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solopsistic

Solo's Medical Misadventures

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Solo’s Medical Misadventures

Spoiler

Isn’t it a bit unnerving that Doctors call what they do practice?

PART ONE

 

Solo Ratakowski. It feels strange to see my name written again. Even stranger to hear it. Today was one of the first times in years that’s happened.

I spent most of the last few years in Chernarus, at least that's how I think it's spelled. Isolated on my farm near the mountains. I listened to survivor chatter on the radio daily, never speaking up myself.  I had experienced an injury myself running from the infected, slipping and falling into a small ravine hitting my head. It’s why I just can’t seem to remember the names of people I meet without writing them down. It’s why I’ve decided to keep this journal, after all.  I had heard transmissions from other people like me, and transmissions from people...not like me. Mean people. Angry people. People who clearly were trying to prey on the weak and sick. To hurt me and other survivors.  I knew long ago I had to revive a part of me I lost long ago. I knew my calling was to help what survivors I could.

I landed on the shore of Jeleni Ostrov last week. I had to escape the boiling over of survivors on Cherno (as it was aptly called, which is actually confusing enough because of the capital city). I wasn’t able to properly study the afflictions of the survivors without constant gunshots and distractions. While I wasn’t an actual doctor, I knew that anyone with any medical training was going to be a rare commodity. I was just hopeful I could convince the residents of Deer Isle I was more knowledgeable than I was while I continued my self-study; sure I had taken biology and chemistry in college, but I was an attorney before anything happened.

I found myself in a city. Or was it a town? It was hard to tell because, as far as I could tell, there were no survivors living in it. Labels are largely irrelevant today.  All I know is that it has a pharmacy, and that was enough to continue learning. Training.

My first step was understanding the basic afflictions of every day life. The cholera. The salmonella. Hypothermia even. Practicing proper hygiene, working on clothing upkeep, and safe food handling has helped me come a long way in my understanding of basic disease and sickness. But this outbreak...that may be something we never truly understand. But this practice, being alone at the start of this harrowing journey, means I either have to test medicine I come across on zombies (if you haven’t tried this, don’t. All forms of medicine are ineffective), or on myself. Withdrawals are dangerous I have come to find out, but through trial and error I have learned what a safe dosage is for most common medicine. I have learned how to handle basic issues. I am field ready. I sling my shotgun over my shoulder. I load up my medicine. I head north to help survivors where I can. I will travel this archipelago, at least at my hands, healthcare can be free, without exception.

 

PART TWO

 

I was walking north along the road, eyes darting back and forth from tree to tree. Keeping a look out for movement on the horizon surrounding me. Gunshots ring out, but not at the constant pace as they did on the mainland. These sound like hunting shots, single, large caliber. Maybe a shotgun with a slug even. Either way, 2-3 rounds go off an hour. Hardly the same as the dozens going off every few minutes before. If it wasn’t labeled a war zone when I got there, it sure felt like it should be. But I don’t know. I purposely avoided any military obligation growing up, favoring school over any service.

Ketamine. Ketamine was my first request.  I was somewhere near Warren Cove...or was it Zatoka something?  I heard it both ways on my trip.  He claimed he had a fever and it would help. He claimed to be sick, weak. Why would a tranquilizer help him? Broad spectrum antibiotics is what I prescribed, immediately. Shoved them right into his mouth mid-sentence. I wasn’t running any risk of another one dying over something as simple as a light fever. Plus, momma always said “low grade fevers are a sign of infection.” I also gave him some oxycodone, but that was just to make him feel better about his situation. Truth was, I was in the field with no equipment to test him, so my guess was as good as his. I asked him to monitor it, drink clean water, and rest. I had already reached my northern post, it was time to turn around and head back south.

That’s when I heard it, the man I had just treated turned to me and asked, “Hey, are you meeting friends?” Gesturing down the road... four men stood at the entrance of town no further than 200 yards away. “Get in the car, let’s drive around them. They’re making me anxious,” he says. I’d just heard a similar story, a group of friendly acting survivors hiding in plain site, kidnapping and ransoming anyone they deemed “of value.” A man by the name of Bo I had met had been telling me his harrowing tale: his hands taped up, bag over his head. Shot at. Ridiculed. I wasn’t going to be next.

