The Best Care Anywhere
Disclaimer: I don't own M*A*S*H. If I did, God knows it never would have ended. I only own the original characters that I created. All medical procedures listed are real treatments for the given ailments. However, if you really are sick, don't listen to me, go see a doctor! For permission to reproduce, contact meltownley at gmail dot com Thanks!
There had been a comfortable lull at the 4077th. The past two days had been sunny and clear, and they hadn't had any wounded. Other than Radar, who was always hard at work to keep the unit running, the rest of the camp had spent their days indoors, away from the oppressive heat. The weather made it difficult to sleep at night. Hot, sticky, cranky, and sleep deprived, Hawkeye made his way to the mess tent. It was early for him – around seven in the morning. Apparently, he wasn't the only one who couldn't sleep. Father Mulcahy and Colonel Potter sat together at one table, quietly conversing. Hawkeye grabbed a cup of what was supposed to pass for coffee and joined the two other men.
"Oh, Hawkeye," Father Mulcahy said genially as Hawkeye sat down.
"Father," Hawkeye inclined his head slightly in response.
"Hot as blazes," Potter muttered grumpily. "It's just too dang hot for this time of the morning."
Hawkeye nodded as he sipped the lukewarm beverage. The three men conversed sparingly. Even talking seemed to take an inordinate amount of effort in the oppressive heat. Then out of nowhere, a sharp cry broke the silence; a yell from the distance. From inside the mess tent, whatever was being yelled was indistinguishable, but it was clear that the call was panicked. The three men jumped up from the table. Hawkeye was first out the door. His army green, unbuttoned, standard issue jacket flapped behind him as he ran.
Colonel Potter followed close behind, and Hawkeye heard him yell, "Beaver biscuits! What the heck is going on out here?"
"It sounded like it came from outside the camp," Father Mulcahy, who was bringing up the rear, said loudly.
Father Mulcahy was right, asnd clearly they had not been the only ones to hear the disturbance. Heads were peering out of tents all over the camp. Even a few well-lathered heads poked themselves out from the showers. Hawkeye spotted a figure running towards the camp at full tilt. As the figure came closer, it became clear that it was no Korean soldier. He could see no weapons, and the carriage of the figure was one of fear not aggression.
After a few more moments, Hawkeye realized it was a girl. From her skin tone, he could tell she wasn't Korean. She wasn't wearing any sort of uniform, so it was clear that she wasn't part of the army. From the look of her clothes, which seemed old, worn, and homespun, it seemed that she identified more with the Koreans than the Americans. She came running into camp, face flushed, gasping for breath. Her reddish-blonde hair was disheveled, and her clothes were dirty and blood stained. She leaned forward as she attempted to speak, her hands on her knees.
Nothing but a vague wheezing sound came out. She took a deep, apparently steadying breath, and then looked up at the three men in front of her. Hawkeye noticed a jagged cut on her forehead, a large amount of blood on her right pant leg, and a slightly hunched-over, guarded posture. Whether the former was the result of attempting to catch her breath or from some unseen injury, Hawkeye couldn't tell.
By this point, the commotion had awakened BJ, whose curiosity had propelled him to where the other men were. He came up beside Hawkeye, looked at him, and said, "Hawk? What's going on?"
The raven haired doctor returned BJ's troubled look and began to approach their visitor. She seemed to have regained enough control of her breathing to speak, for she took a step toward Hawkeye and said, "Are you a doctor?"
Hawkeye came closer still, and she looked as though she might back away. "Yes, I am," Hawkeye said as he continued to mentally assess her injuries.
She looked relieved when he confirmed that he was a doctor. She hurried forward and tugged on his arm. "My friends! They're hurt! Please come help them!" She tugged on his arm again as thought she were attempting to make him understand by sheer force of will. A strange mix of hope, pain, and desperation mixed on her face. BJ came up behind Hawkeye.
"Where are your friends?" he asked in a calm and reassuring voice, rather like the voice one might use to talk to a skittish animal.
She pointed a bloody finger out back down the road into the 4077th. "Please come! They'll die! Please!"
"Now don't you worry," Colonel Potter said, also approaching, "we'll help you." She looked relieved, but still gave Hawkeye's arm another tug as though he might change his mind.
