10. Chapter 10
I knelt next to the injured man on the forest floor. His side looked bad, though it was hard to tell with all the blood. He was so pale. I was worried he was losing too much blood. As I looked at him, I realized I had to get him to the house. I had no idea how to manage this. He was very tall, at least six feet. I was not the strongest person around either. I would have to go and get Dad's truck, bring it here and somehow get him in. This was going to be difficult.
Suddenly, his eyes began to flutter. I leaned down and hoped he would wake up. He opened his eyes and tried to focus on his surroundings. I recognized those eyes right away. Even in the dark, they glowed a brilliant blue. He focused his attention on me and began mumbling something I could not understand, some foreign language.
"I'm sorry. I don't know what you are saying. You have been shot and are hurt. I have to get you home but I can't do it alone. Are you able to walk at all?"
He was going in and out of consciousness. I brushed some long golden hair from his face and noticed how cold he felt. My touch seemed to bring him back into focus. His eyes met mine and he somehow seemed to hold me there. I remember a strange feeling wash over me. He seemed so familiar to me and not because I had met him as a child. I didn't know how to explain it except to say that it felt… ancient. I couldn't look away from him as he held me in his gaze. Again, the song by Heart crept into my mind:
'…I could not run away, it seemed… we'd seen each other in a dream. Seemed like he knew me… He looked right through me.*'
Finally, I managed to shake off the moment and I pulled away from him. His eyes changed color from brilliant blue to shades of gray mingling in. The glow seemed to be fading. He was losing consciousness again.
"Stay with me mister." I begged. "I need you to walk a little ways. Just to the edge of the forest. I can't get my truck to you here."
He focused on me again but this time I avoided his stare. Instead, I focused on the forest floor where his head lay. Blood. He must have injured his head when he fell from the tree. That would explain why he was going in and out of consciousness. A completely new set of fears traveled through my brain. This guy was in bad shape.
He started rambling in his foreign language again but I ignored him. I helped him to sit up. He made a face from the pain he was experiencing. I put his arm around my neck and pleaded with him. "You must get up. Please. It is the only way to get you help."
He seemed to understand me as we somehow got to our feet. He was leaning on me with quite a bit of his weight but he seemed much lighter than he looked. We took small steps and managed to get to the forest edge. I helped him to lie back on the ground. When I stood back up, panic washed over his face. I smiled as I squatted back down beside him.
"Don't worry. I will be right back. I have to get the truck and then I'll take you to the house. I'll call the doctor and get him on his way. In the meantime, you just lay here and try to stay awake." I spoke in my kindest voice. "It's gonna be alright my friend."
He raised his hand and laid it to the side of my face. "Hannon le." he said in his own language. What was he speaking anyways? It definitely wasn't Spanish.
I ran off across the field and got to the house. Of course, I couldn't find the damn truck keys. Finally, I found them, grabbed my cell and headed out the door. I jumped in the truck and started it up. Then I brought up the doctor's number. Luckily, I still had it in my contacts from my dad's ordeal. I drove out and headed across the field for the forest.
The doctor said he would be on his way. It would take him about thirty minutes to get there. That would give me time to get the man to the house. I could see him lying right where I left him. I pulled up and left the headlights on so I could see what I was doing. I ran to him and knelt beside him again. He was desperately trying to stay awake. He took my advice anyways.
"O.K. I'm back. We're going to try this again." I said as I repeated my earlier actions to get him on his feet. He was much weaker and a little heavier. I walked him to the passenger side and helped him in. He looked strangely at my truck, almost hesitant to get in. "It's alright, the doc is on his way but we have to get to the house." I assured him. He looked at me and seemed to relax. I felt as if I was gaining his trust.
As I got him in the truck, I noticed the blood-soaked hair at the back of his head. The red was a contrast to the golden color in the front. He had a pretty bad wound back there. I hoped it wasn't too serious. His side looked about the same. It wasn't any bloodier than before. I began to think his head wound was worse than the gunshot wound.
I closed the door, ran around to the driver's side, jumped in, and took off back to the house. Pulling up to the front door, I helped the man from the truck and got him up the front porch steps through the front door and onto the couch. By this time, he was exhausted and closed his eyes. I couldn't wake him again but I figured the doc would be here soon. I took this moment to study him. As I said, he was tall, taking up the whole length of the couch. He wore leather boots that looked hand made, as if they wrapped around his feet in leaf-like fashion, dark grey wool leggings and a strange kind of tunic and shirt. I then studied his face. He looked so young and it dawned on me that he didn't seem to age a day from the time I first met him. That was fifteen years ago. How was this possible? My brain couldn't wrap around the situation at hand. For so long I thought he was imaginary. I tried to forget about it at the moment. Whoever he was, he was injured and needed help. He was trying to protect me and maybe even saved me from my attackers. For a second time he came to me as my guardian angel.
