Challenge #01078-B346: A Miracle by the Riverside

We have a saying, "They're not dead 'til they're warm and dead" -- Gallifreya

Lizards watched in alarm as the humans pulled the child out of the freezing water. Limp and lifeless, the sad scrap of a life seemed beyond salvage. And yet...

The humans around the baby were working tirelessly to instil life into the apparently lifeless. They stripped off wet clothes. Wrapped the tiny body in foil and applied heating blankets. Warmed up bags of saline to plumb into the child's veins. Pumped and pumped and pumped at its chest. Breathed into its lungs.

"Is dead body," insisted Tetarna. These stupid mammals were the stupidest. They either didn't believe the child to be dead or didn't want it to be dead. "Time for sorrow feast, yes?"

The surrounding humans never stopped abusing the body. Lifting its head and neck to breathe air into its lungs. Pumping at the chest in a parody of a heartbeat. Listening, ear to chest, for a sign that Tetarna assumed would never come.

One, the one working on pumping the drowned child's chest, spared a moment to growl, "They're not dead 'til they're warm and dead."

It was torturous. Disturbing. Downright grizzly. Grotesque. Tetarna shielded her younger brood-mates from the sight of it.

And then, just when the entire family was about to run away for their own mental health, one of the humans crowed, "PULSE!"

The one who pumped at the body's chest cheered. Continued breathing for the baby. "Come on, kiddo. Come on. Just breathe, baby, breathe..."

And a few Standard Minutes, later, the body coughed. Gasped. Vomited water and bile onto the rocks underneath. Ze immediately started up a weak cry, which caused the humans to cheer.

Tetarna slumped to a sitting position. Forced herself to remember the shock relieving breathing pattern so that she would not be next under the humans' relentless hands. "You is beating child to live again?"

"It's called CPR. Cardio... pulmonary... resuscitation," panted a nearby human. Taking a break by leaning back on the pebbles of the beach. "Humans - especially young humans - can go into a sort of suspended animation when they're very cold. The trick is to keep it up until they're warm. Then we know."

The baby human, once dead, was crying louder and longer. Passed from one comforting pair of arms to another. Finally piled onto a stretcher with a hot water bottle done up to look like a teddy bear, a wrapping of silver blankets, quilting, and a device that pumped warm air into a blanket, and then around the child. And, of course, someone to hold their hand and remind them that they were not alone.

Most of the swarming humans carried the wailing baby away.

"Warm and dead," Tetarna echoed.

"Yes. Humans are hard to kill." The human struggled off the rocks and joined Tetarna's family by the courtesy warming unit. "I could tell stories."

This was the human who had entered the gelid waters to fetch the child. They were still wet. And fighting unconsciousness. "You is need help, also," said Tetarna.

"Yeah. They'll be back for me. In the meantime... keep me talking, eh? Good yarn... can save a life."

Tetarna did her duty for a fellow cogniscent. "How so?"

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