Any physical fortitude that had sustained Carlon thus far evaporated at the sight of her agreement, his shoulders dropping as his body attempted to relax just shy of the goal at hand. Refusing to fail now that they had got so close, he took a breath then tensed his body, steeling himself for the last few feet to shelter. Here, he thought as he nudged the door so that it looked closed to an unobservant eye, she could rest. Here was a brief respite from the horrors that lurked behind the familiar faces of friends and classmates. Yet as Carlon stood there waiting for his eyesight to adjust to the limiting streams of light within the damaged structure, all he could think about was how much he did not want these moments. To breathe, to think right now would be to give embers to the fear and doubts that were constantly waiting for their moment.
The rough lines of hay bales came into view, and inspiration struck a solution to at least one problem they had. Carlon forced himself forward those last few steps so that he could crouch; carefully sitting his companion upon one of them, hands only releasing her shoulders when he was satisfied that she was settled. He then promptly collapsed against the edge of the lowest hay bale himself, tossing his bag unceremoniously down as if it had caused all of this, feeling the tension in his muscles seep away, and dreading as a singular damning thought crept back into his consciousness, threatening to turn into processes that were as far from logical as they could get. They promised to undo him if left unchecked, and in his mental flight, he sought the refuge of surveying the state of Alexandria.
It was the first time he had really looked at her since they had left the clearing, and as he contemplatively took in her pale complexion, the shallowness of her breaths, he realised that the solution to his problems lay in hers. On the way here he had thought of nothing but getting away from Hansel from everyone. Then shelter. Now the next step stared him back, labouredly breathing and on the point of collapse. Carlon drew himself up so that he was upright once more, unzipping his duffel bag with one hand before cracking the seal on the bottle of water, keeping the lid in his hand as he passed it up for her to drink.
Swallowing but failing to shift the lump that had formed in his throat, Carlon moved so that he was now crouched before Alexandria, inwardly dreading facing the reality of what Hansel had done. Just because she had survived the injury did not mean that the prospects she had on the island were any better for it. He turned his gaze reluctantly downwards. Though his vision was impaired by the light, he realised two things with a sinking heart. One, that Alexandria was wearing two different coloured sneakers, which he suspected was not a poor fashion choice, and secondly that he was going to have to do something about it.
First he needed light, and in a bid to achieve this Carlon reached over to lift his duffel bag and place it beside him nearest Alexandrias good leg, so not to cause her any further discomfort. After a moments searching he withdrew a flashlight, the immediate area illuminating the instant that he flicked it on. Whilst that meant he could now see the girls face, it also meant that she could now see the colour drain from his face as he realised the extent of the wound.
Her left shoe and sock, once white, had been stained a morbidly obvious shade of red that left Carlon in doubt as to the severity of the wound. Little wonder she was so drained having walked so far on such an injury. He nestled the flashlight awkwardly against the bag so that it angled its light directly at the current focus of attention, then his now free hands rummaged through the nearly empty bag. It had been a vain hope, but relief caught him in a rare moment of elation as he withdrew the first aid box from the bag.
It did not take long to open the kit, and only a few minutes of searching for Carlon to find everything he thought he might need to treat the injury, lying them all neatly across his own backpack in a neat little row. Alex, he started, all too aware of the quiver that made his nervousness plain to hear, I need to... you... it cant stay open.
His voice ended on a rasp, and Carlon gave up on words in favour of action. She had to know what he needed to do, he told himself as he gripped the hem of her jeans between shaking fingers, lifting a pair of scissors from the line of materials with his free hand. The material slid under his fingertips; Carlon did not need to look to know that he had her blood on his hands. If he did not do this, then her chances of leaving this barn let alone the island were slim.
He cut up past her ankle on both sides to halfway up her shin, jaw clenching and movements hesitating with every sound of pain that Alexandria could not keep inaudible. You did not do this to her. Youre making it better. He set aside the scissors then rediscovered his slick grip on the jeans.
There was no trace of the smile that had been omnipresent before the island as he began to lift the fabric away from the wound, systematically folding it up and over the bloody mess that was hidden beneath. The coppery smell, which had until then only heightening his nausea, threatened to disorientate him completely. Carlon swallowed against the bile that rose through his throat, took a moment and prayed for strength. A few short words entered into his mind, the beginnings of a prayer that he had uttered every day and night since he had been small.
It calmed him to focus on his faith; to centre on the belief that had been nurtured throughout his entire life. He still felt sick and especially afraid of his own cowardice as he focused on the source of Alexandrias pain but doggedly determined in spite of that. He would not kill or maim, but he possessed evidence before his own eyes that others were quite willing to do just that. If she was if they were both - going to stand a chance, then this had to happen quickly.
Carlon knew barely anything about medicine. He had antiseptic wipes, bandages, tape, and a bottle of water all laid out beside him the very basics to treat and clean a wound, and although he had no idea if he was doing everything right, he felt better for doing something.
His ignorance of her sobs was not because he was heartless, but because he knew it would be impossible to continue if he acknowledged for a second that his actions were causing her to suffer so badly above him. He settled the thick wet material on the relatively clean section above it, and set his sights not on the task but on the end result. Making sure to remove the blood stained sock and sneaker, Carlon noted that they were not in a particularly wearable state after their trek with a freely bleeding wound, but reckoned that getting them sodden through in addition was only going to hinder, rather than help. The second water bottle was opened with one swift motion, and he used it sparingly, combined with as gentle a touch as he could manage, to rid the injured area of grime and dried blood. It was hard to stomach at first, but watching the water clean away the blood, revealing reddened but otherwise healthy skin around the-
That was when Carlon noticed the little puddle of water forming beneath Alexandrias leg, putting aside the bottle to examine as he picked up the antiseptic wipes instead. He reached a hand around the back of her ankle, flinching visibly at the tortured cry that resulted in him pressing a mere fingertip against the exit wound of the bullet. It had gone clean through he realised, the revelation conjured feelings of disgust and relief simultaneously. That hopefully meant that the wound would heal well, but it disturbed him to think as he dabbed at the wounds edges to ensure it was clean, of the damage that had been done. They all had only days to live if a rescue did not come and Alexandria could not even walk without support, let alone defend herself; not a great start.
Carlon discarded the few used wipes onto the floor nearby and tried for a smile as he addressed Alexandria, hands stained in her blood and not even halfway done. Just a little bit longer, he reassured her, unrolling the sterile bandage and pressing its end against the side of her ankle, then tightly winding it around enough so that there was a bulge of fabric, tucking the end under and through to secure it.
Admittedly there were probably still half a dozen things wrong with Alexandria that Carlon had not even thought to check for, at least her injury was bandaged up and clean for now. Now all that remained to be done was to let her catch her breath and move on once she felt up to it; find someplace more secure and preferably with a comfortable bed where they both could get some well-earned sleep. Carlon, however, refused to stop for a moment, beginning to separate the used equipment from the reusable and beginning the process of organising his bags so that he had easier access to the supplies in future.