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.