Hawkeye realized that the hand on his arm was shaking. It could be shock, nerves, heat stroke, adrenaline, a concussion, blood loss…the possibilities were endless. Regardless, she needed to rest, if only for a moment. He tugged her gently towards the mess tent. She made a small noise of panic and resisted. "It's all right. We're going to help you. Come inside for a minute while you tell us what's going on. We need to know how badly hurt your friends might be. I need you tell me everything that you can about their condition when you left them."
She allowed herself to be lead inside the mess tent. A small crowd had formed around them, but Potter and Mulcahy quickly shooed them away. The girl was skittish enough as it was. Well, Potter mentally corrected himself, she's not really a girl. She's probably Radar's age. Maybe a little older. Potter and Mulcahy quickly entered the tent to find Hawkeye sitting next to her at a table while BJ sat across from her. She was speaking very rapidly. Hawkeye had gotten a large glass of water from the food line and was pressing her to drink. Though apparently desperately thirsty for water, she drank only about a third of the glass before resuming talking.
Hawkeye gently chided her. "Drink some more," he said, while pushing the glass closer. "It won't do your friends any good if you pass out before you can show us where they are and explain what's happened."
She hesitated, and then downed the whole glass. She paused for a moment, went a bit paler, and then turned and threw up. Hawkeye and BJ were by her side in an instant. A quick survey of the vomit told BJ and Hawkeye several things. She hadn't eaten in awhile. There was no solid matter in her vomit. There was only water and some blood. Hawkeye's concern ratcheted up several more notches. Vomiting blood was never a good thing. BJ rubbed her back in a soothing motion until she stopped vomiting. She sat up slowly with the help of BJ and Hawkeye who were on either side of her, holding her arms. Both men could feel her shaking through the thin layer of clothing she wore.
She wiped the back of a shaky hand against her mouth, took a deep breath, and said, "Sorry. I didn't mean to."
"It's all right." Potter said, smoothing back her tousled hair. "These things happen sometimes."
BJ looked at her and asked quietly, "Do you still feel sick?" She turned to look at him. She looked almost angry.
"There's no time for that now!" she said loudly. "My friends are dying! I'm fine." Had she not looked so serious, Hawkeye would have taken the opportunity to point out that she was clearly not fine. Given her thunderous expression, however, he said nothing.
"Now tell us where they are," Potter said, gently coaxing the information from her.
She thought for a moment and said, "They're to the west, not too far from here. Two miles at the most." Potter nodded. Hawkeye and BJ had moved back a bit to give her some space since she was "fine", though she still looked ashen-faced.
"What can you tell us about their injuries?" Hawkeye pressed, knowing that every second was valuable.
"Chang Hee…his arm is…it was out of the socket, I was able to pop it back in and I stopped the bleeding, but it was…bad. He said he was cold. I think he was going into shock. And Kyung Mi, her head was bleeding. Her side looked…wrong. I think she broke several ribs. I tried to bind them for her, but I don't know if I did a good job or not."
Hawkeye gave her shoulder a reassuring squeeze and was dismayed to find that she was still shaking. "I'm sure you did a fine job. What happened to all of you?"
"Our village…it was bombed. We escaped during the bombing. I don't know who did it. We don't know what happened to anyone else. It was just us. And I – I, honest I did, I t-tried to take care of them."
BJ, reminded of his own daughter back home, pulled her quickly into a hug, and she didn't pull away. She trembled in his arms making a strange sort of gasping noise. She wasn't crying exactly, but the noise broke BJ's heart. She looked up, face free from the telltale signs of tears.
Father Mulcahy came and sat next to her and BJ. He looked kindly at her and said, "Everything will work out well. The Lord knows where your friends are, and he's watching over them." She gave a small, tremulous smile and stood up, unaided. After the others had introduced themselves, Mulcahy asked kindly, "What's your name?"
"Emily," she said quietly.
A voice from behind said, "Well, what are you living with the Koreans for? Those savages, they'd just as soon kill you as live with you." Frank "Ferret Face" Burns had appeared in the tent, apparently drawn to the mess tent by the gossip that was now flying around the camp. He had heard that a Korean supporter was in the camp. First one of them as a decoy, and then an invasion! Frank thought. He needed to teach this kid what was what.
Emily looked angry. "I live with them because they're my friends. My father was a missionary. He came here to preach, but he died. I don't have any way to get back to the states, but the Koreans are kind and took me in. And now," she looked positively furious, "my village has been bombed, my friends are dying, and I need your help!"
