Part 34 - Blade to the Rescue

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DEBBIE GRABBED THE book with illustrations. She also picked up the scalpel.

"I love you mum," she whispered, "But... I love Mat more."

She pressed the blade under the tape, then dashed out into the deluge.

Pru grunted at Kev and signalled with her chin, Kev could see a glint of light. He prayed to God, to Jesus and Buddha, that she didn't drop the sharp steel.

She didn't; she cut herself in her hurry but opened the Gaffer tape that held her. Stripping the binding away from her legs, she looked at Kev but went to Peter first.

The water was still not entering his nose, but he was struggling to breathe. He had now lost all of his colour. She placed her palm on his heart, nothing. Then a beat like a child tapping a bass drum, as if it scared the kid to make a sound. That there was something, it pushed her to immediate action. Pru halted again.

She had a problem. How to free her husband? How to get his head above his heart. The ropes holding him were too high for her to reach. Realising she needed Kev, she turned back to him. In a panic to cut the nylon ropes, she sliced his wrist, as blood poured into the deepening flood, Kev tried to assist but he was only getting in the way, wasting precious time.

She slapped him, shocking Kev into stillness, shocking herself into faster slicing and chopping.

The nylon and tape fell away. Kev jumped up and ran to Peter. Pru was by his side, holding her husband's head as Kev gently loosed the strapping. He then aided Pru in taking his weight by taking the vicar's shoulders. His ankles splashed into the water. Between them, they got Peter into a sitting slump, resting his back against the rock. Kev looked at Pru, then rushed to Skylab in the adjoining cavern.

Fear, then relief as Skylab saw Kev alone. It took just seconds to free her from the operating table.

Clasping each other and crying with joy at the escape from an unmentionable death for both, certainly for Skylab. Speaking through tears, Kev explained what had happened in his area of the cave. There was not much Skylab could tell him, except the pure terror she felt at losing their child. Again tears flowed.

"Let's join Pru and Peter," said Skylab.

Kev was about to agree when something caught his eye. Among all the clutter and debris scattered around them, why should an old and ragged airmail envelope stand out?

"What's this?"

"Never mind Kev, just leave it."

Skylab went to see Pru. Kev felt forced to inspect the envelope.

"What is this, what does that mean, I wonder? It was important to someone, or why keep it for so long?"

Kev unfolded the writing paper, looked at both sides, his mouth hung open.

Cneatung and find

Begin - A panda eating kendo - bamboo sword

Near - Iron out Baht mobile - Thai railway

Running along - Wet and wide with a broken knee - River On the edge - 10 pigs on edge - Tenasserim Hills

Prize - Auric and a swelling bud

"What is all that?"

As if a sign, a plastic bag floated near him. Kev grabbed the rubbish, stuffed the note with its envelope into the bag, and put them in his pocket. Rushing to join the ladies, he called.

"What about the babies?"

Peter's head was now cradled in Pru's lap. She was gently stroking his forehead. Skylab stood behind the woman and slowly shook her head at Kev.

"Come on Skylab let's see to the babies."

They both took care with their footing as the ground was slippery and they could not see what was under their feet.

"Oh no," wailed Skylab.

Kev turned her head away from the sight. Skylab buried her face into Kev's shoulder. All three babies were visible, two were floating face down and one lying face up under the water.

"What about the boy?" she stammered.

"He has gone. They took him with them."

"What a murdering bastard!"

Kev had never heard Skylab swear in English before, he was more shocked by the lifeless babies. Kev shook Skylab away and plunged the nearest girl to his chest.

"She's alive! Get the other one."

Tears were falling again, this time through joy. The second baby was breathing.

"We must get them dry and find some milk and quickly," said Skylab.

Kev passed the girl to Skylab and lifted the stillborn baby from the water and placed her on the operating table.

"It's the least we can do. Someone can get her later and give her a decent funeral." Skylab smiled with pride at her man's thoughtfulness.

"Come on, we've plenty to do now," she said.

Pru was silently weeping. There was no sign of life from Peter. Kev checked and confirmed the worst.

"Pru, we must move," gently urged Kev.

"I can't leave him here," said the man's widow.

"Oh, Pru, there is nothing we can do for Peter now. But look, we have two lives we can save," motioned Skylab.

Pru's eyes lifted from her husband. There was a hint of a smile before she looked down once more.

Kev and Skylab were both lost in emotions and at a loss of what to say. Skylab handed the first baby to Kev. She handed the second girl to Pru.

"Your daughter needs saving too."

"I know she is lost, but she gave me the knife. Otherwise, we would all be dead. Come on, let's get moving," the strong woman had a stern look on her face, ready to take on the weather and anything else life threw at her.

"We need to find some food for the babies," said Skylab.

"My dear, you are pregnant. Is your milk ready yet?"

"Let's try." Skylab undid her buttons.

Kev was mystified, lost in women's talk and demonstrations by the more experienced lady. He went to check the weather outside.

"My God, where is the riverbank?" he said to himself.

It had stopped raining; the moon was giving enough light to see the reflection between the trees. Kev was at the entrance to the cave, trying to remember how high the incline was.

"Only one way to find out," he muttered.

The river had flooded to just above his knees. He couldn't see how far before dry land could be enjoyed again.

He returned to the ladies and babies. Skylab was smiling as were the little girls, Pru was satisfied with her suggestion, otherwise dreading the coming days.

"Ladies, sorry to tell you, that we will have to wade for miles. Our car will be underwater, at least to its engine, so even if I get to it, I think it will not start. The quicker we get going, the better."

The blade was vital, but so was Skylab's milk! A bit like votes for writers.

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