Kristine sobs with relief as my arms gather her up and I remove her from the carnage. Crooning to her in sympathy of her pain I trudge up the long, empty corridors. I have an epiphany of genuine feeling for her that overdraws my flagging energy reserves. The river Adrenaline has dried up and the tension in my iron hard muscles loosen into fatigued, fleshy bags. Thankfully I can’t hear my own chemically masked nerves screaming yet.
I rely on Kristine to work the keys while I cradle her to my chest.
Thankful groans escape us both when the last door clunks closed and we are safe in our quarters. I deliver her directly to her bathroom, placing reluctant feet on bathroom tiles.
“I want to lie down.”
“Not yet. You’re having a shower; then I’m fixing those cuts before you get an infection.”
Ignoring weak protests I adjust the water flow and push her in, leaving to gather medical supplies. A first-aid kit is prominently mounted on a wall for convenience but I wrench the entire box away. Returning, I find Kristine has wedged herself wearily in the corner of the cubicle. At least she’s still upright. The torn smock wraps wetly around her like a shroud.
“Take it off.”
I rotate a finger to make her face away from me. Dark blood does indeed glue it firmly to shallow, wide scrapes from shoulder to butt. There’s bark off her everywhere.
Tilting the showerhead, I thoroughly soak the material and carefully peel it away. There’s much hissing and flinching on her part. Ripping the cloth up the seams makes removal much easier. She’s naked. The scumbag had torn off her panties leaving red weals around her hips.
“This will hurt, Krissie. I gotta scrub the dirt out of your cuts.”
She tries to turn around, wild eyed, to resist my advance with a loofah. I’m the world’s biggest bastard for gripping an already bruised neck and pressing her face to the tiles. I use as few strokes as possible to firmly brush dirt and dried blood out of gravel rash, not stopping until blood flows freely.
Her screams would soon find me being investigated for murder, that’s if we had any neighbours who cared.
“Please stop! Noooo, don't! Bastard! I hate you! You’re killing me!”
I don’t think she’ll follow up on the threats I'm subjected to. Maybe I’ll lock my bedroom door for a while after this anyway.
More screams and moans are caused when I manhandle her under the shower of warm water until the cuts are clean. Grateful to have finished my bit I depart to give her a chance to clean herself up and regain some of her dignity. Eventually she limps out, sliding a hand along the wall for support; wrapped chastely in a towel. She needs assistance even to sit on the bed. A glass of water and pills are ready.
“Take these. They’re the fastest trip to Fluffy Cloud Land I know of. You might even see me there in an hour or so.”
I grandly reveal the colourful capsules in my palm.
My sales pitch is hoarsely rebuffed.
“There’s no clouds. That's just your brain cells dying.”
“In that case I better halve your dose or you won’t be able to tie your shoes when this shit wears off!”
I get a sarcastic ha-ha in return but the pills are swallowed without further objections. Glaciers advance faster than the rate I’m allowed to recline her onto the bed.
“This stuff might sting a bit. It’s antiseptic cream. OK?”
She stiffens at the thought of being subjected to more of my handiwork but nods her agreement, agreeing it will prevent the need for further medical treatment later. She averts her eyes and bites down hard on a lower lip when I unwrap the towel.
“Don’t tell me you’re feeling bashful, Krissie. You've been flashing me for the last two weeks.”
She graces me with a tiny embarrassed smile amidst the tears that slip down her cheeks. Her bloodshot eyes look into mine trustingly. I slip two throat lozenges between her slack lips and begin the long job of cataloguing her injuries.
A fleeting spark of sexual interest is snuffed out by the extent of her bruising and the cuts that weep clear plasma. It scares me to think, if we still lived in normal times I’d be rushing her to the hospital.
The entire left side of her face is dark with bruising. Her cheeks are red and cut by our assailant’s vicious sharp-edged rings that had adorned each of his fingers.
I talk constantly while wiping away blood and dabbing on cream, joking with her to relieve both our discomfitures. Grateful grunts as the cool, soothing cream does its work and short groans when I move her limbs are my replies.
The throat bruising is untreatable. Bitten, bruised and scratched breasts can only be disinfected. Touching them under these circumstances ruin all past and future fantasies I’d had of handling them.
Any tiny fragment of sympathy for the fate Rat-face faces shrivels to a hard sharp cinder as I work on her. His actions are glowing cinders that burn into my eyes, blurring my sight with angry wetness. Guilt and uselessness drive a sorrowful stake into my heart.
“I’m so fucking sorry I let this happen, Krissie. It’s my fault he got the jump on us.”
“Not your fault. S’the way the world is.”
Her dreamy acceptance does not stop me wishing I could have watched him die. When these cuts heal and bruises fade, Kristine will probably even forgive him. Not I. I’d like to have him alive, locked in a cell downstairs...
I relinquish these useless vengeful thoughts with a deep breath and probe bruised ribs, to feel for the sharpness of broken bone. She gasps at most areas I touch but I can’t help her here; even a doctor has difficulty setting cracked ribs.
Kristine’s immaculately clean circulatory system naively accepts the soft credentials of my hard drugs. Methadone dissolves and is circulated by a rushing blood stream. I watch her muscles uncoil as that calm freight is delivered.
It’s time to move down. Multiple fist-sized bruises are blooming on her stomach. A punching bag would have burst from less punishment. Internal injuries are guessable.
Her hands are covering her pubic mound self-consciously.
“Did he hurt you there?”
She knows what I’m asking and shakes her head in tiny movements. Unsure if shame or a misplaced sense of modesty is causing her to lie, I lightly remove her hands aside and part scraped knees. The place I’d desired now elicits a fearful anticipation of injury. Nasty scratches and bruises have been inflicted along her thighs. That would be from mypistol and someone else’s sharp fingernails. Cleanly shaven of pubic hair, I’m allowed a quick inspection. No injury has been inflicted to the most delicate of areas. Clamping her thighs on the gun barrel has prevented penetration.
I sigh deeply in relief and meet her eye. She watches me woozily, smiling slightly from my reassured reaction.
“Made the bastard stop before he got to what he was after, Krissie. I’d rather be killed than watch him rape you.”
“You were very brave, Sam.”
I rise high on the wings of her gratitude and finish layering cream on her inner thighs so she can close her knees.
“Never knew you had such an impressive set of balls down there.”
I duck the teddy bear she throws at me. Her tinkling laugh is a give-away that the pills have really started to dig in
“Careful. You don't feel anything but the muscles are still torn.”
“I feel like dancing.”
“Shit. You whacked already? Maybe I will halve your next dose.”
She crashes fast. I resist feeling guilty for not prescribing these drugs before scrubbing her raw. But then retract the remorse. Cleaning a collapsed girl in the shower would have been twice as hard as what I’d just been through.
Weak moans are all she can manage when I turn her on one side. The sheet already is sticking to abraded skin. Glowing, red marks are widespread. An entire tube of anti-septic cream is gone by the time treatment is pronounced finished.
The dreamy state she’s attained would be rather nice to share. Morphine is too close by to resist a sample. I take just one.
I know her slitted eyes watch pretty colours from a far-off place as I lay a light sheet over the battered body. She makes the effort to reach out and touch my face.
“Love you, Sam. You’re good friend. Face is a mess; I fix it for you.”
Her concern is confounding. She can’t even focus.
“Think I look like shit? I’ll fetch you a mirror.”
I’m jealous of the oblivion that claims her.