Sebastian started putting away his medical equipment into his small duffel bag. Pausing to wipe away the sweat from his brow, he meticulously resumed his task. He placed away medications, chemical bottles, and his basic medical equipment. The deftness and the speed of his hands made it seem that he had done it thousands of times. It was right to assume so, as he had been a nurse for almost a decade. Although it was in different locations, with each stint lasting a few years at a time. He welcomed the varying challenges each area or setting brought with it. Whether it was in a metropolitan emergency department, or an operating theatre in an underdeveloped country, he was grateful and always positive in performing his nursing responsibilities.
Currently, he was in the Savannah region, working as a remote rural nurse. His main responsibility this time was to monitor and help out a local tribe's health situation. He was the only medical personnel tasked in assisting a local tribe with a population of 50. With the next medical assistance hours away via a CB radio contact. It seemed that the NGO (Non Profit Organisation) wanted to take the conservative route in making contact with this local tribe. Instead of overwhelming them with a plethora of modern Western information, they wanted to slowly change the tribe's attitude towards outsiders. The NGO also wanted to preserve the tribe's cultures and identity rather than having them assimilate Western traditions. With that in mind, they deemed that a remote nurse would help alleviate their morbidity and mortality rate, while slowly opening their eyes towards Western practices.
"Basti, what are you doing?" A middle-aged man said while entering the medical tent set up by Sebastian in the middle of the local tribe's village. Since the village wasn't that populated to begin with, setting up a medical tent in the middle of the tribe's geographical location was fairly easy and was understandably accessible to everyone. The villagers had trouble with his name, so Sebastian shortened it to make it easy for them.
Sebastian slowly looked up from his desk and looked at the man. He looked middle-aged but he was already 53 years old. He was the village elder chosen because of longevity. Since members of the tribe die at early ages, the oldest living member is automatically made as village elder. Having a village elder at the age of 53 did not mean well in terms of health status for the tribe.
Sebastian gazed deeply at the village elder's figure. It was a habit he developed - as he was assessing a potential patient for any abnormalities, it would instead seem that he was looking sharply at a person, almost condescendingly. Assessing the elder from head to toe, Sebastian couldn't find any pressing medical issues with him aside from the osteoarthritis making his knees swell up to the point where the elder had to use a makeshift walking stick.
"Are your knees giving you pain today?" Sebastian asked calmly. Once you are able to anticipate a medical need, it would make your nursing life very easy.
"Yes, but I came here to tell you that our dinner is ready."
"Ah was it today? Sorry I forgot. I'll head out now. Thank you."
Currently the tribe was holding a small festival to thank their local god for their crop harvest and cattle growth. They did inform Sebastian before, but he was busy monitoring the tribe's health conditions and documenting them that he simply forgot. When you're somewhere in the Savannah building up a health database for a local tribe using outdated tools, it really takes a lot of your time and effort.
Sebastian then went out the tent together with the village elder and walked towards the village center where the rest of the tribe were preparing dinner. They were making bread with a simple oven that he taught them (with the schematics from the NGO) and they were roasting 2 calves for dinner.
As soon as Sebastian and the village elder arrived, everyone fell into silence and stared at them. It could be said that they were the two most influential people for the tribe at the moment. One representing the leadership upon which all tribe members followed, and one representing their connection to the vast outside world.
The village elder then stepped forward and addressed the tribe. It really helped that they learned English from missionaries even before the NGOs came.
"Everyone, we are here to give glory to Demitrius to thank him for our harvests this time and for taking care of our cattle and helping us grow." It seemed that either the missionaries were only able to impart their knowledge of the English language to this tribe, or that this tribe was extremely stubborn.
The village elder then picked up a bowl of cow's blood and slowly spilled it towards the ground, forming an intricate pattern. After emptying the bowl, he then threw the wooden bowl into the bonfire where the cows were roasting. Too dramatic, Sebastian thought to himself. Though he was very fascinated in different cultures, it was quite different when you're listening to a lecture about it and when you're actually living with a far-flung tribe for a few months already. Being a male nurse in a remote village was very ideal for NGOs who wanted to do a type of "medical mission" before introducing a sheltered tribe to the outside world. Of course, he had to have a specific training to be a remote rural nurse, but it mainly involved survival skills and self-defense skills on top of his already extensive nursing experience.
"Basti? Basti.. Basti, let's eat now."
The village elder jolted Sebastian back to reality as he was given a wooden bowl to eat with. The tribe already brought jars of water from the water well nearby. They were mainly using it for washing their hands before eating - a practice which took a few weeks of urgent prompting from Sebastian before they became accustomed to it. Their drinking water consisted of pre-boiled water that were stored in clay jars. The storage and sterilization of the clay jars was the next project he was currently undertaking.
