The sound of metal being shredded and ripped apart along with the acrid odor of overheated asphalt woke him. Hazel-green eyes, barely visible behind the colorful array of bruises held nothing but immense confusion. Confusion that slowly gave way to fear as the pain set in. Frantically he tried to sit up, and when that failed he tried to turn his head to see where he was; what was going on.
"He's alive!" screamed a distant disembodied voice to his left. "This one's still alive! He’s trying to move. Hurry up! Throw me a brace. Let's get this thing off him and get him out of the rain!" The chainsaws seemed to drown out the voice and the boy nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard the voice, much closer this time, talk into his ear.
"Shh, you need to hold still," the ethereal voice said above him. “We’re putting a brace around your neck so that we can keep your head and neck straight. We don’t want you moving around and hurting yourself any more than you already are. Okay?”
Slipping the brace gently around the boys head and strapping it down tight he continued. "You've been in an accident, but don’t worry. Everything is under control, all right? Just try and be patient with us and we'll get you out of here. Quick as a wink, does that sound good?"
The young man, dark hair made even darker by the blood seeping from his forehead and mangled nose, tried in vain to make his eyes focus on the voice to his left. All he could see, though, was the metal body of the car above him.
Blinking his eyes from the sudden realization that there was something making them burn; there was a dampness running into them that stung like no other and the urge to puke wouldn’t go away.
Iron, he thought. It's iron that I'm tasting, my blood has iron in it. Stupid hemoglobin.
That thought alone nearly made him laugh as he couldn’t fathom why it was that during a crisis people tended to remember the oddest things in life, like your sophomore year science lessons.
"Hurts...it hurts,” he mumbled as he felt the weight on his lower abdomen begin to shift. The pain was excruciating. At first it seemed to become even heavier but, then suddenly it began to lessen.
What is going on? What the hell am I doing here and where the fuck am I?
Straining his head, he tried once more to glance at his surroundings as the chainsaws were getting closer. He could tell that they were right above him, but where did the voice go? Did it leave him there alone? He hoped not.
Where was here? he wondered silently to himself, when suddenly it came to him. He could remember Carter picking him up in his new car. It had been Carter’s birthday and he’d just turned seventeen. He could remember laughing with the blonde boy about turning seventeen on the seventeenth. It was just comical, they’d thought. Carter had picked him up at his parent’s house earlier in the evening, shortly after getting home from school.
After passing his drivers test two days ago, his parents had taken him to a Mazda dealership to pick up his dream car; a Mazda Miata. They were celebrating the fact that, for once in his high school career, Carter had gotten all “A’s” while maintaining an afterschool job. They were so proud of him.
If Carter was driving…then where was he and how did I end up here?
The dark haired boy knew he’d been buckled into the passenger’s seat, but why the wreck?
The wreck! The deer! We hit a deer. Oh shit.
He could remember now. They had been running late. Nearly past curfew when they were racing back to Carter’s parents' place.
Boy that car could fly!
They had been warned ahead of time that if they were late, the consequences would be dire. Carter would loose all vehicular privileges for a whole month, something neither wanted as they had plans for this summer.
His reverie was broken by the voice. It was back. "Son? Can you hear me?"
As his eyebrows shot up into his blood-soaked hair, the boy tried once more in vain to tilt his head so that he could see better. While he appreciated the company, he needed to remember. He wasn’t entirely certain he could speak anyway.
"I need you to help me, son. Can you do that? Can you hear me? If you can hear me, try to move your fingers.” The voice, becoming distant once more, as if he were looking away from the prone figure, yelled, “He's not responding!"
If Carter broke curfew tonight, he was sure to loose his “driving privileges”. It had been raining and he could remember Carter driving fast, not in the troughs, but up on the sides of the road so as to prevent hydroplaning. His dad had explained it all to him, he’d said, and he’d seemed so proud of himself for remembering. Then there was the deer. They hadn’t planned for the deer.
