Neal is snorkeling along the coral reefs. Mozzie and he had pulled of a successful heist and Neal wanted to treat himself with some downtime. He had told Mozzie he wanted to go scuba diving. Mozzie had told him what he didn´t think a good idea, but Neal was persistent and he had convinced Mozzie to come along on the boat.
So here he is, checking out all the sea live in the reef. Neal´s eye catches movement, and he just sees in the corner of his eye what he thinks is an octopus diving into a rock crevice. He isn´t sure, so he wants to poke it, when the small brightly blue collared octopus latches on to his hand. He is paying attention to the wiggle of her small tentacles and the texture of her tiny suckers that he doesn´t notice the painless nip from her beak. She lets go and disappears back into the crevice.
It happens so quick, Neal doesn´t even realize he has been bitten until he sees the blood. It appears to be a tiny cut but it is bleeding excessively. He better get up and have it taken care off on the boat. He gestures to his buddy he wants to go up, so they ascend back to the surface. It only takes a few seconds since they are in shallow waters. He climbs on board where Mozzie assists him with his gear.
‘Back already? So much for you diving career, Jacques Cousteau…’ Mozzie sneers.
‘I think I was bitten by an octopus.’ Neal smiles while showing his hand to Mozzie. The other diver is taken off his gear.
‘Must have been a very small octopus, the bite is tiny.’ Mozzie says when he pours water over the bite to flush away the blood.
Neal notices something strange, his lips seem to be going numb.
‘Maybe you should sit down, you don´t look good, you’re getting pale. It is just a small bite Neal.’
‘I don`t feel well, I…’
He can hear that he starts to slurs his words, which isn´t odd since his mouth and the rest of his face are starting to get numb. He wants to say something, but it´s getting harder to speak. His vision is wavering.
‘Neal, you are scaring me, this isn´t funny. FRANK! I need help.’ Mozzie calls out to the other diver.
Neal can see the captain running towards them, when his legs give out from under him. He is caught by the two men and lowered to the deck.
‘He said he was bitten by an octopus. He seemed fine but suddenly…’
Neal has to interrupt Mozzie again, since his stomach is rebelling against him. He wants to turn to throw up, but can´t move, luckily Frank senses his inability and turns him just in time. He is breathless by the throwing up, but Neal realizes it has nothing to do with the nausea, it´s getting harder to breathe.
‘I… ca’t b’th’
Panic grips Neal as he can feel the numbness spread from his face towards his limps. He can feel drool dripping from his mouth as he isn´t able to swallow.
‘Did he say it was a small octopus, blue ringed?’ Frank asks.
‘No, he didn´t but I told him it must have been tiny and he didn´t disagree.’
‘Shit, he is probably bitten by a BRO. They are small but deadly.’
Neal can hear Mozzie curse, but he knows one thing for sure, you can count on him in an emergency.
‘SCOTT, GRAB THE FIRST AID KIT!’
Neal´s panic is complete, when he realizes he can´t move at all at the moment.
Scott comes back and Neal can see to his relieve an oxygen mask being taken out.
‘Scott put the BVM over his face and hold it tightly against Neal´s face. Mozzie, start pumping.’
A mask is placed over his mouth and nose and held there.
‘How many times?’
‘Squeeze the bag slowly for about 1 second using just enough force to make the chest clearly rise with each ventilation. Give 1 ventilation about every 5 seconds.’
It is an odd feeling to feel his chest move up and down without breathing. Neal think it is strange that he is still fully aware of what is going on. He would have expected to have passed out by now, but he is aware of every agonizing moment of this ordeal.
He can feel bandages being applied.
‘What are you doing?’ Mozzies asks.
‘I’m wrapping his limp from his fingers towards his body to prevent more toxin to move around. I need something to splint his arm so he can´t bend it. Oh here, that should do it.’
It is odd to Neal, to hear what is being done to his body, but not to feel it.
He lost some time he thinks, because he realizes they are on the move, he can hear the engines roaring. Luckily he convinced Mozzie to take the over dimensioned powerboat he liked and not the trawler like boat Mozzie favored.
He is wondering if Mozzie´s hands hurt from squeezing the balloon, but he can see the concentrated look on Mozzie´s face. He is not going to let him die. He is grateful for it to be honest. He decides they are doing their best to get him to safety, that is all one can ask, isn´t it?
Suddenly Neal can hear the engines being cut and he there is a strange feeling when the boat rocks and he can see people climbing on board, they are wearing uniforms so he is pretty sure they are paramedics. The captain must have called the emergency services when they were still travelling.
‘What’s his name?’
‘Neal, his name is Neal.’
Neal laughs inwardely, Mozzie is too stressed to use his alias. When he thinks of it, it isn´t funny. Stressing Mozzie out to the point where he thinks Neal is dying and forgetting to use his alias is not funny at all. It is a sobering thought that is cut off when he can hear a voice raising in volume, probably to get his attention.
‘Neal, my name is Francis, I am a doctor and I am going to intubate you as you are not able to breathe on your own for the moment.’
Yeah I did noticed that, Neal thinks, the ‘duh’ is implied.
‘You won´t feel a thing, OK, but your breathing will be easier with the tube and we will be able to transport you more safely to hospital.’
His view changes when the doctor pulls his head more backward to have a better view for the intubation. It is a strange feeling to have something pushed through your throat and not feeling it. Than the view changes again.
‘OK, all done, let´s get Neal here to hospital.’
He is strapped to a gurney and carried off the boat. He can hear Mozzie ask to catch a ride to the hospital but doesn´t hear an answer.
The ride over is not that long and then the view changes again, overhead lights pass while he is being wheeled into the ER. A team is already waiting for him.
‘Neal Caffrey, male, age 27, bitten by a BRO, eyes fixed and dilated.’
What? I´m not dead! Neal´s heart starts pounding.
‘He received rescue breathing with a BVM and we intubated on board of the vessel 21 minutes ago. The captain also applied bandages.’
‘Start monitoring his vitals please.’
‘Neal, my name is doctor Goldberg, I know you are not dead, OK? There is no antidote to the venom of a blue ringed octopus, so you will have to wait it out. We have you on a ventilator and are monitoring your vitals, so you will be OK. We are going to admit you to our Critical Care Unit so we can follow you up more closely. The worse should be over in about twelve to fifteen hours.’
They place catheters and IV´s and then Neal can hear the doctor talk to him again.
‘She did try to warn you, when her blue rings were flashing, that was her warning not to provoke her more.’
That is good advice… afterwards, Neal thinks.
He is transferred to the unit with all the equipment. A nurse comes in every so often and checks on him. Neal thinks about how he got in this mess in the first place. His stupid curiosity. What do they say, curiosity killed the cat? Will he have lasting effects from this? And where is Mozzie? But when he thinks about it, ICU´s have strict visiting policies, so he is probably in some waiting room, looking to find a way in. Somewhere along the line, Neal drifts off.
The next time he opens his eyes, he panics at first, but then remembers what happened. He lift his hand towards the tube in his throat and smiles when he realizes he can. To test, he shifts his head a bit, but yeah, he is no longer paralyzed. The doctor hadn´t been lying.
A nurse enters and smiles. She must have seen the heart rate spike when he paniced on her monitors.
‘Welcome back, Mister Caffrey. I will call the doctor so he can assess if you can be taken of the ventilator. Congratulations! You survived being bitten by one of the world´s most venomous animals.’