“I DON’T KNOW YOU,” I snap at the sick survivor, putting my hand down on the grip of my shotgun. “You drive past them, I’m going a different route.” I leave him to his car as he pulls away, my legs taking me East into the tree line. I peer through the leaves watching a brief interaction between the man and the car and this group, unable to hear what is discussed. From a distance it seemed lightly tense, but no lives were lost that day. I turn South again, making my way back to the docks to attempt to find and treat anyone needing my services.

 

PART THREE

 

Spending the night alone in a train station, I thought about my past. I always think about my friends and family from before, I left them so abruptly when I decided to head to Europe to find myself. Lighthearted goodbyes were exchanged, everyone expected me to come home. That’s what growing up sheltered and white in yesterday’s society got you. Safety. Ironic how quickly that changed after the outbreaks...

My family wasn’t what I thought of that night, leaning back on the station bench, taking my ballistic helmet off. I took my helmet to my hands feeling the side of it, then putting my hand to my head. “That fall really took a lot of my memories...I wonder if I’ll ever just feel fucking normal again...” I whisper to myself. One story I’ll never forget, one fateful encounter...

I was living in a small town called Ratnoe in Cherno for awhile. I had made a friend. My first real friend, a man with an odd name. Ratacus. Like he was some sewer-dwelling, Greek hero...or maybe his parents were shit at naming their kid like mine. Thinking back, our parents weren’t much different before the fall - scared of the unknown, trying to survive every day in their new world...all because of having us.

Ratacus, Rat as he liked to be called, was an interesting man. He claimed he worked in security after a stint in the military; that was before the outbreaks of course. He was from the US too. I think that’s where our bond came from. We were both halfway around the world on the wrong side of this outbreak just struggling to survive. He taught me how to clean and maintain my shotgun, I taught him how to grow basic food to survive. It was his military training, however, that would ultimately cause our time together to end.

I rarely carry lethal weapons on me outside of what I need to protect myself from the extreme outcasts of society. Truth be told, I don’t understand how these other weapons work. I could possibly figure it out with enough use, but weapons and ammo have become such a rarity that it’s simply not fathomable. Rat always had his rifle on him, alternating between his old M16 and his Hunting Rifle.  His M16 was comfortable to him. He knew the curves and edges of the contouring in his sleep. Where he lacked any real training though, was on the application of physics as it related to confined spaces. Basically, he didn’t know the dangers of grenades in enclosed spaces.

I remember one night distinctly:

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

We had just returned with a brand-new (to us) defibrillator. I remembered seeing a diagram of how they worked in a book I was reading in Elektro. Who am I kidding, I can’t read Cyrillic languages. I was just looking at pictures trying to feel normal again, because all of these books used American Pictures in a book printed in Russian - I laughed to myself that of COURSE that would be the case. But I remember what it said on the side of the defib in the picture:  “Caution, defibrillators administer a shock potentially in excess of 1000 Volts. This level of shock is potentially fatal to humans.” I wondered aloud if this could be a tool to take life as well as restore it...

But it was THAT night. That fateful night. Rat and I had already been running together for awhile at that point. We were living near a military base, mostly barracks. But that kept us clothed and armed with basic munitions. Every once in awhile we’d find a smoke grenade. Even more rare a bear trap or a fragmentation grenade. On this particular night, Rat had found a brand new M84 Stun Grenade.  At least that's what I remember he told me it reminded him of.  While these grenades have been around for almost 20 years (most of us remember seeing them in those Call of Duty video games growing up before the outbreak), military supplies were always scarce. Even Rat hadn’t seen one of these in person yet. We didn’t know how well they truly worked, we just kept it and prayed it would work if we ever needed it.

Sitting in the house, Rat and I were telling stories. I don’t recall what particular story we were talking about, I just remember his voice...”Hey Solo” he chirped. “I got a present for you....” Without warning, a deafening explosion. A blinding flash. Everything was black. Laughing at me, Rat continued “did you like your present?”

