Michael was mumbling, his hands pressing against the wound as blood pissed through the cracks in his fingers.“Don't let it be an artery, don't let it be an artery.” He looked up to the others “Gauze!” Michael yelled, jolting up down and side to side as the van sped over the unkept highway. “Bandages, anything!”
“Here's a compression bandage, there's gauze in the seat pocket, I'll get it in a second,” said the passenger, throwing Michael a vacuum sealed package.
Michael tore it open and was unraveling the bandage when a pack of gauze dropped at his knee which was dug into Andrea's hip. He set the bandage aside and unraveled a length of gauze before releasing his knee from her wound. He nearly made it to the gouge with the gauze before the blood oozed out.
With a stiff finger, he plunged the white fabric into the cavity, packing it as deep as he could. He made it through half of the roll before noticing more blood pooling from elsewhere. When he lifted her knee, he saw the exit wound; a ghastly crevice of stringy meat, filleted from the bone and protruding from her upper thigh like hanging spaghetti. “Damn it,” he said between clenched teeth. “I need more gauze.”
Another pack was thrown to him as the two men watched with concern flooding from their eyes.
Michael packed the other half of the first roll into the exit wound and finished off the second before wrapping her leg and applying the pressure bandage.
Finally, Michael stepped over her and collapsed against the far wall of the van, cradling her head against his lap as her naked body shook limply with every bump and turn the van made. He tried to slow his breathing, wiping sweat away from his forehead only to replace it with her blood. After a few moments of rest, he leaned forward and began pulling the jumpsuit back over her body.
“How far?” asked John to the driver.
“About ten clicks,” said the driver, looking back briefly. “We could go through the city, but that's just-” His words were cut short as the windshield exploded, blood splashing against the upholstery next to Michael's head.
The van rocked to one side as the driver's body fell limp against the center console.
Michael held tightly on to Andrea and braced himself as best he could before the vehicle stopped in one agonizing instant.
The vehicle was immediately consumed by a cloud of dust and black smoke, the engine clicking loudly as the broken fans slapped against the contorted engine parts.
“We have to move!” came a voice from through the smoke, followed shortly by a grasping hand.
Michael felt himself pulled from the vehicle, Andrea still in his arms. He fell into a pile of bricks, half of the van having plowed through a building. Every part of him ached as he hauled Andrea's unconscious body onto his shoulder and started headlong into the unknown.
The hand came again, tugging at his elbow. “This way,” said the voice, and as they emerged from the suffocating cloud, Michael saw John at the corner of a building, weapon up.
The man leading them was the same who had handed John the SMAW back when they were first picked up. His outstretched arm grasped firmly onto Michael's sleeve. “Over there,” he said, pointing to a position of cover beneath a concrete stairwell near John's position in the alleyway.
As Michael made his way to cover, the snap of weapon's fire echoed through the concrete structure.
John was engaging the enemy. He fired another burst and then cursed to himself. “Bobby, I need a mag,” he said, yelling across to the other pillar.
A black object arched between the two of them and was slammed into John's weapon nearly the moment it was caught.
Michael pushed a sweat drenched strand of hair from Andrea's face as he inspected her briefly. “She's gone into shock. I've done all I can do John.” He cradled her closely.
John looked back at Michael while Bobby opened fire. “Leave her there a minute Michael, we need ammo and you need to get a long gun. Go back to the van, we'll cover you.”
Michael nodded and laid Andrea's unconscious body softly to the concrete. He got up and ran back the way he had come, entering the smoke once again. The van had since caught fire in the engine compartment, but it had not yet spread to the rest of the vehicle. With what little visibility he had, Michael scrounged for weapons. He ran around the back of the van and opened the trunk, instantly spotting a second SMAW resting in a makeshift rack. He pulled it from were it rested and grabbed as many other weapons and boxes as he could carry.
When he came back around the corner, he had two rifles hanging from their slings on one arm, the SMAW on the other and two milk crates filled with ammunition boxes.
John glanced briefly at him when he saw him coming and had to double take. He shook his head. “Michael, only what we can take man. You going to carry that crap all day and carry her too?”
Michael furrowed his brow. “I'm giving you options asshole.”
“Right, whatever,” John said, firing a few rounds at the enemy as they too returned automatic fire which splashed up against the building and the pillars. “Say whatever you want man. You're still an idiot.”
Michael loaded one of the weapons and stuck several magazines into his pockets. He noticed a pistol holster in the bottom of the crate and pulled it out, ammunition spilling out with it. Quickly he strapped the thing to his thigh and stuck the pistol John had given him into the slot. He then moved up to John's position. “Re-arm, I'll take over here,” he said.
John peeled away, silently obeying the request. Moments later he took Bobby's place and once they were all bombed up John spoke. “Alright, Bobby, grab that other rifle for when Andrea comes around, I'll get the SMAW and use it to help us break contact. Michael, you've got the girl. We're moving out.”
No one spoke, they simply did what was told and when Andrea was on Michael's shoulder and John had the SMAW on his, they all knew what was about to happen.
A streak of smoke raced out of the alleyway and impacted against the far side of the ditch, punctuating the end of the firefight.