Hah. Bet you thought I wasn’t going to make it. But it’s still more than twenty minutes to midnight. Plenty of time….
The Dragon, The Wench, and Her Wardrobe
© 2011 Sheila McClune
“Yes, that helps a great deal.” I stretched a hand out over Max’s torso and could definitely feel the heat from the boulders. “Thank you, Dragon. But….”
“What is it, little hoo-mun?”
I moved my hand over Max’s head. “Could I get a couple more? One for up here by his head, and another for down by his feet?”
This time, I knew to shield my eyes from the bright flare of the dragon’s flame. Once again, the dragon lowered hot boulders to the cave floor, placing them gently, almost delicately, where I’d indicated.
“Thanks, Dragon,” I said. I leaned forward to look at Max’s arm and felt my stomach churn. His forearm had an extra bend in it, about two thirds of the way up, one that looked swollen and mottled. I was afraid to touch it. I was also afraid I was going to have to, sooner or later.
“How bad is it?” I could hear strain in his voice.
I shook my head. “It’s not great, but it could be worse. It looks like you broke both bones, but at least the bones didn’t break through the skin.”
“That’s good. Isn’t it?”
“Yeah. Especially since I doubt my first-aid skills are up to dealing with an open fracture.” I was pretty sure that unit in my first aid class had consisted of “Call 9-1-1, keep the patient calm, and wait for the paramedics.” I glanced back at the train and decided not to count on help from that quarter. Turning to Max, I asked, “How are you doing?”
“Better,” he half-sighed, half-groaned. “Still a bit cold, though.”
“Give it a few minutes. If you’re still cold, we can ask the dragon to heat more rocks.” Max did look kind of pale, especially where his dark hair rested against his skin. I put my hand on his forehead, but that didn’t tell me much except that he felt cold and clammy. Either that, or my hand was cold and clammy. He looked up at me, and I did my best to give him a smile. “Wish I had a thermometer.”
“If wishes were horses,” he quipped with a weak smile.
“Then beggars would ride,” I finished, absently. I scooted back around to his other side, trying to avoid the pool of vomit. Squatting on my heels, I reached for his wrist so I could take his pulse. Then I realized that I didn’t have a watch, and my cell phone was back on the train. “Dammit.”
“I don’t suppose you have a watch or a cell phone?”
“Cell phone’s in my left-hand pants pocket. I’d get it for you, but….” He gestured vaguely with his good arm. “But I doubt we get any reception down here.”
“I need to use it as a watch.” Biting my lip, I reached over and slid my hand into his pocket. My questing fingers found keys, coins…ah, and the sleek flat form of a cell phone. I drew it out and poked at one of the buttons. The display lit up, showing the time down to the second. “Ten-seventeen? Is that all?” I shook my head and set about counting out his pulse. When I’d hit thirty well before the fifteen-second mark, I swallowed. “It’s pretty fast.” And a little uneven, but I wasn’t going to tell him that.
“What is that thing?” rumbled the dragon’s voice from just over my shoulder, at the same time a warm whuff of air ruffled my hair.
I jumped. “Ga-a-ah!” The cell phone slid from my fingers to bounce off my leg and land on the cave floor. “Dammit, Dragon! Don’t sneak up on a person like that!”
“But what is that thing? It’s shiny, and it glows.”
I picked it up and tucked it in my pocket. “It’s a cellular phone. Humans use them in our world to communicate with each other over distances.” I stood and surveyed the cave floor between me and the train. It was rocky and uneven and looked like about a mile, even though I knew it wasn’t more than about two hundred yards. “Max, I hate to say it, but I think we need to splint your arm. Did you have anything in your carry-on that we could use?”
“Are-are you sure? Can’t we wait for help?” Max’s voice held a hint of desperation.
“Are you saying you could use that device to summon other hoo-muns here?” The dragon thrust his face in front of me and huffed again.
I rolled my eyes. “It won’t work here, Dragon. There aren’t any cell towers. Max, I don’t–”
“But you just used it, I saw you. And we have towers here. Dwarves built them, long ago. I can’t wait to show them to you. So why won’t your device work?”
“No. Later. I need to fix Max now, or at least as best I can. I’ll be happy to discuss cell phone towers with you later.” I looked up at the dragon. “Okay?”
The dragon rumbled, but finally said, “Oh, very well. Do what you must.”
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