Frank gave a condescending laugh. "Help your Korean friends, not likely buster. Those Koreans are a shifty bunch. You've got to be ready for anything they throw at you."
Emily's anger seemed to have reached a breaking point, for she strode up to Frank, and cold clocked him right in the jaw. Frank staggered backwards and hit the ground, unconscious. She smiled coldly and said, "Well, he wasn't ready for that." Hawkeye laughed, in both surprise and approval. The rest of the group look stunned. She swung back to face the rest of the group. "He was lying, wasn't he? You will help me, won't you?" The frantic look that Hawkeye had first seen in her eyes returned again.
"Of course we will," he said. "We just need to grab some medical supplies to help your friends." Hawkeye stood, stepped over Frank's body, and offered a friendly hand to Emily. She took it warily and was taken out of the mess tent towards what looked like the main building of the camp. "Radar!" Hawkeye hollered when they were within ten feet of the doors of the colonel's office. Hawkeye was through the doors in no time flat and found the young Corporal sitting at his desk.
"Yeah Hawk?" he asked casually. Then he looked up and saw that Hawkeye was accompanied by a girl about his age who was dirty, bloody, and shaking. "Oh gee!" Radar said, jumping up. "What happened?" Emily said nothing. She seemed to be in a momentary daze.
BJ came up behind the two of them and said, "She ran into camp looking for help for her friends. They're injured and a few miles outside camp. She asked us to help them." Hawkeye nodded. He guided Emily over to Radar's bed and, with a quick glance at Radar for approval, pushed her down to sit on it. She didn't resist or say anything. For someone who had been so fired up about leaving immediately only a few seconds ago, he was disconcerted by her lack of response.
"Radar," Hawkeye said, "Beej and I need to grab some things to take with us. Can you find Sergeant Zale and tell him that we're going to need two jeeps with stretchers, pronto?" Radar nodded and was about to leave the room. Hawkeye caught his arm as he went by and whispered quietly, "Don't take too long, I need you to come back and keep an eye on her. Let me know immediately if she seems any worse."
"Gosh," Radar said, "aren't you gonna take care of her now?"
"We can't," Hawkeye said grimly. "There's not time. It sounds like her friends are worse off than she is. At least she's still moving under her own power, and that's a good sign." Radar nodded and both men went their separate ways: Hawkeye to join BJ in collecting supplies and Radar to inform Zale of their need for jeeps.
Radar hurried back to find her still sitting on his bed, but this time Father Mulcahy and Colonel Potter were sitting with her. Colonel Potter was attempting to take a look at her leg and head wounds, but she kept squirming away.
Radar heard her say, "We need to go. You can do that later!"
The Colonel and the Father were clearly trying their best to keep her calm. It was clear she had suffered several shocks, both mental and physical, and neither man knew how long she would still be capable of leading them to her injured friends. Fortunately, the wait was short. Hawkeye and BJ emerged with several backpacks full of supplies. Emily stood briskly, her mission clear, and was the first out the door. Outside, near the gate, Zale had gathered two jeeps and Major Houlihan was waiting.
"Emily," Hawkeye said pointing at Margaret. "This is Major Margaret Houlihan. She's a nurse, and she's going to come with us." Emily nodded, and shot Houlihan an appreciative look, but said nothing.
Colonel Potter glanced at the group. BJ, Hawkeye, Major Houlihan, and Father Mulcahy had all agreed to go. Though they might need more help depending upon the seriousness of their patients' injuries; Potter had been reluctant to send any more personnel outside the safe confines of the 4077th. "Godspeed," he said quietly, though they all heard him.
Emily stood for a moment, unsure. She knew they needed to move quickly, but didn't seem to know where to go to be the least in the way.
Hawkeye took her arm and said, "You can ride up front with me." He walked with her over to the first jeep and was torn between whether or not he should offer her help getting into the jeep.
While it was clear that she was sick, tired, dehydrated, and injured, she kept insisting that she was fine. Asking if she needed help would likely be considered an affront to her pride. However, he was saved from asking the awkward question when she shook his arm off and hopped into the car with only a small amount of difficulty. Hawkeye knew that in desperate situations it was possible for the mind to shut down, to cut off all sense of pain, hunger, and thirst in order to focus entirely upon the situation at hand, cutting off all but the most basic of needs.
