|Subject:||Chapter Two: Dia|
|Author:||Viola Eponine (Authenticated as Saffine Grace)|
|Date:||August 17, 2012 at 5:06:34 PM|
|Reply to:||Build-a-Story: Round Two! by Viola Eponine|
Once we get out of the slipstream of the main street, Angel keeps us to the side-streets and alleyways. Graeme follows him faithfully, but I’m tense, ready to break off from them, should I have to. I don’t like this. I had said as much to Graeme, earlier, before the Great Conflagration began.
“It’s alright,” Graeme had tried to reassure me, “He’s got a plan.”
I’d narrowed my eyes at him, sceptical. “I know he has,” I’d replied. “What bothers me is that he won’t tell us exactly what it is.”
I hate following him blindly, but what choice do I have?
Even the alleyways are not deserted. We disentangle our arms, now, able to risk moving separately among this thinner stream of people. I stumble to a halt when someone grabs hold of my long braid. I twist, knife in hand, and the man’s face blanches. He must be sixty at least; older, even. His eyes are lost in deep creases; his mouth bracketed by them. I don’t know whether he’s the enemy, and I don’t have time to ask. When I try to pull free and he won’t let go, I saw at the top of the braid with my knife until it falls limply into his hand, a thick pale rope, and rush after the others, my newly short hair flying in my face.
“What – happened to you?” Graeme asks breathlessly as I catch up, and I give him a ‘don’t ask’ shrug. I push past him, drawing level with Angel.
“Where are we going?”
I don’t really expect an answer to the demand, but he gives me one. “Colin’s house,” he says brusquely, “He said he’d wait for us there with Em and Marcus, providing it doesn’t get looted and destroyed first.” I think of Colin Feyre, who I’ve only ever seen smiling and laughing and keeping up a continuous stream of banter. I don’t see how someone like him ever came to be part of a rebellion in the first place. But there it is – there doesn’t seem to be any such thing as ‘not taking sides’ any more. You are either one or the other, and that’s that.
I see them first, because it’s me who rounds the next corner ahead of the other two. ‘They’ are a young man and an even younger girl, huddled against a wall, their eyes wide. From the shapeless white smocks they wear, I can see they’ve escaped from the Research Facility. They are covered in smudged ash. A cut glistens wetly on the young man’s forehead, and the girl holds her right arm away from herself at an awkward angle, an ugly lump pressing at her pallid skin between elbow and wrist. They look so afraid – more than afraid; what’s in their faces is beyond fear; it’s something no one can name.
Angel, coming up beside me, calls out, “Help them!”
Graeme is shaking his head. “No time!” he yells back, resigned trepidation in his voice, like he knows what’s coming and knows it’s inevitable, but doesn’t like it one bit. And for once, it’s Angel I agree with.
“They’ll be shot or burned or crushed to death if we leave them,” I move in their direction, “It’s people like them we’re supposed to be helping.”
I crouch down in front of them. The man’s eyes widen and he shrinks back even further. “It’s alright,” I tell them, “We’re going to help you.”
I’m calm. I’m calm. I’m perfectly calm. [My heart is whirring an unsteady, accelerating beat].
“Really, it’s ok.” It occurs to me that maybe they’ve been in the Research Facility for so long that they barely remember who they are; even that they are human. “Can you hear me? What are your names?”
“Th-that’s John,” the girl gets out in a quavering, cracking voice, dry from disuse, “I...I... I d-don’t know if he can sp...speak,” sometimes, she takes a deep, gasping breath mid-word, as though she can’t take in enough air. “I’m Sanna.”
“Here,” I reach out to her, “Get hold of my hand. Angel, get him – get John.”
Sanna’s hand is burning hot in my own. There are thin scars criss-crossing her arms; keepsakes of her time in the Research Facility; keepsakes she can never discard. I help her to her feet, staggering. She leans on me for support, and she’s not heavy, but her body shakes so badly, knees knocking together, that it’s difficult to keep her upright. Angel is faring even worse with John, and Graeme has to help him haul him to his feet.
We have to move more slowly, now. It seems to take hours to reach Colin’s street, though it can’t be more than twenty minutes. When we reach the end of his road, I breathe out a sigh that catches in my throat and comes out garbled into a horrified half-gasp.
Everything. Colin’s house, at the end of the street, is ablaze – you can hardly tell wall from windows.
You need to know something about me: I am not someone who risks everything. I am not someone who has made sacrifices, for the Cause or otherwise.
But the city – my city – is burning, and thousands of lives with it, and something in me that has been vibrating like a plucked string for weeks on end, now, ever since our plans started, suddenly snaps.
I let go of Sanna. She sways slightly, and I steer her towards Graeme. I don’t say anything. I just run, pelting down the street towards Colin’s house, deaf to the cries of my name, behind me. I haven’t stopped to think, but one question pounds over and over in my head.
Is it that I don’t want to stand by and watch everything burn –
Or is it that some desperate part of me, instinctive and selfish and abominable, wants to be swallowed up by the conflagration?
SOPHIE: BtN's resident whimsical insomniac fairytale-junkie!
“Hope is the thing with feathers"
This message was edited by the author on August 17, 2012 at 5:12:46 PM
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