Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Chapter eighty


Connor lay in the dark shelter of his cavernous prison. He found if he lay in such a way where a shard of rock dug into his lower back, he didn't hurt as much. He briefly thought about how he owed this part of his life to the Danel suit he wore. It had taken the main brunt of the fall. Without which, he would have most certainly died instantly.

But he hadn't. Instead he lay in the first cool section of this earth that he had found. A thin strip of light shone down in front of him but didn't hit him. He could be thankful for that. The rays were still deadly and he didn't fancy the idea of burning alive.

No, he wasn't to burn alive. His fate was a lot simpler than that. He glanced down at his leg and the gaping wound staring innocently out at him, peering through the thin tear of his Danel suit.

He was exposed, and the constant tremors controlling his hands doubled with the crippling pain growing in intensity in his stomach and throughout his muscles confirmed this. He looked longingly at the empty syringe he had used an hour ago. It had provided such a sweet source of relief for his symptoms but now it was gone. All other painkillers had been lost in the fall. He wasn't going to get out of this easy and the past excruciating three hours had been proof of that. He had stripped his Danel suit down to his hips, leaving the top half of him fully exposed to the air. He had wanted to feel free in his last moment, not restricted under the face of a metallic substance.

His mind floated to his memories of the woman he loved. His Christie. Hoping that she would be able to provide an ease to his pain once more, as she had done so many times before, even when she had not been aware.

He thought of her face, her dazzling smile, sharp wit and sarcasm. She was so alive, so passionate. She loved and felt everything at such a strong level that he was completely in awe of it. He thought of her passion, her anger, and he was reminded of their last conversation. Her tears, her harsh words. The hurt that was evident on her face for him leaving her.

"I'm so sorry, baby," he whispered and allowed a new wave of pain to flow throughout him.

No, this wouldn't do. He wouldn't remember her this way. He'd remember a better memory. He reached into an inside pocket and drew out her picture. There she was smiling at Connor as he kissed her cheek, there was a look of resigned amusement on her face. She had just had to endure another of his jokes and, if he remembered correctly, this photo had been taken the moment after another of her freely given eye rolls.

He looked at the photo and thought of all the conversations he had had with her. Of the loud teasing, of the late night jokes, of the countless hours where they just lay and stared at each other. Sharing their day, their dreams and their pain.

He thought of her temper and of the way that she could so freely express herself with him whilst they both knew that it made no difference to how they felt about each other. Neither would hold a grudge. Both would fold instantly. He thought about their last fight once more and prayed that she would remember that he didn't care and wouldn't die hating her. That he still loved her.

He became angry at himself then, knowing that Christie had once more been right. He shouldn't have gone. He shouldn't have left her and now she had to keep on going... Forever, without him. He hated himself more than anything for forcing her worst fears onto her.

He placed Christie's photo on the rock in front of him, positioned himself so that another rock was pressed further into himself and alleviating some more pain. Then he stared. He stared at the photo and remembered.

He remembered throughout further spasms, further convulsions and crippling pain. And then he didn't remember anymore and it was over. A lifeless body lay where Connor had once been.

Connor Mayhew had died.


Peace out my lovelies.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Chapter seventy nine


Adam glanced around the now almost silent bar, searching for the sodding scarf left behind by Robin. Most people had disappeared to bed ages ago, leaving only a few celebrating stragglers behind in the main restaurant area. He was knackered, the day had been long, and he just wanted to go to sleep.

“Who wears a scarf indoors anyway?” He muttered to himself.

One day he had been living with this woman, she hadn’t even moved in all her stuff yet and already he was regretting the stupid impulse decision. He was about to give up on it being downstairs at all, when he spotted it draped over a stool in one of the smaller side bars. He sauntered over and grabbed it. He was about to head back when a movement in the far corner of the little bar caught his eye. Looking closer, he realised it was a person. They were keeled over themselves, clearly drunk out of their skulls and falling asleep at the bar.

As he got closer, he noticed that it was Christiana. Immediately he ran to her side. She was sitting in the shadows, her vomit surrounding her section of the bar. She clearly had no idea that she had thrown up however, because she was practically laying in it.

“What the hell are you doing here?” He asked, although his voice was full of concern. “Who let you come out alone?”

He lifted her out of the mess she was laying in. Christiana shook her head drunkenly and tried to push herself away from him. She was clearly in no state to be able to correspond with anyone. He sighed and began to wipe her face and arms with Robin’s scarf.

“N-no.” She murmured. “D-don’t.”

“Ssshh,” Adam soothed her.

As he wiped the vomit from her cheeks, he saw the fresh tears falling. He sat down on the stool next to her and turned her to face him.

“I am so sorry for your loss.” He said.

She shook her head again and began to cry even harder. She pushed him away and reached for the bottle of wine on the bar. Adam immediately reached for it and placed it behind the bar and out of her reach.

“N-n-no.” She pleaded, new tears replacing her old.

“Come on,” Adam said. And he reached underneath her, pulling her into his chest as he carried her out of the shadowed area and towards the bedrooms.

When he reached her room, he barely had to knock before the door was opened by a panicked Jason, a mobile phone at his ear.

“Oh thank God.” He said and talked into the phone. “Duncan, you can come back, Adam’s brought her back.”

He moved out of the way to let Adam and Christiana through. Adam didn’t pause, but made a beeline for her bedroom, placing her on the mattress and covering her with the sheets.

“We left her for five minutes.” Jason said, his voice full of guilt. “Daniela and Duncan went back to their room for half an hour and I was only in the toilet for a minute. We looked everywhere. Where did you find her?”

“Where do you think?” Adam said, stroking her hair away from her face and ensuring her head was propped up enough. “She was at the bar.”

“We looked there!”

“She was hidden.” Adam said, “I almost missed her, myself.”

Jason brought over a bowl and placed it in front of her. He then got into bed behind her and wrapped his arms around her.

“I won’t let her out of my sight now, I promise.” Jason said, his face pale. He seemed to be over-compensating, he looked completely distraught.

