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Followers

"Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe" ~ Neil Gaiman (A Game of You)

9.30.2010

Paradise Lost

Ice expected the agency to punish him, but he thought they might have gone too far.  He knew he had to be reassigned, but here?  This is where they sent the rookies, the unstable recruits, the burnouts, and the offenders.  Apparently, he fell into the latter category.

He stepped out of his grass hut into the sunshine and took off his sunglasses.  He turned his face to the sun and closed his eyes.  It was undeniably beautiful here.  The weather held steady at 80 degrees, the foliage was lush and green, the beaches were pure white and glistening along the shores of crystal blue seas.  But those same seas, calm and inviting, tasted like acid on his skin.  He knew this from the boat ride over from the mainland; the ocean spray had burned his skin like tiny flaming needles.  His clothes clung to his skin damply and no amount of toweling after his shower ever got him quite dry.  The siren song of a refreshing dip held the promise of agony, agony if he answered, agony if he did not.

He made his way into the village, and the local children gathered around him.  It had taken them awhile to accept him here.  He was tall, his hair bright silver although his face was young and fresh.  His pale skin practically glowed like an angel.  The villagers were small, calloused, and very dark, their hands and faces worn from hard labor.  At first they thought him a demon, but after the miracles began, they believed he was a god.  And there was very little he could do to change their minds.

His new cover was as a volunteer with Doctors Without Borders.  He joined a small crew of three for this particular island; two would have sufficed.  Every morning, he and Drs. Brant and Daley arrived at their medical facility -- a shanty made off wood, thrown together by their own unskilled hands.  Yet it was the most luxurious building on the island.  The villagers came to them out of curiosity, and the doctors inspected them in turn.  Dr. Brant, the pediatrician, treated the children for parasites and chicken pox and gave their parents advice on nutrition.  Dr. Daley treated the adults for cholera and scabies and work-related accidents.

Ice was responsible for the vaccination program, but often he provided much more.  The children came, sat patiently on the hard metal stool, and submitted to the inoculations.  While he talked to them, soothed their nerves, he allowed his feelers to move freely through their bodies, searching hidden viruses and removing them.  They left him protected from polio and no longer complaining of stomach aches, raw throats, open sores, or burning eyes.

And in return, he collected samples, hundreds of samples that would be very helpful to the agency.

*****

This week's prompt: Lonely in paradise.

To play along, visit Write Anything's [Fiction] Friday here.

12 comments:

Shelli said...

Ugh, I had to completely restrain myself from making edits! I knew I wanted to follow up with Ice, but I don't think I love this. Oh, well, there will be time for edits if I ever make something more out of the story.

Cathryn Grant said...

You don't think you love it? Well I do. I could feel the tension from the start, loved the images, especially of spray like "tiny flaming needles". The end was quite enticing, whether you continue with it or not.

Carrie Dair said...

Oh please don't tell me we have to wait until next Friday to hear more. Really? Really? Noooooooooooooooooooooo. Okay...point is, I'm in love with this story. I love how he endears us with his concern for the childrens' health while...um...gathering information. Very good characterization and plot twisting Shelli. As always. :) Ice, Ice, baby...

Laura Rachel Fox said...

This seems to be a whole new side of Ice. It's interesting to see his character develop, to see him using his abilities for good and not evil. I love the setting and how Ice can be so uncomfortable in what you've described as a paradise.

Shelli said...

Cathryn, Carrie, and Laura -- thanks so much! I appreciate the encouragement. I find this story is creeping into my mind, growing into a little something... I have to remind myself I'm already working on something else! I'm glad you find it intriguing.

John Pender said...

I like the undertone at the end, like he's collecting samples for some secret government catalog project.

Nikki~Down syndrome Storyteller said...

Does the water burn him because of the salt? Like is he super sensitive because he is different?

Jason Coggins said...

To start with I was worried I needed Ice's backstory to make sense of where this was going. In the end though the image of him using his feelers to pluck virus's off children was awesome and reward enough.

Shelli said...

John -- Thanks! I think this story is begging for more. I'm curious why he's collecting samples, too. :)

Nikki -- Yes, that's another marker that makes him different from "us."

Jason -- Thank you. I'm glad it worked well as a stand-alone story. Now, if you're curious, and want to see another side of our friend Ice, you can read: http://bit.ly/cZE1j4.

afullnessinbrevity said...

You had me intrigued with the character's response to salt water. So many questions, but the reward at the end is fantastic.
Sorry I haven't been around Fiction Friday for a while. Been able to come back and read some great stuff this week. I'll be back.
Adam B @revhappiness

Stacey said...

Ah I remember that backstory! So this was Ice's punishment for that transgression? I really like this too, and I totally know what you mean about edits, I'm itching to edit mine too!

Shelli said...

Adam -- Hey, it's nice to hear from you! Thank you so much for your comments; I've always valued your opinion, and I'm glad you liked it. It's nice to have you back!