“I sincerely hope that this isn’t you trying to be romantic,” Christiana said as Connor led her into the familiar room of The Bubble. “Because, if so, I hate to break it to you, looking out at a wasteland of a dead Earth really isn’t doing it for me.”
“Damn.” Connor said. “And I’d spent all that extra time removing all the decaying stuff so that it had more of a romantic feel…”
Christiana grinned and rolled her eyes.
“You grin at that, but you’d be surprised what he’s been up to while he’s been waiting for you,” said one of Connor’s friend’s, Liam, jumping down from an open pod and making his way to the circular mainframe that was Stylo1.
“So… what’s this about?” Christiana asked, darting a look between Liam and Connor.
Connor took Christiana’s other hand and turned her so that she was standing opposite him.
“I’ve had a lot of time to think of how I was going to make it up to you for the crappy way I left things before I left. You didn’t deserve that, I should have consulted you and I didn’t, that made me a crap boyfriend and for that, I am deeply sorry.”
“Yeah well, I should probably be doing a bit of apologising myself.” Christiana said, throwing him a guilty look. “I haven’t exactly been the nicest about you these past couple of months.”
“Downright bitchy is what I heard.” Liam chipped in.
Christiana had a flashback of mouthing off to Liam’s girlfriend, Autumn a few weeks’ back. No doubt she had mentioned something to him since he had been back. She mentally chastised herself for her stupid drunken mouth.
“Anyway,” she said. “I would say that we both haven’t been good spouses.”
Connor grinned. “Spouses?” He asked. He thought for a moment. “I like that.”
“What was it that you were saying?” Christiana asked, her cheeks flushing.
“Right.” Connor said, a flash of excitement in his eyes. “So, I had all this time to think about how to make my time back with you the best it could be, and I’ve come up with a whole bunch of stuff that, by the way, you are going to love and it will cause you to forget all about my little mishap of forgetting to involve you in my decision making earlier in the year.”
“Sounds good,” Christiana said. “I’m definitely looking forward to that.”
“I’d like to start tonight, if that’s okay.” Connor asked.
Christiana pretended to think about it for a moment. “I think I have a bit of time to spare.” She said.
Connor grinned once more. “Good.”
He pulled Christiana to the middle of the room.
“So, I thought about all the ways that I could show you how much I love you and prove to you that I do think you are awesome and a massive part in my future, even if my past actions might not have shown that. The best way I could figure to do this was to share with you all of my experiences. Everything. Minus giving you a gun and making you sleep outside in the rain of course.”
“Yeah, I’m okay with not knowing that part. You’re fine. Continue.”
“Well, one large part of what I know is this.” Connor said, excitement interlaced in every word. He placed his hand on one of the two open pods.
Christiana looked at it dumbly. Surely he didn’t mean what she thought he meant?
“I was wondering, Christie, if you would like to take a trip outside.”
Christiana let out a bark of laughter.
“Are you insane?” She asked.
Connor nodded his head. “You’ll be completely safe. Your body will stay in here, no damage anywhere near you and absolute zero risk of exposure.”
“But what about what happened to Daniela?”
“Trust me when I say that there is a one in a million likelihood of happening. And even then, you have to be the creator of the Walker and have an IQ to match hers. I think we’re both safe there.”
Christiana gave Connor a dubious look and took a closer look at the pod.
“I’ll be in here the entire time,” Liam said. “Monitoring you and making sure that nothing bad happens.” Connor gave him a look and he quickly added. “Not that anything bad would happen, of course.”
“And it’s completely safe?” Christiana asked Connor.
“I wouldn’t take you out if I didn’t think so.”
Christiana grinned. “I’ve got to admit, I’ve always wondered…”
“Well, now you don’t have to. You can find out all for yourself!” Connor said.
“Okay, I’m in.” Christiana said.
Connor grinned and pulled Christiana close, his lips found hers and he kissed her passionately. Christiana lapped it up, once again soaking in the beauty that was her love for this man, as well as feeling confident in the knowledge of his love for her. Liam cleared his throat to remind them both that he was still in the room and Christiana broke off, flashing Liam a guilty grin.
“Sorry about that.”
Connor picked Christiana up and carried her to the nearest pod, placing her gently down inside.
“Any time that it feels too much, just say.” Connor said, his eyes suddenly full of concern. “The feeling of being a Walker for the first time can feel a little overwhelming. I’m going to be there to walk you through it and ensure you experience all the best bits, but if you’ve had enough, let me know.”
Christiana nodded and let Liam connect her up to all the different sections of the pod. She recognised the process from watching Daniela in her spaced out state in the lab.
“When you’re ready, Liam will transfer your mind from where you are to out there. This may take a few minutes but it will seem instantaneous to you. When you get outside, I will already be there. Don’t move. Don’t try to walk and don’t touch anything. All of these things will feel incredibly weird to you at first and it’s better if I walk you through it. Just look for me, I’ll be there, most probably standing right in front of you. I’ll tell you what to do. Are you ready to take orders from me?”
“As long as you ask me nicely each time.” Christiana said.
Connor grinned. “I wouldn’t dream of otherwise,” he said, placing a soft kiss on her forehead.
Once she was strapped in and connected to the pod, she felt very constricted. She had very limited movement and it scared her for a moment. Connor saw the panic on her face and stroked her cheek.
“Hey,” he said. “Remember, if it gets too much at any point…”
“I’ll say.” Christiana finished, giving him a soft smile.
“I love you, Christiana Edwards.”
“I love you, too.”
He flashed her another of his smiles and stroked her cheek. “See you in a second.”