I studied his face again. He was so pale but I didn't know if that was natural or from loss of blood. Still, there was a beauty about him that I'd never seen on anyone before. His features were perfection, like a Roman god dropped from the heavens above. I found I could not stop myself as my hand reached out to touch his long golden hair. It was soft to the touch. I brushed it from his face and was going to tuck it behind his ear when suddenly his hand grabbed mine, stopping me. I gasped and jumped, afraid of what he might do. His grasp was very tight and I felt his power for the first time. It scared me.
He opened his eyes half way. "Daro." he said. His tone was low and definite. I didn't speak his language but I knew he wanted me to stop. He didn't want to be touched. I couldn't blame him. I was a stranger to him.
"O.K. I'll stop." I said in a calm voice. He released his grip from my wrist, which was now sore. I hadn't realized just how tight his grip was. "But once the doc gets here, he's gonna want to examine you and you're just going to have to trust us."
He nodded in agreement. "I understand." he said and I was surprised to hear him speak English.
I smiled. "I thought so." I said simply.
There was a knock on the door and he gasped. I put my hand on his chest. "Relax. It's just the doctor." I looked into his eyes again and hoped he could see my honesty. His hardened eyes seemed to soften a bit as I did this. What was it about his stare that seemed so familiar?
I went to the door and let the doctor in. "Where is he? Is he still conscious?" he asked walking past me.
"He's on the couch, Doc." I said and followed him in.
The doctor looked down at his patient. "Well hello son. My name is Dr. Bradford. I hear you got yourself into quite a mess." He smiled warmly.
The man looked absolutely terrified. I went to him to try to calm him. "It's alright. Doc here is just going to have a look at your wounds. We're going to get you fixed up so you can be on your way."
As the doctor got closer, the man tried to disappear into the couch. I put my hand on the docs arm to stop him a moment. Then I took the chance and looked deep into those bright blue eyes. Instantly we locked onto each other. "Listen, you saved me not once but twice. Now it is my turn to help you. Trust me, please." I felt like I could see the universe in his eyes and felt my heartbeat begin to race. Once again, I was caught by his magic. Just when I thought I could take no more, he released me from his stare. He nodded in agreement and I moved to the side to let the doctor look at him. I stayed close so the man would feel a little at ease.
The doctor looked at him with smiling eyes. "Everything is going to be just fine son. Now, I need to get this shirt off of you so I can see the gunshot wound."
The man seemed to understand and began undoing the strange clasps of his outer clothing. It was two toned, grayish green and dark brown suede with silver thread embroidered in swirling shapes that resembled leaves. Underneath that was a silky looking silver shirt with silver hooks. I'd never seen anything like it before. I wondered what the doc was thinking. He looked like he had been at a costume party from medieval times.
The man tried to sit up to take off his shirt. He looked at me for help and I put my arm around him for support. He sat up and carefully, with much pain, slid the two shirts from his body. I couldn't help but notice his sculptured shoulders, straight with just enough muscles to know he was in great shape. I watched as his shoulder blades moved beneath his skin. He lay back down on the couch with a groan. He was in pain. I moved around to stand next to the doctor as he looked at the wound. I got my first look at his muscled chest. His breathing was slightly heavy from the pain he was in and it made his chest heave in and out. He looked so lithe yet so strong. I remembered his grip on my wrist. He was smooth and free of chest hair. My eyes wandered to his stomach with its ripples and the v-shape of his waist. I have only ever seen a body like his on a magazine cover and even then, it is airbrushed. He was absolutely stunning and I could not look away.
"Did you hear me? I need some water and clean towels." the doc said bringing me out of my haze. I could feel my face heat to a nice shade of red as I was caught gawking at his patient.
"Oh, sorry Doc. I didn't hear you." I managed to say feeling stupid afterwards. I dared to look at the man who made me blush even more. He wore a slight smile on his lips as he realized exactly why I hadn't heard the doc in the first place. I got up and went to the bathroom for water and towels. I had to stop a moment and take a deep breath. All of this was too much to take in.
I came back with the things the doctor asked for. He dipped the towels in the water and began cleaning the wound to get a better look. "It seems you got lucky. The bullet only grazed your side. I'll have to clean the buckshot from the rest of the wound. Just a few stitches and it will heal nicely. What worries me is that head wound. How did you get it?"
"When I was shot, I fell from the tree I was in." the man answered.
