Destruction Aftermath, Book 2a
Chapter 38

Copyright© 2012 by radio_guy

There was no warning. We were riding the horses across the bridge at a walk when it simply but quickly fell apart. I guess it was weak and the horses weight and vibrations finally caused it to collapse. Bennie and I and all the horses fell. My horse landed on its feet and went down with its legs broken. My right ankle hurt badly and I was winded. I looked around and saw Bennie's head lying over his horse's neck. I pulled myself up and crawled over to Bennie and leaned him back. His left arm was broken and his left leg was caught under his horse. Both Bennie's horse and mine were dead. One of the packhorses was alive and it was floundering in the shallow water because of broken legs.

Using my good leg, I rolled Bennie's horse away from him pulling him to a dry spot. There, I took stock of his injuries and realized his left leg was broken, too. He had a bump on his head that was bruising. The only part of me that really hurt was my right ankle. Other than that, I just felt bruised all over.

We had lost most of our equipment but I started salvaging as much as I could. It was disheartening. Rifles were broken as were radios and many other items that we would need. I did manage to salvage most of our first aid kit and bandage Bennie where he was bleeding. Splints would wait until I could get splints. I then strapped my ankle, which didn't make it quit hurting but did allow me to walk without as much pain. I finished giving us first aid and Bennie was still unconscious. I lay down next to him and did something I hadn't done almost since the Day. I cried. I was alone with my unconscious husband and frustrated.

I woke up a little later feeling better mentally and over my tantrum. As I levered my body up, I heard a groan from Bennie as he regained consciousness. I leaned over and kissed him lightly. "Bennie, you have broken your left arm and leg. You also have a big bump on your head."

He said slowly, "That's why I feel so bad. What happened?"

"The bridge collapsed with us on it. The horses are dead and most everything, including us, is busted up. No rifles and no radios."

He said, "That's not good. We were up there?"

"Yes, Dear. We fell about thirty or forty feet. That's why we hurt."

"Yeah. At least, we can still hurt." He thought a moment and said, "How are we fixed for food and fire making? What about our sleeping bags?"

I said, "I'll work on that. I was having a pity party."

He extended his good arm and pulled me to him. "That is permissible considering what just happened." He kissed me gently and I felt better.

I rose and hobbled over to one of the packhorses. From it, I retrieved our sleeping bags and extra clothes. I brought everything over to Bennie and set it down. I helped him pull onto a sleeping bag, which had to be more comfortable than lying on the ground. I went over to another horse and pulled some of our food packages from it and carried them over. I went back and picked up the rest. Our flour packet was broken but the rest of the food was intact. I brought it over and stacked it neatly. I was able to save Bennie's bow and all but one arrow. My bow and arrows were under my horse and broken like my rifle. I found our matches and kindling for fires. The real issues to me were if we had unwelcome company and how to get back up to the road. I told Bennie and he said to be patient. Once we go two nights without checking in, the alarm will go out and help will start looking for us. Everyone knows where we were going and the route we would use. He grinned and then said, "And we were on it until a little while ago."

Bennie wanted to see my ankle and I carefully removed the bandage from it along with my boot and sock. I had been wearing shorts and had dabbed ointment on various scraps and cuts. He took his good hand and felt of it noting my looks of anguish. Finally, he said, "It's not broken. At least, I don't think so. It is badly sprained. Put your sock and boot back on and wrap it tightly."

As I was doing that, he looked around some levering his body a bit higher with his good arm. He said, "I accounted for all our horses and, of course, you were right and they're dead. You've said the radios and rifles are busted. We really need to get back up to the road if we can. I'm concerned that the horses' bodies will draw some unwelcome guests and would like a better sight area for our pistols. When you feel like it, try to hobble up to the road. I think you'll have a better shot over there." He nodded his head to my right. "Take a rope with you and make a walking stick."

I did and I did. Walking along the right﷓of﷓way, I came to a spot that was low enough that I could hobble up it. Walking had become easier as long as it was level. I tied off the rope and let it hang down. I was wishing a horse had survived because a travois would make getting Bennie up much easier. When I returned, I put splints on his left leg and left arm. I couldn't do much for his leg but did strap his arm against his body.

Bennie had me make a harness for his body and then drag him along the right﷓of﷓way to the same point at which I made it up. It took all afternoon to accomplish that. He had me roll him onto the roadway. Then, I hobbled back and lugged our supplies to the road and set up a camp. I was bone tired and he had passed out twice when his leg had caught on a root. We were safer though not safe but we no strength for anything further. I made a small fire and cooked us some food. I had him braced in a sitting position. He said that was more comfortable for when he was awake. As soon as we finished eating, I lay a sleeping bag out, pulled him on it and lay down beside him. Sleep came quickly.

In the morning, I could hear animals growling over our horses. I pulled a loaded pistol as I looked around. I saw nothing up with us and quickly built up the fire. I started a breakfast and Bennie woke up to the coffee brewing. We didn't have much left and I thought we could use its refreshing taste and the caffeine. After eating, we talked.

Bennie said, "By the time we haven't checked in tomorrow night and a group heads this way, it could be a week before we see anyone. That's too long. We will have problems before then. On the other hand, if you start in the morning, you could be in the Free District in two days. They have cars and could have someone here that day. They also have working radios and you can call for help and get the expedition moving with the right help in a SUV. Janice, honey, I think I'm going to need that help. If that leg gets infected, I'll need Dr. Ollie or Dr. Anne with all their expertise."

"Bennie, I can't leave you!"

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