Mordecai knew that several young men woke up the morning after their twenty-first birthdays feeling dazed, confused, and wondering what the heck had happened to them the night before. The only difference was, he'd been sober.
He'd found himself lying outside on the cold, wet grass with the rising sun and birdsong - aching all over, and the not-so-proud owner of a pounding head. Groggy, and wincing with pain, he slowly got to his feet.
This much he knew. He'd gone outside to tend to the plants and have a look at the stars, only for a strange blue light to beam down out of nowhere, enveloping him in its glow. After that, everything was a complete blank.
He shuffled slowly towards the front door... only for it to be opened from inside by an angry-looking Montague.
"Well, well, well... look who the cat dragged in."
"Oh, leave off, Dad - I'm not feeling well."
"I bet you're not. Bought out the bar, did you? With my hard-earned money?"
"No, Dad, I... I don't remember what happened."
"A likely story. Get in here now and explain yourself - your mother's been up all night worried sick."
Rebekah wasn't the only Miskin who was sick. A cooked breakfast and some coffee did nothing to alleviate Mordecai's queasiness. The whole horrid business continued for a few weeks. More mornings than not, he woke up with a start, racing to the bathroom in order to throw up. Whatever was wrong with him, it clearly wasn't a hangover.
The malady played havoc with his appetite, too. One of the few foods Mordecai was able to keep down for more than a few moments was carrots. He'd developed something of a taste for them, and frequently raided his vegetable patch to satisfy his hunger. With such a restricted diet, Mordecai worried that he might begin to lose weight.. but if anything, he was gaining it, and at quite a pace, too.
When he wasn't shovelling down rabbit food or hurling the contents of his stomach into the porcelain pot, Mordecai did his best to rest and relax. This illness, whatever it was, made him tired and weak, leaving him with no energy to search for stones or explore the wilderness. He started locking himself away in his room to meditate or play the guitar, desperate for a moment's peace... only for these simple actions to leave him blighted with sharp stomach cramps. There was simply no escape from the pain.
Mordecai knew he had no choice. A trip to the doctor was definitely in order.
Evening in the Miskin household. Rebekah was cooking in the kitchen as Matthias practiced his push-ups. Montague was sat in the living room, trying to watch TV... but he couldn't focus on it at all. Instead, he kept tutting and looking pointedly at the clock.
It was getting late. Where was Mordecai? He was really starting to push his luck with this exploring business. He may be an adult now, but he still lived under Montague's roof... so he should follow Montague's rules.
A tinny melody pierced the heavy air. Quick as a flash, Montague whipped his mobile phone out of his pocket, answering an incoming call.
The only reply was the sound of sobs. In an instant, Montague forgot his anger, and concern took its place.
"Mordecai? Is that you?"
"Yes," came the croaked response.
"Where the hell are you? Do you know what time it is?"
"I... I'm in the hospital..."
"The hospital?!" Montague shrieked. "What's happened? Are you all right?!"
"I... I don't know..."
At the other end of the line, Montague could hear Mordecai breaking down into floods of tears.
"Son? Answer me, please. Are you hurt?"
"No... no, I'm not hurt, I... I've just been to see the doctor, and..."
"Mordecai, what is it?"
When the sniffling son eventually gave his answer, the shocked father dropped his phone, and then fainted.