Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Dr. Simon Tam has patients to take care of.


Patients Stormwolf

Simon locked the door of the small clinic before turning on his heel to head back to the home of the widow who had taken them in. The sun was setting on the eastern horizon and the lights of the town were flickering on to compete with the coming darkness. Shrugging into his jacket to ward off the cold, Simon thought of the hot meal that awaited him at the widow Johnson’s home. Around him the citizens of the well-armed settlement greeted him kindly as they made their way to their homes. Simon smiled at them, and greeted them with nods of the head or spoken words.

As he continued on to the widow Johnson’s place, he ignored the blackened remains of a few buildings that he passed. The damage was recent and crews were still clearing out the wreckages.

Finally, Simon made it to the widow’s place. In front of the house was a vegetable garden that the widow had been unable to weed before she took in her guests. Now the garden was weed free and had even been pruned when needed. Simon’s mouth watered at the thought of the fresh vegetables that would no doubt be a part of the meal that awaited him inside the house.

Just inside the house, Simon removed his shoes and placed them on a mat beside the doorway next to two pairs of familiar combat boots. He then removed his jacket and hung it on a peg, then called out to the widow and her other two houseguests telling them that he was back.

The widow stepped out of the kitchen. Mrs. Johnson was an older woman in her late 70’s with her white hair tied up in a bun and a pair of glasses perched on her nose. She was a big woman, not thin and fragile looking. She smiled at Simon. “Your just in time doctor, just pulled the biscuits out of the oven.”

Simon smiled back at the woman who had offered to take in the doctor and his two long-term patients. The small amount of money he made from working at the clinic taking the place of the doctor who was healing from a gunshot wound in the belly helped to buy foodstuffs from the local general store to feed the four of them along with the vegetables from her garden and the eggs collected from the hens in the chicken coop behind the house. “Thank you Mrs. Johnson. I’ll just go wash up.”

Simon walked down the hallway past the bedrooms and into the house’s only bathroom. He washed his hands and face, dried them on a hand towel then made his way back to the dining room where a large handmade circular dining table dominated the room. Her late husband had made the table, just as he had built the house as well. The man had been an excellent carpenter before age slowed him down and a heart attack had taken him some years before.

Lying on the table were several bowls of steaming food. Fried rabbit, rice, steamed vegetables, and warm biscuits were sitting in decorative ceramic bowls waiting for the people sitting around the table.

As Simon sat down at the only empty chair before a set place, he looked over at the two people who sat on either side of the table while Mrs. Johnson sat across from Simon at the other end of the table.

River was wearing the new blue and yellow dress Simon had bought the day before at the store in town. His sister smiled up at him with her laughing brown eyes and Simon smiled back. Her brown hair had obviously been brushed and braided held with yellow ribbons. Simon then looked at the man setting on the opposite side of the table facing River. The white weaves on the left side of his face held together a rather large cut that ran from the corner of his left eye to the bottom of his chin. Jayne only acknowledged the doctor’s scrutiny with a nod of his head.

Mrs. Johnson said grace as they all bowed their heads. Once grace was spoken they began filling their plates quietly.

The rabbit was fresh, Jayne had checked the snares that he had set just that morning and found three fat hares that he gutted and skinned. The vegetables had been carefully picked from the garden by River, who found gardens and plants to be somewhat fascinating.

The four of them ate in silence for a while, until Mrs. Johnson asking Simon how his day went broke the silence.

“Not too bad. Only a few new cases today. Mostly just removing stitches and changing bandages though in one case I did have to amputate. The antibiotics just didn’t stop the infection from spreading.” Simon answered after wiping his mouth with a cloth napkin.

“Sometimes the medicines we get out here have been watered down a bit or are out of date by too many years.” Mrs. Johnson said.

Simon nodded at that. He then turned to River and asked her about her day.

“Removed more cloying roots from soil. Tossed mixture of corn seed and grain to brainless feathered birds. Helped Jayne buy ground wheat and refined sugar.” River answered.

Simon nodded at that. The weeding did not surprise him; River took the job of taking care of the plants in the garden very seriously, almost as seriously as she took her job of being Jayne’s voice.

When dinner was done, they all pitched in to clean off the table, wash the dishes and deal with the few leftovers. Simon worried when there were leftovers. On Serenity, there were hardly any once Jayne was done with it. Jayne barely ate, and Simon could tell that the big mercenary was losing weight.

Mrs. Johnson could see the worry in Simon’s eyes, and she squeezed his arm in a comforting gesture. He smiled at her and nodded. They returned to their cleaning.

Once that was done, Simon went to find his patients. He wasn’t surprised to find them in Jayne’s bedroom. Before, the thought of River in Jayne’s room would have frightened his to death, but now it didn’t even faze him. Jayne was not the same man that he had been on Serenity.

River was sitting cross-legged on the bedcovers. Beside her, already beneath the covers looking as if he had already fallen asleep was Jayne. The mercenary was trying to avoid Simon’s ministrations by pretending sleep. Simon only needed River’s nod to know that Jayne wasn’t really asleep.

