Jane Jago’s latest hard-hitting novel, serialised for you to enjoy! If you missed the start you can catch up here.
The brawny chested jumpsuit guy had taken quite a lot of shotgun pellets in his shoulder and upper arm.
“The shot needs to come out. Local?”
“Can you try without?”
“I can. Yell if it hurts too much.”
“Oh. I will.”
Sam picked up a pair of sterile tweezers and made short work of removing the lead balls.
“Antiseptic now. This will hurt, but it’ll be fast.”
Sam poured a whole bottle of antiseptic over the area and grinned at his patient’s inventive cursing.
“Only two places needing stitching. Again I have to ask if you want a local?”
“No thanks. But can I ask where you got so familiar with gunshot wounds?”
“You can,” Sam set the first stitch quickly and his patient barely moved. “Thailand. Working for Medicins sans Frontiers. We looked after kids who had been rescued from the sex traders, and quite often the rescuers got shot.”
He set two more stitches.
“Right. Done. Field dressing?” One appeared in his hand and he applied it with careful thoroughness.
“Thanks mate. That feels good.”
“Okay. The stitches are self dissolving so you shouldn’t need any more professional care. Keep it dry for a week, and you’ll be fine.”
The jumpsuits’ boss leaned over and spoke softly to Sam.
“They never intended giving the kid back alive, did they?”
“Probably not. The way they ill-treated him certainly makes it seem that way.”
“But he’ll be OK now?”
“Yes. Both physically and mentally. But I’m fucking relieved we got to him when we did. They hadn’t started really putting the frighteners on him, so he’s upset but not damaged.”
“You a trick-cyclist then?”
“No but my Dad was, and I’ve seen a lot of abused kids.”
“Is there anything else we can do for the kid now?”
“Not unless you can produce some hot food.”
“Yeah. But how?”
“We’ve got a small stock of self heating pouches of food for emergencies. He’s welcome. The chicken soup is even palatable. And we’ve got bowls and spoons.”
“Great. But can we let him sleep for a few minutes first?”
“Can do. Warm soup after we have taken off?”
Sam turned his head.
“You holding, Rod?”
“Just about. I can keep a lid on the anger for Billy’s sake. But it ain’t easy.”
“No. It’s not. And I wouldn’t ask you to do it if he didn’t need you to be a calm, safe presence. Is he sleeping peacefully now?”
“Good. If he starts to twitch or show signs of distress talk to him calmingly. Tell him he’s safe and he’s with you.”
“Right. Can do.”
The helicopter door opened to admit the boomer boys and the rest of the jumpsuit men. One of the boomer boys was cradling his left arm and looked to be in some pain. Sam raised his brows.
“I think it’s broke. Got caught in a fecking booby trap. But now we need to take off PDQ. We ain’t got more than fifteen minutes before the whole thing goes up. We lost five while the boys dug me out.”
As he was speaking, the engine note of the chopper changed and they left the ground. Everyone got headphones, even the sleeping William, and conversation became a lot easier.
“We have to take a detour” the boss explained. “Firstly to put those hills between us and the castle when she blows, but also to come into Scottish air space from the North Sea. We’ve got a couple flight plans filed, and that one brings us in from an oil platform. We were never here.”
“No indeed,” the boomer boys agreed. “Not within a hundred miles.”
Sam laughed harshly.
“What about the survivors who saw you?”
“Ah. Good. Bastards.”
Rod reached over and patted him.
“Goes against the grain doc. Or does it?”
“Not with what they were doing to that little man. Now I’ve a broken wrist to look at. Somebody help him out of his shirt. Gently. Cut the sleeve.”
Willing hands obeyed and Sam eyed the misshapen limb.
“Don’t need an X-ray. That is most definitely bust. Both bones. And before you get all butch on me I’m going to have to give you a walloping great shot of local just to relax your muscles enough for me to put the bones in their proper place.”
“Can ye?” the injured man asked.
“If he can’t, nobody can,” Rod asserted. “As well as being my mate, the bugger is an orthopaedic surgeon what the nurses reckon is a genius.”
“Shut up you big tosser” Sam said mildly and shoved a needle full of something into the upper part of the injured arm. He took an appliance out of one of the packs, and waited about five minutes before poking the wrist experimentally. The man didn’t seem to notice.
“Okay. Lay him down on the floor and hold his head and feet. This will be quick but he may still feel it enough to struggle.”
He leaned over and gave a pull and a twist to the arm.
“Hold this still,” he barked and the boss obeyed while he wrapped what looked like a blue plastic bag around the arm, then he set a compressor going and inflated the splint around the arm.
“You’ll do for now. Sit him up and watch him for nausea. Sometimes that much painkiller can make people sick. If somebody calls ahead for the kit, I’ll do a proper plaster when we get to Glasgow. Tell whoever, that I want glass fibre bandages, not plaster of Paris.”
As he stood and stretched, he found himself the recipient of an unexpected round of applause.
“You’re a useful bloke to have around. I could have done the usual first aid, but I’d never have dared manipulate the bones.”
“No. Neither should I have. But I’m a cocky sod. And I’m good.” Then he stopped grinning. “As soon as we’re sure the castle has gone off bang, we should call this wee man’s mum and dad, so they know he’s safe.”
As if on cue, a brawny arm passed Sam a bowl of soup and a spoon.
“I ain’t made it too hot, have I?”
Sam tested the temperature.
“No that’s perfect. Somebody switch on his headphones. Let’s see if he’ll wake up and eat.”
Rod kissed the head that lay against his chest.
“Supper sleepyhead,” he said gently.
William stirred and opened his eyes.
“Uncle Rod. You really here?”
“I am. And so is Doctor Sam, who has some soup for you. It’s nice and warm.”
William turned a shy smile to Sam.
“You stopped me feeling sick. And you never hurt me. Thank you.”
Sam smiled at him.
“You are entirely welcome. You wanna try some of this soup?”
The little lad opened his mouth like a baby bird, and Sam fed him a spoonful of warm soup, then another. He ate the lot, then snuggled against Rod and dropped back to sleep.
“He seems awful sleepy.”
“Stress. Still drugs in his system. The relief of being safe. Sleepy is normal. I’d worry if he wasn’t.”
“Oh. I see.”
The pilot’s voice came through everyone’s headphones. “We’re going to land now, briefly. Until the bangs stop. Then we can piss off at top speed.”