Sunday, February 8, 2009

Fever Induced Memory

Sometime after 11:00 pm and before the sun came up I was lying in bed, wrapped in blankets trying to sweat out a 102 degree fever. I had taken some NyQuil maybe an hour or two before hoping that it would knock me out completely because I'd had a high fever all day and every time I'd fallen asleep I was jolted awake by a horrible dream/hallucination. I was unable to fall back to sleep for more than a few minutes at a time and I was trying to be quiet because my girlfriend was asleep in the other room. I started to think about the other times I've had a raging fever like this.

Around this time last year was the most recent, then there was a Christmas/New Years seven or so years ago, but the most interesting was twelve years ago, when I was a sophomore in college. I was living in
Murfressboro, TN, going to Middle Tennessee State University, studying music production. It was the end of the fall semester and I had taken my last exam, European History, with a temperature 101 degrees and snot dripping out of my nose. I don't recall even answering any of the questions. I went back to my dorm room after the exam and slept. Upon waking covered in sweat and crazed, I got dressed and went for a walk. It was around 10:00 pm and probably 35 degrees out so the campus was deserted.

I was strolling around delirious until I reached the west side of campus in a park like area near the dorms that make up the Lyon Complex and Peck Hall. I took a seat at a picnic table and started to drift off. I'm not sure if I'd fallen asleep or not or how long I'd been sitting there, but I didn't move until I felt someone shaking me. I turned and looked up and saw my friend Charmane staring down at me. "Are you okay?" She asked me. "No. I'm very sick." I responded.

Charmane was nice enough to walk me back to my dorm. On the way she asked me if I'd ever seen the five nuns. "What?" I responded. She smiled, then told me the story.

In the warmer months, the area where Charmane had found me is home to a large population of fat, eastern gray squirrels. During the months that the squirrels were not hibernating, five nuns would sneak onto campus just after dawn as the squirrels were coming out of the trees. The nuns would sit in the grass and feed them while whispering to them in hushed voices.

Over time they trained the squirrels to steal small items, like food or maybe a pen from people while they sat at the benches or in the grass. Eventually, it got to the point where the nuns had trained the squirrels to break into buildings. For months the squirrels would run around in the buildings collecting whatever shiny items they could find, the nuns would then sell anything of value. After awhile, the nuns got brave and began using the squirrels to get into the buildings. The five sisters in black and gray habits would stealthily clean out the buildings of anything they could carry.

Campus security and the local cops were baffled. By the time they did anything about the rash of thefts, the nuns had taken everything they needed and had left town. The squirrels though, were still living on campus, still stealing whatever small, shiny items they could.

Years after I left Murfressboro, one of the trees in the park area began to die so they decided to cut it down and plant a couple of new ones in its place. When the tree crew came and cut it down, they found that most of the tree had been hollowed out and that it was full of shiny objects. There was much debate afterward about what to do with the squirrels. Some wanted to poison them, others wanted to leave them alone. Those that felt that the squirrels should not be harmed began to protest in the park on a daily basis. Soon a compromise was reached and a signs were posted in the park warning people not to leave their bags open or unattended and to watch out for the squirrels if they come to near.

That story makes miss squirrels all the more. They are a nonexistent animal on Oahu. I also wonder whatever happened to Charmane, I never saw her again after that night. Anyway, I definitely think it's time for me to get some rest.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe the whole story about squirrels was actually a feverish hallucination and no one actually walked you home. In fact, maybe Charmane is just a hallucination. In your fever, you actually invented her (including all of your memories and back-story). Anyway, that's a pretty awesome squirrel story, get some rest you sick bastard.