“This isn’t your fault, Jason.” Adam said. “She’s Christiana, she’s always going to be able to get to a bar somehow.”

Jason shook his head, unwilling to take the reassurance.

“I shouldn’t have left her. I shouldn’t have… I just shouldn’t.”

And then it hit Adam what the source of Jason’s pain was.

“Anyone could have mistaken Connor being out there.” He said.

Jason shot him a pained look that told Adam he was right on the mark.

“If anything, you gave her at least an hour of peace.” Adam said. “I saw her prior to the news, she was practically giddy.”

Jason didn’t respond but held tighter onto the now sleeping Christiana. Adam gave his shoulder a reassuring squeeze, kissed Christiana’s forehead and decided to make his move.

Picking up the now vomit soaked scarf, he left Christiana and Jason and headed back to his flat and his new accidental family.

Chapter seventy eight


Kelly listened to everything that Aishani and Gary had to tell her. They discussed the progress in Utopia during her trip away, mainly they talked about the two new pregnancies. This was very good news, the best she had heard since the impact, however she couldn’t properly focus on it, she had too many eyes on her, one person’s in particular seemed to be burning into the side of her skull.

She needed to rest, and she couldn’t do so with Aishani and Gary in the room. She longed for them to leave so that she could go to her own room, just behind the doors to her left. She found herself looking at them longingly. She quickly squeezed her eyes shut before anyone noticed her moment of weakness and addressed her two colleagues.

“Are both pregnancies healthy?” She asked.

“As far as I can tell,” Aishani reported. “Both mothers seem happy with the pregnancy as well. Daniela was a little more apprehensive than Robin, but then that’s to be expected.”

“I was beginning to worry that we wouldn’t see any pregnancies for a while there.” Kelly commented.

“It was the sperm,” Gary said. “Just as I suspected. Best I can figure is, they were from normal non-injected men. The new DNA workup in the women’s bodies rejected it as inferior and no pregnancies were made. But have it the old-fashioned way? And voila. You’ve got to love people’s libidos in times of crisis.”

Kelly nodded and rubbed her eyes.

“Well then, it will be good to start phase 2 of the repopulation plan. Begin the preparations for the 2nd generation and make sure things are in place.”

“I plan to begin tomorrow.” Gary reported.

“And what about the vaccines?” Aishani asked. “We’re almost at the end stage of their treatment.”

Kelly kept her eyes shut, making small circular motions with her fingers against her temples. She couldn’t handle many more questions, she could feel her concentration slipping.

“Kelly?” Aishani asked. “You okay?”

“Well, I think now’s a good enough time as any.” Came the suggestive voice behind her. She slammed her hand on the table in response, silencing him.

She opened her eyes to find both Gary and Aishani staring at her curiously.

“A fly.” She said, wiping the imaginary bug off the table. “About the vaccines, obviously now that the end stage is nearing, we need to be working closely with the after-care team. Obviously Christiana will have to be put on the back burner with regards to her input in the team.”

“I was under the impression she would be leading the team,” Gary said.

“Yes, well that was before I killed her boyfriend.” Kelly said.

Both Aishani and Gary fell quiet.

“Look, her input in this section of our rehabilitation was, of course, crucial and our main reason for her survival. So as such, involve her as much as she wants to, but you must not push her. Be over generous with your kindness on this. She has plenty of time to integrate herself into the role once she has grieved properly.”

Both Aishani and Gary nodded their heads in agreement.

“In the meantime, keep a look out for any symptoms and be ruthless. We need to make sure this is as contained as possible.” Kelly said. “That’s enough for tonight. We’ll pick this up again tomorrow.”

Aishani and Gary got up to leave, Gary stopped at the exit to Kelly’s office.

“Kelly,” he said.

Kelly looked up at Gary, focusing her entire attention on him so as to not give away how distracted she actually was.

“You would tell me if there was something going on, wouldn’t you?” He asked.

She rolled her eyes at him and gave him a stern look.

“Do we really have to have this conversation again?” Kelly asked.

Gary raised his hands in defence. “Just checking.”

And with that, he shut the door behind him. Kelly immediately let out a large sigh of relief and collapsed, face first onto her desk. But it did no good, she could feel their stares all around her, peering at her out of the walls. In particular, she could feel his.

“Please leave me alone.” She pleaded into the desk.

“I wish I could,” came his voice. “Of all the places in this building I want to be right now, sitting in my sister’s office is not one of them.”

She glanced up to see Connor had taken his usual spot, splayed over her sofa.

“You know where the door is.” She said.

Connor looked as if he was considering it, but then rolled his eyes at Kelly.

“I thought we’d given up pretending I was a real person with my own feelings.” He answered and nodded towards the door. “By the way, nice to know you’re sticking to your guns with the whole lying to the doc thing, because there’s no way that’s not going to blow up in your face.”

“I’m going to bed.” Kelly said, giving up with him.

“But I’m not tired yet!” Connor said, following Kelly into her bedroom, his voice taking on the whiny tone he used to use when they were kids.

“Then go and hang out with all the other accusing eyes in the room.” Kelly said. “Most of them just stand and stare by the way, talking isn’t really a regular thing.”

“That’s because you don’t know any of these people.” Connor said, appraising all the still bodies staring into the room from the walls. “Why are you even thinking of them?”

“They’re the faces of everyone I’ve killed apparently,” Kelly said. “And I do know them, mum and dad are somewhere in there.”

“Really? Cool.” Connor said. “Wait, is that our Science teacher, Mr Hudson?”

“Connor, please. Can I just get some sleep?” Kelly asked.

Connor turned to her then, his expression sad.

“Ah sis, I wish I could shut up.” He said. “But how else am I going to make you crazy?”

Kelly felt her blood run cold.

“I didn’t know that was what you were trying to do.” She said.

“It’s not like I want to do it.” He said. “But Kels, you’ve been a very naughty girl, and we need to teach you a lesson. Isn’t that right, guys?”