All at once, things began to happen fast. A burning hot hand touched the young man’s cheek…seemingly burning and making him feel cold in response. Somewhere nearby he could hear someone say something about 'not wanting to lie on ice', and it was all he could do to not vouch for that vote. It was cold after all.
Perhaps it had begun to snow after the rain? Funny thing to have happen in the summer, he thought with a small smile.
"He's talking, though he's still not responding. He is talking though!" He could tell it was the same voice. That was something, he supposed. Perhaps he’d really meant it when he’d said he wouldn’t leave.
"Son, listen we've almost got you. My name's Jonathan and I'm an EMT paramedic. I’ll be here with you the whole way okay? I’m not in any hurry and I’m not going anywhere without you. How does that sound?” he asked while holding the boy’s wrist, checking for a pulse. “You've been in an accident and everything is going to be all right. Can you hear me buddy? Can you feel my hands? I’m touching your wrist son. Can you feel that? It’s all right if you can’t, just focus on my voice. All right?"
But where was Carter? he wondered. We must have hit the deer. There’s no other reason I’d be on the ground if we hadn’t have hit the deer. I wonder if the deer is all right? But where is Carter?
He knew they’d both been belted in as both sets of parents were incredibly obsessive about seat belts. Now that he thought about it, it did make sense. He was still alive, so that was proof that they do save lives. Right?
If the crumpled pile of metal above him was the once beautiful 2006 Miata, then he knew that all shit would break loose as soon they made it to the hospital. Carter’s dad was going to kill them.
Still not sure if he bought the car for Carter or himself, he thought with a snort.
The boy nearly laughed out loud at the thought of the vein in Mr Mitchell’s head throbbing as it did when he was trying in vain to curb his temper. It was so comical and so easy to provoke.
"Son?" The voice was back. "My name is Jonathan and I'll be with you throughout this entire ordeal. All right? Can you hear me, son? There's been a car accident and we're in the process of getting you out so we can get you out of this rain and into a nice warm hospital bed. Does that sound good?"
“Carter? Where's Carter?" came the mumbled and nearly incoherent response.
"Son? Is that his name? Carter? Is that the other boy in the vehicle with you? Well, your friend is just fine I'm sure. We've the best EMTs working on him now and they're getting ready to take him to the hospital. You'll be following along just as soon as we get this car off you. You had to go and crawl up underneath this thing, didn’t you?” he asked with a chuckle, trying to make light of the situation. “Do you think you can squeeze my hand? Son, what's your name? Can you tell me your name?"
"Mike." I whispered. "Mike Leightson," a little louder this time. "So cold...so co..."
“Mike? That’s a good name. I bet it’s short for Michael. Am I right?” Getting no answer he continued, “Look Mike, can you do me a favor and try squeezing my hand again? Can you feel the blankets wrapped around you?” he asked. The boy was getting paler by the second. It was terrifying watching his color bleed out of his skin. “Mike, we’ve wrapped several space shuttle looking blankets around you. They look as if they came straight from NASA, all silver and shiny. We want to hold in your heat as much as possible. Can you feel them? Mike?”
Feeling the boys cheek once more, the coolness scared the burly EMT. "We're losing him! Get this car off him and prep the paddles! He’s going into shock! I’m afraid we’re not going to make it with this one!"
On the other side of the car, another man with the name James stitched onto his shirt replied, "Two more cuts and we should be through. Get ready!"
"Is his neck stabilized?” came a third voice. This voice belonged to a slender young man in his mid-twenties. He was in the process of inserting inflatable bags under the car.
“Can’t you see the brace?” came a semi-sarcastic response from the burly EMT.
“Okay, get ready then. Everyone set? We'll pull him out on three!" The three EMTs knelt on the rain-soaked grass, shoulder to shoulder, and gently pulled the young boy out from under the half-ton wreckage. After removing portions of the undercarriage with the “Jaws of Life”, the rescue workers had been able to place huge airbags under certain portions of the vehicle allowing it to shift without causing further damage to the teenager. It had taken nearly thirty minutes to simply get to that point.
"Ready?! One...two...three! Gently now."