“I think somethings wrong.” I tell him frantically. “I can’t see anything at all! I’m dizzy. My legs are giving out...I need to lay down...just to rest...my head hurts so bad...” my voice trailing off, lapsing in and out of consciousness. Rat turned to me, I was already on the floor with labored breathing. “Get up man, it’s alright” Rat continued. “It’ll be fine man cmon.” But I felt weak. And cold. I just wanted to sleep. “G...get the d....efibrillator” I mustered, passing into a slight comatose state unknowingly. The only problem was, I hadn’t explained how this machine worked to Rat, and that would quickly become problematic.

DoooooOOOOOOT. The defibrillator charged up. Rat screaming at me to stay with him, but I couldn’t fight it. The concussive force from the grenade had likely caused internal bleeding, my heart wasn’t the issue this time. He ripped my shirt open putting the leads where he had seen in movies for years before...but there was a third lead. Where did this one go? Did it go on Solo somewhere? That seemed excessive... Rat had an epiphany. He recalled his own training in the military to the closest thing to a human body - a tank. It’s a machine also, he learned how to fix one maybe he can fix THIS one. He took the third lead like any mechanic would and assumed it was a ground wire. What he incorrectly assumed was that his rubber soled boots would insulate and ground it, placing the last lead on his upper thigh.

“CLEAR” Rat yells, “....just like in Hollywood....” I think to myself. chGUK. I hear the jolt of electricity fly from the machine. The next sound I heard... THUD - Rat hit the floor.

“That...wasn’t the grounding wire....” I struggle out. Finally passing out completely. When I awoke, I was on the coast again. Alone. Scared. No sign of my friend.

“I’ve gotta get outta here and find Rat, he could still be alive....” I turn toward the horizon. North. Back to find Rat.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

That was almost 6 months ago. Chances are he didn’t make it. But I continue to hope. I got on a boat and made it here without any survival training, if anyone could do it HE could. Maybe one day I’ll see my friend again and we can share more stories. Maybe I’ll see any of the friends I made along the way.

Until then though, I travel. Healing whatever ailments I cross. But not tonight. Tonight, I sleep; for tomorrow is another day.

Edited by solopsistic

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PART FOUR

We had been together on Chernarus for awhile at this point, just Rat and I.  Living in a house on the outskirts of society, sneaking through forests just trying to survive.  One day, another fateful day, we were separated.  This time, it was by choice.  He needed to check on a few things, and I needed to figure out what kind of ammo this Russian handgun I had found took; I couldn't read the magazine so I figured maybe I could just try different bullets until I figured it out.  I understood medicine, but guns?  Guns were more Rat's forte.

I was North of Stary Sobor, in the tree line, watching military tents.  Cracks of shotguns and long rifles rang out around me.  Then, all too suddenly they stopped.  "Killing the infected again..." I thought to myself.  If they were busy with them in the city, they weren't watching these tents.  That's when I made a move.

I approached the tents from the northern end.  Three infected were staggering through the camp, almost like drunk infants - one kept walking into a shipping container and getting stuck on the door.  I wonder if they kept their intelligence after turning...if so, this was a dumb person before - even dumber now.  I walked up behind it, swiftly executing it with my combat knife to the back of the head.

Turning into the first tent, I crouched down behind a gurney, I had found some ammunition...I wondered if this would fit my pistol!

It didn't.  The bullets were too big, almost the size of my thumb.  There was no way this handgun shot those bullets - even I could figure that out.  I tried to radio Rat to ask his opinion about this weapon, his response - "Did you check if it was chambered?" 

That's when I heard it.  Footsteps? They were slow, must be another infected.  Just slowly walking through the brush as they always do.

"There's one bullet in here already." I respond to Rat.  "It's a .308 caliber I think."

Footsteps again! This infected was getting annoying, maybe I should go deal with it.

"HEY BUDDY. YOU FRIENDLY?" I'm glad I was wearing my brown pants that day, it would have been more embarrassing if I hadn't.

