Short Stories: The Rescuer by Rebecca Otowa
I figured I must have fainted and dropped the phone. Probably I got a bump on the head, and that was the cause of the change in my eyesight. I hurried to pick up my phone before anyone could step on it. I saw my arm reaching out—but somehow my hand couldn’t pick the thing up. I tried several times, thinking I had bumped my hand as well as my head and numbed it, like when you hit your funny bone. The feeling was different, though. Not a flash of painful sensation in my elbow or tingling in the wrist. Just—nothing. I was puzzled. How could I have hurt myself so badly that I didn’t even feel any pain?
Thinking I’d go and find some help, I stood up slowly, my feet on either side of the smartphone to keep it from being stepped on. That’s when I noticed that there was no one nearby. Turning carefully, I saw that a small crowd had congregated in front of a train which had stopped on the other side of the platform. The light and the colours were still blinding, but the sounds from the scene came up only gradually. I began to hear exclamations, and one or two women screaming breathlessly. Suddenly, a brilliant flash of white rushed past me—two men in white uniforms, with a stretcher between them piled with blankets. A group of policemen followed closely behind. Like the light and the colours, the movement of the men was so intense it made me dizzy. The policemen hustled the crowd aside while the men in white jumped down in front of the train and busied themselves with something there.
Gradually, I noticed more details. A white-faced uniformed man was being helped to one of the platform seats by a kind old lady. The crowd was pushed farther back by train officials who were stringing yellow tape across the front of the train. Other officials hurried down the aisle inside the train and directed the passengers to get off. Some tried to go forward and take a look, but were firmly prevented. They ambled down the platform toward the stairs, many of them dazed, others avid, talking excitedly, craning backward for a glimpse. Then, one after the other, almost all of them started to use their smartphones. That characteristic pose with neck bent, one hand holding the phone, thumb working away at the buttons, probably texting their friends about the unexpected blip in their day.
After a few minutes, the white-uniformed men maneuvered the stretcher, now heavy and full, onto the platform. Their uniforms were daubed with red dust, and the knees were soaked in red as well. In the blazing light that fell on everything, it was clear to me that those spots were someone’s blood—the blood of the person who now lay on the stretcher covered with blankets. The blood seemed to glow with a baleful energy. As the men passed me with their burden, something slipped out of the blankets and dangled off the stretcher. No one noticed but me.
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