And all at once the faces lining her walls opened their mouths a let out an almighty scream.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Chapter seventy seven


Christiana looked out at the sea of faces, all of whom were giving her a look that she hated. Why was everyone being so quiet? No one spoke. They all just stared. She turned to Liam at the door, his hand still on the latch where he had just closed it.

“Well, open the door then!” She cried. “Connor’s not in here, yet.”

Liam just looked at her, he didn’t make any move to open the door, nor did he move from where he crouched over it.

“What are you waiting for?” Christiana asked, panic beginning to rise in her voice.

Still no movement from Liam. The panic pushed Christiana forward and she pushed Liam.

“Open the sodding door!” She screamed.

Silence. Liam seemed to be looking beyond her now. She felt the shadow of someone standing over her. She closed her eyes, pushing the inevitable out. She wouldn’t believe it. She knew it couldn’t be real. It just couldn’t be.

“Chris.” Kelly said behind her.

She turned on Kelly then, hoping against all hope that Kelly would convince Liam to open the hatch.

“Tell him, Kelly. Tell him that Connor’s still out there.”

Kelly opened her mouth to answer her but nothing came out. Instead she just gaped at Christiana, a look of deep pain on her face. Christiana’s heart dropped to her stomach, she felt sick.

“Don’t give me that look, Kelly, please.” She said. “I’m begging you. Don’t.”

“I am so sorry.” Kelly said. “We tried everything we could, but the ground just gave way underneath him. We couldn’t get him out again.”

Christiana shook her head and covered her ears with her arms.

“No, no, no, no, no.” She cried. “You’re wrong! You’re all wrong!”

She remembered something and then looked up hopefully.

“Jason saw him.” She cried. “He said so, he said that Connor was leading the whole lot of you! Jason saw him!”

She began to look for Jason and the crowd parted to let him through. He was looking at her sadly, his arms up in defence. He walked forward, tears falling freely down his cheeks.

“I thought I saw… I mean, they were all wearing the same suits… I must have been mistaken.”

Christiana just stared at Jason. There were no words available to her. No thoughts. Nothing seemed to work. The world was frozen as Jason’s words fell flat in the air. She forced her brain into action, finding a flaw in what it was that they were suggesting.

“He fell?” She asked Kelly.

Kelly nodded.

“Then we need to get him.” Christiana said. “He was wearing the suit. He’ll be fine. Maybe he survived the fall.”

“He did survive the fall.” Kelly said, her voice thick with emotion. “But it ripped his suit. We insisted on staying, waiting with him, but he made us leave. He was so far down and we couldn’t reach him. He didn’t see the point in us staying, he couldn’t see us and we couldn’t see him. So we waited until symptoms started to show.”

“And then you left him?” Christiana accused.

“He insisted on it.” Duncan said, coming to stand next to Kelly.

Christiana was sure she should feel outraged by this. She was certain that she should beat the crap out of them both. But before she could work herself up to that point, three small words entered her mind. Connor is dead.

And suddenly she was still again. She let the words settle into every section of her brain. Let her mind consider the gravity of what that meant. And then the ground was no longer there anymore. She was falling and someone was screaming. She was aware of arms around her and the screaming intensifying. It took her a while to realise that the screams were, in fact, coming from her. She pushed against whoever it was who was now surrounding her.

“Get off me!” She screamed and staggered backwards, pressing herself up against the glass window.

She turned to the burnt wasteland outside and was suddenly overwhelmed with an almighty desire to be out there, away from here. She pulled herself up onto her feet and ran to the hatch door, Liam was no longer above it and Christiana began to pull at the latch.

Once again there were arms around her, she pulled herself free from them, kicking and punching anyone who came near. She spotted a knife on the workstation and picked it up, waving it around her towards anyone who tried to come close.

“Let me out!” She cried. “I want to get out.”

“Chris-,” Kelly started.

“Don’t talk to me!” She screamed at Kelly. “I need to get out of here.”

Her voice had become one of pleading and she pushed every part of her desperation into her words.

“What the fuck is the point of this?” She screamed. “Are we meant to be lucky? Are we meant to be thankful to you? Well thanks Kelly for killing every one I have ever loved.”

No one spoke, Kelly just stared at Christiana, looking as if she had been slapped round the face.

“No seriously, Kelly. Were my friends and family not enough for you? Are you some kind of masochist who wasn’t satisfied with the population of the world as your body count? Did you get bored with not killing anyone over the past couple of months? Is that it?”

“There was no way we could have foreseen this happening.”

“I saw it, you manipulating bitch.” Christiana spat. “Don’t you dare try and act surprised about this. I fucking knew this was going to happen but you just didn’t care.”

She moved over to Kelly in one stride and had the knife pointed at her chest.

“I ought to kill you right here. That way at least the rest of us can be safe from your next impulse.”

There was silence as everyone just watched. People had made a move to pull Christiana away, but Kelly had signalled them to stay where they were. After a moment, Kelly spoke; her voice quiet and level.

“Everything I have done has been in the best interest-,”

“Fuck the best interest,” Christiana snapped. “You killed him in the vain possibility of finding a plant. There’s no best interest involved in that.”

“Christiana,” Duncan’s voice was at her side. “Trust me girl, killing her won’t make you feel any better. Not to mention, Connor wouldn’t want this.”

At the sound of his name, Christiana crumbled once more. She heard the knife fall to the ground before she realised that she had let go of it. And once more the ground disappeared from under her and she was crying once more. Strong arms were around her then, Duncan had her off her feet and nestled against his chest. And then Christiana could handle it no more, all the knowledge, everything was too much, and for the second time standing in that room, she lost consciousness and fell into darkness once more.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Chapter seventy six


Daniela paced the space outside the large sliding doors apprehensively. There had been a flurry of excitement about twenty minutes prior, leading in Aishani and a bunch of other people from the army side of things rushing inside The Bubble and leaving the rest of the ‘civilians’ outside to wait for some form of report.

