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Continuing to scream for help, Lanie tried to figure out how to carry Ben. It was impossible. She tried to drag him by getting her arms under his chest, but her hands slipped on the blood on his back. She realized he had a huge gash on the back of his head that glittered in the flames. Her fingers confirmed it – the gash was huge, and gushing blood. She knew that head wounds bled a lot, but in his condition, he had to save as much blood as he could. Partly to take a break from trying to drag him, she stripped off her long overshirt and wrapped it around his head, tying a knot to the side of the wound.
Why was no one coming to help them? Surely, they had noticed that their missionaries were missing. Of course, the site was still dangerous and unstable. But if she didn’t get them both out of here, they would both die.
“Come on, Ben!” she rasped, trying to pull him by the hand. Why had she never practicing sandbag drags, or any other exercises, with heavier than two hundred pounds? Sure, she had passed the volunteer firefighting requirements. Sure, she was quick and lithe, able to create large amounts of power with nominal strength. She had the endurance to outlast almost any man. But why hadn’t she pushed herself more?
As the smoke filled her lungs and the bump on her own forehead started to throb, her energy seemed to leak into the shrapnel-strewn ground.
The smell of smoke continued to assault her, and Ben’s destroyed clothes tore away bit by bit as she dragged him over the gravel, trying to kick debris out of her way as they went. Soon, she would scrape his flesh down to the bone. She didn’t want to dislodge the bandage around his head. He was too heavy, too big around, and too hurt. Finally, after only about 10 metres, Lanie’s muscles cramped, and she collapsed next to him, dropping his hand. She would dislocate his shoulder if she kept going. If she hadn’t already.
“Goddammit!” she shrieked into the blazing night. Stooping, she listened to his chest. He was barely breathing, his strong horse-heart slowing to a lethargic stammer.
She turned her tearstained face up to heaven, fighting back the memories of a previous night when flames had leapt into the air. “No!” she demanded. “Save him! For once in my life, save someone I care about! What good are You if You just let us die without caring? Save him!” she bellowed, as loud as she could. Then she turned to Ben, screaming into his face.
“You listen here, you goddammed idiot! You are not allowed to die. You don’t get to take a blast for me and then just die!” Furiously, desperately, she pressed her lips to his. “Don’t die, Ben. I’ll be right back. Don’t you dare die, not even for a second. I’m going to get help.”
And just like that other night, so many years before, she took off at a run, running for her life, because she knew that if she didn’t make it on time, she wouldn’t survive. Her lungs strained from the smoke, and her knees hurt from the way Ben had violently knocked her to the ground. But she was certain she hadn’t run faster in her life. Even if her heart burst, she would run, or she would die.
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