One moment it was pitch black; the next, exploding with light. A pair of adventurers paused in their tracks to take in the sight.
“I’ve never seen the sun do that before,” said the younger of the two, turning to look at the older man standing next to him.
“I’m not sure that I have either. You think it’s a good sign or a bad one?” replied the elder.
“Red at night, sailor’s delight. Red in the morning, …” the youth answered, trailing off.
“Why do you even know that saying?” the man gasped. “Never mind, where did the little one go? He has already caused more trouble than you ever did, and it’s only his first day.”
A mere three hours into their first training excursion with the latest addition to their team, the pair was forced to circle back and find out what was holding up the new kid… again. Even though he was new to the group, this one showed a certain stubborn spirit that made the veteran of many adventures wonder exactly who was in charge.
“Obviously it’s me,” he silently argued before realizing it was himself he was trying to convince.
Suddenly, the younger explorer noticed something different about the landscape ahead and called out, “What’s that over there on the ground? I hope it’s not him.”
“Me neither, kid. Me neither.”
But as they approached the strange object, their worst fears were confirmed. It was the new kid after all, curled up in a ball on the ground and breathing heavily. As the veteran reached in to roll him over, he heard a loud hiss and suddenly spotted a green flash shoot out from under the little one’s legs and off into the bushes.
The green body and white stripe were pause enough for concern, but the red tipped tail seen disappearing into the brush was a heart stopper. Only one snake in the region bore those colors, the oft avoided and universally feared Namonia Snake.
“Son of a…” the veteran uttered, catching himself just in time.
Quickly, he shot a look at his youthful partner and ordered, “In my pack, grab the small white pouch and touch nothing else.”
The boy did exactly as he was told and watched the veteran take the contents of the pouch and sprinkle half into his water bottle. He then held the bottle to the lips of his new recruit and urged the little one to drink. The process seemed painstakingly slow and took a little bit of convincing, but in the end, all of the liquid in the bottle wound up inside the rookie.
Since home base was too far for the sick boy to travel, the leader of the crew smartly made the decision to make for a nearby hunter’s lodge in which they could find shelter and supplies. After arriving and getting the “patient” tucked into a bed with a fire roaring in the hearth, the youth finally blurted out what he had been waiting to ask for seemingly hours now.
“Was that a snake? Is he going to be ok? Why do you look so scared? Why didn’t we go home?”
“Whoah, whoah. Slow it down kid. One question at a time,” replied the man. “The snake that bit him is the poisonous Namonia Snake and the rookie is going to be sick for a while. I’m scared because he is my responsibility and depends on us for protection, and we can’t go home because he needs rest first. We need to ride this one out and simply hope for the best.”
Over the next few days the sick boy went in and out of sleep, spiked fevers to temperatures the veteran had never seen before, and barely ate a single morsel of food. Seeing someone typically so full of life and energy reduced to a shell of themselves, and do little more than roll over and drink a few sips of water, was nearly too much for the healthy pair to handle.
“I feel like we are stuck on an island and time is standing still,” muttered the veteran to no one in particular after the 4th day of watching the rookie with little to no progress. He was starting to lose hope.
Finally, on the 5th day, the fever broke and the rookie smiled for the first time in what seemed like ages. His appetite suddenly returned, and boy how. After he ate all of the reserve food the crew had in their packs, he nearly finished the nonperishable food stored at the lodge. The team was able to spend one more night in the shelter to make sure the rookie was fully rested, then promptly headed home early the next day.
As they crested the last rise before home, and gazed down upon their house as if it was an oasis in the middle of the desert, the veteran could only shake his head in disbelief at the curveballs life tends to throw at you when you least expect it.
“At least it’s over,” he said aloud.
“Yeah, it’s great to finally be home and that the “rook” is ok,” said the young adventurer as he suddenly put his hand over his stomach and looked up at his elder with worried eyes. “But now my tummy hurts and I don’t feel so well.”
Not being his first time around the block, the veteran adventurer shook his head knowingly and patted his son on the back, “Yeah, that sounds about right.”
“Can’t you kids ever just get sick at the same time?” he continued. “Oh well, go see your mother, I’m going to bed for a few weeks.”
All kids get sick and we all fight these battles, some worse than others; some much worse. My youngest recently fought pneumonia – and won – but it was also one of those firsts as parents that we will probably remember forever. Nobody wants to see their kid with a 105 temperature and not smile for 4 days, but that’s the stuff we deal with. This wasn’t one of our typical adventure stories, but what a journey it was. Wishing health and happiness to all of my readers and their families.
This article originally appeared on Chelmsford Patch on 2/18/12.