Monday, November 07, 2005

 

THE LUNAR SYNDROME


"Sir, a Dr. Fong is at the door to see you, will I let him in?" said the house cleaner to Major Robinson who lay on the bed writhing in pain. It has been two days since he came back from his stint on the moon and the Lunar Syndrome was just beginning to take its toll on his body.

"Who was it?" he said with a noticeable irritation in his voice. The swollen veins in his neck started to throb and his arm ached when he touched it. He tried to remain composed in his half sitting position and exclaimed a curse to lessen his agony.

"He says his name is Dr. Fong," replied the maid.

"Dr. Fong?" Major Robinson was thinking aloud, trying to recall if he knew the visitor. It was a known fact that a doctor couldn't do anything with his condition and he was already advised by the Medical Board of the Space Agency to avail of a two-week rest without the benefit of pain relievers.

"Let him in," instructed Major Robinson, after giving out a long sigh, to satisfy his curiosity and have a little diversion from his agony. Working with the Space Agency has its benefits like free medical, free apartment with a 4-hour a day cleaner and a press release in all the major dailies after a successful project. But he realized that the benefits didn't fully compensate for the malady he was experiencing.

"Good morning," a frail and old man with oriental features greeted him with an accent typical that of an Asian. Major Robinson was surprised for this man looked anything but a doctor. In his present condition, a doctor has no use anyway for the softening of his tendons, caused by the over-exposure to the low gravity of the moon, the primary reason for the body pains and the feeling of extreme exhaustion.

"May I help you?" queried Major Robinson with sarcasm in his voice as the old man entered the room with a toothy smile. He stopped in front of the bed and held out his bony hand to the Major in a gesture of a friendly overture. But the Major didn't move a bit and gave his unexpected visitor an inquisitive stare.

"I come to help you," said the old man, trying to be as friendly as he could. "I saw your face in the news and recognized you as my neighbor, so I come." In spite of the introduction, Major Robinson remained a statue, refusing to extend a courteous manner normally accorded that of a guest. He wanted to show his frank manner in dealing with pests.

What help, he thought. Only pain-killers could help but 'downers or uppers' are taboo in the Agency because it can affect one's alertness and the risk of getting addicted is very high. Major Robinson was peeved, to think that this odd-looking man seemed to claim he is better than the Space Agency's Medical Board which is largely composed of the best in the medical field.

"How can you help me?" inquired the Major in an insulting tone to lessen the building irritation inside him. The Medical Gazette already came out with a definite pronouncement that the only cure for Lunar Syndrome sufferers is rest and nothing else. The body needs an acclimatization period of twelve days to fully adjust to the stronger earth gravity.

"I can heal you with this," declared the old man with an air of authority as he pointed to the brown box he was holding. His noticeable hand gestures made it obvious of his handicap in the English language and to drive home his point, he added, "I am an oriental doctor and I can purge your body of pains, in one hour only, no need to wait twelve days."

Ironically, Major Robinson's irritation vanished, he was humored by the old man's outrageous allegation. Besides, the man looked odd enough with the reed-thin and bent body, the wrinkled face, the chinky eyes, complemented with the far-out attire. He afforded a smile as he eyed the brown box on the bedside table.

"Okay, try your doctoring on me, but no medications, please," dared Major Robinson without the benefit of a facial expression. What has he got to lose? Virtually nothing to lose at all. He didn't even think of asking the old man for his license and to borrow his late wife's expression, “que sera sera,” he said to himself.

"No medicines. You see, oriental doctors work without pills or tablets. In the old times, we use herbs but no more available now." His hand gestures certainly helped Major Robinson to grasp the idea. Aside from the difficulty of expressing himself, the old man talks like somebody whose mouth is full of milk powder or the best description would be a speaker who eats his words.

"Can I?" Dr. Fong pointed to the chair beside the bed to which Major Robinson gently nodded as a permission. The old man took the seat, held the brown box and started explaining the mechanics of the treatment. "This is called Reflexor, invented by my forefathers a long time ago. With this, I can cure arthritis, tendonitis, rheumatism, excessive fatigue and other painful ailments."

"What has it got to do with me?" Major Robinson was on the verge of flaring up, his patience was running out.

"Not tested yet but this oriental technology is also effective with the Lunar Syndrome," the old man said as he unwrapped a 5-inch cube of a device with some dials and LEDs plus three thin cables with Velcro straps on ends. He placed two cables on each wrist of the unresisting Major and strapped the remaining one on his own nape.

