His feet landed firmly on a patch of rough gravel. The jolt caused the dark angel in his arms to groan weakly. Swiftly, he left the path, crossed the narrow strip of grass then carried her down the rough-hewn stone steps to the walled courtyard of the beach hut, taking care not to slip. Hearing him approach, Trine opened the door, spilling light out into the courtyard.
“You brought her here!” she gasped, eyes wide with surprise.
“I didn’t know where else to take her,” said the runner as he carried the angel inside. “Close the door. Can you fetch the bag of first aid stuff? I think it’s beneath the sink.”
Heading into his own bedroom, he called back, “I’ll need some hot water soap and a flannel too.”
“Do you need help?”
“Yes,” he replied without hesitation. “That knife is still in her back.”
“I think she’s been on the floor of her mausoleum for the last three months,” he revealed as he laid the dark angel on the bed face down. “She’s barely alive. She’s been feeding on mice and voles. The place was littered with them.”
“It’s a miracle she’s alive,” muttered Trine as she turned to fetch the supplies.
Taking care not to hurt her any further, he began to strip the dark angel’s soiled clothing from her limp body. Her cloak practically fell off in his hands, revealing her blood soaked back. The fabric of her blouse was torn and thick with congealed blood and stinking green pus. He could see it was all crusted round the embedded blade and around the hilt of the knife. Through the sheer fabric he could see that the skin around the root of her wing to the right of her spine was black. The root of her wing looked shrivelled, and the wing lay limply by her side, the feathers dull.
“We need a healer,” stated Trine simply as she appeared beside him with the Boots bag and a bowl of steaming hot water.
“I know but I can’t rock up to A&E with her, can I?” he replied sharply. “We’ll need to pull that blade out ourselves. Unless you have a better idea?”
Silently, Trine shook her head.
“Let’s clean her up first before we touch the knife,” he suggested. “Do you have any spare clothes she can borrow?”
“I’ll find something,” said the Ice Maiden, already heading towards her own room.
By the time she returned a few minutes later with some underwear and a loose blouse, he had stripped off the angel’s stinking clothes and thrown them outside.
“I’ll bathe her,” said Trine bluntly, her tone leaving no room for debate. “We’ll need more medical supplies. More of those white pads and more of that sticky tape.”
Nodding, he said, “I’ll fetch some. I’ll see if I can find some antibiotics too. We need to kill any infection.”
“Your modern drugs may kill her,” said Trine wisely. “Bring back some honey. Manuka honey if you can find some. We’ll treat this the old-fashioned way.”
“Ok. I’ll see what I can find,” he promised. “I’ll be as quick as I can.”
Finding the first aid supplies was easy. He transported himself back to Boots and filled another bag from their shelves, adding some penicillin from the pharmacy just in case. There was no food section in the store so there was no honey. Thinking on his feet, he transported himself out of the shop and into the empty concourse of the mall, keeping to the shadows. Nervously, he looked around. Further along to his right, he spotted a sign saying, “Health Food Store”. Cautiously, he crept through the empty mall, praying that he was avoiding being seen by the cctv cameras. Once outside the small health food shop, he transported inside. Luck was on his side! Inside the door was a display of manuka honey. Quickly, he scooped six jars into the bag, folded his wings around himself and returned to the beach hut, landing lightly in the courtyard.
When he re-entered the bedroom, Trine had just finished bathing the dark angel and had managed to dress her in some clean underwear. She had begun to gently clean the infected skin around the knife.
“How is she?” he asked anxiously.
“The same,” replied Trine without looking up. “She hasn’t regained consciousness. I haven’t found any other injuries though.”
“I got everything you asked for including the honey,” he said, holding up the bulging bag. “I brought some antibiotics just in case. Penicillin.”
“I’m no chemist but they discovered it was a cure for infections a hundred years ago. It grew as a mould or something.”
“We’ll try the honey first,” suggested Trine. “If it doesn’t work then we can talk about using your modern magic pills.”
“Ok, so now what?”
“We pull out the knife and be ready with clean clothes to staunch the flow of blood,” she advised calmly. “You pull it.”
Silently, he nodded his agreement.
Space in the room was tight. Carefully, Trine climbed up onto the far side of the bed, gauze swabs in hand, taking care not to move too much and disturb the prone angel’s position. Standing at the side of the bed, the runner placed a hand on the dark angel’s arm and whispered, “I’m going to pull the knife out now. Sorry. This is going to hurt.”
“Slow and steady. Don’t twist the blade,” cautioned Trine, looking as anxious as he felt.
Wrapping his hand round the ornate hilt, he pulled gently. At first there was no movement from the blade.
“Harder,” instructed the Ice Maiden.
He applied a little more force, and the blade began to ease its way out. It was catching on something hard inside, either the edge of her shoulder blade or maybe a rib or a vertebra. Blood started pouring down her back around the metal.
“Pull hard. Quicker!”
“You said slowly.”
“There’s too much blood. Get it out now!”
With a final tug, he freed the blade. The second it was out, Trine placed a wad of gauze over the wound to soak up the blood. A putrid smell filled the room.
“That wound is bad,” she said. “Smells of death.”
“Well, that knife’s been in there a long time. I felt things moving inside her as it came free. I’ve a feeling there might be bone fragments loose in there,” he explained, feeling a little queasy as he recalled the blade catching on bone as he’d pulled.
“Bones will heal. We need this bleeding to stop first. Pass me more of those white squares.”
It took a few minutes, but the flow of blood finally eased then stopped. Taking care not to start the bleeding again, Trine washed the gaping hole out with hot water then cleaned it with some antiseptic wipes. The runner watched as she then soaked some more the square swabs with honey and packed the wound. She taped a large clean white dressing over the top.
“That will need to be cleaned and dressed daily until it heals,” she said calmly. “If it heals.”
“You’ve done a good job. Thank you.”
“I’ve done my best,” she said with a weary sigh. “Healing her just to kill her feels all wrong.”
“I know,” he acknowledged. “But she’s got to heal first. That wound could end it all.”
“True. All we can do now is wait.”