Daniela had tried to get in on the grounds that it was her Danel suit and so she should be there for any input needed on contamination queries and so forth. But everyone had seemed eerily eager to keep Daniela out of the room which set a tight knot in the pit of her stomach.

Up until this moment she had categorically refused to worry over the concept of Duncan not coming back. It was something that she knew she wouldn’t be able to process properly should she even entertain the thought and she found that Christiana had obsessed about it enough for the both of them. However, since Christiana had had the green light that Connor was okay and there had still been no news on Duncan, Daniela was beginning to feel the worry creep in from all directions.

She kept her pacing up, backwards and forwards, sitting only to get back up again and repeat the process. She found that if she did things in a rhythmic enough fashion she could occupy part of her mind with it. It was a little trick that Jason had taught her. She put it into place here and found a little relief in it at first. However, the worry was still growing the longer she had to wait and she found herself speeding up the pace to compensate for the increase in her anxiety. She was getting to a point of power-walking around area outside the wall and suddenly she was overwhelmed with a need to know what was going on. She turned to the metallic doors and smashed her fists against it with all her might.

“Let me in!” She screamed.

She was suddenly aware that the previous buzz of conversation was now no longer there. She peered around to see that people were now watching her. This, she did not like. She turned her back to them and decided to focus on the door, hoping that if she stayed still long enough, they’d get bored and go back to what they were doing. It worked, the buzz of conversation started up again, albeit a little quieter than before, but it was enough for Daniela to feel comfortable enough to start up her pacing again.

“Er, Daniela?” Christiana’s voice was at her ear. “You okay?”

“I’m fine,” Daniela said. “I just don’t understand why they won’t let me in.”

Daniela shouted the last four words, no longer caring about the staring people behind her. She turned back to Christiana, a sudden panic creeping up inside her.

“I just want to know that he’s okay.” She said. “I feel, I don’t know, like something’s wrong.”

“Of course you’re going to feel like that,” Christiana said. “Trust me, I know how you feel. But Aishani herself said that the team seemed to be complete when she spotted them, you’re fine Daniela. Please for the love of God, come and sit down with us.”

Daniela dropped her head in submission and allowed Christiana to guide her back to their table.

“Wow, I did not think you’d be able to get her back here.” Jason said.

“Shut up and get us some fruit juices.”

“Fruit juices?” Jason asked.

“Squash preferably. We need to decaffeinate Daniela.” She thought for a moment and grabbed Jason’s arm before he headed off. “Bring over a bottle of chardonnay as well.”

“Daniela’s not drinking remember?” Jason reminded her.

“Who said anything about Daniela? That one’s for me.” She turned to Daniela as Jason headed off, shaking his head. “What? I need some liquid courage if I’m going to make Connor feel really sorry about buggering off.”

“I think you might be developing a problem.” Daniela said, in all honesty.

“Ah, probably.” Christiana said, waving it off. “But now that we have super livers, what’s the harm?”

Daniela rolled her eyes at Christiana and began tapping her foot impatiently. Christiana reached over and placed her hand on her knee.

“Enough Daniela, you’re working yourself and the baby up over nothing.”

“The what?” Adam’s voice sounded behind them.

Daniela threw Christiana a warning look, not able to deal with any baby talk right now.

“Robin’s baby.” Christiana spat out. “All that shouting at the door and pacing, it sends out negative vibes. We don’t want her blaming us for any problems.”

Adam looked at them both curiously but didn’t push it any further. Daniela noticed the slight curve of a smile appear on Christiana’s face as she clearly was self-congratulating her outstanding ‘on her feet’ thinking. Daniela couldn’t help but smile at her friend.

“Congratulations, Adam.” She said to Adam, changing the subject. “Most shocking and unforeseen pregnancy in the building. But I guess it makes sense, given that you’re a celebrity.”

“Oh my days,” Christiana said, showing a look of mock surprise. “Don’t tell me it’s all one massive publicity stunt to promote your new film.”

Daniela laughed at that and noted that Christiana seemed practically giddy at the moment, even talking with Adam. She realised that she could probably learn something from her and decided focus on the fact that she will be seeing Duncan any moment now.

Adam however, didn’t seem to respond the joke with much humour. Instead, he directed his attention back to Daniela.

“I just wanted to check that you were okay. You seemed a little anxious at the door.”

Daniela gave Adam a weak smile. “I’m fine, I’ll just feel a lot better when I’ve seen Duncan with my own two eyes. All this waiting around is really doing my head in.”

“You need to quit stressing now, Daniela. For crying out loud, think about the baby.” Jason said, walking over with his tray of drinks.

Adam opened his mouth to say something, but Christiana interrupted him in an overly loud voice.

“Yes, Daniela, think about Robin and Adam’s unborn baby. I’ve told you about those bad vibes!”

Jason clocked Adam standing there and started nodding his head.

“Bad vibes are bad.” He added.

“As much as I appreciate all the over-the-top concern you have towards the baby, I’m sure it won’t pick up on anything from Daniela from the other side of the room.”

“Still, you can never be too sure.” Jason said, grabbing Adam by the shoulders and guiding him away. “Come Adam, you have to introduce me to the little egg. I’m dying to do the stroking of the belly thing while it’s still new and cute enough that Robin doesn’t want to slap my hand away.”

“Okay, well, take care of yourself Daniela.” Adam called over his shoulder as they walked away. “I’m sure everything’s fine.”

“I love that man.” Christiana said.

“Please tell me you’re talking about Jason,” Daniela said. “Because I don’t think my brain can handle any more massive news.”

Christiana laughed her first carefree laugh since Connor had disappeared through those doors.

“Of course I’m talking about Jason!” She said.

Suddenly the sliding doors to The Bubble opened and Aishani came rushing out.

“They’ve been de-contaminated,” she announced. “they’re on their way back in.”

