The mood of the encampment shifted as a scout brought in a whimpering Regarian. Jena flinched inwardly, but the healer in her stayed professional. “Is it the parasite?” she asked as the scout helped him onto a cot.
He pulled off his boot. The all-too familiar silvery growth enveloped most of the Regarian’s foot but the lack of smell told Jena it was still possible to save him.
“Please,” he whimpered. “Don’t let me die.”
Jena sighed. “You’ll have to follow our rules. That includes regular usufruit consumption.”
He wrinkled his nose but nodded. “Do I have to swear loyalty?”
“No, but if you don’t cooperate with the medicinal regimen you’ll have to leave. No exceptions.”
Another healer handed him a bowl full of mush made from the pungent fruit. Jena touched her bracelet and turned away. What would Joya say if she could see her treating a Regarian?
It didn’t matter. She hadn’t seen her sister in months, not since she refused to touch the fruit.
“Do what you want, little sis,” Joya had said. “But getting us to eat that nasty fruit is all part of a plot to make us weak.”
“That makes no sense. People have eaten the fruit long before the silver-death. Just not that much of it.”
“If you buy into that Regarian fiction about the silver-death, it just lets them know you’re easier to control,” Joya scoffed.
“The silver-death doesn’t care if you’re Regarian or Dyronese. Think, Joya! If the fruit doesn’t work, the worst that will happen is we’ve eaten smelly fruit and have bad gas. Think of what you risk by not eating it.”
“I risk nothing. I have my strength and the strength of our ancestors. Don’t worry, sis. I’ll leave without a fuss. And when I return, I’ll have stories of battles, and a new bracelet for you.”
Neither Jena nor the other healers showed a sign of the silver death, despite treating dozens of patients with them. The fruit purged all but the direst cases of growth. She hoped she’d see Joya at the end of all this. But for now, she had her wits and her ancestors' instincts of survival. That was, hopefully, enough.
|Photo by Jed Owen on Unsplash|
Song Choice: Stay Alive from Hamilton
This flash fiction piece was created as a response to the prompt given for Poets and Storytellers United's Weekly Scribblings post, Writing as a Metaphor for Living. The words I used were mood, plot, and fiction.