I tried not to vomit as I peeled the fetid sock away from my foot. It came off in tattered patches, stuck to the putrid flesh underneath. The pain was excruciating. I had to look. It wasn’t my foot any longer. I didn’t recognise it. It was just a lump of red-purple meat. There were no toenails anymore and nothing that resembled skin. There was blood and tendons and muscles and nerve endings and bone and oozing pus and rotting epidermis. I cursed that careless moment when I had slipped on the boulder and fallen.
I cleaned away what I could. The cold fresh water bringing fresh agony with every dab and wipe. I ripped another section of my vest off and rebandaged the stump. I cried out as I slipped the remains of my foot back inside the crumbling boot.
How much longer could I survive? How far had I come? They were still behind me, searching for me, hunting for me. I needed help. There was no hope of making it through this on my own.
The threatening rumble came from the valley below. They were here. Their sentinels would scour the hillside and latch on to any movement or sound. I had to get away. I stood and winced and bit my tongue as I put weight on my foot.
If there were any other humans left out here, now would be a good time for them to come to my aid.