It’s tomorrow! As I promised, here is the second excerpt to Chapter 24: SKEEVIDS from HECCTROSSIPY 2: The Will of the Dark Creator. The plot thickens, and oh, ugh, so does the mess.
“What’s wrong with me?” Willberry asked, through frightened tears.
“You’re sick,” said Burjiss, gently. “You have skeevids, but it’s going to go away soon.”
“Every little vervett boy and girl gets skeevids,” said Tabatha, in the same gentle tone. “Even mommy and daddy got it when we were little. So did Mell May and Artheena, but we’re all OK now. So you’re going to be OK too.”
“Just because you guys got it, doesn’t mean I should’ve got it!” cried Willberry. “I’m cold!”
“Want me to put you’re blanket back over you?” mom offered.
“No!” Willberry wined. “My blanket hurts! My bed hurts! Everywhere hurts! Why did I have to get skeevids!” He let out a howling cry of misery.
Artheena’s heart swelled with empathy. In that moment, she felt what he was suffering through, as though she became that sick five-year-old self again. She felt the full-bodied pain of his infected skin, the burning and the aching bone chills of his fever, and the unbearable stinging and scratching sensation he probably felt when his blanket touched his skin. She wanted to hug him and hold him, and reassure him with all the words of comfort she could think up, but of course, that would do more harm than good.
Willberry’s case of skeevids looked even worse than Artheena’s. His skin bubbled all over with the gruesome, grayish white bumps. Many of them were large enough to bulge like stones beneath his nightshirt. Tennis ball sized skeevids swelled over his knee caps. Clusters of smaller skeevids swelled between the larger ones, making his skin resemble a parasitic insects’ egg sack nursery. His whole neck, from above his collar bones to the bottom of his chin, was completely covered with the bumps, making it too painful to move his head. Skeevids were on his palms and on the soles of his feet. Egg sack clusters of them formed between his fingers and toes. They even formed on his scalp. Artheena couldn’t help feeling sick to her stomach, seeing the round, grayish white bumps slowly swelling up from beneath Willberry’s hair.
“I know it hurts, and you feel lousy, but every little vervett has to go through it,” said mom, about to pat his head, but quickly stopped herself. “It’s a rough part of the journey of growing up, but it’ll pass very soon.”
“Do grungol kids get skeevids?” Willberry asked, sniffling.
“No,” said dad, “But grungols get other sicknesses.”
The thought of Audry voraciously eating her own coins flashed into Artheena’s mind, and the way she hungrily licked the blood off her hands after she’d accidentally bitten them.
“That’s not fair!” Willberry shouted through sobs. “Why wasn’t I born a grungol!”
One of the tennis ball sized skeevids burst with an explosive, POP, startling them all. As much as it hurt to move his head, Willberry couldn’t help look. He screamed in horror at the sight of the gushing gray hole in his knee where the skeevid had been. He scrunched his eyes shut, crying with panic. Burjiss, Tabatha, and Artheena tried to calm him. They tried to get through to him that they were going to take care of him, and he was going to get well, and then once he was all better, the skeevids would never come back. However, he was inconsolable. He cried and screamed over them, like little Artheena did during her baths.
Willberry knew about skeevids, but he was never exposed to the disturbing illness in real life. Tabatha was pregnant with him, when Artheena and Mell May got it. Some of his classmates went through it, and so did his friend, Snap, but he didn’t see them when they were sick. Snap’s parents were especially strict about not allowing him to have visitors while he had skeevids.
“I’m sure I still have that old roll of stay strips from when you girls were sick!” said mom, raising her voice over Willberry’s hysterical crying. “But we might need more lisp leaves and ingredients for plugging paste for when he starts getting better!” She looked directly into Willberry’s tear streaming, disfigured face. “You hear that, little hecctrossipy! You’re going to get better, like a strong little monster!”
“I’ll go get his supplies!” Artheena volunteered. “I hope to Jumellica that the place is open this early! We’re here to save you, Willberry!” Then she hurried out of the room, and made a leap and a short sprint to the front door.
The rainy early morning air was so cold, it made her cough the moment she bounded onto the wet front walking path. Puddles splashed beneath her, their icy coldness uncomfortably nipping at her bare feet. She broke into a sprint again, once she reached the sticky, wet clay street. It was as putrid as Earth’s swamps outside, from so much waterlogged and rotting vegetation all over the village. Artheena’s beloved gardens were suffering too, but she hung on to the optimistic hope that all her trees and plants would survive and fully recover. The neighborhoods were a rushing blur as gray as the sky, as she sped through them, faster than Earth’s cheetahs. Rain drops pelted at her like icy pebbles, stinging her eyes, and soaking her shirt.
