by Antonio Bellomi
When Ungor rode into the wretched village made up of decaying huts, he smelled the odor of death immediately. Once again his sixth sense had not deceived him, as it had not deceived him when it compelled him to halt his small caravan one mile away and follow the thin trace he had perceived.
It was not difficult for him to spot the hut, because the odor of impending death was stronger as he approached it. The village was made up of seven or eight straw huts, in front of which old people and children were sitting torpidly, with dull eyes. No other adults were visible. Probably, the men were out hunting and the women picking up berries and roots.
Nobody was at the entrance of the hut from where the odor of death flowed. When Ungor lifted the uncured skin that closed the entrance, he saw a man and a woman bent over a frond bed upon which a child lay. She was no more than seven years old.
Her face was ash-grey, the color of imminent death. She was panting painfully, and it cost her a terrible effort every time her bony breast heaved. A tremendous effort for her little heart that was trying to fight a hopeless battle for survival.
Ungor sighed. How many children had he seen in a similar condition? He had lost count. That plain had once been a fertile land with rich crops; now it had become a decaying land filled with living dead.
And now she too, as many other people before her, was a victim of the malignant, corrosive clouds that polluted the sky. She kept her eyes closed, but when Ungor, the traveling healer, touched her arm, her eyelids stirred as if she had received an electric shock.
Her parents looked at him with tearless eyes and said nothing. Hope had deserted them long ago and the stranger that had entered unexpectedly into their hut was only a meaningless apparition.
The child showed no sign that anything had changed inside her, but Ungor perceived that the situation was entirely different now.
Ungor straightened himself up. “Tomorrow she will be fine,” he said to her distressed parents. His sixth sense, that wonderful and terrible sixth sense that suddenly, one distant day, he had realized he possessed, caused him to perceive the waning of the death aura that permeated the hut, and the surging of a new outflow that presaged renewed life, survival and healing.
Yes, the child would be healed and would survive. He was certain of it, but when he looked into the eyes of her parents he saw that they did not believe him, and he sighed. It was always like this. Nobody had ever believed him at first. Not until the day after, when he was already far away, traveling towards another village, another sufferer. Another healing.
There was no need to stay longer: all that had to be done had been done. Now he had to ride on. Other people needed him and his miraculous touch.
He came out of the hut, under a reddish sky, the ominous heritage of the last atomic war. Poisonous clouds raced in the sky, driven by a wind that could not dispel their burden of death and destruction.
He went to his horse where he had left it bound to a pole. He was just about to slip his foot into the stirrup when someone pulled at his sleeve.
“Mister,” a thin voice called.
He was a small child, about six years old, steady on his little legs and with shining eyes. Their gaze met and locked.
Ungor felt a thrill of excitement.
“My God,” he whispered, “Another one!”
It was impossible to misjudge it. The child had the gift. That magnificent and terrible gift that allowed the bearer to administer life and death. A gift that in the little child was still in an embryonic state and that still needed to be cultivated. But a gift that, one day not so far in the future, would make him another healer.
“May I come with you...?” the child asked. “I want to heal people. Like you.”
Once again Ungor wondered how the children with the gift knew to ask for his tutoring. They were always very young children, and yet they felt instinctively that he was a healer and wanted to become healers themselves, even though they couldn’t know what a healer really was. What was the mysterious spark that was released between them?
Perhaps it was Nature rebelling against man’s destruction and finding redemption again in man himself? And how many healers like him where roving at this moment on the tormented surface of the planet?
There were ten children he himself had already picked up along the road. They were following him in his wanderings in a small caravan. These children had the gift and wanted to understand that mysterious force which pervaded them.
“Yes, little one, come with me,” he said. “You’ll be a healer too.”
Copyright © 2007 by Antonio Bellomi