And it seemed that was what was happening in this case. He had no doubt that her current injuries would be enough to lay low someone on their own, without even considering a possible concussion, hunger, thirst, and the run that she had apparently made to the camp. They would need to tend to her as soon as possible once they returned. He knew that the surges of fear and panic induced adrenaline would not last much longer and the pain would return.
BJ and Father Mulcahy hopped into the second jeep while the supplies and Margaret were settled into the back of their jeep. Emily tugged on Hawkeye's sleeve, still looking desperate. "Let's go, I'll show you where they are!"
Hawkeye made some signals to the other jeep to indicate that he would be taking the lead with Emily directing him. Within moments, they were on their way out of the compound. Mercifully, the roads they took were clear of snipers and shelling. Though heavily potholed, they were able to proceed relatively quickly along the way that Emily directed. Her face seemed paler, hot, and dry. Whenever they hit a pothole, Hawkeye saw her tense slightly, lips thin, expression guarded.
"I'm sorry that the road isn't smoother," Hawkeye said. He wasn't sure why he was apologizing. It wasn't his fault that the shellings had pockmarked the road this way, nor could he do anything about the road's current state. However, he felt the need to apologize since it was clear that she was suffering in silence along their journey.
She gave a half shrug as if to say, "It's not your fault." She didn't speak except to give the next directions.
After driving for several minutes, Hawkeye said, "This is farther from two miles from camp."
Emily shrugged; she looked rather embarrassed. "I was…confused. It was hard to keep track of how far I'd gone, but I know we're going in the right direction. They aren't much further."
A few minutes later, she hollered for him to stop and had jumped out the jeep before he had even stopped, narrowly avoiding being hit by BJ and Father Mulcahy's jeep. Hawkeye heard her yell something and sweep her hand in a wave, indicating that they should follow. She hurried down an embankment at the side of the road. She was moving more slowly than she was before, so it wasn't hard for the others to catch up with her. Hawkeye and BJ, both carrying packs, positioned themselves on either side of her.
"I helped them over here." She said, quickening her pace just a bit, "I left them under the trees with water and some supplies so that they wouldn't…" she trailed off, but Hawkeye and BJ knew what she would have said.
The three heard a cry from behind. Father Mulcahy had spotted the two Koreans. Two prone figures lay under a tree only a few hundred feet away. Emily quickened her pace more, determined to get help safely to her friends. She hurried up to the Korean boy and spoke, "Chang Hee," she said, feeling for his pulse.
He was nonresponsive. He seemed unaware that anyone was even there. Her heart jumped into high gear as she moved over to the Korean girl. "Kyung Mi," she said, once again feeling for a pulse. She stirred slightly, but didn't seem aware enough to be capable of speech or much movement.
Hawkeye and BJ silently set to work. Hawkeye and Margaret began working on Chang Hee, who seemed to be worse off than Kyung Mi, while BJ examined Kyung Mi.
Their work was fast and efficient, though it quickly became clear that this was no place to deal with such extensive injuries. Emily could tell that they were struggling to keep her friends alive. Father Mulcahy, not usually accustomed to helping with actual triaging, hung back from the doctors. Emily stepped back, looking bewildered. Father Mulcahy moved closer to her and began to murmur reassurances. He took her hand and could feel hot, dry skin and a fast pulse. He thought about calling Hawkeye or BJ to come take a look at her, but since she had gone to such extents to get her friends help, he was sure that she would not want a moment wasted on herself when the doctors could be helping her friends.
Father Mulcahy guided her silently to the ground, and he sat next to her. He put his arm around her in a comforting gesture and began silently praying for the well being of her friends. She put her head on his shoulder, and he could feel her trembling all over. He pulled back enough to look at her face. She was clearly not doing well. Father Mulcahy asked quietly if she was all right. She looked morosely at her friends and murmured, "Will they…die?" Mulcahy gave a kind smile.
"They're with the best doctors in all of Korea, and it seems that you didn't leave them alone for long. Those are both good signs –," The Father was cut off by a yell from BJ.
"She's not breathing! I've lost the pulse!"
So, what did you think? Do you like the story and the characters that I've created? I really appreciate reviews of any kind – positive or negative. They encourage me to keep writing. If I get some positive feedback, then I'll continue writing and post some more. Thanks!