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Log of the Month for July, 1998

To the Brink
Posted on July 7th, 1999 by John Keane and Mary Jo Keane

The crew of the ship had been on this planet for most of the day and most everyone was settling in as best a possible. Lt Commander Keane had been busy securing the area and organizing the layout of the camp, and from what he’d been able to see Mary had been busy instructing people how to make shelters. It was in the evening around 6, and the sun was setting. Most people were exhausted and everyone was winding down for the day. John was up on the hill to the north.. which on this planet was where the sun set.

All the people had their own shelters built, the rain was about to

start falling. Mary was glancing anxiously at Christopher and finishing up their own shelter.

John was watching the northern area, his shift up in a few minutes.

Mary was wondering where John was. She was tired and hungry, wanting to look around for food to eat, but not wanting to leave Christopher.

John glanced back over his shoulder examining the camp site just down the hill as Mary finished up their shelter::placing Christopher…who is fussing a bit…inside out of the elements.

John turned back to the north and watched for anything, then looking down at his dirty uniform, frowned. Mary, down in the village/camp area, straightened up, her back aching from all the bending and lifting.

John heard someone approaching from behind him, and turned to see Ltjg Wetsel walking up. “Looks like you’ve got yourself a nice lookout spot, Commander.” John smiled and stood. “Yeah.. but it’s going to rain.. make sure you get yourself some cover.. Can’t have you getting sick due to the weather.” Wetsel nodded and took John’s old seat on the ground and started working on a small shelter. “Your shift will be up in 4 hours.” John turned and walked back down the hill to the camp.

Back in the camp, Mary instructed a small group on the right kind of firewood to pick out, watching them go. She then walked off into the woods, looking behind her, worrying about Christopher. She noticed Peter keeping an eye on him and nodded her thanks.

The commander headed further into the woods, walking quietly, looking

around, seeing similiarities to home. As John walked back into the camp, he noticed that most everyone was settling in as best they could.

He looked around at all the shelters, not sure where his might be, then continued to walk around.

In the woods, Mary walked near a small creek..noticing fish. She pulled her knife out…cut a piece of bamboo, and began to sharpen one end.

An Ensign walked by, John asking, “Ensign? Have you seen Commander Keane?” Mary was glad she built their shelter a little ways off from the rest of the camp. She finished sharpening the bamboo into a crude spear, then pulled her shoes off and rolled her pants legs up, wading into the water. The ensign stopped and politely answered. “Ah.. yes sir.. She was over by the stream on the western side of camp..” John nodded his thanks.

Mary stood very silently in the stream, watching the fish dart, then suddenly threw the spear and impaled a fish, picking it up and throwing it on the shore.

John walked past the fires, shelters, and people toward the west, nodding to a passing security officer. Mary threw the spear again and got another fish, placing it on the shore also.

John walked into the woods and works his way towards the stream, coming to the edge of the water, but not seeing Mary.

Mary speared several more fish in short order, throwing them all up on the shore. “Mary?!” John called out, his voice echoing. A fish suddenly flew through the air and hit John in the back. “What the??” He turned and looked to see what had hit him. Mary turned suddenly. “John!”

John finally noticed Mary wading in the water. “There you are..”

Mary pointed and grinned at the pile of fish at his feet. “Dinner.”

John walked down off the rocks and around to her, speaking as he walked. “Hey..look at that.. you’re a pro at this stuff!” Mary walked up to meet him. “No…my brother’s the pro. He could catch 20 fish in the time I caught 5.”

John gave her an amused smile. “If I didn’t know better I’d say you’re enjoying yourself.” Mary smiled back at him. “I guess I am…a little, but this water’s COLD!!” as she jumped out of the water, drying her feet off in the grass, then putting her shoes back on. “Okay…I”m going to look for more to eat.”

John looked at himself again, walking to the water. “Well I guess I’ll wash up for dinner.” John walked in to his knees, looking back at Mary and smiling, then he leaned back and fell back into the water. Mary grinned, thinking to herself he’s gonna freeze his *** off, then walked on.

John jumped up. “WOO.. !” He quickly rubbed his uniform down and washed away what he could of the earth he’d collected throughout the day. He stood, running out of the water, muttering “cold. cold…” as he headed for the nearest fire. He unzipped his uniform jacket and took it off, wringing it free of most of the water. He looked around as his uniform dried quickly. “Got to love these uniforms.”

