December 29th, 2007

Glancing head shot

I've checked out the posts I could find that touched on this subject, but it turns out some of the specifics I need haven't been covered yet, so I'm hoping y'all can help me out.

Setting: Modern day, urban America. Reality level is cinematic; a bit of fudging is allowable.

Situation: Our hero is shot at by a sniper. For reasons not relevant here, he anticipates the shot and ducks, but not quite fast enough; he's struck a glancing blow across the scalp by the bullet, causing him to appear dead to the casual glance.

Questions:

1. Is there a particular area of the head where a blow like this would cause the most profound unconsciousness? He can get whacked pretty hard; I'm cool with the bullet making a real mess, cracking his skull or even taking a divot out of it, so long as he can be capable of describing the shooter from his hospital bed a few days later. A day or two of coma would be perfect.

2. How dead can he look within a few minutes of getting shot? Is it realistic for his eyes to be open and rolled back rather than closed? I'd like the shooter to be able to cruise by while the victim's partner is still calling for backup and see a convincing corpse.

3. Roughly what sort of treatment would this injury be getting in a modern hospital hours-to-days afterwards? I don't need to know detailed medical procedures, but I'd like to know what tubes and bandages and whatnot will be visible.

Bonus question: Brain damage is a possibility here. If someone can think of some interesting temporary impairment that can be played for pathos or laughs without making my action hero into an inaction hero, sock it to me. :)

Thanks!

EDIT: Folks seem to have been thrown off by my mention of 'describing' the sniper, which gave wrong ideas about range and whatnot. So let me get a bit more specific.

He doesn't get a visual on the sniper. Rather, he knows the assassin's methods, and the circumstances of the attempted hit allow him to deduce who the shooter is. I just need him to be able to talk about it coherently a few days later.

He ducks before the shot because he has some weak psychic abilities. He and his partner are sitting at a table. He pulls his partner down, attempting to get them both to hit the deck, and basically has as much time as it takes the sniper to pull the trigger; half a second or less. It's a reflex that doesn't quite succeed.

So the shot could hit just about anywhere on his head, based on where in the restaurant they're sitting; the sniper would've been going for a center-of-mass shot, but in that half second our hero moved downward enough that it hits his scalp instead.

As for the rifle, it wouldn't necessarily be a large caliber bullet; it'd be something the sniper could easily pack in and out of his location in a backpack or briefcase, and no plot hangs on what precise type of weapon he's using.

Thanks much, and sorry if I didn't provide enough to start out with.

Medieval Standing torture/foot roasting (without permanent harm)

My novel requires Medieval-appropriate torments that will not cause permanent damage or death to the victim. If you know anything about Inquisitorial procedures, you understand this is rather a tall order! Most of those torments, even if the wretch was found innocent, would still be maimed for life.

I have a number of scenes which requires the character to be held stationary for long periods of time in some way that will be actively uncomfortable (if not painful) but will NOT kill them. I have already done stress positions and now was considering some way to have them stand with something hot (or cold, or sharp) under their feet – but not in a way that would actually destroys them. Or – anything that would make standing there for hours a slow non-life-threatening torment.

I have seached the LD archives. I googled Medieval foot roasting, and as far as I have found, it completely ruined the skin and bones (ICK!) and was much too graphic for even my writing sensibilities. Same for some of those terrible spikes. Searches with Medieval Inquisition and/or torment/torture leaves me with a probably maimed or dead main character!

The world of the novel has a healing power, its limits being that it can only heal flesh wounds, not rebuild bones (or other of the more ghastly results of Medieval torments). Any secret knowledge or search ideas within these thin parameters would be greatly appreciated, and my character, who does not wish to die, thanks you too!