We're at the hospital right now. Lianne's in bed, being drip-fed antibiotics. Her infection was nasty. It took us a day to get here - a day and a half, and she would've had to lose enough chunks of her arm that she may as well have lost it.
We're getting twitchy here. The hospital is lovely - an old manor house conversion, donated to the NHS when its owning family died - but it's in the middle of nowhere, and we're staying in one place in an isolated area. The one thing you never do.
Right now, the rest of us are staying at a hotel about a mile down the road. Roland's footing the bill. The other night was our first time seeing him in a very long time, and Shannon and Roland figured that we'd need little comforts to put us back at, if not ease, then merely our usual level of unease. Comforts matter, every so often.
Speaking of which, I think I owe an explanation.
This whole Lianne arm thing had really gotten to Natalie. She's been here a long time, and in that time, she's taken on Lianne as a mother figure. Seeing her in pain - seeing her dying - really hurt her, but of course, she's Shannon's right hand. She couldn't show it.
It must have been building up since Lianne was stabbed.
And we were making camp for the night when I noticed that her hand iwas shaking, and when I got closer, her breaths were heavy, as though she was on the edge of sobs. I leaned in and whispered, "Do you want to go find somewhere to talk?"
She looked up at me, and nodded. Clasping my hand, she pulled me away into the darkness of the woods around us.
We walked for a good five minutes along a footpath until we reached a wooden bench. She slumped into it like a puppet with her strings cut, and her sobs were loud and thick. I felt sick to see her like this. I sat down next to her and drew her into a hug, and she sobbed into my shoulder for the longest time. "I'm so scared," she kept repeating. I didn't know what to say - the fact was that Lianne may well be dying. No reassurance came to mind. So I stroked her hair and told her everything was going to be okay, and felt ashamed that I couldn't do more to help this poor, shaking young woman clutching onto me and crying into my t-shirt.
And then it changed. I felt her breath catch in her throat
I grabbed her arm and pulled her into a run for the camp, not looking back.
We reached the camp in two minutes. I was rousing the others and tearing my tent from the ground, when Natalie collapsed, clutching at her head and screaming. She'd looked for way too long. Roland slung her over his shoulder and we ran.
We ran until our throats choked with lactic acid, and our muscles ached, deep and raw.
We slept on the earth in our sleeping bags, and the next day, we headed for the nearest hospital.