Cracking Wood

fiction
Skyview of Trees

It was half past six in the morning when a gust of wind shoved its way through the ravine.

Gaige felt the punch of the branch hitting his shoulder and back even before his mind registered the noise of cracking wood. He tasted the acid bite of mud mixed with his own blood simultaneous to understanding that he was face down on the narrow path. The thought that floated ethereally through his brain in the seconds before lost consciousness was a mix of curiosity and frustration that, as his arm seemed to be nailed to the ground by a splintered piece of tree, he couldn't seem to reach up to pause the tracker on his fitness watch -- and that his pace on this run was going to be shit.

The scene that had been recounted to him later struck Gaige as mundane and unremarkable. He sat propped up by uncountable pillows in a hospital bed his head turned slightly to stare fixedly at the glare through a window looking out across a concrete parking structure.

He was lucky to have been found so quickly, they had scolded.

A cyclist. A phone call. A couple of strong paramedics who had hiked a narrow trail and carried him not a hundred meters out of the bush strapped to a board up to where they had parked their ambulance on a quiet suburban street. He hadn't been down for more than ten minutes, they had estimated with stern precision, before he'd been rescued.

"You're a lucky guy." The nurse reminded him as she expertly coupled a piece of green plastic to a clear bag filled with liquid. The filled bag replaced a similar but less full bag, and the less full bag was discarded before Gaige could notice where. The green plastic clip was attached to a clear plastic tube, and the clear plastic tube wend it's way through a looping roller coaster ride that terminated abruptly at a cool, steel needle piercing the flesh of his forearm.

"Where's my watch?" His voice weak and rasping.

The nurse didn't so much as pause, but her gaze flicked to meet Gaige's eyes from the tablet screen where her fingers were tapping with practiced precision. "There's a clock on the wall."

"No." He managed to say before a catch in his throat caught him off guard and he coughed, an electric pain shooting down his side and back as he flinched in horror at the new sensation.

Instead he sipped cool water from a plastic cup the same hue as the clip on the bag of clear fluid draining into his arm and pushed weakly back into his pillow wincing at the subsiding pain.