"This device will suck the negative forces accumulated in your system. You don't know, during your stay in the moon, many negative elements got inside your system," pronounced the old man as he checked the strapped velcro on both wrists.

Dr. Fong gently turned the dials causing some of the LEDs to light up. Major Robinson's interest was attracted by the tingling sensation in his nerves as if his flesh and veins were being massaged by invisible tiny hands. He couldn't explain the feeling although he momentarily forgot the physical discomfort.

"The body is like a magnet that collects energy, force and other elements. Some positive, some negative. When negative becomes plenty, you feel tired and gloomy. When you lose the positive charge and negative takes over, there is pain like now." Major Robinson smiled not because of what Dr. Fong was saying but because he was enjoying the sensation from the therapy gadget.

"You see, there is fighting between positive and negative in the body, like a war of forces." The old man made a gesture of his two fists colliding to drive home his point but Major Robinson didn't mind him. The sensation was too much to enjoy and it took all his attention, not leaving anything for silly talks and lousy explanations.

"Too much negative in the body can kill a person," the oriental doctor turned the dials again. The Major felt a change in the sensation, the tingling effect was slowly but constantly being replaced by a warm feeling, just like being under a cold shower and you suddenly turn on the hot water. The warm surge of energy from the Reflexor created a numbness in his temple and his whole body felt limp and relaxed.

The therapy went on for another five minutes. When Dr. Fong turned the dials again, the Reflexor ceased emitting bright colored lights and the warm sensation vanished. The old man turned another dial before taking off the velcro strap on his nape and the ones on the Major's wrists.

"It's finished, no more pains, you see?" declared Dr. Fong with confidence in his tone. Major Robinson felt lethargic and drowsy while Dr. Fong was taking off the straps on his wrists. His eyes felt heavy and relaxation was very noticeable in his appearance. After wrapping the Reflexor back in the brown box, Dr. Fong stood up and gestured for a goodbye. But Major Robinson fell into a stupor, failing to notice the old man leave his room.

It took a while before the Major woke up and recalling the therapy session, he immediately inspected his body to check his health condition. There was no sign of pains and he felt normalcy in his strength. It was ridiculous to believe but he could attest to the veracity of the results and he felt ashamed of his earlier affront to the old man's claims.

"Nancy, come here, please," Major Robinson called the surprised maid upon seeing him on his feet, fixing his bed.

"Sir?" the maid inquired with astonishment. She was amazed to see a complete turnaround in her boss's health condition. The Space Agency even requested her to render a 24-hour duty until the thirteenth day, the time her boss will have recovered.

"Did you see Dr. Fong? He left in a haste and I wasn't able to thank him, much more pay him his fees. Can you check if he's still around the compound, please?" Nancy was jolted from her shock and with a nod, slowly went out of the room. She wanted to know what happened, how her boss recovered too soon, but her shallow mind wouldn't cooperate except to suspect that the old man had something to do with it.

Major Robinson flexed his biceps and did some body stretchings and bendings to test his condition. He also jogged and hopped in-place to confirm the very satisfactory results of the therapy. Even though he wouldn't believe, he knew that he must face the fact: the Reflexor had cured him.

"I'm sorry, Sir, I did not find him." Nancy interrupted his exercises with a loud voice as she proceeded to the kitchen without waiting for an acknowledgment. Major Robinson continued with his work-out, unmindful of the maid's report.

It was a good night's sleep for Major Robinson with nary a discomfort. Even feeling well enough to report for work the following day, he just decided to stay home to keep the event secret. An idea was forming in his mind about the Reflexor, the one thing that can guarantee a healthy return from the moon.

Major Robinson scoured the neighborhood for signs of the oriental doctor. So as not to be conspicuous, he let his eyes do the inquiring by just looking around. He spent the whole day in the compound garden, hoping to see the oriental doctor. He recalled that Dr. Fong said he was a neighbor.

Major Robinson continued the hunt for his quarry the next day. At about noon, he noticed two men clothed in white, carrying a folded stretcher, knocking on the door of a flat in the lower level. “These guys look like paramedics,” he thought to himself, continuing with his observation from afar.

The men in white entered the flat and in a short moment came out with a covered body, apparently a corpse. To satisfy his curiosity, Major Robinson approached the paramedics and inquired. "Just an old man, died of natural causes," stated one of the guys. “So, they are not paramedics but mortician's aides.” On impulse, Major Robinson carelessly lifted the blanket that covered the head of the corpse on the stretcher. Shock enveloped his whole body when he saw the face of Dr. Fong!

