Weather: Cool and pleasant.
Encounters: It seems we’ve met all of the village Purl.
Expenditures: A knitted hat from a local vendor.
“No noticeable changes.” The Healer sighed and bowed his head over the cot of the village leader’s son. He was a small boy, his eyes wide and staring at the ceiling. His little fingers clawed at the bedsheets gently.
We were on the fourth day of our five day pact with the government medical team. One more day, then all of the hysterical victims we had been monitoring would be whisked away from us to be sedated.
The past few days had been lightened by laughter and the permeating hope that things would turn around. Jasper climbed the rafters of the greenhouse to jokingly spy on each of us with his telescope.
This morning we woke silent, grave in the face of possible failure. One more day. Only one more day.
On our first day of the pact The Healer strode around the village of Purl trying to find the best place to set up a makeshift infirmary. He stopped dead in his tracks in front of the massive greenhouse in the center of the village.
“Here, this is perfect.” He studied the green glass walls and threw open the gargantuan doors revealing a shimmering room lined with plants. Jasper had stretched out his finger and traced a spiderweb crack in the door closest to him.
“Why is this perfect?” I asked as we pulled cots into the building. Twenty-six cots in all.
The Healer shrugged and mentioned nonchalantly, “Life inspires life.”
The first night of the pact the bruise-like colors of the sunset mimicked the Nightray medication The Healer poured into the mouths of the hysteria victims. I had handed him the little glass bottles of the glowing elixir as he gently secured each person’s head and opened their jaws. He tipped the vial and filled their mouths with purple liquid light. Bullet had cuffed a little monitor on each person, tracking their pulse and vitals through her tablet.
The green house was quiet this fourth morning, a collective lethargy had passed over the people laying in the cots. I sat crossed-legged and watched as The Healer, Jasper, and Bullet moved from person to person monitoring vitals.
My ears had been ringing faintly all morning, I stuck my middle finger in each ear and pulled it out hoping to pop them. Bullet caught me mid-act, letting the corner of her mouth turn up despite the weight of our circumstances. Jasper sat on the edge of a cot. He had become fixated with the older man who lay there, often whispering stories of far off places to the man who stared at the ceiling.
A woman not much older than me lay on a cot by my left side. I watched her hummingbird breaths, her chest rising and falling in rapid succession. I thought about Beta’s spirit, wondered if this woman would be able to keep her spirit intact after all of this was over. She turned to her side, her eyes fluttering open and locking on me. Her mouth open to let out a shrill laugh that make my skin prickle.
Suddenly, she swung her feet over the edge of the bed and stood. Her hair was down and knotted at the ends. A grey sweater slipped off of her shoulder revealing a bruise. Her eyes were wide, I could see the white all the way around her pupils. I stood and walked over to her as she raised her palms to her ears and pressed hard, trying to block out an internal noise.
“Hey, guys!” I yelled out and the team came crashing down the length of cots. They pulled up short beside me.
Bullet and The Healer looked at each other, shocked.
“What is she experiencing?” Bullet asked and stood to walk to the woman.
“I haven’t seen this before.” The Healer said.
The woman was starting to rock now, humming loudly, trying to drown out whatever she heard. I will hear her song in my head for a long time.
The Healer raised his voice, “What do you hear?”
She looked at him. “BUZZING.” She yelled over her sound. “BUZZING. BUZZING. BUZZING. BUZZING.” She wouldn’t stop repeating it.
Bullet held her tablet up in the air to record the sound of the woman’s shrieking. The rest of the hysterical victims started to stir from the noise, some sat straight up in bed. Others started laughing hollow laughs like the sound of jackals. The cacophony of hysteria swirled around us like stormy waves lapping at the edges of a ship.
The Healer’s eyes bore into me as I walked right up to the standing woman. I lifted my hands and placed them over hers, over her ears, and looked into her eyes. She looked straight into mine, and she quieted down.
I guided her back to her bed, and helped her lay back down. The rest of the group dashed around calming down the infirmary.
“I ain’t never seen that.” Jasper shook his head.
The Healer looked to me frantically, “What was that? Why did you do that?”
I could feel the color in my face draining, “I think I started hearing it this morning. My ears have been ringing since I woke up.”
Bullet and Jasper’s eyes fixed upon me. The Healer looked toward them, “Have you two noticed any symptoms?”
“None.” Bullet said still looking at me, “Sarah Jane, have you noticed anything else?”
“Janey, you better not have this hysteria.” He tried to lighten the mood, but it was impossible. The Nightray medication wasn’t working, we had one more day before the government intervened, and now it seemed I might be checking into the infirmary as well. I couldn’t look at The Healer’s face.
My mind started whirring, over the faint buzzing I heard pull of the moon. Pull of the moon. Pull of the moon. I wanted to see the faces of The Hearing.
“I need some air.” I said and backed out of the room and walked out into the nighttime air. I gulped in the salty seaside breeze as I walked farther into the village center.