Part XIX: Ugly Truth
Silence. For so long I can hear a clock ticking. Outside, static’s crackling again. Getting no sleep last night is beginning to take its toll. I curl up on the sofa and wait for him to speak.
‘Because of you and me.’ Pause. ‘He didn’t want you to grow up asking questions.’
I’m wide awake again.
‘I was looking for a lie, but there were too many lies in this family then. I’d rather not continue the family tradition.’
A longer pause.
‘Let’s make a new one, then,’ I say. ‘We tell each other the truth, even if it’s ugly.’
Part XVIII: Another Confrontation
‘Made up your mind?’
‘I’ll save them, like they said I would. Doesn’t mean I’ll like fulfilling the prophecy.’
‘You left it too late to go today, though.’
‘Had to clear my mind.’
I don’t know how to frame the question. Maybe blunt is best.
‘Why did my parents leave?’
‘You really need to ask?’
‘Why did you let them go?’
‘It wasn’t up for discussion. Tim told me they’d go, I said I won’t let you, he knocked me out. By the time I came to, the storm was raging.’
‘All because of my mother.’
Part XVII: Questions and Resolutions
I lace up my boots.
‘Where are their graves?’
‘I’ll show you.’
‘Just tell me. I need to think.’
I’d have found them without directions. He’s marked them with rocks – the one with the heart-shaped rock must be my mother’s. Why did we leave this outpost with the world around us turning lethal? Why did Tom let us go?
He’s right about the camp. They won’t survive much longer. The storms have become more dangerous and storm season is growing ever longer.
I don’t want to turn into their saviour. But I can’t condemn them to my parent’s fate, either.
Part XVI: Venn Diagram
‘Survival. Safety in numbers.’
’All they do is try to appease the Almight and pray for signs that they’re on the right track.’
‘I didn’t say it’d be easy. I know I’ve not improved relations over the years. But we have something in common now.’
‘You’re going to use me?’
He exhales loudly.
‘I wouldn’t quite put it like that. You are the intersection of the Venn diagram where A is them and B is me.’
‘You’ve been doing fine on your own.’
‘Luck. We’ve plenty of space.’
‘I ran away!’
‘And now you’ll return to save them.’
Part XV: Uncomfortable
‘Try them on first,’ he says with an indulgent chuckle. Like a father.
‘They’re less comfy than I remember.’
‘You need to break them in. Painful for a while, then they’re the best footwear you’ll ever have. Especially compared to those.’
We glare at my makeshift sandals they way you might at a huge and mildly poisonous spider.
‘Lots of walking, then?’
‘Yep. Might as well start now. Storm’s over and it’s getting light. Let’s go.’
‘To your people’s camp.’
‘But you said you don’t like them.’
‘I don’t. But we may need them.’
Part XIV: Carrots and Sticks
‘Course you can stay. I want you to go back to the nutters, though, and tell them.’
I don’t want to go back.
‘I ran away for a reason.’
‘I’m no fan of theirs, either. But they looked after and raised you. They deserve to be told. Believe me, they’ll want to know.’
I ignore his words. I know he’s right
‘Come on, I’ll show you something.’
It’s a shelf. Stacked with shoes and boots.
‘Let me see. Looks like a four to me.’
He grabs a box and opens it. They are like my boots, only bigger.
Part XIII: Not the Only One Left
We sit down on a clean, plush sofa. It’s heaven.
‘Will you let me stay?’
‘Only if you won’t convert me.’
He’s joking, but I have to make it clear I’m not a believer.
‘They think I’m the saviour. Because I survived. I think I lived because I wore boots with thick rubber soles.’
‘I remember those. You wouldn’t wear anything else, despite the heat.’
I have them in my bag. I carry them around because they remind me who I am.
‘Teach me and you won’t be the only one left. I never believed, but I want to know.’
There was a bit of a glitch with the scheduled post today, but I caught it in time. I’m still away, so I won’t be responding to comments for a few more days.
Part XII: Twenty Scientists
‘Bit of an understatement, that.’
I grin. We share the same sense of humour.
’So, are you my father or not?’
‘Does it matter?’
Does it? He’s either my father or my uncle – either way, the only family I have.
‘No, I don’t think it does.’
I ask him about the building he inhabits. It’s too big for one person, and too well equipped to have been a spur of the moment thing.
‘It’s a climate research station. There’s room for twenty scientists, equipment and provisions for years.’
‘Twenty scientists? Where is the rest, then?’
‘I’m the only one left.’
Part XI: Predictions
He looks glum. I want to comfort him, but I don’t know his name.
‘So I’m Lucy. And you are?’
It takes him a moment. If he’s crying, he’s hiding it.
‘Tim and Tom. Seriously?’
I laugh. He sighs.
‘I know. When we were little, before people had to worry about survival, everyone made fun of us. I suppose the end of civilisation had its upside.’
‘Do you remember?’
‘The end of civilisation? Yep. We thought it was exciting. We’d find out if our models were right.’
‘Sorta. But nobody predicted the storms.’
‘Bit of an oversight, that.’
Part X: Lucy Lightning
‘Where are they?’
I’d have run out to find the graves had it not been for a flash of lightning followed by booming thunder, reminding me there’s a storm raging outside.
‘How did they die?’
‘Got caught in a storm.’
‘So that’s true, then. I did survive a storm.’
I never believed my people, if I’m honest. I thought my surviving a storm was just one of their stupid stories.
‘I’m sorry,’ he says. ‘I thought you’d died, too. I thought the vultures had take you. I’m so sorry, Lucy. ’
My real name. I’m not Christa. I’m Lucy.