Patient Zero

by Andrea Doria

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction written by a non-doctor and non-lawyer even by a non-English speaker. Any glaring language, medical or judicial mistakes are mine. The story involves a physical relationship between two women. But you knew that, that's why you are here ;) Feel free to send me your thougts:

Chapter 6

Tabernash, Colorado, March 2006
Mo imagined Panda and Snowball looked surprised to see her back so soon. Then they ran off in their usual little snowstorms.

She unloaded her stores from the sled, mostly fresh produce and a few packaged things. She looked forward to a big salad for dinner.

Once the fire got started, she straightened up her living room, and got the sled stowed away properly and closed the garage, all the while trying to decide which of the two movies Lauren had smuggled into her stores, she would watch first.

Her phone rang – a day with good reception then.

- Mo Bancroft

- Hi Mo I just wanted to know if you got home safely,

- Yes thanks Lauren, and thanks for the movies, I think I’m going to watch Queen first.

- Aren’t you having company?

- Company?

- Yes the two women, the one in the red parka and the other one, they rented a sled from Phil and started up your way.

She glanced outside, at the impending dusk,

- When

- When what?

- When did they start up?

- Not long after you, less than an hour.

Mo estimated she had been home for about three hours maybe a little less. They should have gotten there long ago if they were going her way.

- Who says they were going to visit me?

- Delia at the post office, the nice one in the red parka told her, when she got a map of the postal routes.

Mo was mystified. Yes they had nice eye contact at PJ’s but that was hardly enough to climb a mountain to say hi to a stranger. And what about the other woman, then one with the unpleasant vibe, why take her along?

- Guess I have to go down the mountain and check on them then. Mo sighed.

Tabernash, Colorado, March 2006
It had taken all Ann’s strength to tip the sled off Fran’s body. Once freed she didn’t stir. Ann tried talking to her, but her only reply was a groan.

They were at least 300 feet from the track. Ann didn’t know if she could walk the distance or would have to snow swim it. Either way – it would be difficult moving Fran. Maybe she could drag her – on her parka?

The moment she tried to turn Fran towards the track, she saw sweat break out on her forehead and the keening sound returned. She could not move her. She would have to get up to the doctor and get help.

Ann snow swam the first part of the way back to the track. Even while exerting herself she could feel the cold creeping in through her jeans and her thin fleece jacket. But she had packed the red parka around Fran as best she could. She needed it more.

Fortunately she could wade the last part to the track. She knew she couldn’t rest. Couldn’t allow her body to start cooling off. She had to keep going.

Once through the curve, that Fran had tried to shortcut, the track started to climb steeply. It was very hard walking in the sled tracks from Mo Bancroft’s sled. The snow was very slippery and her boots kept sliding, so she wobbled to stay upright. She was afraid to twist her ankle.

Before leaving Fran she had looked for her mobile phone but hadn’t found it. Her own showed no signal.

She kept checking it, but the result was always the same, no signal.

She had no idea how far up the mountain they had come. She thought she could find the curve on the postal route map, but she wasn’t sure. If she was correct, they were only a little more than half way up.

Tabernash, Colorado, March 2006
Mo didn’t have time to get the cats home, so she positioned their cat flap to allow them in but not back out again. She just hoped no predators knew how a cat flap worked.

She stoked her fire as high as she dared.

She had her emergency medical kit in a small pouch around her waist under her suite. She had packed thermal blankets and a thermos of hot tea in the storage compartment of the sled along with two headlamps and a few other essentials.

Then she started down the mountain.

She drove cautiously but as fast as she dared. While dusk was coming, and the temperature was dropping, it was a clear and windless afternoon, and that was good news.

So far she saw only her own tracks. Smiled a little at how often the track going down and coming up merged. She knew her mountain almost by heart and knew the bumps on the tracks and best route to take.

Coming around a rocky outcrop with a blue spruce overhang, she saw a figure ahead of her.

The figure struggled to walk in the now almost icy tracks of her sled.

She saw the person look up sharply when she heard the sled and saw the head light. The figure stopped. It was the blond woman. Mo recognized the jeans and the fleece jacket, but where was her parka? – it was foolish to dump you only source of heat – and where was the other woman?

She closed the gap between them in 10 seconds.

- Am I happy to see you, she could even master a smile, but Mo could see she was shaking from the cold.

She stopped the sled and swung her leg off

- Oh no, we have to go down and help Fran she’s been hurt!

