Chapter Thirteen

It was now several days later, and after they had shown him where she was, Finn had hardly left Day's bedside.  She was still unconscious and her body temperature fluctuated between cold and ice cold.  Surga had explained to him about the Whisper Sickness, as best anyone could in so few words.

Apparently, Jax and his village not only believed Finn's tale, they had been living it for themselves.  Much to Finn's astonishment, and his horror, the Shadow Kids were very real indeed, and they haunted the dark places like ghosts.  For the most part, they didn't do a whole lot - just watching and listening.  They behaved like, well... shadows.  But whenever anyone started thinking too liberally, even considering to be rebellious in any way, they disappeared in the night, only to turn up a few days later in the center of town.  They were dead or dying of what the villagers had started calling the Whisper Sickness.  

The Shadow Kids would gather around their victim and whisper in their strange way - it wasn't a whisper that was heard, so much as it was felt, slithering it's way across your skin, seeping in through your pores and infecting your body from the inside out.  It wasn't painful, but it was nearly always lethal.  Surga had only been able to save a handful of victims, including Jax's son, Darby - whom Finn had only seen the once as he hurried out of that cellar room the first day.  That's how they knew so much about it. 

Until recently, the shadows had been a constant presence, and everyone was afraid to so much as speak for fear that Surga wouldn't be able to save them.  They let their candles burn all night to keep the darkness at bay.  Eventually, one of their own learned to make candles, and worked over time to supply the villagers with light.  She did not charge them for her work, and in return they made sure she had plenty of food to eat and wax to make the candles.

Nobody fully trusted Finn yet.  Jax had assigned one of his men to watch over him - for Finn's safety or their own, he wasn't entirely sure.  On the rare occassion he did leave Day's side in the healer's home, the man followed behind at a respectful distance of a few feet.  When they saw him, conversations came to an abrupt halt, and they stole furtive glances at him.  They were constantly watching him as if he might at any moment sprout a second head or go on a rampage.  

Given all that he'd learned from Surga, he couldn't blame them.  Still, he couldn't help but feel like the new kid in high school in one of those dime-a-dozen movies.  Except there was far more at stake here.  He wouldn't just be stuffed into a locker if the other kids didn't like him.  He would be killed.  It was like a very twisted spin off of Mean Girls.  

It was growing dark again when Surga returned.  Finn had learned by now that bombarding her with questions would only irritate the old woman.  Instead he resigned himself to let her check his bandages in silence.  She had been applying a stinking salve to his wrists, where the ropes had been, every night.  Tonight, though, in the candle light, his wrists looked completely healed.  She put them down in his lap and stood again to tend to Day.

"Thank you," he said quietly.  "For helping us, I mean."  Surga only nodded.  She was a woman of few words, but Finn smiled anyway.  If she could heal Day, he didn't care what she said or didn't say.  Now, he stood back and watched her work, lighting more candles and mumbling something he couldn't understand.  She did this several times throughout the day.  At first he had been skeptical, but now he was fascinated, guessing it to be some sort of magic.  

Hearing himself think this in his own head, he felt a little crazy.  A week ago, he wouldn't have believed any of this could be real.  It still seemed like a dream sometimes - to be magically transported away from home into a bed time story by some demon shadow monsters? If he'd heard anyone else talking about it, he'd call the nearest insane asylum and have them committed.  But after listening to Day's theories that day in the kitchen, and seeing the shadows for himself that same night, he was gaining some perspective.  They had always said "nothing is impossible."  He was starting to believe they had been right.  

Surga finally finished her mumbling and placed her hand against Day's forehead.  Finn imagined she was still ice cold.  Unexpectedly, Surga spoke after a moment.  "Her warmth should return by tomorrow night, if she is going to survive."

Finn's heart leaped inside his chest.  "Really?"

"That's what I said, isn't it?  Do you not trust my word?" Surga glowered at him.

"No, of course I believe you.  I just... she's really going to be okay?"

"She is strong, but the Whisper Sickness is unpredictable.  She will live if she lives, and if not there's nothing more I can do."

The End

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