Thursday, 31 January 2013

Chapter sixty four


Jason sat by the end of the field and worked on the vine in front of him, plucking the berries one by one and placing them delicately in the basket beside him.

“You know you’re going to have to work a little faster than that if we’re to get the quota done by the end of the day.” Adam said as he brought over his own basket, filled to the brim.

“Hmmm?” Jason murmured, his mind off somewhere else.

“Jason, seriously, get your head in the game.”

Jason shook his head and sighed.

“Sorry man.” He said. “I’m just… you know.”

“Yeah, I know.” Adam patted him lightly on the back. “Look, do you want to head off for the day? I can finish up here.”

“What? No, it’s fine! I’m here, I want to help.”

“You can’t stay locked up in the fields for the rest of your life.” Adam said.

“Are you sure about that?” Jason asked. “There are quarters nearby and plenty of work for me to do.”

“Yeah, especially when you just sit there and don’t do anything!” Adam sighed and placed his basket down. “Look, you can’t hide away forever. You need to face everything.”

“What’s the point?” Jason asked, irritation creeping over him. “She’s just going to be there, making my life miserable.”

“She’s just one person, come and have a drink with Christiana and I. If anything, you can show her that she can’t get to you.”

“Yeah, that’s what I need right now, to be the third wheel whilst you make your move on Christiana.”

“You know it’s not like that.” Adam said. “It’s better than hanging out here.”

“Nah, you’re alright.” Jason said. “I’ll just go back to my flat. Watch a movie or something.”

“Jason, seriously man, you need to face up to her.” Adam said.

“Why? So that she can humiliate me again?” Jason argued. “No thank you. The whole thing is just a bunch of crap, I can’t be arsed.”

Jason picked a large bunch of berries and threw them into the basket.

“I am going to go actually.” He said, getting up. “You okay on your own?”

“I wouldn’t have suggested it otherwise.” Adam said.

“Good, see ya.”

And with that, Jason walked out of the fields, making his way to the dorms as quick as he could. He hated this part above everything else. He was tired of the evil looks he was getting from everyone, not to mention the insults and, on one occasion, the objects that are thrown at him.

He was generally lucky today however. Not many people walked past him and those who did, simply walked on the other side of the corridor and avoided eye contact. He could deal with that. He had made it all the way to his front doors before he bumped into anyone. It was Lucille. She was coming out of her own flat down the corridor and she tutted to Amy who followed her out.

“I can’t believe that they’re insisting they keep him here on this row.” Lucille said loudly. “I’ve repeatedly asked them to move the convicted felons from the area of young innocent women, but it’s like talking to a brick wall.”

Jason clenched his teeth and counted slowly to 10, searching for his keys so that he could get into the flat without having to hear anything else.

“It’s like they want to see us all murdered in our beds,” Amy replied. “I feel for you honey, I really do. I feel unsafe and I’m three corridors away.”

Where were his keys? He desperately checked every pocket for a second time. Out the corner of his eye, he could see them moving towards him. He sent a silent prayer up to the heavens, hoping that they would pass him by without addressing him.

“Did you hear that?” Lucille said, directing her question at Jason as they reached him.

Jason groaned.

“No one wants you here. Why don’t you find somewhere else to live?”

Jason chose not to respond, he took another deep breath and once more searched for his keys.

“Hey, I’m talking to you.” Lucille said.

“I’m a little confused as to why.” Jason poured out. “Aren’t you meant to be scared of me, or something?”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” Amy spat. “You beat up one innocent woman then make us all terrified and not want to talk to you. Well, guess what, we’re not going to give you the satisfaction.”

“Oh look who it is, the sheep of our little community.” Jason turned to see Christiana saunter down the corridor. “Are you sure you feel comfortable out here, so far from civilisation? I mean, who is there to follow?”

“I fail to see why you keep yourself associated with the people you do, Christiana.” Lucille said.

“Maybe because I can see a liar like Michelle a mile away, as can anyone with a brain cell.”

“Why would she lie about anything as terrible as that?” Amy asked. “Didn’t you see the bruises all over her face, the next morning? Poor thing.”

“Trust me, if Jason had caused those bruises when she said he had, they would no longer have been on her face by the next morning.” Christiana said. “She did that to herself.”

“Oh here she goes, Lucille.” Amy scoffed. “Off on that ‘the injections aren’t really vaccines’ story again.”

Christiana squared up to Amy. “Say one more word, and I’ll prove to you that I’m right, right here and now.”

“Is that a threat?” Amy asked, her voice sounding shocked. She backed away.

“Don’t tempt me.”

“Chris, it’s okay.” Jason said. “I’ve found my keys, fancy a tea?”

Christiana tore her eyes away from the two women and gave Jason a large welcoming smile. Right now, Jason wanted to hug her so badly but he reserved such an act for when they were safely inside.

“Yes, please.” She said, and hooked her arm in his.

Without another look back, they both entered his flat and shut the door behind them.

Chapter sixty three


Daniela pulled at the suit, ensuring that it was completely covering Duncan. She started checking around his neck and under his arms, pulling him this way and that, quietly assessing him the whole time.

“Would you stop fussing, woman.” Duncan scolded her. “The suit moulds to our bodies, remember? You designed them that way. There’s nothing uncovered.”

“I’m just making sure.” She murmured, “Stay still.”

“Have you once found a suit with a gap?” Duncan asked.

“No, but I’ve also never exposed the person to what I’m about to, so you’ll excuse me if I appear a little more meticulous this time.”

“And the suits will sustain it?” Kelly asked from where she stood across the room.

“That’s the plan,” Daniela said, moving down to his legs. “We’ve only tested it on dummies so far, but it’s been a 100% success rate, which is the only reason I’m considering this experiment.”

