Two weeks on the job and I got sick. Way to make a good impression.
I didn't hear the first few times they were banging on my door and telling me to wake up. They only made me aware of those times when Angelis came in and forcefully shook me awake.
"Cripes, kid, you look like hell! Are you feeling okay?"
I groaned. "Everything hurts."
Angelis clicked her tongue and backed up, waving at the air. "Yeah, you're sick. I don't wanna catch it. Sit tight a few minutes." And she left.
What was there for me to do? I rolled over and went back to sleep.
Some time later, Mara (the crew's alchemist) came in carrying a large tray and set it on my desk. She left my door open, but assured me everyone else was already out for the day, and then pried open the little window above the foot of my bed.
"Can't we leave that shut? I'm freezing," I said.
"You've got a fever," Mara said back. She popped a medical stick in my mouth and said "Hold this under your tongue and don't open your mouth." Then she checked her watch. "This will measure your internal temperature, so it's important to keep it someplace where it will get a constant reading."
My nose was pretty stopped up, so holding this thing in a shut mouth was difficult. I kind of HAD to breathe through my mouth, so I made sure it was only a small stream of air I let in, and only through the side of my mouth, so it wouldn't interfere with her weird instrument.
Mara took a mug off of the tray and poured some steaming hot water from a kettle into it, then set it down on my desk. There was a weird looking box on the tray as well, from which she removed a small tea-bag and dropped it in the mug. For a few minutes she stirred or prodded the packet in the mug.
Presently, she glanced at her watch again and then took the stick out of my mouth. After examining it, she said "Well, you could be worse. But I'm sure it doesn't feel that way. I'm going to give you five hundred milligrams to try and bring that fever down. If it hasn't improved any in a few hours, we'll see about changing the dosage."
I was too achy and tired to inquire what she was talking about. Watching and waiting for Mara to explain everything was a lot less work.
She took a small ceramic canister off of the corner of the tray and dipped a spoon into it. The contents of the spoon were put in a bowl and then ground up with a pestle. I may have dozed off while she was grinding, because it seemed to take a while. Eventually I heard the bowl clinking against something and checked what she was up to again. The ground-up contents were sprinkled into the mug of hot water with the tea.
I started to sit up, figuring I was supposed to drink the mixture, but wound up scrambling for a box of tissues. I had absconded with them from the bathroom in the middle of the night. It felt like someone had turned on a faucet in my nose.
Mara laughed and waited until my nose had run dry to hand me the mug.
"Drink slowly and take time to breathe in the vapor."
The cup was so warm! I wrapped both hands around it and just held it to my face for the warmth! It still felt like it was freezing in here, to me. Not but a second later, the warm vapor from the mug opened my nose and the faucet started again. With a squeak of panic, I grabbed for another tissue.
Over at my desk, Mara was measuring out more ingredients into the bowl from before. A glance told me that she was mixing a kind of cream or paste. It did NOT look appetizing, and I hoped I wasn't supposed to eat it.
While I was trying to sip the tea down, Mara spoke at me about how she used to be an in-house doctor. She said she grew up studying biology and chemistry in school, and later went into medical studies.
"How old are you?" I asked, frowning.
"Twenty-nine," she said with a small smile. "However, I was hired as a doctor before I was through with my studies, so I had to go over the final material on my own. It was another couple of years before I joined the Scarlet Skye."
"Bless you," she said. "Your body is trying to expel the germs that made you sick. If we leave your door and window closed, you'll just keep breathing those same germs back in. If we leave them open, we can cleanse the air in here, AND bring your temperature down a little. At least, if you stay out from under that blanket, that is."
!" I whimpered.
Mara chuckled and took the mug away from me, and then waved for me to lie down again. I'd emptied the cup a minute or so prior, but it was still warm and I was still cold.
"Your body is working overtime to try and expel the bad stuff, so it's giving off extra heat. While the heat is escaping, it's making you feel like you're cold." She ran two fingers through that paste stuff and with her other hand pulled the collar of my night shirt a little. The paste was rubbed across the top of my chest. "You need to let the hot air escape or your body will overheat and start to damage itself. So don't bundle up when you're fevered like this. A little covering is okay, but the best thing is to let the illness run its course and let your body purge it naturally. The medicine I put in your tea should help bring the fever down, too. If you get sweaty all of the sudden, that means your fever broke and you'll be better soon."
"And this stuff?" I asked while Mara put the end of the paste into a small container and capped it.
"This has an herb in it that causes your sinuses to open. It'll make your nose run a little, but it'll also make it easier for you to breathe."
While Mara was packing up the tray I choked and coughed a little. She glanced over at me.
"If your throat starts to bother you, let me know. There are a couple of things I can do for that, too."
"Thanks, Mara," I said quietly.
She smiled. "I'm going to leave a pitcher of ice water and a cup here for you. With all the heat from the fever, you're going to dehydrate quicker. Make sure that every time you wake up you drink some water. Would you like a book?"
I shook my head. "I've got some. Really, I just wanna sleep."
Mara nodded. "I'll come back and check on you later. Sleep is the best thing for it."
With her tray packed up again, Mara left. I went back to sleep, teeth still chattering from the cold.
The next time I woke up, my window had been pushed closed and it was dark outside. I reached for my cup of water; my throat was unbearably dry. Instead of grabbing my cup, though, another hand took mine.
"How d'you feel, mageling?" Crim asked, giving me a hoist to sit up.
"Horrible," I groaned.
Crim laughed and handed me the cup of water. "Yeah, Mara said it might take two or three days for you to start feeling better."
"We got you some stuff while we were out today. This is from Twest and Tiara," he said, passing me a book and a pencil. "It's a puzzle book. They said the rules are printed in the front. This is from Angelis," he said, indicating a bottle that was set down on the desk. "She was gonna bring you back some orange juice, because vitamin C is supposed to help with illnesses, but said this stuff tastes better — it's some kind of mixed fruit drink."
"Oh, cool," I nodded.
"Kyle was going to get you a trial sized bottle of vodka to go with it, but we," Crim cleared his throat and made air-quotes with his fingers, "talked him out of it.
"Jace got you this," he handed me a small pair of metal... somethings. I'm not sure what they were, but they were twisted together. "This is a puzzle thing, too. The challenge is to try and untangle them without them breaking."
I raised my brows and sniffled. "Huh."
"Have you, uh... eaten anything today?" Crim asked.
I shook my head. "Think I slept all day."
"Actually, since you mention it, I'm starving
Crim grinned. "Good. 'Cause I got you this."
He handed me a small bottle, like a fruit juice would come in, but it was warm to the touch. When I pulled the lid off, a wonderful aroma met my nose. (Which, considering how little my nose was working right now, really said something.)
"Soup!" My voice cracked because I'd exclaimed in more than a monotone response.
Crim laughed. "Yeah. Cure-all of the world — soup. There's a couple of mild spices and some meat in there that're supposed to be good for illnesses. But if you don't like it, or if it bothers your stomach, you don't have to eat it."
I was already a third of the way through gulping the stuff down. "It's delicious!"
Crim laughed again and patted my head. "Well, feel better soon, kid."
A few days, and half a ton of juice, soup, and tea later, I was back on my feet and raring for action. When I turned up on deck for chore assignments, though, there was only me there.
"Where is everybody?" I asked out loud.
A sneeze came from behind me and I turned around. Crim was coming up the stairs, still in the T-shirt and sweat pants he'd slept in and looking horribly pale.
"Well, y'see, mageling... We all caught your cold."
I laughed. "Sorry." And with a shake of my head, I said "I'll get started on the tea."