Sebastian then went towards the food line where he took pieces of baked bread and slices of roast beef. People sat around in a small circle to talk and eat. There was no music or dancing involved, it was sort of a solemn festival for the tribe and they were mainly focused on survival that they didn't have any spare resources to develop their arts.
After dinner, a handful of tribesmen were collecting the bowls to wash near the well while the womenfolk tended to the leftovers. The plan was to store it in jars and have it for lunch tomorrow. There wasn't that much food left, and there was a lot of people to feed. It definitely won't last longer than lunch tomorrow, Sebastian calculated. It was beneficial in that aspect, since they didn't have any forms of refrigeration or pickling whatsoever.
As soon as Sebastian turned around to head for his tent, he heard a blood-curdling scream from the women.
He immediately turned around and ran towards the scream, almost by instinct. When he reached the fallen woman, he froze in his tracks. It seemed that she was trying to run away from something and tripped. There were no serious injuries aside from a twisted ankle, Sebastian quickly assessed. There were 3 hyenas in front of them. Hyenas in the Savannah are typically drawn towards leftover food or carcasses. The fact that there was now a pack in front of him and the tribe indicated that they were hungry to the point of desperation and thus extremely dangerous.
Sebastian slowly made his way in between the hyenas and the woman to allow her to stand up and slowly go back. Out of the corner of his eye, Sebastian saw that the rest of the tribesmen were a few meters away arming themselves with sticks and stones slowly so as not to alarm the hyenas. As soon as he ascertained that the woman went into the crowd and was safe, Sebastian then slowly backed away, hoping to merge with the crowd, all while facing the pack of hyenas in front of him. What he didn't realize was that he was sticking out in front of the others, making him a viable target.
In what seemed like a breath, the hyenas suddenly pounced just before Sebastian was able to go into the crowd. Out of pure instinct, he raised both his arms in front of him to protect his vitals but the two hyenas bit his wrists and crushed it with their jaws. The adrenaline rush surged to counteract the pain and to activate his flee response but he was pinned by the two hyenas while the third one lunged for his throat and tore it out. As soon as he fell to the ground, the tribesmen were already all over the hyenas, beating them seneseless and killing two in the process, leaving the third to limp away howling.
Sebastian fell flat on his back, with his arms on his sides. His hands were dangling by fragments of muscles and tendons holding it in place but totally useless. He was also lethally bleeding out from his throat gash. The village elder immediately ran to his side, kneeling down.
"Basti, I'm so sorry. Please be okay." The village elder seemed panicking, when he was supposed to be the most experienced in the whole tribe.
*cough* *splurt* *cough* Sebastian tried to talk but was drowned out by the blood pooling and splurging in his throat. He needed extensive medical help, but it would be hours away even after contacting them with the CB radio in his tent.
The village elder then solemnly gestured towards the other tribesmen. They nodded while seemingly going away to get something.
Sebastian felt that no matter what they would bring, nothing apart from a modern medical ambulance complete with a medical team would save him.
The villager then came back and handed a bundle of cloth to the village elder. Everyone looked gravely at that situation, knowing full well that they wouldn't be able to do anything. A wild animal attack in the Savannah was synonymous to death. Everyone knew about it, nevertheless they felt sorry that they couldn't save the other influential man in their tribe, their only contact to the outside world.
The village elder then opened the bundle of cloth to reveal a ceremonial knife intricately carved and with what looked like precious stones embedded in it. It looked like an ancient ornate dagger, but very sharp.
Sebastian was already losing consciousness and breathing jaggedly as the village elder pointed the knife towards his chest. Looking at the situation, Sebastian knew what was going to happen and couldn't help but let out a small smile.
'So this is how I die. A coup de grace in the middle of nowhere. Damn.'
At that point, there was a lot of thoughts that rushed into his mind - like how the staff at the orphanage he grew up in which he treated as his family would know, what would happen to his body, and would there be any repercussions or amendments made after he was gone. He couldn't focus on one train of thought as his consciousness was slipping away. He could only look on at the village elder and the knife before his chest.
"Live long Basti, be strong."
'What kind of parting words is that, do you even understand what you're talking about.'
He felt that a lot of things were lost in translation. That feeling, however, was shortlived as the village elder plunged the knife into Sebastian's chest and his consciousness faded.
This is a prologue to my book. I still consider myself as a learner in this endeavour so please feel free to leave me comments and feedback! Thank you in advance and I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoy making this.
A narration of this chapter can be found at:
Narration is done by bravocube. Thanks so much!
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