by Jeff C. Carter -
The wall shimmered and its calming pink pastels faded to a blank white slate. Art therapy was usually Nosey’s favorite activity but she couldn’t think about that right now. Not while Bruzzy was in the medical ward…with Dr. Lev.
Sweet innocent Bruzzy. He never bothered anyone, never said a word. Nosey and Bruzzy both grew up below deck on the Avenir, in its dank and lawless spaces. Nosey had done her best to take care of the mute boy, and in turn she found peace in his deep and steady silence.
When Nosey’s phobia began to get worse she took him with her into St. Christina’s Clinic for the Neuro-Atypical. Things were better here. Nosey was making progress. Bruzzy was safe from the torments of the cruel street urchins.
What did Dr. Lev want with Bruzzy, anyway? The boy needed help, but she didn’t trust Dr. Lev. He gravitated towards the most troubled cases, the dangerous ones that the staff and other patients avoided. Lately he’d been taking patients into the medical ward. When they came out they were always docile, but they weren’t better. There was something sinister behind their eyes.
Nurse Vuong made an announcement over the intercom. “Art therapy is now available for the next hour. Please line up at the vid wall.”
A crowd of patients shuffled out of their rooms and across the Rec Room towards the blank wall. Nosey gave a frustrated groan as she watched them line up. Soon the patients were all side by side, standing or crouching at their own area of canvas. Hands cycled through colors and fingers dragged virtual paint across the giant touch screen.
Soon a pattern of red squiggly lines and blotches spread out across the vid wall. Art therapy was usually a riot of color and clashing images. It was rare for anyone to collaborate or copy pictures. Tonight the crowd was quiet and organized, which was eerie for a group of crazy people.
The door clicked loudly behind Nosey and she jumped. Bruzzy had emerged from the medical ward. “Bruzzy!” Nosey squealed.
The small boy ignored her and walked straight to the vid wall. Nosey followed, repeating his name.
Bruzzy reached over a crouching girl and planted his hand against the wall. When the handprint shifted to match the same crimson shade as the others he dragged his fingers up into long wavy streaks. He lifted his fingers and repeated the stroke, this time making the lines flare out wider.
Nosey stared at the bloody hand print with its stretching cluster of fingers and realized it was some kind of squid. The squid/hand prints swarmed over the vid wall in a disturbing splattered frenzy.
“What in the world is this?” Nosey said.
“Rahab,” Bruzzy intoned.
Nosey’s jaw dropped. She had never heard the sound of his voice.
“W-what…,” Nosey stammered, “what is Rahab?”
“Rahab is death.”