Arshad, turned the long winding corner and brought his car onto the new Ring Road. At 3 in the night, it was as quiet as a national highway could be. There were trucks, and other heavy vehicles around, but almost no private vehicles. Another hour and he could be home, he thought. This had been a slow week, and he wished it to end that way.
Ever since he had started his night patrols as the mystery doctor, his rest times had decreased drastically, in-fact he had taken up some yoga postures that allowed him to compress hours of sleep into minutes, but yoga can only help you so much. With his workload increasing at the hospital, he had been working 30 hours shifts for almost 2 months now. He had thought about cancelling his patrols once or twice, but Arshad realized that he did this patrol more as a habit than a responsibility. That’s why this break was so anticipated. He had got a complete week off from the hospital, a reward for his un-interrupted service for the last 5 months. He was still going to carry out his normal patrol, but at least he could go home and sleep instead of getting ready for his morning shift.
That’s when he heard the first shot. Like a firecracker going off. He could hear it even over the din of the horns, but it wasn’t from the streets, it came from beyond the curb. It was a firearm, he halted his car beyond the road and into the gravel, exited it and walked towards the general direction of the shot. It seemed as if no one else had noticed or heard the shot, since he was the only one who had stopped to investigate. Maybe the truck drivers were too careless, or maybe he was hearing things. He would have to cross the barrier and into the bushes, from there he would have to depend on his memory of the sound to track it.
He didn’t need to. As soon as he jumped over the barrier, he heard another shot, and this time it was followed by a man’s cry of pain. Someone had been shot, Arshad quickened his pace. The next time Arshad heard a shot, he could almost see the flash that the handgun made; he was almost there. But the gunfire wasn’t stopping, so the mystery doctor did. He turned off his torch and waited for the firing to stop. This wasn’t a botched robbery or a shoot and run, this was an actual firefight. The whole scene lasted for about 15 minutes, during which Arshad counted 24 rounds fired from 2 directions.
The next thing Arshad heard was a car’s engine firing up. The head lights came up but luckily, they weren’t pointed at him. He could see that there was another car, a police jeep that stood about 15 feet from the original car. The two cars were in a clearing among the shrubs, with a path leading to the road on the other side, roughly about the same distance that Arshad had covered from the curb the opposite side. The other car, reversed and backtracked onto the patch and then onto the road. The shooters, at least most of them were gone. It was time to go to work, because in those headlight, Arshad had also spotted; next to the rear tire of the police jeep; a pool of blood; someone needed him, and needed him now!
Arshad sprinted to the jeep. He slowed down as he reached it, and tried to spot the dying man. The pool of blood was increasing, the victim was behind the car; he could hear him breathing quickly in small sharp gasps. He turned the corner slowly, keeping both his hands in the air, and the torch at an angle where most of his face was illuminated too. He didn’t want to scare the man, into doing something stupid. He could still have a gun for all that mattered. It turned out, the victim did have a gun in his hand, but he looked too tired to hold it up. He was a young police officer by the looks of it, wearing a crisp uniform caked in dust, his head wear had been displaced, and most of his short cropped black hair was covered in dust too.
“Who are you?” the young officer inquired.
“I am a doctor. I am here to help. Can you tell me where you are shot?” Arshad asked him calmly. He could sense the officer was calm, he was a brave lad.
“Once on the thigh, then once below the knee. Another scrapped my elbow, but that has been bleeding ever since.”
“Ok, don’t worry. You are sure you aren’t shot anywhere else?”
“You are a brave guy, shot thrice but shouted only once.” Arshad kept him in a conversation, as he took out a scalpel from his pocket and heated it with his lighter. He had carried this equipment ever since his first adventure, where the lady he helped luckily had a knife. The dawn was breaking and it was becoming a little easier to see.
“I didn’t shout even once. If I had they would have known that I was shot and come in to finish me off.”
“But then, who did I hear shouting.” the idea struck Arshad and the officer at the same time.
“I hit one of them. He might still be here.” the officer was happy, almost jubilant, he tried to get up got half way through and then collapsed onto his back
“Doctor, see if you can see someone around. If I got one, and he is still here, then it’s big.”
“No, you need help”
“No doctor, just check, its important.”
“Look, chances are his friends have taken him away. But if he is still here, then he has even less chance of surviving than you. We need to take those 2 bullets out now, or you are done for.”
“No, I will hold up. Just take a look, if he is alive and can be saved, all this would be worth something. Please doctor.”
Arshad thought about it for a second, and then sprinted off in the opposite direction. He fully expected that he would find nothing, instead there he was laying face first on the ground, the wound was clearly on his shoulder, and Arshad could tell he was breathing. He paused again; in front of him were gravely injured yet alive people, a criminal and an officer. He wanted to save both of them of course, but his mind was already jumping to the decision he had to take if it came to saving just one.
He decided to make that decision later and started dragging the body behind the jeep; he would try working on them simultaneously. It wasn’t an encouraging technique, but he had to improvise. As he dragged the body, the barely conscious man, turned around on his belly, and shot a round at the man who was pulling him.
“What the fuck.” Arshad, shouted as the badly aimed bullet whizzed past his head.
“I am a freaking doctor, here to save you moron.”
“What was that, doctor you alright”, the officer shouted from behind.
“Yes yes, I am alright. This man here wasted the last piece of his energy into firing a gun, and has gone unconscious again.
The mystery doctor, dragged him behind the jeep, propped him against one of the tires, and took a look at the wound. It was a flesh wound, but the bullet was still there somewhere.
“Can you save him doctor?”
“You should be more worried if I could save you.”
“I will live. That guy means a lot to my case. Save him.”
Men, they could have weird priorities, sighed Arshad. He couldn’t complain though, he was patrolling the night dressed in a doctor’s costume. Arshad drove all other thoughts out of his mind, and went to work. While the injuries were more severe, Arshad was more prepared, since his first tryst with a gunshot. He had bandages, a bit of anesthesia, and some even a disinfectant. One by one, he took out the 3 bullets, burned out the two flesh wounds, and bandaged the one on the officer’s knee best that he could. The officer was mumbling now, barely conscious, the criminal was beyond that, but at least he was still breathing.
He couldn’t leave them there, and he couldn’t drag them to his car. It was a foolish move, but he lifted them into the jeep and drove it away onto the road on the other side. Arshad knew the nearest hospital was just 2 km away, so he sped in that direction. The hospital was in the view now; this last part was going to be risky. He had already taken off his doctor attire and was in normal casuals. He slowed down the car almost to a halt near the hospital’s entry and parked it right out the exit. It was early morning and there weren’t many people around to notice him.
He stepped out, picked up a stone nearby and placed it on the horn paddle. The horn started blaring, and Arshad ran back from the spot. He stood behind a closed shop, as he observed ward boys from the hospital getting attracted by the horn, and then realizing the 2 unconscious men in the car. Soon, they were being escorted into the hospital.
Mystery doctor does it again, Arshad smiled to himself, as he started walking back towards the ring road. He still had to go back to his car, before someone stole it, now how will he find an auto so early in the morning?
This is a sequel written by Ayush, to the original story written by Fatima.
Check out the first part here: Do We Know You