Daniela had made her way up Duncan’s inner thigh and suddenly realised she was now at his groin. She blushed.

“If you wanted to examine the goods, you didn’t need to use a feeble excuse like a science experiment, you know.”

Duncan was grinning down at her and she rolled her eyes in response, briefly checking the groin area before making her way onto the other leg.

“Okay, you’re good.” Daniela announced. “Jensen?”

“Connor’s good too.” Jensen reported.

Daniela took a deep breath and made her way back to her work station. Examining the computer once more.

“Everything looks fine here.” She said. “I guess there’s nothing else to do but to enter the box.”

Duncan saluted Daniela and threw her a reassuring wink. “No problem, babes. It will be a breeze.”

“Literally, I hope.” Connor added.

Both Duncan and Connor walked into the transparent box in the middle of the room. Once they had assumed the correct position, side by side, Duncan gave the okay sign.

“Okay guys,” Daniela said, ignoring the nerves creeping up inside. She took a deep breath and tried to level her heart beat. “You know the drill. The moment you begin to feel any kind of discomfort, you say. I don’t want any of you to try and wait it out. This isn’t what this test is about. We need fast results. We’re aiming for no effect at all, so if it starts to get the least bit hot…”

“We get it,” Duncan interrupted her. “We’ll call. Don’t worry yourself babes.”

“Duncan, we’ve talked about that word.” Daniela said.

“Sorry hun,” Duncan grinned.

“Here goes nothing.” She said and hit the activate button.

Immediately the box began to heat up, the heaters glowing red all around Duncan and Connor. Daniela watched the temperature, her hand on the circular button.

“Okay, we’re starting nice and easy now, on 37 degrees Celsius.” Daniela gave a quick prayer and began to rotate the button. “Raising to 48 degrees… 50… 60… How are we doing in there?”

“Nothing to report.” Connor said. “I’m feeling perfectly fine.”

“Duncan?” Daniela asked.

“Stuck staring at you for an afternoon? Couldn’t be better.”

“A simple ‘fine’ would have sufficed.” Daniela said. “Raising the temperature further, 70 degrees… 80… 90…. Hitting boiling point… 100 degrees. Still okay?”

“No change in the temperature from my end.” Connor said.

“Nothing here,” Duncan said. “Are you sure you’ve got these heating things on?”

“Trust me, they’re on.”

“Wow.” Duncan let out a low whistle. “Why hadn’t you received a Nobel Prize yet?”

“That’s a question I asked people daily.” Daniela answered. “We’re about to hit 200 degrees… 250… 300…”

“What’s the temperature out there again?” Connor asked.

“We’ve clocked it at 550 degrees Celsius.” Kelly replied.

“Hitting 400 degrees now.” Daniela announced. “450 degrees… 500… 550… 600. And we’ve beaten the outside temperature. Keeping at 600 degrees to monitor long-standing effects.”

“We’re really standing in 600 degrees of heat?” Duncan asked. “I don’t feel anything.”

“The suits are holding all of the heat. They’re a little thicker than we had hoped as a result, but they should still allow for flexibility.”

“We have tests out in the field, this afternoon.” Kelly said. “Everyone will be required to complete necessary tasks in the suits to ensure they are suitable for long track scouting.”

“I’ll be coming to observe.” Daniela said. “The suits should hold, but if there’s anything uncomfortable about them, I might be able to adjust them slightly.”

“Your help would be much appreciated.” Kelly said, her tone as business like as she had been since Daniela’s first night back in Utopia.

“Boys?” Daniela called out. “Still holding on okay?”

“If anything, I feel a little chilly.” Duncan said, rubbing his arms together in an act of keeping in the heat.

Daniela couldn’t help but smile and welcomed the wide grin from him, her smile had caused.

“Er, guys?” A voice came from the door to the lab, Daniela turned to see Christiana standing in the entrance, looking incredibly awkward.

“Christiana?” Daniela asked in shock. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m here to collect you.” Christiana announced. “Your session starts in 10 minutes.”

Daniela stomach did a flip, as it always did when she was due for another therapy session. She had completely forgotten about it today though. Her mind completely pre-occupied with the experiment at hand.

“We’re going to need another 20 minutes.” Kelly announced.

“Sorry, I’m all out of favours for you.” Christiana replied.

“It’s fine, Jensen can keep a log of what happens.” Daniela said, eager to prevent another bust up between Christiana and everyone else she worked with. She turned back to the guys in the box. Duncan was examining his hands in the suit. Connor was looking at Christiana longingly. Without looking, Daniela was certain that Christiana would be looking at every single spot in the room other than where he was.

“Jensen’s taking over.” Daniela announced to the men. “I’ll be back in just over an hour. Please remember to speak up the moment you feel any discomfort.”

“We’re fine, go and offload about how awesome I am.” Duncan said.

Daniela ignored him and followed Christiana out of the lab.

“I’m glad you came and got me.” Daniela said as they made their way through the lobby. “I would have completely forgotten otherwise.”

“I figured as much when Jason told me what you were doing today.” Christiana said, giving her a smile. “You doing okay?”

Daniela shrugged. “I’m okay, I guess. Having this project to keep my mind busy is really helping.”

“Even though it was forced on you.”

“I feel a lot better about the mission now,” Daniela reassured Christiana. “The suits have come along so far in the past couple of weeks. It’s been surprisingly easy actually. I keep on expecting something to go wrong, but it just keeps on working.” She paused for a moment, seeing the lost look in Christiana’s face and she stared at the ground. “I think it’s going to be okay. This mission. It’s not nearly as unsafe as I thought it was going to be at the beginning.”