“Need medicines. Can’t avoid by sleeping.” River told Jayne.

Simon came over to the bed with his medkit in his hand. He set the kit down beside River who scooted herself closer to the headboard to give Simon room to work.

Simon pulled back the covers of the bed to reveal Jayne’s bare chest, or at least bare of any clothing. Bandages covered most of his torso. Simon unwound them and checked the sewn up wounded beneath them satisfied that the antibiotic that he was giving Jayne at least was good. While he checked over the wounds on Jayne’s chest and stomach, River stroked her hands through Jayne’s hair. It was a testament of Jayne’s state of mind that he neither growled at River nor jerked his head away from her. Once those wounds were seen to, Simon helped Jayne roll over onto his side revealing Jayne’s back and the multiple wounds found there.

The area of his left shoulder blade where the skin had been removed with a sharp blade was healing, showing new skin growing at the edges of the area. The Reavers had done a lot of damage in the 28 minutes that they had held Jayne before River and Simon had managed to kill his attackers.

Once those wounds were seen to, Simon looked at River who rolled her eyes, but did get up from the bed with one last stroke of her hand through Jayne’s short cropped hair, then left the room.

Once River was gone, Simon then moved the covers lower and checked the stitches and the torn tissues of Jayne’s rectum. The part that Jayne hated the most as attested to the fists clenching the sheet beneath him.

“I’m sorry, I will be quick.” Simon said. Once satisfied that the wounds were healing and were not getting infected, Simon then pulled the cap of the syringe that held the antibiotic he had been giving Jayne to stave of the infections that came from Reaver blades, and Reaver bodies. He injected the antibiotic in Jayne’s hip, and then recovered the mercenary. River of course walked in right after that.

It amazed Simon that after all this time of trying to help River with medicines to control her anxiety, schizophrenia and mood swings, that a psychic bond with a broken mercenary would be the key to stabilizing her. If this bond had developed on Serenity, Simon would have been worried and angry; sure that Jayne was taking advantage of River. Here on Calabus, however, that was not the case. Since the Reaver attack that had been beaten back by the well-armed citizens of settlement known as Perseus’ Arm, Jayne was not even close to being the same stubborn, dangerous mercenary that he had been on Serenity. Jayne had held back several attacking Reavers so that Simon and River could get to the safety of the hidden caves. Once there they had met up with some of those citizens who were willing to help them go back and save the mercenary and most of the town.

Jayne had saved their lives at a very high cost. In twenty-eight minutes a dozen Reavers had done a lot of damage to the mercenary.

Serenity had lifted off, getting the Reaver ship to chase them out into the black. The raiding party from the ship had consisted of three-dozen Reavers who had not expected the settlement to be able to fight back. The entire Reaver raiding party had been killed but there had many casualties among the settlement. Simon had doctored those he could, starting with Jayne. The settlements regular doctor had been injured. The able bodied settlers had helped Simon by setting up a temporary hospital in the local bar, placing cots where tables and chairs had been. The two nurses from the clinic had been a big help. The clinic luckily had a storage room with medicines and bandages that had been hoarded for emergencies.

After Simon had done what he could for the wounded, the settlers offered him a job at the clinic. Since neither Serenity nor the Reaver ship had returned, Simon accepted the position.

And while Simon still had several patients among the settlers due to the Reaver attack, Simon knew that he now had two very long-term patients: a mind reading sister, and a mute mercenary. If and when Serenity returned, they would leave the settlement. And if Malcolm Reynolds thought that a mute, broken mercenary was too much of a liability, then Simon planned to stay in Perseus’ Arm with River and Jayne until the Alliance found them, or death did.


Thursday, October 27, 2005 5:58 AM


! Jayne is such a hero. He so would do that.

Poor Jayne.

Thursday, October 27, 2005 9:21 AM


*whimper* jayne...!


Thursday, October 27, 2005 10:20 AM


*whimpers* You broke Jayne.
Fix him! Fix him right now!

Please tell me that the rest of the crew survived and is coming back! Even if you're lying...

Thursday, October 27, 2005 11:04 AM


I think this one was better than your last story, I feel like you used the characters better, but still really dark. I like it but can't tell were it starts and ends, more??

Thursday, October 27, 2005 11:23 AM


A lot of writers overlook the basics of sentence structure. Yours is solid, and your storytelling benefits because of it.

I did spot a couple of punctuation errors, though, and I also wouldn't mind a little less reflection and a little more immediacy.

Keep writing.

Sunday, October 30, 2005 6:42 PM


Very shiny, Storm, for all that it IS dark, just like you warned me it would be. I'm like the critic who orders you to fix Jayne since you broke him. Do it, please! You can't leave us like this, can you? Favorite line: "a psychic bond with a broken mercenary would be the key to stabilizing her." The worst thing about this story is that you haven't written more to feed our imaginations. Write, on, McStorm.


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