Mary, still wandering along the stream, saw polk salad greens, andusing a huge leaf, collected some of it…as well as wild water chestnuts she noticed. As people came down to wash::she gave the stuff to them to take back to camp. She then wandered further into the woods::not noticing how dark it was getting.

Mary saw some berries and, grabbing another big leaf, started picking them, not noticing the little snake under the berry bushes. John watched as another Security officer approached. “Lt Commander? All shift have been rotated.” John nodded. “Excellent.. Let’s get set for the night.. I want everyone rounded up and kept in camp.” The officer nodded. “Understood Sir.” John acknowledged him as the officer continued on.

Mary, picking away at the berries, was very tired, otherwise she wouldn’t have been so careless. The little snake darted out and bit her hand between her thumb and forefinger. “AHH!”

John heard Mary scream. He snapped up quickly. “Security!!”

He ran in the direction of her voice, his heart pounding.

Mary took her knife out, her hand shaking as she cut an X shape over the bite. Other officers came flying out of the woods closing on Mary’s location as John sprinted up to her. “Mary! What’s wrong!”

Mary looked up at John, feeling faint, her knife dropping from her suddenly nerveless fingers. “Snakebite…have to….suck out…poison…quickly.” Other officers arrived with torches as John snapped out to them, “Find that snake!”

John grabbed the knife as it fell, taking Mary in his arms and lowering her to the ground. “MEDIC!!” Mary spoke haltingly, losing strength as the poison began to work in her system. “NO…it’s too dangerous..

leave the snake alone. John….you have to suck out the poison…

or I’ll die…I already…cut…over the…bite.”

John took Mary’s bit hand and put his mouth on the bite.. sucking and spitting the blood on the ground as she closed her eyes. He sucked several more seconds to clear the wound of the poisons.

From off to the right the man called out, “Found the snake!” The men killed the snake. “Got it sir.” They called out.

Mary whispered brokenly, “John…there’s a plant…near dead wood…greyish…purple flowers..will clean the rest of the poison out…”

John looks quickly at the wood, ran over, grabbed the flowers and ran back. “Mary.. what do I do with the flower?” Mary was losing consciousness as a Medical assistant ran up. John looked around in desperation, then shook Mary. “Hey! Wake up!” Mary opened her eyes, moaning. “Ohh…I hurt John.” The assistant looked around not knowing what to do without her medical supplies. John mashed the flowers, trying to keep Mary calm. “Hang on baby.. I’m here.” John grabbed the mashed flowers and placed them against the wound on Mary’s hand as she sighed and closed her eyes.

John looked at the medic. “Go get the doctor. Tell her that I’ve cleaned the wound.. GO!” The assistant ran off, a little frightened by his tone.

He looked down at Mary, concerned about the shallowness of her breathing. “Mary!” He continued to hold the mashed flowers to her hand and look at her. She slowly opened her eyes, looking up at him and whispering his name as he brushed her hair from her face.

“Mary?? What do I need to do. I’ve got the flowers on the bite??”

Mary instructed him in a soft, stammering voice. “That’s all…just bind them there with a piece of cloth.” One of the other security officers gathered around handed him a cloth, and he gently secured the plant:.

John looked at his men. “I want two of you to help me get her to our shelter.” We can’t move her a lot.. let’s go.” Mary closed her eyes again as two other security officers walked over to help. The three men gently lifted Mary and walked towards their shelter.

John looked down at Mary as they walked. “Mary! You stay awake.”

Mary barely heard him::drifting off.

They entered the small shelter and laid Mary on the leaves that made up their bed. “Mary” John shook her a little.

Mary whispered in a barely audible voice. “What…?”

John looked down at her with love and fear in his eyes. “Mary.. I need you to be strong. I’ve got most of the poison out of your system.. I need you to fight what’s left.. come on baby..” Mary whispered, ” So tired,” as her voice faded away.

Brooke came running over. “John what do we have?” John looked at the Doc. “She got bit by a snake. I’ve sucked out the poison, and Mary had me put this flower on her hand.” Brooke examined her hand. John looked concerned back at Mary, then he looked out at the people around the shelter. “Make sure people are using caution around the brush.. we can’t have this happen again.”

Brooke looked closely at the plant. “Hmmm….looks like a plant called snakeweed…she did the right thing…although why she was out there this time of night? John answered quietly. “She was getting food together.” Brooke looked exasperated. “By herself?” John looked up. “She’s not one to wait for people.. I need to get her some water.. I’ll be right back..” John jumped up, running over to the nearest shelter and getting some water from a makeshift bowl. He walked back and sat next to Mary.

