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Friday, February 29, 2008

Fiction Fridays: Until the Fever Breaks (part 5 - the end)

continued from part 4

Susie saw the man stumble, legs all wobbly and head hung low. Around him, the orange stuff was falling back in lumps, like it was being blown off his body by a strong wind. Soon, enough had dropped from his face that she could see the dark shine of his eyes. Deep in their depths, she found what she was looking for: hope.

Keeping her eyes on his, she climbed down from the bench, and walked slowly toward the man with the monster falling off him.

Rohit gazed into the brilliance. He felt he could drink it with his eyes, the most refreshing, rewarding, awakening drink he'd ever tasted. It slaked the thirst of his fever. It soothed the burning of his mind.

As he stared, the source of the light seemed to get closer. At the same time, he felt the burden lifting from his shoulders, his back, his heavy, heavy legs. He could feel the air on his hands and face, and he no longer smelled the smoke that once threatened to overcome him completely.

Within moments, the growing light resolved itself, into a distinctly human form. Rohit dropped to his knees, not trusting himself in his newfound lightness, and crawled. As he moved closer, he was sure he could make out the face of an angel in the middle of the brightness. With a sigh, he surrendered himself, giving up the last of his heat to her shining, cooling smile.

Susie's father nearly fell headlong as he raced down the escalator to the lowest floor. He'd finally made it past the rushing crowds, hearing the tremendous crash and shattering glass with his heart full in his mouth. Heedless of the moving stairway, he'd plunged forward, and only the strength born of desperation had held his frantic grip on the rubber handrail.

Now he raced down the main concourse, seeing nothing of the abandoned shops, the faux-wood benches and plastic trees. All he could see was the cloud of dust and destruction that he was sure hid his missing daughter.

Skidding to a halt in front of a massive central beam, he scanned frantically through the thinning haze for signs of Susie. Panic and frustration built up inside him, and he nearly sobbed from the pressure of it, before a movement out of the corner of his eye caught his attention. In a moment, his worries were gone, replaced with the kind of bewilderment that only comes from seeing the truly unexpected.

There, down the hall, stood Susie. She seemed unharmed, relaxed, even contented. Beside her, kneeling on the hard tile floor, was a man. He was panting slowly, one hand on his knee, the other splayed wide against the cold tiles, and his head hung low between his shoulders. Susie had one hand on the man's head, gently brushing orange dust from his glossy, black hair.

Susie looked up at her father, face as serene as a stained-glass cherub.

"Susie.. what-?" he blurted, lost for words.

Susie smiled. "It's okay, Dad. He's better now."


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