Immediately Daniela was up and she left everyone else behind her as she rushed to the front of the crowd, almost pushing past Aishani to get inside The Bubble. Once she was up the stairs and staring out into the wasteland outside, she clocked the entrance panel at the other side of room. People from the mission were filing into the room and the rest of the crowd started cheering from behind her as they overtook her in a desperate attempt to meet their own loved ones.

But Daniela couldn’t cheer with them, something was wrong. The people coming into the room looked different. They were all dragging their feet, looking tired and greeting those around them with a solemn expression. Daniela felt everything start to fade away around her as she realised that something was wrong, something was very wrong.

Immediately she began looking for the face she needed amongst the crowd. She searched desperately, trying to find Duncan’s ever-existent smile. She listened out for some form of smart-arse comment that he would most definitely be making in a situation just as this. But she saw neither the face she was looking for nor heard the voice.

The people coming into the room started to thin out. She recognised Katie and Dave, Kelly and Gary. She saw other faces that she knew not as well but she didn’t see Duncan’s. Her breathing began to speed up once more as she stumbled forward, praying harder than she ever had that he was okay. She noticed that the forlorn faces of the team seemed to increase at the sight of her. This didn’t bode well. She shook her head in disbelief, pushing their faces from her mind and focusing only on the ground in front of her in order to keep her mind from giving up on her completely.

She continued to walk and noticed that the feet of those around her seemed to part as she walked, walking out of her way and allowing her through. She kept her eyes on the ground until she found a pair of feet that didn’t move away. They stood there opposite her and immediately she knew who’s they were and what they meant.

She let out a small cry and willed her eyes up to meet the gaze of the person in front of her. There he stood, her Duncan.

“Well, aren’t you a sight for sore eyes.” He said, his grin firmly on his face. “If I’m not mistaken Davids, you’ve gotten fitter.”

Daniela let out a burst of laughter. Duncan was there. He was alive and staring down at her with such love and affection that she couldn’t stand it any longer. She jumped into his arms and revelled in his tight hold as he kissed her hair.

“I have missed you so much.” He whispered to her, and Daniela could hear the emotion thick in his voice. “I never want to be apart from you again, I love you Daniela.”

Daniela smiled at his words and pulled back so that she was facing him.

“Well I might as well tell you now then.” She said, with a grin.

Duncan grinned back. “What’s that?”

“You’ve knocked me up, you loser.” Daniela said, her grin wide.

Duncan stood there, staring down at her shell shocked.

“You’re pregnant?” He said.

She nodded and suddenly Duncan pulled Daniela close again and spun her round.

“Does this mean that you won’t be leaving me to be a single mother?” Daniela asked.

“I reckon I could stick around for a while.” Duncan said with a smile, then added, “You know, for the sake of the kid and everything.”

“Of course,” Daniela said.

Daniela pulled away to face him once more and leaned in close to kiss the father of her unborn child. However, just as their lips were about to meet, she was interrupted by Christiana’s voice shouting through the room.

“Why are you shutting the door?” She asked. “Connor’s not in, yet.”

Her question was met with silence as all the members of the team looked at her, their faces thick with emotion.

Chapter seventy five


She was back in the same spot again. The exact chair and exact section of the restaurant she had been when she had said goodbye to Connor. She didn’t think she had done it on purpose, but now that she was here, she enjoyed the symmetry of it. She didn’t want to wait at the door like everyone else. She didn’t know what she wanted in all honesty, she was pretty certain that she didn’t want to see him yet, but the same pull that had her sitting there when he had left, was the same thing that had her sitting there now.

“So your plan is to sit here looking shady until he comes in?” Daniela asked, joining her at the table.

“There’s nothing shady about it,” Christiana said. “I’m just going to drink this cup of coffee and then make my way casually back to my room, as if it were any other day.”

“Except it isn’t,” Daniela said. “In about an hour’s time, the two men that for some reason have us going all gooey, are going to walk through those doors.”

“Perhaps,” Christiana said, a deep twisting pain suddenly in her stomach. “Maybe he won’t come back at all.”

“No chance of that, I’m afraid.” Jason said, sitting down with them both. “I just saw him on the monitors, leading the group and looking incredibly sorry for himself.”

Christiana breathed a sigh of relief at the sound of Jason’s words and a weight she hadn’t even been aware of carrying, seemed to lift from her shoulders.

“Any sign of Duncan?” Daniela asked.

“Sorry babes,” Jason said. “I only got a quick peek before I was thrown out for spying.”

Daniela chewed on her lip apprehensively and Christiana noticed her hand drop instinctively to her stomach.

“Hey,” she said and Daniela turned to her. “It’s going to be okay. He said he would come back, he’ll be here.”

Daniela smiled her thanks at Christiana but the smile was weak and unconvinced. Christiana was about to throw in another bout of reassurance when there was a sudden cheer from the middle of the restaurant.

“What’s going on?” Jason asked.

“Are they back, already?” Daniela asked.

“No, the doors to The Bubble are still well and truly shut.” Jason reported.

People continued to cheer and Christiana couldn’t help but move from her hiding place to get a better look. Daniela and Jason followed her to the middle of the room. People started to move away and Christiana found Robin in the centre of the crowd, looking very happy with herself.

“I’m just so happy.” She said.

“Of course you are,” Amy said. “You’re glowing, isn’t she glowing?” She addressed the rest of the group.

It was met with murmurs of agreement. Robin gushed at the attention and her hand fell to rest protectively over her stomach, giving it a little pat.

“No freaking way.” Daniela said, her voice low next to Christiana. “That bitch has stolen my thunder.”

“You’re pregnant?” Christiana asked loudly enough for Robin to hear.

Robin’s smile seemed to widen at the sight of Christiana. Christiana wasn’t sure but there almost seemed to be a level of smugness in her look.

“Yes I am.” She said, patting her stomach again. “I did the test this morning. I am so blessed.”

“I was beginning to think the sperm banks were a bust.” Christiana said.

