Acheron — Chapter 8


Steve Fendt
3 min readJul 9, 2022
Photo by Marcelo Leal on Unsplash

The registrar adjusted the horn-rimmed spectacles on his pointy nose. He looked tired and dispirited.

‘Your daughter is strong. A fighter. So she may yet pull through, but you need to be prepared for the worst, I’m afraid. The next few hours will be critical. I’m so sorry I can’t be of more comfort.’

We stood in the corridor outside the ICU in Alexandra District Hospital: Áine’s parents, my parents and I. A little, grey-faced group of bone-weary people.

Áine had been admitted suffering from hypothermia and respiratory failure as a consequence of near-drowning. She was leading the Doyles’ stranded cow to safety when the torrent tore her away, to be washed up against a fallen tree trunk two kilometres downstream of the farm.

Heart failure was a constant worry in the first twenty-four hours.

She soon developed bacterial pneumonia in both lungs from breathing in the filthy floodwaters; it was not unexpected. Powerful antibiotics were added to her drip. For forty-eight hours mechanical ventilation kept her alive when her lungs couldn’t do the job. It was horrible to see that obscene tube down her throat, her head thrust back at surely too violent an angle?

Even worse: her brain had likely been deprived of oxygen while she was in the floodwaters and…



Steve Fendt Short stories, serial fiction, memoirs of a possibly quasi-true nature. Stories of the Australian beach and bush.