.
His senses were assailed by the sight, sound and smell of death and destruction the like of which he had never imagined nor wanted to. All around him, men and horses were screaming in pain and moaning in death and he could see that there were many more that were far beyond that ability. Even as an emergency room doctor, he had never been faced with such a display. The worst highway pile-up imaginable would have been a quiet garden party compared to this. It wasn’t until a hand grasped his ankle that he saw that he stood directly over one such display.
“One person at a time,” he said to himself. “You can’t help them all at once, but you can help them one person at a time.” He knelt down beside the man at his feet, blocking out the cries from the others around him.
The man was dressed in full metal armor and he had a sword protruding out of his chest. His visor was closed but that didn’t stop him from hearing the wet cough and then the hand went limp. He pushed the visor up and saw the closed eyes and the trickle of blood on the man’s lips.
He began to pull away the armor as fast as he could work the buckles. He carefully slid the chest plate out from under the hilt of the sword, amazed at the force that had been required to slice the blade so far through the armor and into the man inside.
Leaving the man cradled in his back plate, he began to remove the rest of the armor and discovered that his left leg was broken in two places, one above and one below the knee. The one above the knee was a compound fracture and the bone had lacerated the skin; the pant leg was drenched with blood.
He shook his head, “Why are you still alive?” he asked softly not expecting an answer.
He returned his attention to the sword. Moving it would likely kill the man but if he left it, there was no way he could move him. He could see that a good deal of the blade was embedded in the ground beneath the man so drawing it straight out was out of the question. The only choice he had was to pull the man away from the sword just as he had done with his chest plate. It would do less additional damage leaving the way it came than by his pulling the contaminated blade straight out.
He grabbed the lower edges of the back plate and gave a sharp pull down.
The inarticulate cry of pain wrung from the man’s lips reminded Rand of the other cries that echoed across the field but he continued to work quickly. With nothing close at hand that was suitable, Rand ripped his shirt off and wrapped it around the man’s upper arm and under his other arm tying it tightly then with a brief thought to the broken leg, he began to pick the man up.
The movement woke the man further but he didn’t thrash about. He did what he could to help despite the pain. The man used what strength he had in his good arm to help Rand support his upper body. He grabbed Rand’s shoulder and hung on. The pain of moving caused him to curl and forced a groan from his lips but that was all he was allowing himself.
Rand was a strong man but the man he was lifting was no stripling. He had been trained on how to lift without hurting himself so he succeeded - barely.
Standing, he had a moment to despair as he looked across the field of destruction with no place to go in sight. He turned and took a step and a fresh breeze brushed his face. The smell of blood was suddenly gone. The yard was suddenly so silent. The sidewalk was a step away and his car was in front of him parked innocently in the street.