“It’s still less safe than staying put.” Christiana argued but immediately changed the subject. “I hear you’re making awesome progress in your sessions!”

Daniela gave a small smile. “Claire’s been really great actually. She’s letting me work through the whole thing in my own way. I still get panicky and can’t stand to be alone, but I’m taking what she says on board and hopefully things will get better.”

“It’s going to take time.” Christiana encouraged her. “But I do believe that you’ll get there. You’re practically a different person already and it’s only been just over two weeks.”

“I think a lot of it has had to do with me being so busy.” Daniela said. “I just hope I can continue getting better once they all head out. Not to mention the fact that Duncan will be with them.”

“I thought he said that he wasn’t going to go?” Christiana asked.

“I convinced him otherwise.” Daniela said. “I figured it was what he wanted and what he was good at so I couldn’t ask him not to… Oh, sorry.”

Daniela kicked herself. She glanced at Christiana to check if she was upset by her comment. Christiana just smiled back.

“Don’t apologise.” She said. “Connor and I are completely different. It was long coming, I guess.” She stopped outside a door. “And we’re here!” She gave Daniela a hug. “Enjoy yourself, get everything off your chest and we’re still on for drinks on Friday?”

“Of course.” Daniela said. “See you soon.”

Christiana threw her another smile and walked back the way she came.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Chapter sixty two


Christiana found Connor in The Bubble, talking to Liam again. He laughed at something and smacked Liam’s back. She watched him for a moment without announcing her arrival. He was so light and carefree. He looked as if he hadn’t a care in the world. She remembered for a moment the dark pit of pain she had felt from him the night prior. She dismissed that immediately. She was pissed at him, and she was going to let him know about it, regardless of what he might be feeling.

Christiana cleared her throat and he turned to see her, his face lighting up even more as he jogged over to her. She felt her resolve slip slightly at the sight of how happy he looked to see her. But she held onto it, this needed to be discussed.

“Hey, you got my message!” Connor said, reaching her and pulling her into a massive hug.

“What message?” Christiana asked.

“Didn’t Katie tell you to meet me here?” Connor asked, then dismissed it. “Never mind, you’re here. Come on, I’ve got loads planned for today.”

“Connor, wait.” Christiana said, every part of her screaming at her not to ruin his light, playful mood.

Connor seemed to ignore her and continued to pull her along. “I’ve had this idea.” He said. “We tried touching outside, but there was something else I realised we never tried.”

“Connor, I…”

“I’m against this, by the way.” Liam chipped in. “From what you two were like yesterday, I’m pretty sure the machine will explode.”

“Relax, Liam.” Connor said. “It’s fine. Me and Christie can control ourselves, right?” He flashed her a wide grin.

“There’s something that I need to…” Christiana once again tried to get out.

“Once we’ve had a brief trip outside again, I’ve got loads more things planned. There was this amazing French styled park that I came across during the scouting mission. It’s only about a mile a away from here, and I know you’re going to love it. But we can’t got there for another couple of hours because… well, that you’ll have to wait for, got to keep some of it a surprise.”

“Connor, stop!” Christiana yelled.

Both Connor and Liam stopped what they were doing and watched her. Liam looked really awkward all of a sudden and quickly excused himself, making his way to the monitors at the other side of the room.

“We need to talk.” Christiana said. “Back in the room maybe?”

“What’s wrong?” Connor asked, suddenly full of concern.

“Don’t give me that look, Connor.” Christiana said.

“What look?”

“Like you give a damn about me.”

“Why the hell would you think I didn’t…”

“Two words: ‘Mission Outside.’”

Connor’s face went pale.

“Yeah, maybe we should go back to the room.”

Christiana led the way, storming out of The Bubble and not checking to see if Connor was following. If he knew what was good for him, he would be. With every step she took, she felt more and more angry until by the time she reached home, she was seething. The moment that they both were inside and the door was shut behind them, she turned on Connor.

“What the hell were you thinking?” She spat.

“It’s not like I had a choice in the matter.” Connor said, trying to keep his voice calm. “Kelly insisted.”

“Oh whatever, Connor. It’s not like you’ve never said no to her before.”

“Not when it comes to work. No.” He said. “If she needs me, I need to be ready.”

“One month, Connor! Not even that! Three weeks we have left until you once more disappear off on something without discussing it with me first.”

“I was going to,” Connor said. “I told Kelly that you wouldn’t agree with it last night.”

“Last night?!” Christiana erupted. “You mean to tell me that you knew all about it whist you were with me last night and you didn’t say anything?”

“I didn’t want to ruin the good time we were having…”

“You mean, you didn’t want to ruin the chance of getting laid.”

“Nice, Christie. Good to know you have such a high opinion of me.”

“I try to think you’re a decent guy, but every time I do, you do crappy things like this.”

“You think I’m doing this just to spite you? Believe it or not Christie, this has nothing to do with you!”

“Exactly!” Christie was screaming now. “It’s never to do with me. If I was asked to do some life threatening thing, you would be the first person I would consult with. But you? You just go ahead and throw your life away as if no one else’s opinion matters.”

“It’s not as dangerous as you think…”

“Really? Did you know that Daniela doesn’t agree with you guys going out there, because she doesn’t trust the suits? Does that sound like it’s something that’s not dangerous?”

“We’ll make sure that everyone stays safe.”

“I don’t want to hear this speech again. I heard it all the first time you disappeared.”

“And look who that turned out! We all came back, completely incident free.”

What you’re saying is; you did it once by not consulting me and it went fine, so therefore you don’t ever need to talk to me about anything?”