Brooke looked at him seriously. Well, you need to get some food and water into her…she won’t want to drink…but the water will help flush out her system. John…now it’s a waiting game…

John put the bowl to her lips and let some water fall to her lips, then he looked at the Doc, frowning and nodding as she continued to speak.

“Depending on how quickly you found her and got the poison out…will depend on whether she lives or dies.. She may be delirious, also. Go with it John.”

John answered quickly, and nodded at her instructions. “I got there within a minute or so..” Brooke pursed her lips and answered. “Well, that’s good…the rest is up to her…..and you.” He nodded again. “Thanks Doc.” Brooke turns and goes back to her own shelter as the rains begin to fall::

John tried to give Mary more water, as she moaned and pushes the water away. John took Mary’s uninjured hand in his and sat with her, looking out at the now falling rain. “Mary.. you need the water.. drink it. ”

Mary mutters like a small child. “No..can’t make me…nasty.” John gave her more water:: ::making her drink it as she spluttered, shoving it away from her.

John took hold of her arms.. securing her. He gave her just a bit more water till he was comfortable she had ingested enough to help her. Mary moaned and fought him. “Easy.. baby.. take it easy.. It’s ok..”

Mary got a scared look on her face. “Daddy? The lightning man’s gonna get me…Daddy?” John put a rag in to the water and softly washed her face. “It’s ok.. shhh.. just relax..”

Christopher woke up and started to cry. He was hungry. John frowned as he heard Christopher cry from the next shelter where Peter was watching him. John called out. “Peter, give him some water.. and change him!” Peter, being a little frustrated by this time, shot back, “He’s hungry!”

John sighed and answered. “Mary can’t feed him now.. she’s not well. Please do what you can.” Peter called back, “Ok. But he doesn’t like the water!”

John shook his head, then looked at Mary and gave her more water.

Mary was tossing and turning in her delirium. “Kev…oh Kev..where are you?” John frowned at that name. “Kev?” He put his arm over Mary holding her, frowning a little as she continued talking to Kev. “Don’t tease me like this. Ohhh…there you are.”

John raised an eyebrow, then smiled and waved as passersby looked in and continued walking.

Mary was trembling and feverish by this time. “Mommy…I’m scared!!… There was a man peeking in…I’m scared…” He wiped her brow and gave her more cold water, trying to comfort her. “Shhhh…”

Mary started mumbling under her breath::incoherently and thrashing around a bit. As time passed Mary groaned, then settled into a fitful sleep::breathing shallowly. John opened his eyes realizing he had dozed off, and looked up quickly, He said her name quietly and touched her face. She was still sleeping.

John nodded and looked around the camp, which was still quiet, except for in the next shelter, where Christopher was still whimpering and hungry.

John looked around and found the berries that Mary had left from earlier in the day. He got the bowl and mashed up the berries into a paste, walking over to the shelter where Christopher is and handing the berries to Peter. “Give him this.. it should hold him over for a bit.. ”

As John walked back over to Mary, she gave out a funny little gasp::then sighed as her eyes fluttered open. “John? what? What happened?”

John looked down at her. “Mary.. ” :relieved: “You were bitten by a snake.. just lay still.”

I was? Where’s Christopher? She startd to panic and sit up::looking around. John sat next to her, calming her down. “Shhh he’s in the next shelter over. Just relax. You had me scared for a while there. I’m glad you’re doing better.” Mary sat there, thinking. “John…? What did the snake look like?”

Mary gasped as he answered. I think it was red and black. What?”

Mary looked at him. “And I’m still alive? It’s deadly, John.”

“Thanks to you.. You had me suck the poison and put some flower on the wound.” Mary looked at her hand. “Ahh..snakeweed?”

John spoke quietly. “Yeah.. that’s it..” Mary leaned weakly against him::sighing as he held her. “I’m glad you’re getting better..”

Mary reached up with her uninjured hand to stroke the worry away from his face. I’m sorry I worried you. John smiled down at her drawn face. Don’t be.. your getting better is apology enough.

Mary responded. “I would hate to miss Christopher growing up” John hugged her, choking out, “I don’t even want to think about it.”

Mary snuggled in his arms, feeling safe and loved in his embrace. “Neither do I.”

John looked outside the shelter and saw the sun rising slowly.

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