Paul Decelle ~ Untitled

Shadowdancer Chapter 27

part of: Shadowdancer

by Carrie Radna

On the way to the garden Frieda saw other areas of the Healing Chamber. One was the Operating Room, where Kenjaon and several other surgeons had previously inserted her translator in her left ear. It was nothing like what Frieda expected at all: it was brightly lit by overhead white lights and was extremely clean and sterile, without any trace of water. No fountains were installed on the floors. A flat monitor, resembling a movie screen, completely covered the opposite wall. Two flat-topped slabs, made of raised and polished ocean rock, were positioned in front of the screen. They were three-dimensional, human-sized, where patients would lay during each operation. 
Frieda wondered where the surgeons would be situated since there were no visible signs of water containment in the room. She asked Kenjaon, “How do you operate?”
“By monitors and waterwalls,” Kenjaon answered.
“So you are not physically able to work in the room?”
“Correct.”
“But how is that possible?”
Kenjaon motioned for her to go inside the Operating Room.
“If you look at the walls closely, then you will get a better idea. Go and see,” he said.
Following his suggestion, Frieda went through the main entrance. As she approached the adjoining walls, she noticed that there were cracks in them, where a waterwall would fit through and pop out, like a piece of toast. She realized that the surgeons had to stay within the waterwall in order to accomplish their duty and to heal. But how did they perform surgery? 
As if he was reading her mind, he answered her question, floating through inside a waterwall on the right side of her. He spoke to her using a loudspeaker, “We use electronic technology, like your computer systems on Earth and Thíä-ei’r, to hold the medical instruments in place and to pinpoint the exact positioning of incisions, tumors, and locations on the patient’s body. I will demonstrate if you want,” he offered.
“Okay,” she answered uneasily. She was not sure about this anymore – the concept made sense in the abstract, but she wasn’t sure she wanted a demonstration of the actual practice while she was still coherent. “Do you want me to lay down?”
“Yes please.”
Taking a deep breath, she did what she was told. Images of B-movie plots invaded her imagination—aliens in their spaceships ordering abducted humans to lie down on a table, right before the swift and painful insertion of an anal probe. Fortunately, that nightmare did not happen to her…
“Just relax, Frieda. I am turning on the monitor and setting up the level to training, which requires no surgical instruments of any kind. This is how we train 1st level healers,” Kenjaon said in a soothing voice. Frieda felt a little better as she stretched both of her arms over her head as she lay on the slab in front of the waterwall.
“The movement of your right arm has greatly improved. You are a fast healer,” he noted, watching her.
“Thanks,” she answered, pulling her arms gently down by her side. She heard a soft, buzzing noise approaching her left side. She turned her head toward the source, and spied a three-pronged arm made out of metal, with tiny flashing lights on the side. 
“What the hell is that?”
“It’s a positioning detector. It reads vitals before the operation. It contains a hidden laser, which does not cut or burn at all. I am going to turn it on and see how your ear is healing,” he informed her.
“Will it hurt? Should I be sedated?” she asked. Her forehead started to drip with sweat; she was becoming extremely nervous. 
“You will feel a slight warmth, but nothing else…just don’t move.” 
He switched on the laser, aiming in her left ear. Her reflexes instantly stood at attention like a solider before battle. However, the sensation of the laser was not as bad as she had feared: it felt exactly like a sunbeam that warmed up the entire area. She wondered if she was going to be sunburned. She remained frozen in place. Almost immediately, the laser was off. The arm of the positioning detector returned back to its original location on the side of the monitor.
“Do not sit up yet,” he told her through the loudspeaker.
“All right,” she answered. After several moments, the wall monitor lit up.
“Face the monitor.” 
Frieda sat up and saw a video of the inside of her ear, which amazed her. She had seen medical atlas illustrations at home, but that did not compare with what she saw – the inner ear was pink and blue, resembling a cavern. 
“Wow!” she exclaimed.
“I am always impressed by the human body and its capabilities,” Kenjaon smiled.
“How’s my ear?”
“Absolutely perfect,” he answered. “I’m finished here…let’s go to the garden and get something to eat.”
“Is there a cafeteria?” she asked him, jumping off the slab.
“Not what you would consider an eating place – it’s restricted to De’aiîo’eans and healers. The garden will have fresh food there for you to eat, like Oongi, Gij, Woma, Yas…
“Yas and Woma are my favorites,” Frieda answered hungrily. Her mouth was watering feverishly.
“So I’ve heard!” he laughed.
“Well, let’s go!” she commanded.
“Yes, ma’am!” 
Before Frieda began to walk towards the main door, she instinctively touched her bandaged ear, tracing her finger around the outside to find any scars. Since there was an otology textbook at home, she knew in virtually all ear operations there would be an incision outside and under the fleshy pinna, or earlobe. However, there was no such wound. Frieda tried the side of her head; still nothing. No scars of any kind. She stopped dead in her tracks.
“Hold it,” she called out, facing the waterwall.
“What’s wrong?” asked Kenjaon, pausing his duties of shutting down the unit.
“You did not cut me during the operation?”
“No. Cutting for us is such an alien concept,” he commented. “Humans, Crumatib and Aæriole’I use such objects to dissect and pierce.”
His reply confused Frieda.
“So…if you didn’t cut me during the operation, then how was the translator implanted in my head? I don’t understand.” 
Kenjaon hesitated at first. Should he tell her of his method? Would she give out their secret technique to others? The last thing that he ever wanted to do was to have either the Crumatib or the Aæriole’I have any knowledge of the De’aiîo’ healing art. Especially the Aæriole’I, who were also healers in their own right, even though he could never officially recognize their special technique. After considering her question for a while in silence, he finally spoke, “Frieda, if I show you how I implanted the translator, will you promise to never disclose this method to anyone else, including the Aæriole’I?
“What are they?” she wanted to know.
“You will meet them when you visit the Olo Forest on Thíä-ei’r’,” he told her earnestly.
“What do they look like?”
“Thin bodies, very tall or small, that seem to glow. They can fly in the air.”
“Are the Aæriole’I evil?”
“Oh no, not at all – they are a very different sort of creature…” 
Will she eventually sympathize with them when she knows the truth? Kenjaon wondered.