“Oh, they were.” Robin said. “I gave up on that a couple of months back.” She threw a smug smile to those around her. “I decided it was just better to do things the old fashioned way.”

“Someone actually had sex with her?” Jason said, his voice low so that only Christiana and Daniela could hear. It was met with grins from both ladies.

“So who’s the lucky man?” Daniela asked, her voice mimicking Robin’s sweet tone.

“Oh, but didn’t he tell you?” Robin said. “I would have thought that, well, given how close you all are.” She gave a little content sigh. “Ah, my dear sweet man, of course he wouldn’t have. He didn’t want to betray my trust.”

“Who the hell is she talking about?” Daniela asked.

But for Christiana, the penny had already dropped and from the sound of Jason’s intake of breath, he had also figured it out. Christiana shook her head in disbelief.

“Surely not.” Christiana said.

“Ummm, guys, who is it?” Daniela asked.

“Adam.” Christiana said, her voice a whisper of shock.

Robin’s smile grew and she sighed once again.

“I know, it was a shock to me at first too, but when you’re in love, you’re in love.”

Jason laughed at that.

“I think you may need to look into the difference between ‘love’ and ‘drunken one night stand.’” He said.

“Oh, I did.” Robin said and held out her hand, in it was a key. “Does asking me to move in with him count?”

“Shut up.” Daniela said. “No way would he ever ask you that.”

But Christiana couldn’t hear anymore, she backed away, eager to get out of the crowd. People happily took her place and she managed to find herself out of the circle and back in her quiet corner. She glanced around her, trying to find Adam in amongst all the fuss. At first, he didn’t appear to be in there, but eventually she found him by one of the smaller bars. She had no idea why, but the sight of him made her so angry. How could he do this? Sleeping with her was one thing, but to ask her to move in with him? This was just ridiculous. She marched over to him and grabbed his drink away from him in mid-swig.

“What the-?” Adam said and then clocked who it was. “Oh, it’s you.”

“Yes, it’s me.” Christiana said. “You have had me hating myself for the past couple of weeks over what happened, thinking that I had broken you or something, and all the time you were busy impregnating the world’s most annoying woman?

“She’s really not that annoying when you get to know her,” Adam said, but the words didn’t seem to correspond with his face.

“Why are you doing this, Adam?” Christiana asked. “Why have you asked her to move in with you?”

“I like her!” Adam said, snatching back his drink.

“Really?” Christiana asked. “And tell me, how interested were you in sharing a room with her prior to finding out that you knocked her up?”

Adam slammed his glass down and threw Christiana an icy stare.

“I don’t see how this is any of your business.”

“Of course it’s my business!” Christiana said. “I thought that we…”

And then she stopped, slamming her mouth shut as she swallowed her words. Truth is, she didn’t know what it was that she was going to say in end to that sentence.

“You thought that we, what?” Adam asked, his voice softer.

“It doesn’t matter.” Christiana said. “Forget I said anything.”

“Christie,” Adam said and suddenly Christiana’s hand was at Adam’s mouth, silencing him. She shut her eyes for a moment and was overwhelmed with a need to see Connor again, no one called her that other than him. She was being selfish, she loved Connor. This was nothing.

“I’m so sorry, Adam.” She said, eventually.

She opened her eyes to meet Adam’s gaze, questioning and confused. She was about to explain when suddenly Robin was there, by his side. Christiana immediately dropped her hand and gave her a weak smile.

“Congratulations to you both,” she said. “I hope you guys can be happy together.” She looked at Adam and gave him her most sincerest look, “I really do.”

And with that, she turned and walked away, finding tears in her eyes that she couldn’t explain. She blinked them away and found Daniela and Jason back at her table. Daniela was ranting about how Robin had taken away the one thing she had managed to build herself up to enjoying, which was being the only pregnant woman and all the attention that entailed.

“Don’t worry,” Jason said. “That kid may be half-Adam but it’s also half-Robin, there’s no chance it will be better than yours.”

“Damn right.” Daniela said, and then acknowledged that Christiana had returned. “Oh my days, did you let him have it?” She asked.

“It wasn’t the right time for that.” Christiana said.

“Did you at least ask him why he felt the need to breed with such a woman?” Jason asked.

Christiana looked at him sadly. “Somehow I don’t think I’m in any position to ask that question.”

“Wait, are you… sad about this?” Jason asked.

Christiana nodded. “And I have no idea why.” She said. “Especially as I have just realised that I’m probably going to take Connor back once again because of that stupid ‘being in love with him’ thing that I keep on insisting on doing.” Christiana sighed. “I don’t know, it’s just…”

“He's Adam Gammon,” Daniela said with a sigh. “It was always going to be a sad day when he got snapped up.”

“And especially by someone like Robin.” Jason said with a sneer.

Christiana laughed at her friends. “Pretty much.” She said.

“Well, if it’s any consolation,” Daniela said. “This is going to be nothing compared to seeing Connor again.”

Christiana grinned. “This is true.” She said. “Even if the relief will only be fleeting before I smack him round the head for once again putting himself in danger.”

Daniela laughed. “I’m just trying to work out how I’m going to stop myself from ripping Duncan’s clothes off there and then.”

Christiana and Jason gave Daniela a shocked look.

“What?” She asked. “I won’t actually do it, but you know… I’m just saying it will be hard.”

Christiana smiled at Daniela then, amazed once again at the progress she had made. There was no way that this would have happened in the time it had in the real world. Her improvement must be Injection related, but she was happy that such a thing existed for her in that moment. And now she was pregnant, perhaps there was hope for her new friend yet.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Chapter seventy four


“Will we get to see it?” Jason asked, unable to keep the excitement out of his voice.

“Relax, Jason,” Daniela said. “Anyone would think that it was you who were pregnant.”

“I know, I’m just so excited for you!” Jason said. “We’re going to have a baby!”

I’m going to have a baby,” Daniela said. “And trust me, if you were the one who was faced with the concept of squeezing a human out of your vagina, you might not be as excited.”

