“It’s not encephalitis,” said Major.
“I’m pretty sure it’s encephalitis,” replied Shine. “My head’s killing me, the light is just so painful”
Major waved a hand in the air and stirred the dusty sunlight. “ So bright! It’s a bright beautiful day.”
“For you. You don’t have encephalitis.”
“Maybe he has meningitis.”
“It’s warm in here. Is it warm in here?”
“It’s the swelling.”
“If he’s confused it might be meningitis.”
Binky stood on a chair. “Meningoencephalitis!”
“Is that possible?” asked Shine. “I didn’t know...”
“See, this is why hypo-group doesn’t work! Who had the idea? All we do is share diseases! Two hypochondriacs in one room is a problem, four of us is... four is...”
Major closed her notebook quietly, pushed her chair back just enough to take in the whole circle, the circle of four. With her included, a circle of five, which more closely resembled a crooked square.
“Shine, it’s bright in here. It’s warm in here. You’re confused because...”
“Because you’re always confused, Shine!”
“I’m not. Not always. I’m frequently confused. Traditionally paranoid, occasionally hypochondriacal.” Shine paused.
“It may be his duodenum.”
“Pancreas. Pancreatic divisum.”
Major put up a hand. Stanley caught it. “It’s what makes him so dark. All the bile. A failure from the embryonic stage of his life. Tragic.”
Shine stood, rubbed his eyes, looked at Major. “They’re nuts. I may be crazy, but this,” he looked around sadly, “this isn’t working.”
Major touched a curl on the left side of her head. They all saw it. Left side meant he was right. Hyper-vigilance had its advantages.