As they pulled him onto the gurney the no longer disembodied man that had acted as a lifeline for the boy reached for a pulse, fearing the worst. He’d been doing this for over a decade now and watching children die, or anyone for that matter, always got to him. He was at the point of no longer wanting to journey out to accidents that were thought to contain casualties, but the fear that someone would have to die alone always made him attend. As a rule, though, he kept away from the train accidents. He simply could not handle them anymore. He had to draw the line somewhere.
“He's still got a pulse.” Sighing loudly he said, “Thank God for miracles.” Quickly he grabbed the saline drip and after swiping off the blood and grime from the lad’s arm with an alcohol wipe, he inserted the needle and started the drip.
Looking around at the men busily packing up, “Okay boys, let’s get him loaded and get the hell out of here. Anybody else’s raincoat failing? We’ll work on him on the way. Is there any news on the other boy yet?” he asked while standing up, carefully holding the drip steady he kept pace with the two others as they carried the boy to the ambulance.
While rushing to the hospital with a still unconscious Mike, a call came over the radio from the dispatcher. They were to take an alternative route to the hospital as there was an accident in front of them a mile and a half ahead involving the ambulance that had left twenty minutes earlier.
“Are you serious? You’re kidding me. Please tell me you’re kidding me,” cried the driver as he frantically swerved into the far lane, horn honking and sirens blaring; alerting his presence. He’d had to cut off three lanes of traffic and jump a curb in order to make his new turn off.
“Jonathan? You were asking about the other boy?” he hollered to the back.
“Yeah?” came the muffled response as he held a tourniquet in his teeth, hands busy with the dying boy. “Any news on him? He was better off than this one from what I could see,” he said after drawing blood while another set up a morphine drip.
“Apparently it never made it.” Sighing heavily he continued, “I guess there was an accident. I don’t know the details yet. All they’ll tell me over the radio is that they never made it and that’s why we’re taking route two, back. Route one is blocked till further notice. All emergency personal are now to take alternative routes.”
“Holy shit.” Stopping what he was doing he looked up and into the other man’s eyes. “Well this is one hell of a night, isn’t it.”
Talk about needing to be able to react well under stressful conditions, he thought with a snort.
“Must not be too good then. Dammit, I hope everyone’s all right.”
After smacking his head on the wall of the ambulance, “Hey Steve, could you take it easy on those turns, the boy’s going to roll off the damn gurney!”
“Jonathan, Faith View Hospital is radioing in; they’re ready for details if we have any.”
“Ok, hand me the radio.” Clearing his throat he continued, “We have a sixteen year old male, identification card states name is Michael Leightson. He goes by Mike. Date of birth is July 18th, 1992. Condition is in and out of consciousness; he’s suffering from a concussion, internal bleeding, numerous lacerations to the face and arms. A broken clavicle, humorous, and what appears to be a fractured pelvis. We have an ETA of approximately eight minutes.”
“Jonathan, I think he’s waking up.”
Handing the radio back to the front he looked down at his young charge. There was no way he could leave him. Both legally and emotionally. By law, he was bound to the patient till someone of equal or greater standing took over for him. Emotionally, though, he was bound till his charge was safe and sound in the nearest hospital bed. Looking into the swollen half slits that once held shining green eyes, the man could see just a glimmer of consciousness. “Mike, can you hear me? If you can, blink your eyes…there that’s a good boy.”
Gently grabbing the boy's right hand, he asked, “Ok, now can you feel my hand? Blink once for yes and twice for no.”
Struggling to blink, the boy squeezed his swollen eyes shut just once. “That’s great! Can you squeeze my hand now? There’s a good boy.”
Beaming down at the boy, “We’re going to get you right as rain in no time. We’re almost to the hospital.”
In a quiet, husky voice on the verge of tears, “Mom…I want my mom.”
Still holding his hand, “Your parents are being contacted and I’m sure they’ll meet us at the hospital. Mike, can you tell me how old you are?”
I need to give a very special thanks to my editor Rob. He’s the only one I trust to untangle my grammatical mishaps.
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