Okay – the final piece in the puzzle, think I can finally put this one to bed.
With thanks to The Tribble Master for a little bit of inspiration!
The important thing now was to get him some help. I'd stopped the bleeding but infection and shock were a real danger. I could already see the early signs as he lay shivering beside me.
"Come on big brother, we gotta go," I said as I placed an arm around his shoulder and levered him into a sitting position.
"Just give me … a minute … Sammy," he murmured, jaw clenched against the pain, wounded arm tucked protectively into his side.
"Okay," I breathed. "Why don't I just tie something around that? … give it some support?"
He nodded his agreement, so I tore a large strip from my blooded shirt and tucked his arm inside the newly formed sling.
"What's the plan?" Dean hissed as I tied the fabric in place.
"Well, we gotta five mile hike ahead of us," I answered. "You up to a little stroll?"
He held out a hand in answer and I pulled him gently to his feet.
"You okay?" I asked as he swayed slightly. Dean nodded, as sweat trickled into semi-closed eyes.
I placed a steadying arm around his waist and waited for him to find his balance before heaving the bag onto my shoulder and wrapping Dean's uninjured arm around my neck. We moved forward slowly, each step a difficulty for my brother as he leaned into me for support.
Twenty minutes later Dean stopped suddenly, "gonna hurl," he grimaced.
I rubbed his back as, shaking violently, he emptied his stomach onto the forest floor.
"Easy … easy," I soothed.
"Hurts Sammy," he mumbled between dry heaves.
"I know … I know … we'll rest here a minute … okay?"
I draped my jacket over his shoulders to ward off the chills and weighed up our options. It was clear that Dean would not be able to carry on much longer, was nearing the end of the line. I decided that our best option would be for me to carry him; it would speed up the journey, get him to help much faster.
I was just working out how best to put this idea to my obstinate brother when we heard loud snarls in the bushes.
Dean looked warily at me. "You don't … suppose," he asked, teeth chattering, "that thing … had a mate?"
"Sure hope not," I answered as I reached into the bag for the shotgun.
In an instant a large shape moved at speed towards us. I stood in front of Dean and fired several shots into the oncoming creature. It howled in pain as it slammed into me, knocking me to one side and the shotgun out of my hand.
Dazed I reached for the weapon, fumbling to reload it as the enraged beast turned for its next attack. Moments later it was hurtling towards me and I knew I wouldn't make the shot in time, was bracing myself for the onslaught.
It didn't happen. My obstinate brother made sure of that when he leapt onto its back and plunged a knife deep into the back of its neck. Seconds later I'd reloaded and emptied the contents of the shotgun into the now dying animal.
I knelt beside my sweat soaked brother. "You jerk," I grinned, squeezing his shoulder gently.
"Bitch," he replied weakly before passing out.
Pulling him up and over my shoulder I carried him the rest of the way back to the Impala and much needed help.