Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Reflections on Difficulties

Another week gone, and I can't say I'll miss it. This past week was... well, it was pretty awful. I had to go back and read my last entry; I barely remember writing it. I'm still not really recovered, and I have a huge pile of ancillary chores to catch up: laundry, dishes, and like that. I managed to keep up with all the critical things, but that's it. So the plan for the rest of the year is to avoid getting sick again.

Claire had it too, of course. In fact, I probably got it from her: she came down with it a day before I did, and apparently a lot of people in her classes have had it. She recovered noticeably faster than I did - she's almost back to normal, she says - but she had a lot more chance to sleep than I did. We've been doing our best not to snipe at each other, but it's hard when you don't feel well.

That's not the only difficulty I've had. Todd is dead, and Andrea is missing. I haven't mentioned them before, because we don't really hang out, but we grew up together: same west Texas compound, same teachers... even the same dormitory, when we were children. Losing them is like losing a big piece of my past, and being sick and grieving at the same time... well, like I said, I won't miss this past week at all.

It's the snake cult, again. I wish I knew what's really going on there: how this started, what they want, whether my fellow believers are faring well or poorly against them. There's no shortage of rumors and speculation, but I do my best to ignore all that and I won't pass it along. Mbata is the only person I know who might be privy to solid information, and I haven't seen him since just after this began. Which probably doesn't matter, since I doubt he'd tell me anything, anyway. I swear, half the reason we remain friends is by respecting each other's boundaries.

In my last entry, I mentioned that there was going to be a big ritual, and I was going to have a central part in it. I really, really shouldn't have mentioned that - the fever must have seriously affected my judgement - but since I did, I might as well fill in the rest. It can't get me any more killed than the rest of this journal could.

Claire's car broke down last Thursday morning. She got in it to go to work, and it wouldn't start. I found her crying in the driver's seat (remember, she's been sick, too - I think this was just the final straw). We tried to jump it from my car, but it didn't work. (We did eventually get it repaired, but it was expensive: it needed a new alternator and a new battery.) I had taken the day off, so I just handed her my keys and sent her on her way.

As a result, Billy and Crystal picked me up Thursday night. That was fine with Claire - she had class, and was planning to meet with some of her classmates afterwards. (I told her I was working on a project with Billy. She told me not to wear myself out. I promised to take it easy.) So Billy drove us out to... well, let's just say "an isolated location outside of town," shall we? Along the way, we speculated on what was going on with the snake cult, but none of us had any real information to share.

There were about a hundred people there, including a couple of Elders. This wasn't anything to do with the snake cult; it was a ritual of praise and worship. It's supposed to encourage the Ancients to watch over us and assist us, and it does get Their attention: we've had things manifest that we didn't actively summon during the ritual. Mainly, though, it's an activity that involves the whole community, brings us together, and reminds us of our kinship and shared loyalties.

For a moment, watching everybody gather and prepare, I really wished Claire had come with me. Then I came to my senses: in the real world, that would be a disaster. What did I think she was going to do? Cheerfully walk away from Catholicism and swear her blood and marrow to the Ancients? Maybe help with the sacrifices? What the Hell was I thinking?

Honestly, I think I was just tired. Well, tired and sick. Okay, tired and sick and worried.

My job was to orchestrate the sacrifices and mingle the blood. I wouldn't be lifting a knife myself, but I'd be calling the... no, I can't explain that. Not if I want to keep living. Let's say that I'd be responsible for making sure that the right things happened at the right times, and leave it at that. And despite being sick and a bit feverish - actually, the fever may have helped - I did it, and it worked. And the gathering went beautifully, and as far as I know everybody had a good time.

And then Billy and Crystal drove me home and I collapsed again. Claire came in a little while later and crawled in beside me. I woke up enough to know she was home, but not enough to actually move, let alone greet her.

I found out about Todd and Andrea the next morning, which pretty well did for the rest of the week. I've been working, and resting, and eating when my stomach will put up with it. And I am feeling better. Hopefully by next week I'll have shaken the last of this off.

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