Mo allowed a smile to touch her eyes,

- Yes but first I need to get you warmed up a bit. You are shaking.

She wrapped the blond woman in a thermal blanket and poured her a cup of hot tea. The blond woman drank it as fast as she dared, blowing concentratedly on the surface.

- I’m Mo Bancroft by the way,

- I know, a hand came out of the blanket

- Ann Hunter, and I think I – we – own you and explanation, but Fran is hurt, bad I think.

Mo could tell from Ann’s handshake, that she was doing fine. She pulled out a few brightly covered straps, and started binding them around the woman.

- What are you doing?

- Tying the blanket around you, so it won’t blow off when we drive down. Push your arms through here.

They were back at the accident site in just a few minutes. Ann had walked less than half a mile up the mountain.

It was getting darker.

Mo paced back and forth on the track a few times trying to judge if there was an easier way to get to Fran than, where Ann had managed to get back to the track. There might be, but it would take too long to scout it out.

- Tell me again, where could you walk from?

Ann pointed to a swirl in the snow about 15 feet from where the red parka was visible in the snow.

- And the bottom dropped off right after the rock?

- Yes I took one or two steps and then had to snow swim.

Mo smiled at the words, it was a good description.

- Okay here’s the plan, you stay here for a bit while I go out and check on her. When I yell you wade out as far as you can. The hard part will be getting her across the bottomless part.

- How are you going to do it?

- Don’t know yet.

Mo got out of her jacket and handed it to Ann

- Put it on

Then she unhooked a Gore Tex pouch around her waist. She undid the suspendered part of her ski pants and dropped them around her thighs. She put on the pouch under her thermal underwear, and her fleece sweater and pulled the ski pants back up again.

She got a head amp from the sled and put it on, but didn’t light it. She handed one to Ann too and told her to wear it but keep it turned off for now.

Then she started out.

It looked to Ann as if Mo almost jumped the bottomless part between the track and Fran. She was out there in a flash.

A moment later, she heard a keen. At least Fran wasn’t dead, that had been Ann’s fear. Much as she disliked the woman, she didn’t deserve to die by herself in deep snow.

A moment later, she heard Mo yell:

- Badly broken leg, bad concussion, I’ll wait for the morphine to take effect and then I’ll start moving her. You wait a little long on the track.

It was getting increasingly hard to see anything, and then Ann saw Mo turn on her headlamp.

With a mighty shove Mo bumped the sled off the rock, Ann head it grate against it and the snow groan under its weight. She saw Mo take a step of the rock and on to the sled she managed to keep her balance and jumped a bit to get it stable.

Then Mo went back to Fran. Ann realized Fran was lying off the rock, probably with the leg bend under her.

Mo spread the red parka on the top of the snow covering the rock. Then she reached forward and pulled Fran up around the rock and onto the parka. At that moment she realized who the woman was.

Twice Ann had referred to her as Fran. It was that awful woman, who had sent her all those emails, from PharmaMenta.

That meant Ann was not a friendly face either.

For a moment she thought, why should I help them, but she knew it was just a frustrated thought. She was a doctor, it was her obligation to help them, but maybe she could make them spend the night in the garage?

She didn’t have anything to fix Fran’s leg in place with and now that it was no longer bend under her she just hoped her blood pressure wouldn’t drop and she’d go into shock.

She yelled for Ann to come out.

She got five steps out of the rock and the sled – pulling Fran carefully on deep snow on the red parka.

- Turn your head amp on.

Ann saw Mo stand up on what she assumed was the sled and then throw herself backwards in the snow pulling Fran on the parka behind her. In a moment Ann could reach for Mo’s shoulder and reached over her to grab for the parka.

She ended up falling backwards with Mo between her legs. They struggled to get up.

Ann saw Mo check Fran’s pulse and then they quickly pulled her up to the track.

Mo positioned the sled so the headlight shone on Fran. When Ann saw the leg, she got woozy. She could see white bone sticking out of the shin. Blood had stained her wool trousers a dark brown.

- Look away if it makes you woozy I don’t need two lifeless women

Was it her imagination or had Mo’s tone changed? She had seen a smile when the first met, and while most of their dialogue had been matter of fact so far, the tone had been even. She wondered what had changed that.

But before she had time to think more about that another question was barked at her:

- You think you can ride facing backwards?

She said yes.

- Good, I’ll be ready in a moment.

