It was time. The woman’s convulsions were emanating across the entire of her body. Christiana and Adam stood in front of the window, their noses to the glass. They were as close as they could get to her. She was still holding onto her still baby. Her arm was tight around the child, she seemed to be concentrating all of her attention on keeping her hold. She shakily got to her feet, trying to keep as much of her body within the shade.
Adam’s hand reached over and clasped around Christiana’s. She squeezed his hand in response, her eyes firmly on the dying the woman. She could feel her eyes start to prickle, desperate for her to blink, however she wouldn’t succumb to this. She was afraid to miss a single moment, she needed to make sure every single second was imprinted into her memory.
The woman gave one massive convulsion, her body folding over. She could no longer hold onto the baby and it flew out of her arms, landing onto the ground out in the sun. The blanket stayed wrapped around it’s contents, however it started to smoke in the exposure of the sun’s deadly rays.
As soon as the woman straightened out again, her eyes were full of despair. She searched manically for her missing bundle. Adam’s hand gripped even tighter around Christiana’s and Christiana’s let out a haggard breath, her free hand pressed against the glass, her mind willing the woman to find the bundle. Why though, she didn’t know. The baby had died a long time ago and should the woman find the child, all it would mean is that she would expose herself to even more pain than she was experiencing now in order to retain it.
As if to prove this, the woman’s eyes fell on the child and she leaped forward to grab the bundle. Her screams as soon as the sun hit her seemed to increase in volume which Christiana had previously thought impossible.
“Someone make it stop.” Adam pleaded, his voice barely louder than a whisper.
Christiana felt the pain in Adam’s voice, it was one that she felt right down in her very core. She didn’t respond to his cry, there was nothing that she could say. It wasn’t like she could get out there and stop the pain, not like they had done before. However, it didn’t stop her from matching his plea with a silent one of her own, willing the woman’s suffering to end.
The woman now had hold of the baby once more but her body seemed to have given out on her. She knelt on her knees, hunched over her child, her head tucked into her knees leaving her back exposed to the sun, acting as a human shelter. Her body was still shaking, her clothes looking as if they were actually melting away from her back. It seemed as if she had given up. Burns formed all over her back but she didn’t move, at least not intentionally.
There was something heroic about her plight, regardless of how nonsensical it was. Her actions were fleeting however as soon the pain must have reached too high a level for her and she straightened out, her entire body staring up. A final scream escaped her lips and was sent up to the sun. Then she fell backwards, her back hitting the floor, her small bundle escaping her arms and rolling to the ground. Christiana watched for any other movement but none came. Instead her lifeless eyes stared back at Christiana, no longer feeling pain or despair.
Adam let go of Christiana’s hand and paced back to the main room.
“There is not enough alcohol in the world to make watching that bearable.” He said.
Christiana didn’t say anything, she just continued to maintain eye contact with the lifeless woman in front of her, the exposed side of her face was now starting to burn and melt away, exposing hidden sinews and flesh.
“Why are you still watching?” Adam asked. “She’s dead.”
“I’m making sure her image is imprinted into my memory.” Christiana explained, her eyes still focused on the body melting away in front of her.
“Somehow I don’t think you’re going to forget that for a while.” Adam said.
“It’s important I get the faces right, that I recognise the differences. She isn’t the first I’ve watched go this way.”
“Why would you watch that more than once?”
“Because someone should.” Christiana explained. “Someone needs to remember them, I need to ensure that their deaths aren’t in vain.”
“How are you going to remember them all?”
Christiana reached into her bag, her eyes still on the woman, and pulled out a notebook, waving it in the air.
“I give them names and write them down. If I have time, I even sketch their faces.”
“That has to be the most morbid thing I have ever heard.” Adam said.
Christiana tore her eyes away from the woman then and turned to face Adam.
“They’re out there dying and we’re in here sleeping in 5 star accommodation because of some decision a bunch of army people and politicians made. I will not sit idly by whilst people die. They didn’t ask to die as much as I didn’t ask to be saved, and yet here we all are. Everything that has happened has been out of my control, this I can control. I can make this okay, I can make sure that someone cares about their deaths even if the government didn’t.”
“I think it’s all just a nice way of excusing the fact that you are torturing yourself.” Adam said. “You will never get over these images, which means that all those people died physically and instead of being thankful for being alive and escaping that torture, you are just killing yourself emotionally.”
Christiana felt her skin prickle with irritation.
“And what would you know?” She spat. “It’s hardly like you were saved for your brains.”
Adam gave her a murderous stare. “What’s that supposed to mean?” He asked.
“Oh come on Adam, the only reason you could have possibly been saved was to ensure there was a pretty gene in the repopulation process. It’s not like anyone’s going to be filming any movies soon so that kind of makes your profession redundant.”
“Wow,” Adam hissed. “And so you’re here for your bitchy qualities I presume? I guess everyone needs someone to hate.”
Christiana felt her cheeks go red, she was really feeling the anger now. At this present moment, she had never hated a person more than she hated Adam Gammon.
“I suggest you leave,” she said quietly and slowly. “Before I show you just how bitchy I can be.”
Her hands curled into fists and she shot every single molecule of hate she had through her eyes and straight at Adam.
Adam rolled his eyes and tutted in annoyance. He waved his hand at Christiana, dismissing her.
“Whatever,” he said. “I’m off.”
And with that, he walked out the room.
Once he was gone, Christiana realised she was holding her breath. She let it go and with it, some of her anger abated, leaving room for some rationale to enter. She couldn’t quite figure out how she had managed to get so angry so quickly. She glanced over at the men operating the computers at the far end of the room. They were looking at her but quickly diverted their gaze when it met hers, busying themselves with their computers.
Christiana let out a small growl and went back to the now dead woman. She sat cross legged by the window and opened her notebook. Giving the face one more fleeting gaze, she began to write with fervency, desperate to get it finished before another survivor arrived.