“Oh come on,” Connor said, his voice raising to match Christiana’s. “Like I had a choice. The moment I raised it, you would have reacted like… well, like this! Forgive me if I didn’t want to spend my first night back with a crazy person.”

“Oh, so I’m crazy now!?”

“I’m just saying, you spend enough time with a certain kind of person, it’s bound to start to rub off on you eventually.”

Woah. Christiana couldn’t quite believe he had said that. His words seemed to fall down on the conversation like a ton of bricks. Connor sighed and dropped his head.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.”

She could feel tears prickling at her eyes. She blinked them away angrily and met his eyes levelly.

“You know what? I’m going to make this really easy for you.” Christiana said eventually. “Either you go to Kelly now and tell her that you’re not going, or you can take all of your stuff and get out.”

Connor’s eyes widened at her ultimatum. “Christie, can’t we at least talk about this?”

“Why? You make decisions without talking to me all the time. Now I’m giving it a try. Either you stay here and let the others go on without you, or we’re done.”

Connor seemed to weigh up his options. He stared at her like a rabbit in the headlights for a couple of seconds. Eventually he sighed.

“I have to go, Christie. I can’t let my men go out there without me.”

Crap. He hadn’t chosen her. He had left her alone and wanting. She stifled a sob, and drew in her breath. Determined not to show him how much that had hurt. When she was sure she had her emotions under control, she spoke.

“I’m going to go for a walk. I’ll be an hour. When I get back, I expect that you and your stuff will be gone.”

She turned to leave and Connor dashed forward, grabbing both her arms.

“Christie, wait. Please don’t do this.”

Christiana refused to meet his eyes, knowing that if she did, she would cave. Instead she shrugged him away and headed for the door. Opening it and dashing out just in time to hide the mountain of tears that began to fall down her cheeks.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Chapter sixty one


“You need to breathe, man. There’s nothing we can do at the moment.”

Jason was pacing the small area of the lobby, his mind on overload. Adam had just finished telling him about the conversation he had had with Morgan and Jason was not taking it well.

“I need a cigarette.” Jason said.

“You haven’t smoked for three months.” Adam reminded him.

“I also haven’t had a vindictive bitch try to paint me as… well… a vindictive bitch.”

“In fairness, you probably have. You just didn’t know about it.” Adam said.

Jason stopped his pacing and threw Adam a glare. “Not helping.”

“Sorry.” Adam said, throwing his hands up. “I just thought you were doing so well without the cigarettes. Besides, you were all ‘I’ve been given this chance, I don’t want to screw it all up by getting cancer.’”

“Screw the cancer. I’m stressed, I’m going.”

“Fine.” Adam gave in.

He was just about to follow Jason to the garden when he spotted Christiana come out of the clinic.

“Give me a second,” He said to Jason and headed over to her before Jason could object.

“Christiana.” He called out.

She turned to see him. She looked stressed. Her hair was dishevelled and all over the place. She was pale and her mind seemed pre-occupied with something or other.

“You okay?” Adam asked, suddenly concerned.

“What? Oh yeah, it’s just been one of those days, that’s all.”

She started looking around the room, tutting her irritation at not finding what she was looking for.

“How’s Daniela?” Adam asked. “I heard she came out yesterday.”

“She’s not good,” Christiana said. “But then, that’s to be expected. If Kelly stops being a pushy cow, we might be able to help her. However, the likelihood of that is pretty small.”

“What’s she done now?”

“Oh nothing I want to go into now.” Christiana said. “Look, I have to go. I have to find Connor, I need to talk to him. You haven’t seen him, have you?”

“Nope.” Adam said. “I would have thought you two would be attached at the hip after last night.” He tried really hard to keep the bitterness out of his voice, although he appeared to be unsuccessful because Christiana was now looking at him curiously.

“We got separated when I went to talk to Daniela.” She answered. “Although, he’s managed to make good use of the time apart, once again finding new and exciting ways to piss me off.”

“Oh great, so we’re back to hating him again today?” The words were out of his mouth before he could activate his brain and he immediately regretted them.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Christiana asked.

“Nothing.” Adam said, beginning to move away. “I’ve got to get back to Jason, I’ll speak to you later.”

“No, don’t say something like that and just move away.” Christiana snapped. “Explain what the hell you meant!”

Adam sighed. “It’s just, your mood swings are confusing the hell out of me.” He said. “One moment we hate Connor, and quite rightly so, because he completely abandoned you, and the next thing I know your sucking face with him in front of everyone as if nothing has happened.”

“Sucking face? What are we, 8 years old?”

“You know what I mean.”

“What’s it to you, whether I forgive my boyfriend or not?” Christiana asked.

“Nothing, except you’ve made me listen to it non-stop for the last few months.”

“Well I’m sorry for being such an inconvenience. I had no idea that I annoyed you so much.”

“It’s not that, it’s just… ah, never mind. I can’t be arsed with this.”

“You know what? Neither can I. I have a mountain of things to sift through in my mind and I need to find Connor.” Christiana snapped. “Don’t worry, next time I have a problem, I’ll be sure to leave you out of it.”

“Sounds good to me.” Adam snapped back and stormed off in the direction of a gaping Jason.

He grabbed hold of Jason’s arm as he reached him and power walked them both to the garden.

“Freakin hell, Ad.” Jason said. “Looks like I’m not the only one pissed at the world this morning.”

“Tell me about it.” Adam said, through gritted teeth. “Any chance I could join you in a cigarette?”

Jason pulled out his pack and handed Adam one, without questioning it. They both sat on a bench, puffing away and reeling over their individual arguments.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Chapter sixty


“Looks like I’ve arrived just in time.” Kelly said from the entrance to the clinic. “I thought we agreed for you to wait for me before explaining it all?”

