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Friday, February 15, 2008

Fiction Fridays: Until the Fever Breaks (part 4)

continued from part 3

Rohit, through the haze of his mind, caught a glimpse of pure, white light. He ran on, ignoring the distraction, determined to keep moving. A few more pounding steps, another roaring expulsion of searing air -- determined he may have been, but nothing seemed to keep him from focusing on that glimmering radiance.

He closed his eyes, fearing all the while that they might crust over forever, and turned his back to the light. He wanted to charge on, wanted to force his knees into the bend and snap of his haggard stride, but he could still see the light, focusing to a sharp brilliance, even through the back of his heavy skull.

With another searing roar, he shook his head, flakes ablating violently from his neck and jowels. He felt, more than heard, the pop and crackle as he forced his cumbrous eyelids open. The smoke appeared heavier than ever, but as he turned to look at the light behind him, the weight of the air seemed to lessen, as if shrinking back from the pure whiteness of the glimmering beams.

Susie saw the man -- she was sure it was a man now, and not just a man-shaped thing -- hesitate, as if he'd planned to do one thing, and then suddenly had another thought he couldn't ignore. She could almost feel his confusion, the muddle in his head like listening to the radio in a thunderstorm.

She wanted to help this man, who seemed so lost and helpless. She wished she could help him. She could feel the caring, feel it swelling in her heart, like the time she'd lost Blinda, her favourite stuffed animal. It was worry, and caring, and love, which grew and grew as she searched the house, until she found the sleek yellow otter, whiskered nose poking up at her from behind the laundry hamper. Only this time, she knew where the lost one stood: right in front of her.

Standing up on the bench, steadying herself on the garbage bin beside her, Susie reached out to the man. Not with her arms -- they were busy with the bin and her shirt -- instead, she reached out with the feelings building inside her. Her need to help this man, lost inside the orange lump, was almost physical. She was sure she could use it to make him un-lost.

As the light illuminated his surroundings, driving back the haze, Rohit arched his neck. He could feel a coolness, like the most refreshing spring rain, running down his spine, washing away the burning, crusted ash. He gasped, the contrast so intense, and so relieving, that he could barely control himself.

Breathing deeply, the whiteness of the light seemed to fill his lungs, cooling him from the inside. With two more rasping, panting breaths, the acrid tang in his throat had faded to the barest memory, like a fright or a pain long since overcome. The relief and release made him light-headed.

concluded in part 5


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