Authors: B. Roman
David will sleep peacefully for several hours under a general anesthetic while Dr. Jabbour surgically implants a device that everyone hopes will give him normal hearing once again.
First, a small area of David's scalp directly behind his ear is shaved and cleaned. An incision is made in the skin and Dr. Jabbour then drills into his mastoid bone, creating a pocket for the receiver/stimulator, and then another incision into David's inner ear where the electrode array is inserted into the cochlea.
The receiver/stimulator, once secured into bone beneath the skin, will convert the signals into electric impulses and send them through an internal cable to electrodes that are wound through the cochlea. This allows impulses to be sent directly to the brain through the auditory nerve system.
Externally, the implanted device consists of a microphone which picks up sounds from the environment, and a speech processor which selectively filters sounds, splits them into channels and sends the signals through a thin cable to a transmitter. The transmitter itself is a coil held in position by a magnet placed behind David's ear.
As with every medical procedure, this surgery involves a certain amount of risk including possible skin infections, the onset of tinnitus - ringing in the ear - damage to the vestibular system which affects movement and balance, and damage to facial nerves that can cause muscle weakness, impaired facial sensation, and worst of all, facial paralysis. Complete device failure is also a possibility in rare instances. These potential risks, and the destruction of some residual hearing that David might have, is why Dr. Jabbour advised only single-ear implantation, thereby saving his other ear in case a biological treatment becomes available in the future.
Being a strong and healthy young man, David comes through the surgery itself quite well and is able to go home the same day. With each passing day, David's hearing improves and he shows no signs of complications resulting from the surgery. But as his hearing gets progressively better, what he hears is painful and annoying.
The chattering sound of voices interrupt his contemplation and concentration. A door slamming, a window shutter banging in the winter wind, motorcycles, trucks, all the clatter disturb his inner silence and he wishes he could shut it off, preferring the silence to the din of everyday life.
How do people stand it day in and day out, hour after hour?
” he wonders.
The worst disappointment of all is hearing the raucous music playing on the radio, the discord and confusion of sounds being labeled “music” is not what he wants to hear. He begins to understand why Dr. Ramirez is so disenchanted and has such disdain for music's evolution - or is it
- that he would fall prey to its destructive potential. Saliana's music is what David wants to hear. That sweet, angelic, celestial sound. But will he ever hear it again now that he has had the surgery?
Will the Moon Singer ever call to him again? Will he ever again sail on the silent rivers of moonbeams and stars, as Captain at the helm of the exquisite clipper ship? Sailing her has tranquility about it, Saliana had told him: “
You could never hear what you need to hear if jet engines were roaring all around you.
But jet engines are all around him now, and fog horns and car horns, trash trucks and the aggravating beep of car alarms late at night. Yet, he will withstand all the agony if it helps Sally get well.
* * *
David brings the Rose Crystal pendant with him to Sally in the hospital, hoping that the moment will arise when he can place it around her neck. He sits by her side, and talks to her quietly and sincerely.
“Hi, Sal. Well, I did it. I had the operation like you wanted and I can hear. I can hear everything. And I want to hear your voice, too. If you will just wake up we can finally talk to each other, like we did when we were little kids - with no sign language or reading lips. Come on, Sal. I know you can hear me. Somewhere deep inside you, you know I'm here.”
David takes the Rose Crystal Pendant from his pocket ready to place it around her neck, when he hesitates, realizing that he can't do it just yet. There is some mission he must complete, at Rami's urging, before he can use the pendant to help his sister.
Was it to have the surgery? Was that the important thing I had to do first?
Instinctively, he knows it is not; he knows that whatever major assignment Rami entrusted him to complete was not something that would benefit himself. If only Rami hadn't been so vague, so reticent to tell David exactly in plain words what the heck it was!
Reluctantly, David puts the necklace back in his pocket. Surprisingly, Sally stirs. He talks to her some more.
“Sal! That's it. Are you waking up? You know you can. Just try. Try really hard. I'm here for you…”
With an indistinguishable murmur on her lips, Sally moves her head slightly, takes a small breath, and flutters her eyes a bit.
“Come on, Sal. A little more. Please don't go back to sleep!” David coaxes her.
“Da - vid?” Her voice is ever so weak, but audible.
“Yes, Sal. It's me. David. And I can hear you just like you heard me.”
Sally opens her eyes to see David sitting by her bedside, with tears streaming down his face. “Don't cry, David. Don't…It's not your fault…”
Sally's nurse comes rushing in and checks her vital signs, then rings for the Charge Nurse to call her doctor.