"Um...well yea, I'm actually unarmed, I have a gun, but I can't find any bullets so...I'm not a threat."  I drop my handgun on the ground and slowly raise my hands, walking out of the tent.  I looked in the direction of where the voice came from...there was no one there.

"I've got my gun trained on you, don't make any sudden moves and you'll be fine."  The voice comes from another direction this time.  Are there two of them?  Who is this person...what do they want from me.

"I'm Bo.  Who are you." I hear from behind a barricade. "Hey um, I'm Solo." 

"What up Solo...call me Tainted."

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

It's interesting reflecting back on the people you meet and how they influence your life from then on out.  I think about it often.  I think about the sprawling garage we live in, the massive city we found, our journey out of Chernarus and to the haven of Deer Isle shortly thereafter, and the founding of The Rat Pack - founded by Ratacus, Solo, and Tainted. 

I think about how we've now grown to a group of nearly a dozen survivors, all relying upon each other in this conflict.

I think about that day we ventured into the Northern Mountains.  And the day we found that military complex...

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PART 5

By now, almost everyone has heard about what happened on Deer Isle. Deer Isle.  What a dumb name.  The truth of the matter was there were so many non-Chernarussians there it just made sense to call it names in English.  It seemed most people spoke it anyways.

I still think about it though, my time cut so short in such a wonderful place.  We were all trying to plan our next move to get home, but those infected up North changed everything.  Maybe if we hadn't have stumbled onto that weird military complex...

I'm back on the mainland now.  We had to take a row boat back...mine had no oars.  Typical, send Solo on the shit boat. He can take care of himself.  Well...I did.  I made it you fucks.  But, where? It had been so long, I was lost.  I had no purpose anymore, I figured the first step was finding that again.  My purpose.

I headed East.  Wrong, it was West.  Or was it North? My boat hit some rocks and I woke up just off the coast, it must have thrown me a ways and hit my head...I really have a hard time remembering that first night...maybe I stumbled into the forest a bit and passed out?

I was headed West finally.  To scout the map, and see the mountains I had called home so long ago.  But I was never going to make it to those mountains.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

"PUT YOUR FUCKING HANDS UP!"  I had been on the mainland for mere hours and I was already being held up.  I noticed someone else in the back seat, another unfortunate survivor; my hands up above my head now.  "GET DOWN ON THE GROUND!" Another order.... "PUT YOUR HANDS BEHIND YOUR BACK! NO...ON YOUR HEAD! No...behind your back so my buddy can tie them up..."  These guys were clearly amateurs.  They had some guns, but they weren't kidnappers or even dangerous enough to be called a bandit.  Apparently they had been commissioned by a group known as WolfPack to gather slaves? At least that's what they were telling me.  We had arrived at our destination.

His name was Anthony.  He had been kidnapped also. Quietly sitting next to the gate of this building, in this compound.  From the outside it looked like Hogwarts, but sitting inside it really felt more like Auschwitz.  The inhabitants seemed sad, on edge.  Who were these people?  Apparently they were the WolfPack.  And apparently they weren't buying any slaves today.

A brief fire fight ensued - the WolfPack opened fire at these kidnappers, who were now wearing bright purple armbands (ironic, as the whole event was befitting of clowns).  Anthony and I laid there, faces in the dirt, sweating in the sun...waiting to make our move toward the exit.

"I have a smoke grenade they missed," I whispered to him.  "We can use it for cover and make a run for it while they're distracted."

"Let's do it."

Quietly, I pull the pin out of the grenade, just a basic brown, cardboard, civilian version. Thick black smoke begins billowing out, I throw it in front of us hoping it will provide cover.

"Nice one" Anthony whispers, "let's go for it." We turn back to sprint through the smoke and...there's nothing! A defective grenade?! What are the chances...but by now they had heard the grenade go off, they knew we were trying to escape.

Interestingly enough, they didn't care.  They wanted no part in us being there anymore, their fun was lost after the fire fight it seemed.  Acting as if WE were the inconvenience, that they had somehow provided US a favor.  The nerve those cowards, hiding in their ridiculous walls.

With that, though, my new friend and I were off.  There was a Military base near us we had heard about, maybe it would be interesting to check out.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

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