Gary shuffled uncomfortably from where he stood. “They didn’t really leave me with much choice.” He said.

Kelly reached where they were and saw all the blood soaked gauze on the bed.

“What the hell happened here?” She asked.

“Daniela stabbed herself with a scalpel.” Gary answered.

“Apparently lying to people leads them to do crazy things.” Christiana said, icily.

“I don’t know why you’re complaining,” Kelly spat at Christiana. “You must be practically giddy that you have one more thing to be morally outraged at me over.”

“You think I enjoy laying into you?” Christiana yelled. “If you didn’t make it so easy by consistently being a crappy person, maybe I wouldn’t have to feel physically sick every time I look at you.”

“Enough, Chris! I get it! You’re better than me! There, is that what you wanted to hear?”

“Look Kelly, I know you’ve been forced to be the bad guy here. I get that. But throwing us all in here without our knowledge is one thing, injecting us with a drug without us knowing is completely insane!” Christiana argued. “Did it ever cross your mind that some of us might not want to live forever? You have taken away every last freedom of choice from us and turned us into your puppets!”

“For the future population of this world, yes, I have made these decisions. And I would do it again. Someone has to! We couldn’t save everyone, we had to find a way to ensure that humankind continued, this was the most logical step.”

“And what about us? Don’t we get a say in this?”

“Right now? No. When the whole human race is at stake, we thought it best to take any emotion ridden choices out of your hands. None of you would be thinking clearly enough to make a decent enough decision, we had to ensure that…”

“Oh save the speech, Kelly. I’ve heard it before.” Christiana spat, suddenly wanting to be far away from this place. “I’m going to find Connor and try not to let my emotions get in the way on deciding what I’m going to eat.”

“You’re a massive hypocrite, Kelly, you know that?” Duncan said, quietly.

“Oh please, do lay into me as well, Duncan. I’m just dying to know what you think about all of this.”

“It’s just, in one breath you talk about our lives being so sacred that you make sure that none of us will die of natural causes, and in the next breath, you’re ordering us all out into the one thing that can kill us.”

“I’m sorry, what?” Christiana asked, stopping in her tracks. “You’re taking people out there?”

“I would have thought you knew,” Duncan said. “Your boyfriend’s heading up the whole thing.”

Christiana felt like the ground had just disappeared from under her. She grabbed hold of the chair in front to steady herself.

“Duncan, please tell me this is some kind of joke.” Christiana said.

“What do you think?”

“And Connor already knows about this?”

“Duncan, you say another word and I will knock you out cold.” Kelly said.

“What? You think that it’s better that she doesn’t know?”

“I think that it should be Connor who tells her. Not you, and certainly not like this.”

“Duncan, please answer my question.” Christiana said, ignoring Kelly.

Duncan faltered for a moment, looking between Christiana and Kelly, eventually he shrugged and turned his attention to Christiana.

“We’re leaving in just under a month. I was told that I have to go as Connor is heading up the whole thing and he needs people he works well with. Apparently, he’s off making plans for it as we speak.”

This couldn’t be right. Connor wouldn’t have agreed to this without talking it over with her first. Not after the last time. He promised that it wouldn’t happen again.

“How long has Connor known about this?” Christiana asked.

Duncan shrugged and Christiana turned her question to Kelly.

“I’m not answering any of these questions, Chris. You need to have this conversation with Connor.”

“Oh believe me, I will.” Christiana said, her voice level and quiet. “And you can be certain of one thing, there is not a chance in hell that he will be going out there.”

“How?” Daniela’s small voice cut through the tension. Everyone turned their attention to her, no one really following her question. She sighed as she realised that she would have to explain herself. “How are you going out there?”

The room fell silent, full of people who either knew the answer but didn’t want to say or, as in Christiana’s case, was just as clueless as Daniela was. Eventually it was Kelly who spoke.

“Your Danel suits.” She said, simply.

Daniela looked at her, horrified. “No, you can’t!” She said. “I haven’t tested them properly.”

“I saw your experiments in the lab.”

“In a controlled environment, I don’t know about the heat out there or how long they can withstand the toxins outside of the three months I tested them for.”

“We’re only planning to go out for a month.”

“I haven’t tested it properly!” Daniela repeated. “I don’t even know what the ground is like out there or whether the Danel can stand any impact should you come into trouble. It’s not as strong in suit form.”

“We have a month to look into field testing, we’ll need your help on that, if you’re feeling up to it.”

“A month?!” Christiana yelled. “Why the hell are you going out so soon? What’s the rush?”

“We need to examine life whilst it is still there. Our window of time is very small.”

“No,” Daniela said, all colour lost from her face. “It’s not ready, you can’t use it.”

“With all due respect Daniela, I’m not asking you and I don’t need your permission. We have possession of the suits, our team are duplicating them so that there are enough for everyone involved and we will be using them outside.”

“You have actually lost it.” Christiana said. “Do you even realise what you are saying? Are any of us to have any choices left with regards to our lives?”

“Everyone here was saved for a reason. In the cases of Connor and Duncan, that reason was to perform the missions that we needed in order to sustain life in this new world.”

“Even if that means them potentially losing their lives in the process?” Christiana asked.

“No.” Daniela insisted. She sat up straight, shaking her head. “I won’t be responsible for anyone else’s death, you can’t make me.”

Duncan was on the bed then, soothing her and holding her tight. He threw Kelly an accusing glare.

“Don’t you think you’ve done her enough damage?” He asked.

A flash of doubt seemed to cross Kelly’s face, but she quickly replaced it with her normal look of indignity.

