Drowning Infidels

Contributor: H. C. Turk

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During all my time traveling by roadway, I've encountered or feared difficulty in controlling vehicles that never belong to me, for I am a person incapable of such ownership. This journey seems no different, but when last have I failed to arrive?

We have trouble coming in. The front brake, I think, begins dragging. I really have to struggle with the wheel to keep from driving off the road, right into the gutter. But we make it to the parking lot and the members register. Me, I'm just the driver.

Despite the off season, the swimming pool is crowded, because a cult has hired it. Not directly: they leased the auditorium for a day to go swimming. But swimming is never simple with cults. For them, a dunking includes existential cleansing or eternal revelation or drowning infidels. Here, the purpose includes healing of a medical sort, because G is present, and I'm sniffing after her. I could love G if I had to, but I don't. Being submerged does something for sniffing.

Immersion in the pool includes healing, because G is a nurse and she's performing therapy on a young woman by letting her soak. I don't know her problem, but I'm glad I don't have it. Not that I wouldn't like G to push me under then allow me to rise a new patient, but her patient's skin....

After the first soak, G directs her patient out of the pool to a lounge chair in order to check her breathing, pulse, and other internal balances with probes in her abdomen. While this verification proceeds, the young woman's father returns. Still in his trunks, though he's been out for some time and no longer drips, he sneaks back into the pool and reveals only the top half of his face while pretending not to enjoy himself though he is doing so by observing his daughter's healing or existential cleansing.

Consulting with her textbook, G decides that the young woman should return for more therapy. I can understand that, noticing her skin(s). I could never be a doctor.

I'm just the driver, but even I feel the spirit when the father and all the cult members quickly exit the water. It is rather swirly. Since this occurs to G's back, neither she nor her patient notices.

"I think she needs to go back in for a spell," G calls out over her shoulder.

Exasperation immediately strikes the father.

"Not now! Look what she's done to the water!"

After one glance, G changes her mind.

"She needs something."

The young woman doesn't look too bad (too bad) to me, but I'm just the driver. However, I'm aware enough to notice the ditch by the chain link fence along the highway. It's full of water.

G has to consider my suggestion. The father looks very closely. He has an opinion based on peer review, having reviewed his peer.

"I just got back from the hospital," he says, and jangles the keys to the instrument cabinet.

Looking down, G turns one gauge all the way up.

I ask him what he means. He did notice me before. I am the driver.

"The other father, you might have seen him. His son had this brain surgery. They finished and he's sitting with a plastic bag on his head and nothing else is covering his brain. That's to allow more swelling. I'm not a doctor, but I am a dad. That dad gave his son a hand so they could go running along the sidewalk. That movement is just what he needed, the doctors said, and I wouldn't argue with them. Except, except they came running by right here," and he nods to the adjacent hospital and the sidewalk just past the swimming pool (and the ditch). "They're doing swell, in a type of a race, and the kid—he's so strong—is smiling. At least until the father starts leaning toward the ditch and in he goes. He pops right up, but the kid is crying and his bag is leaking. I don't want that to happen to my daughter."

"Sir, no one wants her bag to leak. But why did the other father jump in the ditch?"

"He didn't jump in. He was pulled inside by spirits, so he says."

"For existential cleansing?"

"Maybe. Maybe temporary revelation, but I don't want my daughter in there."

During this explication, G has slipped the girl back into the swimming pool, then listened to the blah blah. But she listened too long, for her peers' mass inhalation informs her of a change in prognosis, though not a leaky bag. Looking to the young woman, all of us can see her skin(s). Obviously she has been in too long, but now she's stuck and G can't extract her. Following a new pull, I dive in and come up beside the young woman. Her father tries, but is leaning toward the ditch while trying to pull himself away and goes nowhere right now.

I pull her out while G reads her like a book. We're looking for the chapter to check her breathing, but her pages stick together. But isn't the binding sighing? That's a good sign. Concerned about acid and yellowing, G probes more deeply into the text.

"Can you believe it?" she says to me. "Her...is still strongest."

Since I'm not a doctor, I don't understand that, but I recognize success. Her father could relax now, but he can't pull himself away from spiritual longings.

For drowning infidels, utilize a cult. But for medicine, stick with science.

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H. C. Turk is a self-taught writer, sound artist, and visual artist living in Florida. His novels have been published by Villard and Tor. His short fiction, sound pieces, and images have appeared on numerous web-sites.
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