Mo had bundled Fran’s leg in a thermal blanket. Very tight with straps. And then bundled her up in another two blankets.

She had managed to zipper Ann’s red parka and Fran’s big blue nylon parka together and placed the unconscious woman on them.

Fran was strapped in this parka blanket and the whole bundle was strapped to the sled.

- Yell if anything snaps, Mo told her, and then they were off.

The trip to the doctor’s cabin took 25 minutes. Mo stopped twice to check on the patient. She was out cold.

The hardest part was carrying her into the warm, welcoming cabin. They had to get her up the front stairs, and even though Ann was the smaller of the two women, she had to carry Fran’s upper body. Mo didn’t trust her with the leg. It was very hard keeping the parka blanket stretched out at all times to not shift the position of the broken leg.

Ann collapsed in a heap on the floor next to Fran. She heard a weak moan, escape Fran’s blue lips the rest of her face was pale as death.

Before Ann could wallop in her own misery another order was barked at her.

- Upstairs – under the hot shower with you, there’s a bathrobe on the back of the door. Don’t come down for half an hour.

Ann looked up the steep staircase to an open gangway halfway up the high-ceilinged timber room.

She slowly got to her feet and started climbing.

- Third door on the right, Mo barked.

Tabernash, Colorado, March 2006
Mo sat back on her haunches. She would feel the adrenalin at the back of her mouth like rotten water. Her head wasn’t clear. The anger she felt towards these two women who where intruding on her life, was clouding her thoughts.

She knew she would make a mistake, if the didn’t push them away.

She got up, went to the fireplace and stoked the fire again. They would need all the heat they could get.

Then she went into the kitchen and put two big pots of water on to boil.

She could hear the shower running upstairs. She walked to her linen closet and pulled out two clean sheets.

Maybe she should get Ann Hunter to help her lift the injured women onto her table. But no, she loved that table, she could never imagine having dinner on it again, if she had used it as an operating table. Not even in Africa, had that been done.

She pulled the parka blanket with Fran on it a little closer to the fire.

Using the same technique nurses use to change the sheets on a bed with a patient in it, she got a clean sheet under Fran Ferdinand.

Then she walked outside and turned the generator on and to the garage where she pulled out her tent. It had lovely rigid poles, she chose two half poles and found the duct tape.

Back in her living room, she moved the electric lamp from behind her reading chair, and flooded the floor with light. Then she started to cut the thermal blankets off Fran.

Fran’s color had gotten a little better, her lips where no longer a deep blue, and her skin was regaining a little of it’s color and her pulse was slow but steady.

Mo cut Fran’s pants off. The area around the fracture, where the bone was sticking out, had already turned a dark purple. There was surprisingly little blood. She couldn’t palpitate the area before she had scrubbed in and was wearing gloves.

She heard the door to the bathroom open above her. She heard the gangway creak.

She was ready to sterilize her instruments and scrub in.

- You might as well come down and help, instead of watching from up there. But if you faint, I’ll just show you to the side.

- I’m not going to faint,

Mo looked up as Ann Hunter came down the staircase. She looked stunning, her face glowing from the shower, her wet hair brushed back.

Fortunately Mo’s powder blue bathrobe was a couple of sizes too big on her, and hid her figure.

- Can you tie your hair back with something?

- Sure – do you have some string or an elastic band?

- In the kitchen perhaps, come on I need to boil my instruments.

In the kitchen, Ann found an elastic band on a half eaten bag of raisins and tied her hair back.

Mo was dumping a tray of metal instruments into one of the big pots of boiling water that was steaming the room up.

- Let me show you how to scrub in.

Standing side by side by the sink Mo showed her how to scrub her arms as far up as her elbows and every corner of her hands.

Then she helped her into a pair of thin latex gloves.

- Hold the tray, I’ll start getting the instruments out, then you carry them back to the living room place the tray on the coffee table without touching the table or anything else, got it?

Ann was so deeply concentrated she could only nod.

- I’ll scrub in. Don’t touch anything!

Ann sat very still next to the coffee table where she had placed the tray of dangerous looking instruments. It was a bit awkward sitting without resting her hands in her lap.

A moment later Mo came through the kitchen door. Ann had to hide a smile. She was only wearing her thermal underwear and latex gloves. She had very nice arms.

Mo knelt by Fran’s side and gently folded back the sheet, until it covered her from the knees up only.

Ann was determined not to as much as batter an eye. The most terrifying thing was the color Fran’s leg was turning around the wound.