The mortician aides left in a huff and Major Robinson found himself knocking on Dr. Fong's apartment. An old woman, presumably Dr. Fong's wife, opened the door and motioned him to come in. "I'm a friend of Dr. Fong's and I'm sorry for what happened," began Major Robinson. But the woman doesn't seem to understand for she spoke in a different tongue, confirming the Major's suspicion that she couldn’t speak English.

After bowing for respect, Major Robinson entered the house and with the aid of sign language, he described the Reflexor to the woman. The widow went inside a room and she came back with a brown box. Major Robinson felt like winning the jackpot in the lottery when she handed it to him.

As he inspected the brown box, to check the Reflexor, the woman lit several 'perfume sticks' in front of an altar. She was smiling when Major Robinson nodded to confirm the authenticity of the booty. The Major fished inside his pocket for his wallet but the woman, via sign language, insisted that he leave and keep the device for himself. “Well, she may not probably know the benefits of this Reflexor,” Major Robinson thought to himself.

With deep gratitude, Major Robinson bowed to signify his departure and the old woman returned his gesture. The excitement seemed to explode from his breast although there was a bit of anxiety which he tried to ignore.

Major Robinson spent his remaining vacation days to study the gadget. He found out that it was powered by a pair of Nickel-Cadmium batteries and the three dials controlled the six LEDs. Like a standard device, it was user-friendly or easy to use and all that's left is the testing.

As a true gentleman, Major Robinson sent Dr. Fong's widow an amount equivalent to a year's rental of her flat, to compensate for the Reflexor. He was relieved when the cheque did not return after two weeks, making him certain that the old woman accepted his payment. He felt excitement upon realizing that the Reflexor already belonged to him.

Major Robinson's military training taught him to restrain his excitement, to maintain the secrecy of the gadget. He was willing to wait and bide the time for the right opportunity to use the Reflexor on someone who would trust him. And Lt. Brandon, his long time buddy presently on the moon, could be it.

When the next batch of 'mooners' arrived, Major Robinson felt the surge of anxiety in his veins. The manifest of the ship showed the name Lt. Brandon, his guinea pig that would prove the effectiveness of his device. “What if?” filled his brain all the time and questions of doubt occupied his time. But he planned his moves well and executed his actions with military precision.

Two days elapsed before Major Robinson dropped by the house of Lt. Brandon, armed with the Reflexor in the brown box for the experimental therapy. He was greeted by the door and ushered in by Lt. Brandon's wife. Like any 'mooner' afflicted with the Lunar Syndrome, Lt. Brandon was abed, unmoving to avoid unnecessary pains, overwhelmed by the dreaded Lunar Syndrome.

After a short introduction, Major Robinson got down to business. "This Reflexor will suck out the negative elements from your body," Major Robinson explained while carefully attaching the straps to the wrists of Lt. Brandon who was only half listening, lying on the bed. The Lieutenant looked at the weird contraption on the nape of the Major and gave out a cynical smile when the LEDs started glowing.

Lt. Brandon seemed to enjoy the tingling sensation brought about by the therapy until Major Robinson adjusted the dials. The doctor saw the inquiring look from his patient when the warm sensation began flowing in from the Reflexor. Like a real pro, Major Robinson calmed him down with words of assurances.

"When your body is cleansed of the negative elements, energy will be pumped in and you will feel invigorated. The pains will relinquish the control to the curative positive forces that will take charge of your whole being." As a coincidence, Major Robinson was gesturing with his hands, very much like the speaking manner of Dr. Fong.

Major Robinson worked with precision like Dr. Fong. His loud monologue on the principles and beneficial effects of the Reflexor filled the room and some of the house, enabling Mrs. Brandon to hear some of it. The air of authority that he exuded gave the patient enough confidence to continue with the therapy.

Major Robinson exercised care in detaching the velcro straps from Lt. Brandon's wrists. His parting words of assuring his patient ended the session. He had accurately explained all he knew about the Reflexor just the way Dr. Fong did. He told Lt. Brandon everything about the Reflexor, except the thing he did not know - death may result when the Reflexor sucks the negative elements FROM the patient INTO the body of the healer!
****

Comments:
I immediately guessed that Major Robinson will die because of the foreshadowing you used (Dr. Fong died.)

Lesson: We say negative things not knowing that it'll come back to us sooner or later.

Let's start with the man in the mirror!!!
 
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