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.
“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.