Back in my room. Back in my own bed wrapped in my own quilt with my own stuff all around me. Aisling just left to get me water.
Shinytop is here. Actually, he’s been here since I got back yesterday, and I really, really wish someone would take him away because he won’t stop talking.
‘You’re great,’ he keeps saying. ‘You’re strong, you’re tough, and you’re great, great, great.’
Seriously, I’d almost prefer to be feverish again so I don’t have to listen to it anymore because, if I do keep listening, I’ll start to believe it. When I first came to Dunari, and heard I was a Dawnhunter, I thought I was great. Special. That almost got me killed when I tangled with the Bonecrushers.
It’s better to be just average and overlooked.
You can’t just ‘be’ great. You have to ‘become’ great. Over time. Lots and lots of time.
Anyway, calling yourself great because you survived a killer illness isn’t allowed. I didn’t cure myself. The two visitors did. And, although I was unconscious, somehow I saw everything that happened. The Boneman Fever caused it. From the moment the healers entered my cell carrying all those tubes, pincers, knives and other tools, the fever went apeshit.
As if it was trying to escape me, I bucked about on the bed, lashing out at the healers, spitting at them, and screaming obscenities.
The fever also warped my vision, making me imagine the healers’ faces were constantly flickering and changing. One moment they were demons with dripping eyes and melting skin. Then they were luminescent things, burning with an inner fire that blinded me. They became animals, insects, things with thorns and things with claws and things with hooked, serrated fingernails.
Those things were as real to feverish mind as the laptop I’m typing on now.
And, though the healers quietened me physically by sprinkling powder over me, inside I was raging. A maelstrom of thoughts tore through my mind. They weren’t healers. They were killers, cannibals, slavers, torturers. They were mad scientists who wanted to drive me insane in order to study me.
In the midst of this, though, an inner voice grew louder, telling me that the fever was causing this. I took deep breaths. I stopped fighting the thoughts. Like Shinytop talked about when he’d first woken imprisoned in a walking staff, I tried to put the Boneman’s thoughts away and focus on good things. Home. Aisling. Mars bars.
When my mind eased, the healers sensed the change. After placing a big glass bottle, with chains and a cork attached, on my bedside table, they started to ‘extract’ things from me. Yet, though they used knives and pincers, they never cut or tore my flesh. No. It was more like those knives and pincers passed effortlessly through my flesh until they found things buried within me.
Starting at my feet, they drew bits of grey bone and slivers of grey flesh and spoons of a grey marrow like substance out of me. Slowly, meticulously they worked their way upwards, cutting and pulling, drawing the Boneman out bit by bit. All the bits went into that bottle, where they swirled and jigged about, as if trying to piece themselves together.
At first, I wished they’d sedated me. But the more of it they extracted, the more relaxed I felt. I thought about having a future again. Even when a terrible shrieking started up in my head, I managed to ignore it until, finally, it was done. The healers drew back, packed away their things, and slipped silently away.
I’ve not seen them since. I hope they haven’t left the compound already, because I really want to thank them. If I wasn’t so weak I’d go and look for them. Maybe soon.
I guess they’re going to have to pick up their bottle. Aisling hauled it over close to the window, so we could all get a better look at what’s inside it. The bits of the Boneman Fever are still swirling around inside it. It reminds me of a twister laden with debris, only this debris is made up of bits of bone ribs, toes, legs, fingers, vertebrae and other bone fragments.
The only thing that isn’t bone or marrow is its eyes. Small, black eyes. Sometimes both eyes briefly come together. They stare at me, hatred boiling within them.
That’s what they’re doing right now.
Staring straight at me.