- That color…

- Her circulation has been cut off. The bone is pinching an artery. Lucky it wasn’t torn or she could have bled to death.

Mo was pouring a yellow-brownish liquid in and around the wound.

- What’s that?

- An animal strength iodine solution – got it when I neutered Panda. I’m sterilizing the wound. That’s the good thing about winter accidents here – not many things to infect a wound, but just to be safe-

Ann was afraid to ask who Panda was.

Gently Mo started to palpitate the wound and to move the parts of the shin on either side of the fracture very gently from side to side.

- We were lucky – could have severed the artery, pulling her up. The bones have to be pulled in place.

- Pulled?

- Yes, anything else could cost her the leg.

Ann noticed they were back to matter of fact dialogue – but no more I’m the general and you are a new recruit tone.

Mo instructed Ann to get behind Fran’s torso and pulling her up into her lap, so she could get her arms around her under her armpits.

- Are you wearing panties?

- Excuse me?

- If you are get them off, I want your bare ass against the floor and your bare feet too. You need all the traction you can get, when I pull.

Ann wasn’t wearing panties, so she gently freed the bathrobe under her and slid in place scooting under the parka blanket and the sheet. Fran weighed a ton, but she did complain slightly when Ann lifted her up.

- Are you ready? On the count of three I’ll pull.

Ann repositioned herself once more, made sure her ass and feet had traction, and then nodded.

- Ready.

- One, two, three – hold on

Ann held on, what she hadn’t been able to, when the sled hit the rock she managed now. She heard the sort of sound a bone makes, when a large animal chomps down on it, and she heard a high-pitched scream from Fran.

That sound was almost a relief drowning out the other one.

- Done, thanks, you did well.

Ann realized she was sweating. She scooted out from under Fran and put her head and torso down gently.

- Now I’ve touched her, then I suppose it does not matter what I touch right?

- Right, you’re done.

At that moment, a small, strange sound came from a part of the cabin she hadn’t seen yet.

- Damn – the cats.

The sound came again.

- Can you go and get the cats, just don’t allow them in here. Mo indicated with her head to an opening behind and around the wall next to the fireplace.

Ann got up, and gathered the huge bathrobe around her. She realized it had just about come open, during the pulling of bone.

She got to the opening, just as a small white and a larger black and white cat was ready to go into the living room. Somehow she managed to gather them both up, looking for somewhere to put them.

She opened a door, it was a linen closet, but easily big enough for two cats. She locked them in and pulled the latex gloves off. She heard a small meow behind the door.

In the kitchen she found a bowl of kibble, and being very careful, she managed to push it through the closet door without letting the cats out.

She assumed the black and white was Panda. He of the home neutering.

Back in the living room Mo was closing the skin and sewing it up.

- They’ll probably redo this at the hospital anyway, has to be way more pretty for a women’s shin, but I want to see circulation back.

The lower part of the leg was not purple blue any more. And Fran’s face was looking a lot less pale. Her lips were even back to their normal color.

- Once the wound is bandaged I need your help with the splint. Again she used her head to guide Ann’s attention to two lengths of metal tube behind her.

- Is it ok for me to handle them without gloves?

- Sure they are going on the outside of the bandage.

Ann picked them up.

- You can start by duct taping the ends, so they won’t cut her, if they grate against her skin.

Ann did, as she was told. Suddenly she realized she was tired, hungry and more than anything else incredibly thirsty. She had swallowed a few handfuls of water after her shower, but now she could empty Lake Superior in a single slurp.

- Hand me those,

Mo put out her hand, and Ann could see the muscle move in her shoulder and upper arm. Now was not a good time to notice nice points of anatomy on the other woman. She dropped her eyes.

Mo was leaning on her arms keeping the poles in place along side Fran’s lower leg.

- I’m gonna lift up her leg. You are going to do a couple of rounds of duct tape just over her ankle and just under her knee. But you have to be quick about it. Can you do it? It has to be tight.

Ann nodded and pulled a length of tape free.

- Let me just get the scissors ready,

For the first time Mo’s face softened a bit.

- Good thinking. Say when.

- When

Ann worked as quick as she could. Realizing the kind of strength it took for Mo to hold the leg the way she did.

- Done, she sank back.

Mo gently put the leg down, and stayed bend over for a moment, getting her breathing back to normal. It hadn’t helped, that she had had a full view of Ann’s cleavage, during the splinting.

To be continued in chapter 7

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