“Daniela’s just been a bundle of joy since she found out the news.” Christiana announced to the small group around Daniela’s bed.

“Well, forgive me if I’m not jumping for joy over me being back in this room again, I don’t exactly have pleasant memories of the place.”

“But we have happy things around you now,” Aishani said, waving her hand to the monitor. “Pretty machines that show babies growing and absolutely no scalpels to be found.”

“Thankfully,” Christiana said. “I do not need a repeat performance of that whole thing again.”

“I have to admit, that is one incident I’m glad to have missed.” Jason said.

He reached for Daniela’s hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze.

“I just can’t wait for you to tell Duncan.” He said. “Make sure I am there for that one, I want to see his face.”

“He’s going to look absolutely terrified and then run for the hills.” Daniela said.

“For the last time,” Christiana said. “He loves kids and I’m pretty sure he loves you too.”

“Okay, well considering that he’s never said that to me before, I’m going to reserve judgement on that one.”

“Okay,” Aishani announced. “And we’re live. Of course there’s barely anything to see at this stage, but basically, that little splodge there is the baby. Congratulations Daniela, you are certifiably pregnant.”

Jason watched as Daniela stared at the screen, although he couldn’t work out what she was thinking. She seemed stunned but whether this was in a good way or a bad way, he couldn’t tell. He felt Daniela’s hand tighten around his and moved closer, stroking her arm.

“I am going to need everyone’s help.” She said in a quiet voice. “I mean it, if you think you’ve been pampering me before, that is nothing compared to what I reckon I’m going to be like.”

“Well, in anticipation of such feelings,” Christiana said. “I have booked you in with Claire in half an hour. She has no idea what has happened though, I figured that this was news you’d want to tell people yourself.”

And then Daniela’s gaze was on them both. “Yes please,” she said. “I don’t want anyone knowing yet, not until Duncan’s back and I can tell him myself. I figure it’s better coming from me rather than Robin and her clan.”

“Fair enough.” Jason said. “Ooh, what about Adam? Are you going to tell him?”

Daniela seemed to look to Christiana for the answer on that one.

“What?” Christiana said. “I’m not his keeper, telling him is your decision.”

“Yeah but, I haven’t seen him since… well… you know.”

“I told you so, by the way.” Jason chipped in.

“For the fifteenth time, stop gloating about that.” Christiana said to Jason and then turned to Daniela. “Look, as far as I’m concerned, I don’t see why everything can’t go back to the way they used to be. I’m not ignoring him, he’s the one who’s being all weird.”

“Yes, because he’s in love with you and you just stomped all over his heart.” Jason said.

“I didn’t stomp over his heart!” Christiana said. “It was a mistake, and I’ve tried to apologise but he won’t stay still long enough for me to get the sentence out!”

“I’ll talk to him,” Jason said. “Get him to stop being a child. Although, you did kind of screw him up.”

“Look, I know I was out of order. I thought that it was what I wanted too, the moment I realised what the repercussions were going to be, I was out of there!”

“I hate to break it to you, but that probably wasn’t the best reaction to have had.” Jason said.

“I am trying to make it better!” Christiana said. “But for the past couple of weeks, I haven't been able to get him anywhere near me!”

Somewhere behind them, Aishani’s phone went off. Aishani looked at them all confused, clearly not expecting it to make a noise and reached for it in her bag. She answered the call.

“Aishani…. Hey Craig… I’m sorry, what? Already?... Yes, I’m on it. Sure.”

She hung up, her face suddenly pale and met everyone else’s confused looks.

“It looks like you get to tell Duncan a lot sooner than you thought.” She said. “They’re in range, should be at the door within the next few hours.”

“You mean?” Daniela began.

Aishani nodded. “Craig just called it in, saw them hit the horizon.”

“But I thought they were going to be gone for another week yet.” Christiana said.

“Obviously it took them quicker than they thought.”

“And they’re all back?” Christiana asked.

“Craig couldn’t see, but they didn’t seem depleted in numbers.”

Jason felt Christiana breathe a sigh of relief and Daniela appear to tense up.

“And Duncan definitely likes kids?” She said.

“He adores them,” Christiana assured her. “You’re fine, he’s going to love hearing the news.”

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Chapter seventy three


Kelly sat in amongst the rubble, hiding herself from view as she stared out at the fallen London. Beautiful, historic buildings were now nothing but rubble. Not many structures had lasted, although within her view she saw one that tried it’s hardest. In front of her stood St Paul’s Cathedral, it’s structure still intact with only a few holes in the walls and a large chunk out of it’s dome. It reminded her of their own dome, although that had been built to withstand the crumbling world around them. Nothing else had been built that way. No one else had known. And now they were all dead, the mortality rate growing even now.

She grit her teeth as she felt tears threatening to fill her eyes. She didn’t cry, not now, not ever. This was something that she would deal with. She processed it, put it into it’s compartment and dealt with it, not to be brought up again. She sighed, it had been so much easier to do this before. Now, she was beginning to see the cracks of her system. And the cracks were beginning to see her.

“Kelly?” Kelly turned at the sound of Gary’s voice.

“Yes?” She asked.

“The guys are ready to go.” He said. “I think they’re all eager to get back as soon as possible.”

Kelly returned her gaze to the church, pushing down the panic at those words. She wasn’t keen to get back at all. In fact, for the past three days she had been shocked how strong the urge to run for her life and never look back had been. She had never felt like this before, she had always risen to every challenge, but right now she was struggling to find the strength to do anything.

“Kelly?” Gary said. “Are you okay?”

“Don’t ask me that question, Gary. I’ve told you before.”

“I think these are unique circumstances.”

“There’s nothing unique about what’s happened. If anything, it’s completely the norm.”

There was a pause before Gary asked his next question, but she knew it was coming, it had been the question that Gary had been dying to ask her for the past couple of days.

“Just spit it out, Gary.” Kelly said.

“I was just wondering what you were planning to do when we got back.” He asked. “I mean, in terms of telling everyone what had happened, certain people in particular.”