“I will take responsibility for the lives of everyone involved in this mission. I am confident that there will be no problems. I shall be going as well as Gary. We will ensure the safety of all involved. My decision is final, in three weeks’ time, we will be leaving.”

And with that Daniela slumped into Duncan’s arms, her consciousness gone.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Chapter fifty nine


Adam was pissed off. All he had wanted to do was to go and see Daniela. He had got to the clinic entrance and then Kelly came out of nowhere and barked at him to leave the area. Now he was stuck here, once again, in the restaurant, waiting for someone to fill him in. Sometimes he really hated the way he was treated in his group of friends. Although most of the time he felt normal, all it took was for someone like Connor or his sister to turn up and suddenly he was back to being Adam the Actor: pretty to look at but not to be included in anything. That, coupled with the hang over he was carrying and his own irritation over what he had got up to the night before, he was well and truly having a crappy day.

“Well you officially look how I feel.” Morgan said, sitting down next to him and hugging a cup of coffee close.

Adam liked Morgan. He was from the soldier side but had been the first one to hang up his gun and join the ‘civilians’ after the jobs started to be handed out. Amara had been his egg and he had taken it upon himself to put together a workshop for her to work in. There had been one provided for her of course but Morgan hadn’t been happy with it and had encouraged Amara to completely transform it until it was her own. He was the only person who could get a steady positive smile out of Amara and she looked up to him entirely.

“Heavy night of drinking?” Morgan asked. “Last I saw you, you were heading off in the direction of the rooms with that mother hen clucking away in your ear.”

Adam groaned. “Don’t remind me.” He said. “That was awkward this morning.”

“There is not enough alcohol in the world to convince me to sleep with any of those women.” Morgan said. “I feel for you, I really do. They’ve been trying to get their claws into you for months now.”

“Well, the plan is to suddenly be busy and unavailable for the next 50 years.” Adam said.

“Nice to know you have the balls to deal with that situation.” Morgan said. “You going to break it off over email as well?”

“If the internet still existed, I’d be tempted… I could just write a letter and post it under her door, I suppose.”

“Too risky, she’d probably hear you and open the door before you could get away. Give it to Amara, she’ll happily play postwoman in this case.”

There was a moment of silence.

“I have no idea as to whether we’re joking or actually giving serious suggestions anymore.” Adam said.

“The line’s blurry on that one.” Morgan said. He suddenly thought of something and leant in. “Hey, talking of crappy relationships, did you hear about Jason and Michelle?”

“It’s no secret that they don’t get along,” Adam said.

“Still, there’s not getting along and then there’s just plain vindictiveness. We’re verging on the point of bullying now.”

“What have you heard?” Adam asked, suddenly concerned for his friend.

“Just that it’s getting really out of hand, threats and all kinds. I was stuck listening to it for hours last night. I’ve got to say, after what I heard, I’m a little pissed myself. I just didn’t think it was possible for someone to be so two faced as that.”

“It wasn’t great, but they’re grown ups, they can handle it themselves.” Adam said. Jason must have chosen Morgan to be his drunken sounding board last night.

“If they could handle it themselves then I wouldn’t have had to spend the entire night last night trying to calm down a hysterical woman.”

“A little harsh, Morgan.” Adam said. “I didn’t realise that it had got that bad though.”

“It’s going to get harsh,” Morgan said. “If he steps out of line again, I’m going to have to step in. Michelle was on her last nerves, last night.”

“Wait, what?” Adam asked, suddenly aware that Morgan wasn’t talking about Jason.

“He’s been at her for months, spreading rumours about her being intolerant to him having a boyfriend. He even made up some lie about her killing him or something, to be honest it was kind of hard to hear in amongst all the sniffling and crying. I was shocked, she didn’t seem the type to break down easily. He’s been at her for months though, turning people against her and trying to make her hated by everyone.

“I tend to keep out of things, but even I had heard some of the bizarre things he had been saying. It’s clear they’re lies though, I don’t buy that anyone would be capable of some of the things he spreading.”

“Morgan,” Adam said, “There’s been a misunderstanding. Don’t do anything, let me talk to Jason first.”

“I’m not going to do anything,” Morgan said, “Provided he doesn’t take this any further, I’m not in the mood to get involved. But if he keeps on going, someone’s going to have to put him in check.”

“It’s not as simple as that,” Adam explained. “If you just…”

“Where is it?!”

Jason’s voice carried over the room as he stood at the bar and waved a picture frame in Michelle’s face. Michelle looked at him, her face a picture of confused innocence, showing acting skills that would put Adam to shame.

“I don’t understand.” Michelle said.

“The photo of Mark.” Jason said. “The one in this frame that I always keep by my bed. It’s not there anymore. You stole it! Give it back!”

Adam made a move to get up, desperate to stop this argument before it got out of hand. His urgency for this doubled as he noticed Morgan also stand up.

“Why would I steal a photo?” Michelle asked, her voice small and tears in her eyes.

“I don’t know!” Jason shouted. “Why do you do half the things you do? All I know is that his photo is gone and in it’s place is the sodding tab for Mike.”

“You had been drinking last night, perhaps it was something that you had done.” Michelle offered.

Adam was at Jason’s side.

“Jason man, let’s take a walk, hmmm?”

“Not until she replaces the photo!” Jason said. “It’s the only one I have, Michelle, I need it!”

“Er Jason?” Caroline was suddenly at their side. “I found this in the bar last night as I was clearing up. It had been left on your table.”

She handed Jason a slightly battered picture of Jason and Mark.

“Seems like you owe someone an apology.” Morgan said.

“I didn’t bring it down last night.” Jason said. “I didn’t even go into my room.”

“You went to get me that book, remember?” Caroline said.

Jason’s face fell. “But I only got the book. I know I did.”

