Part Three: As the Curses Rage
I decided over the night, through the course of my wakefulness, that I would slowly warm Blue up to being able to see me. As it was, she’d run. I needed to explain the concept of bones, for one thing. Nothing on Osmina had a skeleton and was either like an octopus or a squid, as the Osminog were, or had a covering that was mineral in nature, somewhat like coral, somewhat like bark. It was a biopolymer not native to Earth.
So, bones and hair. Those things weren’t on Osmina. Those things would cause some alarm.
Not to mention that I only had one face. That was going to be a huge barrier.
I went over to the hatch and propped it open a little farther than normal. A little at a time, I would let Blue see my shadows, perhaps wean her into seeing more and more of me at once. I looked down the hatch and peered in at Blue, seeing that she was still snoozing. I smiled and rolled over, picking up a jar of nutritional paste, deciding to warm it up this time. I frowned as I cracked the jar open and put it over my little excuse for a stove, then chugged the bland, viscous paste as quick as I could.
I went back to the hatch, seeing that Blue was still sound asleep. I leaned forward and grabbed my gloves, putting them on my hands.
“Blue,” I said, “Blue, wake up.”
She didn’t move. She had said last night that she was tired, after all, so I had to accept that it was possible Chirchirrup had taken a lot of energy out of her.
“Blue!” I shouted. Still nothing, so I crept up to the hatch. “Blue?”
I opened the hatch a little bit more, letting it squeak as it pulled open. If she were faking death or something to try and get me to reveal myself, she had another thing coming. I wasn’t going to bow to lowly forms of manipulation.
I looked around my cabin and saw the skin from yesterday. I threw the skin over my body to hide what I really looked like at least a little, tied on the leafy shoes I’d made, and popped the hatch open completely. I tossed some vines down, making sure they were tied to something sturdy in my section of the cabin.
“Blue?” I shouted one more time. With no movement from her, I took one of the teeth I’d removed from the dead Osminog and tossed it at her.
She groaned, but didn’t open her eyes or move.
I sat down. I should have suspected this would happened, should have considered the possibility that Blue would be able to catch the disease. I looked at my Osminog skin, the leather made out of an Osminog that had died of the disease, and hoped that I hadn’t been the one to bring it to her. I had been careful, keeping all the pieces upstairs and cleaning everything soon after. It could have been Chirchirrup, she could have been a carrier.
I’d probably never know.
I bit my lower lip and thought about what I should do. I jumped up, grabbing the skin off the wall and draping it over my body as I had done for Chirchirrup earlier. I held the Osminog skin tight around me as I hopped into the ground floor, my feet stomping around in the cool mud, and stooped while I walked over to Blue’s side.
I stood next to her and said, “Blue? Blue, this isn’t funny. I’m not going to be very happy if this was a joke or some sort of trick to get me down here so you could see me.”
She didn’t move, so I reached out a hand and touched her side, dry and hot. I turned her and saw discoloration and mucus underneath each of her eyes, her tentacles hugged up awkwardly against her round torso as if she were cold.
It had to be the disease.
I looked around at the mud of the bottom floor, wondering if I should keep her in the moist first floor or bring her up to the drier top floor. I decided on the top, seeing as I could maneuver better without the muck hampering me, and she would be closer, more easily controlled and cared for. When she finally awoke, I would hope to have her back downstairs.
I dragged her over to the vines and tied her in as best I could, having considerable difficulty restraining a creature with quadrilateral symmetry. I dragged her up the hatch and pulled her onto the second floor platform before washing off the mud with a bit of water and soap, rinsing and drying her after. I dragged her over to my bed, made of the seats from mine and Kyle’s pods, and placed her there. I took a gourd full of water, pried her mouth open, and tried to put some of the water in without choking or drowning her.
With some success, I went over to a jar of fruits and pried it open. I wished that we could have a more varied diet so I could provide her with more and different nutrients, but that wasn’t going to happen.
“Blue – Blue, wake up,” I said, trying to see if anything I’d done had affected the way she was feeling. I helped her drink another gourd of water, then moistened my rag and dabbed away some of the mucous around her eyes. That certainly made her look better, if nothing else. I reached around the dangling legs of the Osminog skin and felt of her sides, noting that she was still dry. I didn’t know if that was a sign she needed more water, or just a sign that she was sick. I sighed, supposing more water wouldn’t hurt.
I let another gourd of water slip down her throat, then looked at the nearly empty bucket of water. I would need more.
I reached out my window and pulled up my ladder, deciding it would be better placed in the hatch for now. I could use the warm, bottom floor to make climbing up to my room more pleasant, not to mention shorter. I clambered down, empty buckets in my hands, and went outside where I quickly gathered snow to melt. I piled it high, knowing that it would condense into a small amount of water. I smiled, remembering that I often had to have Blue go out and get ice multiple times to fill a bucket, then brought it back in and up the ladder, placing it to melt on the floor.
I tended to the fire, emptying out the deep piles of ashes into the snow outside before putting in fresh firewood. I checked the boiler and, seeing as the water level was running a little low, added some of the dirty water from upstairs.
I climbed back up, Osminog skin on my back, and returned to Blue.
“Blue,” I said, shaking her. She just shivered as if she was cold, so I poured a bit more water into her mouth. I wasn’t going to fail her, not now. Not after I’d just risked everything to keep her happy.
I heated up some nutritional paste to feed myself and drank some of the freshly melted ice as I watched Blue closely. I was reminded of Earth, about how Mom used to make me chicken soup whenever I was sick. The warm broth always made me feel good for some reason. I remembered her fingers rubbing my face as she would say, “Look at you! I can see you getting better already!”
That couldn’t happen here. The Osminog had something more vicious than a cold, that was for certain. Perhaps this was more akin to the flu, a nasty one.
Remembering the chicken soup, I thought about how the steaming dish simply made me feel warm. I put a can of her fruits on the stove, heating it for lunch. I looked at the stock of cans we had left and thought about how I’d wished for more, but that couldn’t be helped. Humans simply had to eat when they were sick.
I fed Blue and helped her drink. She was going to get better and I would make sure of it.