He hit a button and Christiana immediately felt her conscious slip away from her. The next thing she knew, she was peering into a bright light. It was really bright. She held out her hand to shield her eyes from the light and noticed the silver where her blue sleeve had been a moment before. She was staring at the Danel, no, she was the Danel. Only it didn’t look like the Danel that she had known all this time prior. This Danel seemed to glisten and sparkle in the light. She glanced down at her hands, stretching them out in front of her and turning them over, examining how they sparkled in the light. She caught a glimpse of the ground below her. She could see that it was blackened and cracked, just as it had been when she had seen it from inside The Bubble, only this time, the grounds colour no longer seemed dull and dead, but rather full of different shades of black and grey. It too seemed to sparkle and even vibrate in front of her eyes. It was a very bizarre feeling to look at.
“Holy crap, I’m a vampire.” Christiana said.
Immediately she could hear Connor’s laughter and she looked up in search of the sound. There he was, right in front of her. He must have been there the whole time but she hadn’t noticed him. Was that weird? No, she didn’t think so, the sun was really bright and there were so many things that seemed to be fighting for her attention to look at. She peered at Connor. She had seen him in this form only once before and that had been such a long time ago now. However, she still remembered every moment of that day, each second imprinted and engraved permanently into her brain forever more. All that being said, Connor didn’t look at all like he had on that day. In fact, right now, although he was clearly in Danel form, he looked just like he did when he wasn’t, when he was just normal Connor. Christiana remembered taking a while to recognise Connor when she had seen him like this 10 months ago. Now though, she couldn’t figure out why she had found it so hard. She could pick up every little detail of his form, from the way he styled his hair to the clothes that he was wearing. Perhaps her eyes were more attuned to things in this form.
“How are you feeling?” Connor asked.
“I feel weird.” Christiana said. “But not in a bad way. It feels good, I think… It’s a little confusing.”
“Yeah, it’ll be that way for a little while,” Connor said. “But it does get easier.”
Christiana tore her eyes away from Connor and explored the rest of the area around him, mindful that he had asked her not to move from her space until he told her too. Keeping her feet firmly in one place and restricting her movement to her head only, she took in her surroundings. The world laid out in front of her in the same barren wasteland that it had been for months now, nothing moving, except for random objects being picked up by the breeze. The sun was really bright and Christiana couldn’t figure out how to react to not feeling the effects of it as it clearly beamed it’s deadly rays down on her silver skin. At least within The Bubble, there had been a protective screen over the glass which dumbed the sun’s brightness down to a vaguely normal level. Out here though, and through the eyes she was currently looking through, it seemed like it was close to exploding. She briefly wondered if it actually was, but decided against exploring such an idea as she was certain it would unveil nothing but depressing answers.
The rest of the world around her though didn’t nearly seem as destitute as it had when she had looked at it from inside her little glass home. Out here, there seemed to be something about it that looked as if it was clutching hold of life. Christiana couldn’t figure out what it was, but something about outside at that moment almost seemed as if it were breathing.
“Connor, this is epic.” Christiana said, her voice a breath of exclamation.
“I thought you’d like it.” Connor said. “Are you ready to try moving?”
Christiana turned her attention back to Connor.
“How do you mean?”
“I was thinking maybe you could try taking a step?”
“Will it be hard?” Christiana asked.
“Not exactly… just weird. Your feet are currently still in the Danel. When you lift your legs, they’ll merge into proper feet and contact with the ground is going to feel a little bizarre.”
“Like you’re touching something but instead of feeling how you’re used to feeling when you do, it’s going to feel different.”
“Well, thanks for that.” Christiana said, giving Connor a look. “That really cleared everything up.”
Connor chuckled. “Just be aware that what you’re about to feel isn’t what you’re used to feeling. When you’ve got your mindset fixed on that, try taking a step forward. But slowly! It will be weird at first.”
“Okay.” Christiana said and focused her mind on her left leg, keeping an open mind to what she might experience. She slowly lifted her leg and moved it forward towards Connor who had taken a step back to give her room.
“Am I doing this right?” Christiana asked, her leg suspended in mid-air and her eyes watching Connor’s face for some form of confirmation.
“Usually when people walk they put their foot back down again, but you’re halfway there.”
Christiana rolled her eyes. “Oh so we’re being sarcastic now? Well, if that’s the case… you just wait. At some point, I’ll think of something really sarcastic to say back to you.”
“That’s great. But for now, trying clearing your mind and actually concentrating, hmmm?”
“Okay, okay.” Christiana said and looked down at the ground below her.
Slowly she put her foot down on the ground again and a spark of energy seemed to shoot up her leg. The only thing that she could compare it to was the feeling of pins and needles only it was a lot more prominent and a lot less painful.
“Woah.” She said.
“Are you okay?” Connor asked, a look of concern on his face. He closed the gap between them and hovered around her, getting as close as he could without touching.
Christiana looked up at him and grinned.
“That was awesome.” She said. “I’m serious about what I said before. Remind me to speak to Daniela about marketing this to every female teenager ever. I’m pretty sure that girls would pay everything they have to feel like they’ve just become a vampire.”
“Are you serious?” Connor said, giving her a look of dismay. “You’re walking around, mentally connected to a substance that hadn’t existed 5 years ago in a world that has seized to exist and that is what you’re thinking about?”
“I’m a complex woman, Connor.” Christiana said. “I can’t be confined to normal thinking. I need to roam free.”
Connor rolled his eyes. “Fine, how about you try a bit of roaming now?” He said and turned to the wasteland behind him, offering up a gesture with his hand. “Where do you want to go first?”