Sally's eyes close again, but she is stirring, and lifting her hand toward her brother. David takes her hand in his and holds it tightly.
“She's coming back, isn't she,”David implores the nurse.
“Yes, just a little. But it's a good sign. The doctor will give her a thorough exam when he gets here.”
“I'll call my dad and let him know.”
* * *
It's not all that Isaac had hoped for. Sally didn't fully wake for several days and she is still too week to leave the hospital. But he couldn't have asked for a better Christmas present than to have his daughter back and his son hearing normally.
“I have a gift for you, Son.” Isaac hands David a small box wrapped with only a red ribbon. David opens it and is stunned at what is inside.
“But, Dad, you can't give me grandfather's watch fob. It's your most precious possession.”
“You and Sally are my most precious possessions. I thought it was about time that I passed this heirloom on to you. You've been through so much and I haven't always been there for you. But I am now, and always will be.”
David and Isaac hug tightly, intensely, both teary-eyed with emotion. But before things become too sentimental, the doorbell rings. It is David who hears it and proceeds to open the door.
“Hello, David,” Janice greets him. “Merry Christmas. May I come in?”
“Of course you can. You're always welcome here, isn't she Dad?”
Isaac stares at the woman he loves standing in the foyer, but hesitates to greet her too warmly, still stinging from the rebuke she gave him at that disastrous dinner they shared with Bianca Creighton
“I wanted to apologize to you for the way I acted. I don't really know what came over me and I don't expect you to fully understand just yet. I don't think I do, frankly. But I couldn't let this Christmas go by without being here, and sharing your happiness about Sally and David.”
Isaac takes Janice's hand and escorts her into the living room. “I'm glad you're here, Jan. I don't think I could get through all of this without you by my side.”
The Millennium celebration is at a feverish pitch. Some of the more optimistic people are dancing, singing, and drinking in the town square, ready to ring in the most momentous New Year of their lifetime, the dawn of not just another century but of another thousand years.
The fear mongers are out proselytizing, still trying to cash in during the last few hours of December, selling Millennium Survival Kits or soliciting donations to a particular religious movement that promises a rapturous eternity when the world ends!
The fearful are praying or staying home, bracing for the worst.
In his room, David works on his computer entering the codes that Rami gave him to infiltrate Dr. Ramirez's music programs. In no time at all, David is into the professor's system. Knowing exactly what to look for he scans the files and comes up with two critical documents. One file contains the devastating musical configurations Ramirez created that can trigger any type of climatic disaster of his choosing. The other file describes the weather satellites that Ramirez can hack into to wreak havoc on the world. If a terrorist were to discover these codes, the entire world could be held hostage indefinitely.
David's own instinct is to delete the files, erase them completely from Ramirez's computer. But he is certain that Ramirez copied the files to another computer or to a disk, and hid them somewhere for safe keeping. David also knows that Rami is right: the formulas themselves must be neutralized entirely, so that they could never be used by Ramirez nor ever discovered by anyone else even more wicked.
* * *
Twenty-four hours a day, the news is overwhelming with reports of major storms around the world: a blizzard in the Midwestern United States, a whiteout in Canada; vicious floods in Asia and Europe; winds measured at more than 200 mph blowing small towns apart and killing hundreds; Tsunamis washing away vulnerable, primitive villages.
David knows that a calamity in Port Avalon is imminent, and he must act decisively before it occurs. To complicate matters, Dr. Ramirez has been consigned by the Town Council to create a special musical interlude for the clock tower chimes to play in celebration of the Millennium. Knowing Ramirez and his shrewd mind, David intuits just when that might be. What better time for inflicting a monumental disaster than when everyone is gathered in the town square watching the countdown of the Millennium clock?
It is there that David must perform a Herculean feat, one similar to his destruction of the Glass Snake on the Island of Darkness, using the Singer as a conduit…
He had been successful in rescuing Saliana from the Tower of the Prism Palace, and outwitting the High Priestess Jaycina to the point that he and Saliana could escape her clutches and her wrath. They were able to find the secret door leading out of the Palace and ran for their lives to freedom.
But the Glass Snake was in hot pursuit, thundering across the Palace grounds toward them. He moved quickly on massive clawed feet, despite the stubby thickness of his legs. His powerful gait shook the ground, nearly knocking David and Saliana off their balance. They scrambled to the pedestal at the mouth of the Volcano that swallowed men up whole at Jaycina's command, and climbed up on it. The Snake was mere yards away, his wild eyes two red mirrors of doom. Saliana shrieked hysterically.