It wasn’t until she reached the South Section boundary, when she realized that she had been in such a hurry, she forgot to change into daytime clothes before she went out. Artheena laughed this off without a care. It didn’t matter if she looked like a complete weirdo, going to the store in her nightshirt. The rain was getting a little heavier, which meant there was no time to waste, and her poor brother needed his coping shrouds.
The Children’s Medical Supplies store was a boxy, blueish purple wooden building with a few pieces of colorfully painted, babies’ sized playground equipment on its wooden front porch. Once she saw that the store’s lights were on, she leapt over the porch steps, accidentally knocking down a tiny pink slide as she scrambled through the front door.
Two orange-collared men greeted her, each carrying a bucket of warm, frothy mange water, ready to wash the wet clay from her feet. As long as it continued raining, this was to be part of the shopping routine. Artheena thought it was kind of nice.
“I’m so glad this place is open.” she said, smiling and lifting a foot to the orange-collar standing nearer to her. The other orange-collar proceeded to clean the floor where Artheena stepped.
“They’re open all day and night, for the time being,” said the public servant, pulling a wet wash cloth from his bucket, and scrubbing her foot. “Guardians’ new orders. Thank Jumellica too. I don’t know if it’s this bad weather, but a lot of kids are getting sick now. The hospital is getting too crowded with sick people as it is.”
Artheena shuttered at the thought of when the Guardians admitted the truth about Jyoseppy’s dark forces spreading through the world without explanation.
“But at least no one has gotten sick enough to die, right?” she said, letting the orange-collar dry off her foot and begin washing the other one.
“Nope,” he said with a smile. “And by the grace of the good entity, we’ll all make sure it stays that way.”
“I see you ran out of fresh daytime clothes.” said the other public servant, smiling at her as he finished wiping the floor, and took a seat on a half-empty table of large medicinal roots.
“She gave the men a look, as though she thought they’d lost their minds. “Oh, come on, you guys. You didn’t here about how new Scientific studies have shown that nightshirts are a more suitable garment for running in cold, wet weather. They allow a better aerodynamic air flow which helps you move faster than if you wore shorts or pants.” Her factual tone was so convincing, the two men pondered over this bit of information for a split moment. “I’m only kidding,” she laughed. “My baby brother came down with skeevids, this morning, and I need to get some coping shrouds, lisp leaves, and extra ingredients for plugging paste. But I was so in a rush to get them that I left the house without paying attention to what I’m waring.”
“I like it,” said a young man who suddenly appeared in the room. “It’s blue, my favorite color.” He gave Artheena a crooked-toothed, flirty smile. “And it matches your pretty eyes.” He walked over to her, and shook her hand. “Hi, I’m Danknoid. I’m one of the new staff here, and I’ll be more than happy to help you.”
Artheena smiled at him graciously, mentally reminding herself to not go back to her old snobby ways, by judging Danknoid to be a total dweeb. His curly main of bright yellow-orange hair looked like a giant briar. And his slight build and round, pimply face made him appear no older than thirteen
“You boys go ahead and restock the tea and snacks in the break room,” Danknoid said to the orange collars, as though he owned the place. “I’ll be helping this beautiful lady with her shopping.”
“Thank you, but you don’t need to,” Artheena said politely. “I know where everything is. I’ve been here before many times.”
Danknoid looked amused. “No, you do need my help. You not only ran to the store in your nighttime clothes, you forgot to take your shopping tote with you.”
“Ugh!” Artheena groaned, stomping her foot. “I forgot to bring money too! I can’t believe what a flake I am, this morning.”
“Don’t worry about it,” said Danknoid, putting a hand on her shoulder. “I’ll be your tote and hold your things for you, and I have hundreds of coins in my coin holder. Just tell me how many you think you need, and your shopping is covered.”
“Oh, thank Jumellica!” she exclaimed, throwing her arms around him as she mentally thanked the good entity for granting her the fortune of being the girl that all the single guys want. She had always taken her way with men for granted, but for once, she truly needed this power of having above-average beauty for unselfish purposes.
“My tote is in the store owners’ office. Follow me.” He took her by the arm and lead the way. The office was a tiny room in the back of the store that could barely fit the cluttered, two-person work desk that was crammed within it. Once they were in the office, Danknoid closed the door. A mischievous look flashed across his pimply face. Artheena felt a pang of anxiety, immediately knowing that this boy was up to no good. She backed up against a narrow space of wall, as Danknoid reached under the desk, and pulled out a purple polka dotted leather tote. Then he took out a coin holder that was twice the size of hers. He opened it up to show her that it was filled to the brim with Rewards and Thank Yous.
“You can have all of this, and buy your brother all the medicine in the entire store if you want.” he said, in a lowered voice. “But on one condition…” He eyed her up and down with a wicked, crooked-toothed grin.
Woe! Heck nah! Do I have the indecency to make this book, which is geared for a 14 + audience, get a little juicy??? Check your WordPress reader for tomorrow’s excerpt to find out.
Love you all! Post you soon!