Michelle was looking at him levelly. Adam wasn’t sure but he thought he saw a flicker of a smile play on her lips.

“Let’s take a walk.” Adam suggested, hoping against hope that Jason hadn’t also seen that smile.

“What about that apology?” Morgan asked.

Jason turned to Adam. “I didn’t bring the photo down.” He said. “I’m too careful with it.”

“It’s okay.” Adam answered, leading him away. He turned back to Morgan. “Jason’s sends his apologies for assuming that Michelle stole his photo.” He took the frame from Jason and removed the tab from it. “Oh and Michelle? This tab should probably be kept behind the bar.” He walked back over to her and handed it back to her. “Funny, this tab has orders from after Jason finished his shift… I guess Jason’s sorry for going out of his way in his drunken state, putting it together and printing it off. You were arguing with him about this order last night, weren’t you? Weird. See you guys around.”

And with that he and Jason left the room.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Chapter fifty eight


“I’m going to write you up for some medication to help with the racing thoughts and any further anxiety.” Christiana said.

Daniela looked at her dubiously. She didn’t seem convinced.

“It’s just a short term fix to help you,” Christiana encouraged her. “It will help you organise things in your head a little more whilst we go through some therapy to work through this.”

Daniela shrugged in response but seemed upset with the plan. Christiana wrote the medication down and handed it to Gary.

“Do you have this?” She asked.

Gary took a brief look over the prescription and nodded.

“We’re well stocked.” He said and disappeared to fetch the medication.

Daniela glanced over at the door and Christiana saw a flash of hope flow through her. She turned to see who had arrived and saw Duncan walk over. His head was caked with drying blood but he didn’t seem to notice it.

“You really should get that checked out,” Christiana said.

“It’s fine.” Duncan replied, “I barely feel it.”

“How can you barely feel it? It looks pretty intense.”

“It hurt at first but the worst is over.” Duncan said, taking his place next to Daniela and sinking back into the chair. “It’s not even bleeding anymore.”

Christiana made her way over to Duncan and examined the wound. He was right. The blood on his head appeared to be old and Christiana struggled to find the wound at all. She grabbed something to clean his head and set to work at washing off the blood. Once she was done she was instantly confused. There was only a thin line where his head had hit the table and somehow it appeared to be almost healed.

“What the hell?” She said, grabbing his head and taking a closer look.

“Watch it!” Duncan cried.

“I don’t understand,” Christiana said. “The cut looks like it’s practically healed!”

Suddenly Daniela was off the bed and by Christiana’s side. Both Duncan and Christiana gaped at her. This had to be the most movement she had made since Christiana had turned up at the clinic and probably long before. She reached for Duncan’s head and Christian moved out of the way so that she too could examine it.

Although she still remained mute, her mouth dropped open at the sight of the healing wound and Christiana could see her mind ticking over.

“What?” Duncan asked her, suddenly interested.

Daniela looked at Duncan and shook her head, a look of shock on her face. She moved back to the bed and picked up the notepad Christiana had eventually found, immediately beginning to write. When she was finished, she turned the pad round to show Christiana and Duncan. On it was written ‘The vaccine.’

“The vaccine?” Christiana asked, confused.

Duncan however seemed to understand completely.

“It must be.” He said. “Come to think of it, Kelly’s lip looked completely normal this morning. I was certain I split it open.”

“You did what?” Christiana asked. “You hit her?”

“I know, I know.” Duncan said. “Not my strongest moment.”

“Not your strongest moment?! For crying out loud, Duncan, that is not okay!”

“She got her own back, as you clearly saw.” Duncan answered. “And I have apologised, I was worked up! I shouldn’t have done it.”

Gary walked back into the clinic at this point with a bag of drugs in his hand.

“One prescription ready.” He announced.

Daniela moved towards him, her face accusing. She pulled his face towards Duncan’s head and pointed manically at his injury.

“Wow, someone’s feeling better.” Gary said, his comment appearing to be directed more at Daniela than Duncan.

Daniela glared at him and pointed at her pad.

“Vaccine?” Gary asked, looking just as confused as Christiana felt.

Daniela pointed at Duncan’s head again and Gary seemed to clock what it was that she was getting at.

“Ah.” He said.

“Ah?” Christiana asked. “I’m feeling a little out of the loop here.”

“It was something some of the last volunteers said,” Duncan explained. “Apparently our little monthly injections are not as simple as the doctors have been letting on.”

“It’s the vaccines that caused your head to heal?” Christiana asked.

“I believe that’s what Daniela is thinking.” Duncan said and turned to Gary for further explanation. Christiana followed suit.

Gary sighed. “It’s nothing bad.” He said. “You really don’t need to worry about it.”

“Please don’t tell me that you’ve been giving us something without us knowing, Gary, because I cannot even begin to tell you how many things are wrong with that.” Christiana said.

“Of course not!” Gary said. “The women were deluded from the medication they were on, that’s all.”

“You said that everything was on schedule.” Duncan said. “You pretty much confirmed that what they were saying was right.”

“It’s complicated.” Gary said. “But it’s fine, I promise. You can trust me.”

“So let me get this straight; you’re asking us to trust you when you aren’t telling us anything and we already know that you have lied to us?” Christiana asked.

“I was just entertaining three dying women, that’s all.” Gary answered. “There’s nothing strange about the vaccines, why would we lie about that?”

“You do realise that your answers are contradicting each other, right?” Duncan asked. “Which one is it? There’s something different about the vaccine that we need to trust you on, or not?”

“Not!” Gary said, a slight panicked tone in his voice. “There’s nothing to talk about, I’m just as confused about the head thing as you are.”