David was unexpectedly struck with a sharp, searing pain in his ear and he flattened his hands over his ears to subdue it. But, the pain then turned into an unbearable ringing and David abruptly pulled his hearing aid out, cutting off all the sounds of panic that surrounded him. As he did so, the din became a hum, then a soothing hush, like the tranquil ebb and flow of the ocean tides he loved so much. Immersed in this secure cocoon, David realized instinctively what he must do and reached into his tunic for the Singer crystal. He held it high, like a cross of “good” opposing the forces of evil.
Instantly, the Singer was ignited with the crackling energy emanating from the Glass Volcano and emitted a dazzling, prismatic spray of multi-colored light, which then emblazoned the Star of David that Ishtar has sewn onto David's tunic with powerful crystal beads.
His tail, David. Cut off his tail and he will die!
” David remembers the command of the doomed Judiah, the traitor who was seconds away from death in the abyss of the hungry Volcano.
David pointed the Singer toward the Snake's tail and the little crystal clipper spewed out a hail of incendiary sparks. The reptile's scaly tail exploded into a million pieces, sending fragments of shattering multi-colored glass into the sky like a Fourth of July fireworks display. The Snake roared violently, one final gasp for life before the instant of death, then collapsed in a thunderous heap.
In the explosion, a glorious burst of light hurtled through the sky like a meteor toward the Moon Singer. The energy hit the gallant clipper ship's railing, slithered along the conduit Ishtar had fashioned from the gold rings that encircled the great ship's masts, and connected to the clipper's mizzenmast full force. Her sails burst open and, regaining full power, the Moon Singer began to glide magically on the water.
Ishtar had run up and down the main deck, whooping victoriously, as a misty spray of water washed away his grateful tears. “You did it, David! You did it. You remembered, my boy. You remembered…”
And now, on this fateful last day of the century, to defeat the evil that is Dr. Ramirez and to save the lives of everyone he loves, David must
what his mission is, how he is to complete it, and use the knowledge he has been given by divine forces.
* * *
The moment is only a few hours away.
But before he can hone the enormous task clearly in his mind, he must pay a New Year's Eve visit to Sally and see if she still feels as she did when she wrote those painful words in her diary, wishing David could hear so that he would never leave home again.
When David arrives, she is sitting up in a chair, which is a promising and a pleasant sight. They greet each other warmly, and for a few moments she is the Sally he remembers from a few months ago.
Sally touches his ear and examines the cochlear implant receiver that now allows her brother to talk to her without sign language and to hear perfectly without having to read her lips. She is amazed and yet puzzled.
“I did it for you, Sal,” David tells her. “For us. I felt so alone without you while you were in your coma. And so guilty, too.”
“Why should you feel guilty? It's not your fault you can't hear - or couldn't, that is.”
“Are you sure you don't think it was my fault? I - I read your diary,” he confesses, and adds quickly, “I didn't mean to. I went into your room to get Peter Rabbit for you,” he says referring to the stuffed animal she holds to comfort herself, a ritual she has performed since childhood. “The diary was just open to a page where you wrote how angry you were with me for going on my Moon Singer adventures. To places where I could hear.”
“Yes, I was angry. Oh, I know I loved hearing about it all when it was our little secret.”
“So what changed, Sal?”
“When you came back that second time and kept talking about how you saw Mom, and I just was so mad. I didn't want it to be true, that you could see her and I couldn't. So I told myself that none of what you had done was true. That you made it all up.”
“But, Sal, you know how my crystals and my adventures helped you. When I came back from the Island the first time, you could walk.”
“Yes, and I was so happy. But it didn't last long. You could hear, too, but that didn't last long either.”
David nods his head in understanding. “No it didn't.”
“But I didn't mind that I couldn't walk without crutches or braces,” Sally says, emotion building up in her voice. “Until you decided you had to go back. You left us again to be with other people. People you said you loved! Not us! I missed you so…”
She starts to sob and David holds her hand tightly, and wipes her tears away with a tissue.
“I know, I know. I missed you, too. But when I came back I found the Rose Crystal again and it worked some magic again, didn't it? Remember how you and I danced together at my birthday party?”
“That was just a dream, David. Just a dream. Something we only wanted to happen. Just like saying you saw Mom!”
“But I did, Sally, I promise you I did!”
“Mom's dead, David. She's never coming back no matter how many crazy experiments you do with your crystals!”
…and the fairy tale daydreams have served their purpose. His mother's heart is now wide open to embrace and guide his path to discovery…dig more deeply, David…
He holds his weeping sister in his arms and makes a promise he vows to keep. “If it's in my power, Sal, I'll make sure you and Mom see each other again, so you can have a chance to say goodbye one last time.”