The doctor looked at him over the top of his glasses. "Maybe it's not my business, but what is a grown man doing in a tree in the middle of the night?"
The man looked at the doctor as if he should already have known the answer. I decided to step in and tell the doc exactly what happened with the men in the woods and the deer and my friend in the tree. When I was done, the doctor creased his bushy eyebrows. "I think I know who you ran into out there. The big fellow you mentioned sounds like Clyde Carson. You don't want to go messin' with him. He has a lot of lowlife friends in even lower places. The rest are just a bunch of punks that follow him around." The doctor looked back to the man lying on the couch. "If that was Clyde and his gang you came upon, I'd say you're lucky you made out as well as you did."
The man turned to me. "The lady was the one who helped us out of trouble." he said. I suddenly heard his strange accent. He was definitely not from anywhere around here.
"Well," the doctor continued "Let's have a look at your head then."
I helped the man to sit up and the doctor went behind him. He seemed to panic a bit. I remembered his reaction to my touch. "He's really sensitive about touching his head, especially around his ears." I said.
"I only need to look at the back of his head." the doctor said. He carefully moved the bloodied hair away and uncovered a nasty gash at the back of his head. "It looks like you'll need quite a few stitched back here but I don't think there's any permanent damage. There may be a slight concussion and that's why you were dizzy and such. It's definitely something to keep an eye on though. You shouldn't go anywhere or do anything strenuous for a couple weeks. You need to take it easy. You need time to heal. I'll get you fixed up and then, if you want, I'll take you home."
I saw the man's eyes widen and I too realized his dilemma. I spoke up quickly. "He is not from around here, Doc." I said. "If he wants, he can stay here. I'll look out for him. Just tell me what to do and I'll take care of him until he's up on his feet again."
The man seemed surprise by my offer and turned back to the doctor to see his reaction. "Well, that will work too. Alright then, let's finish up here so you can get some rest." the doctor said as he prepared his tools.
He applied some antiseptic and numbing solution to the broken skin. The man winced at the pain. I felt so sorry for him. He did not ask for this. I held out my hand for him to hold while the doctor worked. When he was done, he wrapped his head in a bandage and gathered his things. "Well that should do it for now. Get plenty of rest and I'll be back in a couple of days." He handed me some extra bandages and medicine. I had watched him and knew what to do if I needed to clean the wound. He gave me instructions for the painkillers.
"Alright Doc, I think I know what to do. We'll see you in a couple days." I said as I walked him to the door.
The doctor looked at me concerned. "Are you sure you're fine here alone with this stranger? I wouldn't know what to do if something happened to you."
"It's fine Doc. I don't know what it is but I feel pretty safe with him here." I answered.
"Alright then." he said turning to leave. He paused and met my stare again. "Stay out of them woods for a while. You don't want to come across Clyde and his boys anytime soon. Give him time to cool down and forget about whatever happened out there. And you… just because your mother's not with us anymore doesn't mean you should ignore her advice. That was a brave thing you were doing out there but you could have gotten yourself killed."
I was shocked that the doc figured me out so easily. "I was only…"
The doc held up his hand. "I don't need to know. Just be careful from now on."
"Thanks doc. What do I owe you?" I said. He looked past my shoulder to the man sleeping on the couch. "He's traveling around the world and doesn't have much money. Besides, it's my fault he ended up like this." I continued.
The doc smiled. "Consider this one on the house. Just take care of him."
I hugged the doc. "Thank you Dr. Bradford. I owe you one. How about peach pie?"
"Seems like a good enough trade." he laughed and went out of the door. "Goodnight my dear."
"Goodnight Doc." I called back. I closed the door and decided to get some more information from my Hippie friend, though something told me we were about to open up a whole new can of worms.
I went back to the man lying on the couch. He was fast asleep. I would get no information from him tonight. I decided to retire for the evening too. It was very late and this whole ordeal had me worn out.
As I lay in my bed, I thought about my experience when I was ten and almost drowned. There was no doubt in my mind that this was the same person. I thought about the conversation my mother and I had. When I explained him to her, she recognized him. Had he looked the same back then as he does now? And if so, how is that possible? What, did he travel through time or something? The whole think creeped me out and I began to wonder if I made the right decision by letting him stay here. I considered locking my bedroom door just to be safe. But when I thought about our exchange earlier, I just knew in my heart that no harm would come to me as long as he was here. It was the same feeling I got when I used to visit the forest. I knew I was safe somehow. Was he the reason I felt safe? Finally, I drifted off to sleep and didn't wake once until the sun was peeking through the curtains.
*Magic Man - Heart 1976
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.