Kelly thought about the concept of breaking the news, the reactions that would then occur. The world’s that would fall apart from the words that would come out of her mouth, once again. She shook the thought away, she couldn’t think about it, it was too much.

“He was loved.” Gary said, “By a lot of people.”

“I know that.” Kelly said.

“How are you going to tell her?” Gary asked.

“I haven’t figured that out yet,” Kelly said.

“Well, I’d think about it if I were you. We can't afford for her to break down like she did before. We've only just got her back and needless to say, she's crucial to this next stage.” Gary said. “Not to mention the guilt that Daniela is going to feel from this. That woman has enough guilt to last a lifetime, she will not deal with this loss as well.”

“Do you think I’ve not realised all of this?” Kelly asked, turning on him. “I know what this will do to her, I think about it every day.”

Another pause. “Are you worried about how she will blame you?” Gary asked, his voice giving away how much he wasn’t happy with voicing this question. “I worry that she’ll turn against you, that keeping people in control will become a problem after this.”

Kelly closed her eyes as she listened to Gary voice her own main worry.

“I need to take a walk,” she said. “Give me twenty minutes and we’ll set out after that.”

Gary looked as if he was going to ask her another question, but instead nodded and headed back to the camp. Kelly watched him go and then took a deep sigh. She climbed over the rubble in front of her and made her way to St Paul’s Cathedral. When she reached the main doors, she saw that they had been forced shut, although obviously not in time, because there were signs of struggle and a single point of entry in the corner. She fit herself through it and soaked in the almost perfect interior of the building. It appeared that the whole place had been kept safe, on the ground floor anyway, but Kelly was not stupid enough to attempt to climb to the high rafters. She walked into the main room and looked past the mass of  preserved dead bodies around the building, focusing only on it’s original beauty. The state of the bodies that hadn't been exposed to the sun's deadly rays had been one of the most terrifying discoveries of their trip. Although they were all clearly dead, and had been for almost a year, something in the toxins had managed to preserve each and every one of them, so that the usual decomposing process had not taken place. The result was a vast space of bodies in various buildings, all looking as if they were sleeping. This building was no exception. People lay huddled in groups on the floor, preserved in an array of solidarity as they held onto their loved ones in their last moments. Others were propped up in the pews, their heads lolled backwards, giving the impression of one who had dozed off in the middle of a preacher's sermon. She sat down on one of the empty pews and soaked in the architecture, slipping into a moment of fantasy that she wasn't responsible for the deaths of the people in this building, they were actually alive and in stunned silence at the view around them.

The sound of another person entering the building registered somewhere in the recesses of Kelly’s mind, but she didn’t turn to see who it was. She knew his footsteps as well as she knew her own, she had heard them her entire life.

“Didn’t Gary tell you I wanted a moment by myself?” She asked.

“Please,” Connor said as he sat down next to her. “I know you sis, you want to beat yourself up a bit about what happened, I wanted a front row seat.”

“Nice,” she said. “I love you too.”

“You know I’m kidding.” Connor said. “There are a lot of things that you have to blame yourself over Kels but this was not your fault.”

“I insisted you all come out here,” Kelly argued. “That will be all people remember when I tell them.”

“You mean, that will be all Christiana will remember.”

Kelly sighed. “Just when I thought it wasn’t possible for her to hate me anymore.”

“She’ll get over it,” Connor said. “She knows that the decisions you’ve had to make are killing you as much as anyone else, otherwise she would be giving you a harder time.”

“She could be worse?” Kelly asked.

Connor laughed. “Trust me, from a man who she currently hates, she can definitely be worse.”

And then Kelly found that she couldn’t hold it in anymore. She had no strength left. Tears fell down her cheeks and she began to sob in such a way that she hadn’t done since she was 10 years old. Connor didn’t say anything but pulled her into a hug, stroking her hair as she grabbed a hold of his clothing, sobbing openly into it. They stayed that way for what felt like a lifetime until Kelly had finally managed to get her sobbing under control.

She took five long deep breaths, wiped her eyes and nose with her sleeve and threw Connor a stern look.

“If you tell anyone about what just happened.”

“Oh come on, like I even could if I wanted to.”

Kelly grinned at that, her brother was still to this day scared of her. She rolled her eyes at him. Suddenly Connor’s expression turned serious.

“I do think you need to talk to Gary about this, though.” He said.

Kelly shrugged. “Everyone cries. No need to make a big deal out of it.”

“You’re not coping as well as you should be. You know that.” Connor said. “Gary should know.”

“You’re being ridiculous now,” Kelly said, waving him off. “I’m fine.”

Connor threw her a dubious look but didn’t push the issue. He pulled her into another bear hug and she welcomed it.

“Okay, well I’ll get back and pretend like this never happened.” Connor said. “See you in a bit?”

“Connor,” Kelly said as Connor began to get up. “I’m so sorry. I know what this has done to you.”

A wave of emotion resonated on Connor’s face. He seemed to go through the whole thing in his mind and Kelly wanted to take away that pain so much, her brother had been through too much already. And then the famous Mayhew wall was back up and he threw her a weak smile.

“Shit happens.” He said. “I wish that it hadn’t happened. I dread to think what this is going to mean on people in Utopia. But there’s not much we can do about it now.”

“I guess Christiana was right,” she said. “It was too dangerous a mission.”

“Oh God,” Connor said. “Don’t tell her that though, there’ll be no living with her.”

“I think that’s going to be the case regardless of whether I tell her that.” Kelly said. “And Daniela…”

Her voice trailed away and it took her a moment to get herself in control.

“I have well and truly screwed that girl up for life.”

“Let’s just deal with that can of worms when we have to, huh?” Connor offered and gave his sister a quick kiss on the forehead, before heading off through the door once more.

Kelly spent a couple of minutes insuring that her previous crying state was well and truly behind her. When she was happy, she took a deep breath and headed back out, ready to lead her small group back to reality.