“Funny,” Christiana said. “Because you didn’t look confused.”

Suddenly Daniela was moving again, she power walked over to a nearby cupboard and before anyone could react to what she was doing, she had pulled out a small metal scalpel and dug it deep into her stomach. Blood began to seep through her clothes and suddenly everyone was on fast forward. Duncan rushed forward with Christiana close on his heels. Daniela’s legs gave way just as Duncan reached her and he scooped her into his arms, rushing her back to the bed.

Gary was there waiting with gauze and anything else he could get his hands on. The moment she was placed down, he began to press them against the wound, applying as much pressure as possible. Christiana ran to help but Daniela grabbed hold of her arm, stopping her from helping. Christiana tried to pull away but Daniela’s grip was surprisingly strong. With her free hand she grabbed at Gary’s arm, he shrugged her off easily.

“Stop.” She said, her voice loud and strong and full of conviction. “What’s the point?”

“Daniela,” Duncan said. “Dying is never the option. We can work through this…”

“She’s not dying.” Christiana said.

She was watching as Gary busied himself around her covering her stab wound with more and more gauze. However, the material was no longer filling with blood. He didn’t stop working and Christiana realised that he wasn’t working to save her life, but rather to cover what was really going on.

“Gary, stop.” Christiana said.

She shoved her hand underneath Gary’s and pushed him away. This time, he stumbled back, apparently giving up on his previous vain attempt at keeping the realisation at bay. Christiana began to remove the gauze, taking away the clean ones and then the blood soaked ones underneath. Once she reached the skin again she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. The wound had almost completely closed up, a small insignificant amount of blood oozing from it.

“Gary, what the hell is this?” Christiana asked.

But Gary didn’t respond, instead he was typing a number into his phone. Whoever he called, answered straight away.

“The clinic, now.” He said. “The penny’s dropped.”

Immediately the phone went dead and Gary dropped it back into his pocket.

Christiana and Daniela looked at him curiously. Duncan, however was staring at Daniela, his gaze moving from her stomach to her face and back again.

“Are you insane?” Duncan asked. “What if you had been wrong?”

Daniela shrugged, her muteness back.

“No, don’t shrug like that’s okay.” Duncan said. “Am I going to have to take up some form of suicide watch or something?”

“From the looks of it, we don’t need to worry about that anymore.” Christiana commented.

“Not exactly,” Gary said. “You’ve still got another couple of months to go until the course of medication has been completed and it does absolutely nothing against the toxins outside.”

“What is it doing at the moment?” Christiana asked.

Gary sighed and glanced desperately at the door. No one came.

“It’s something we found when we were trying to find a cure against the toxins.” Gary said, eventually. “It was pretty much an accident, by testing against the different components from the meteor we found a way to combat against other things.”

“How many other things?” Duncan asked, his attention back on Gary.

“In short?” Gary asked. “Everything.”


“Every illness, disease and injury we threw at it, it found a way to fight against it.” Gary explained. “The moment the medication came into contact with any infection we threw at it, it just eradicated it instantly.”

“How?” Daniela asked. Apparently the information Gary was providing had provided enough of a distraction for her to find words again.

“We had the idea to use the toxins as a way of fighting against itself. A bit like how when you have a flu jab, it’s just a small diluted version of the flu? Well, we tried it with the toxin.”

“You’ve been injecting us with the deadly toxin?” Duncan asked.

“The percentage of the toxicity in the medication is so unbelievably minute that there was no way it provided any form of danger. We had hoped that it would allow the body to fight against it and give us a chance of survival out there.

“But it didn’t. Nothing we tried would stop the infection once it came into contact with the subjects. However, we started to notice that other things were changing instead. Aches and pains were disappearing in the subjects, even physical ailments that had previously been diagnosed as permanent. When we were at the point of testing it on human subjects, there were people who had never walked in their lives, running around our labs. There was nothing that this toxin couldn’t heal.”

“But how?” Christiana asked.

“In the same way that the undiluted dose eradicated life. It was hypothesised that it would simply kill anything less powerful than itself. Undiluted, everything was weak compared to it, but with a small enough dose? Well, all illness was gone.”

“But there’s nothing that can eradicate the toxin itself?” Duncan asked.

Gary shook his head. “Believe me, the irony of finding the cure to ill health just as a new deadly toxin was going to kill off all life was not lost on us.”

“So we can’t get ill now?” Christiana asked.

“It needs a year for the body to function on its own without new doses of the medication but yes, essentially, you will always be 100% well from now on.”

There was silence as this information rested heavily on everyone’s minds.

“What about aging?” Daniela asked, eventually.

Gary seemed to groan at the question.

“I had really hoped that that question would have passed you all by, but I should have known you’d have thought of that.” He said. “Mortality would definitely be qualified as the largest infection we all have and, we haven’t been in contact with this medication for long enough to do any extensive testing in this area but, it would appear from the testing that has been done, the toxin has combated that as well.”

“Wait, what?” Christiana asked. “Are you saying that we’re not aging anymore?”

Gary looked at them all apprehensively, a look of terror on his face. Eventually, he gave his answer.

“We don’t know for certain but it would appear that the medication identifies the body’s healthiest age and resorts it back to it.”

“What do you mean?” Christiana asked. “It makes you younger?”

Gary nodded.

“And you’ve seen it happen?” Duncan asked.

“I have.”

“With who?” Christiana asked.

“Myself. I started taking it two years ago.” Gary answered.

Christiana looked him over, he looked no older than in his early 30s. Was he older than that?

“How old are you?” Duncan asked, clearly on the same wavelength.

Gary faulted for a moment, deciding whether to answer. After a moment, he sighed.

“69 years old.”