Tue, 27 October 2009 - 8:46 pm

Amateur action

With so many eyes on me right now, I’m trying to keep my head down. So of course it’s the perfect time for someone to break into the infirmary to see me.

It was luck that had me looking for something to entertain Debbie with; it put me close to the office when the thuds rattled inside. I didn’t want to look – maybe the boys were up to something in there, or some unusually-sized rats had broken up through the floor. But I wanted to know what it was. Just like the thumping in the basement, it was huge and terrifying until I opened the door on it. Unlike the thumping in the basement, it wasn’t terrifying after I saw what it was.

If it had been anyone but Matt, I would have been furious. I found him on the floor, feet up on the cabinet he’d tumbled off, looking up like a puppy caught chewing on my shoes. His grin had a hopeful note to it.

“Are you insane?” I asked as I helped him up.

He said something cheesy that made me roll my eyes and slung an arm around my waist, pulling me close. That was almost enough to make me forgive him on its own. Then he tried to put his weight on his healing leg and winced. I called him a couple of names that disparaged his intellectual ability and he assured me that he was fine. He’d better be.

He couldn’t stay in the office. Any of the boys might come to get something from in here, including me. Simon had another of the girls in, this one more obviously pregnant, and he might decide she needed a female presence.

The only place safe enough was upstairs. There’s another whole floor on this building, but no-one uses it. It used to be offices and more wards. The rain got in fairly early on, melting a whole set of rooms down one end. They sealed the roof and wrapped it over and over to make sure the rain wouldn’t get in again, but no-one is willing to risk the patients by putting them upstairs. We huddle underneath, secure in the knowledge that there’s a whole floor between us and the hissing, dissolving water.

 

The hardest part was getting Matt to the stairs. I felt like a part in one of those farcical spy movies, sneaking around with amateurish steps and not a clue in the world. I tried to keep track of everyone – Jonah outside smoking, Simon sitting with Debbie, Peter wandering around doing… whatever it is he does most of the time.

With peeking and handwaving and my heart trying to beat its way out through my throat, we managed to get Matt to the stairwell at a hurried limp. I tried to do the smart thing and wait around downstairs to avoid suspicion. Moved a stack of sheets, brought Debbie a fresh pillow. When no-one was paying attention to me, I slipped away as well and stood frozen against the wall of the stairwell, listening for the shocked voices wondering what I was doing going upstairs. The voices never came and eventually I crept upstairs.

I couldn’t ever be a spy. I think the stress would kill me before any enemies had the chance.

When I finally found Matt in one of the broken-ceilinged rooms, I smacked him. For scaring me like that, for hurting himself, for putting us both in a position where Peter could get us in trouble. He’s the one I made particularly sure wasn’t watching when I snuck away, above all the others. He’s the biggest danger in the infirmary, even more than Jonah. I know I can talk to Jonah, even if he is a cutout.

Matt was apologetic but still smiling as he fended off my swipes. It was infuriating.

“Good to see you too, Faithy.”

I could feel my mouth twitching towards a smile and gave his shoulder one last cuff. He’s so hard to stay mad at. Damn him, anyway.

 

The boys have found a solution to the vehicle problem. There are some unused ones in a warehouse down the back of the compound. No-one will notice if they’re moved or messed with. Between Thorpe, Dale, and my dad, they can slip away from their regular duties to make sure the vehicles are working and fueled up, given a few days. If they’re careful, they can steal some fuel away, too.

It won’t take much to disable the other vehicles, they say. Remove a key piece or two from the engine and hide them, and they’ll go nowhere. All they need is warning to get it done.

On the other hand, we’re not doing so good on the food front. I’m doing what I can to secret a bit away every day, but it’ll still take weeks to get enough together to keep the Seekers fed for only a couple of days. It’s not enough. Jaye is working in the kitchen crew; I’ll have to bring her into this if we’re going to have a chance of surviving.

I tried to make Matt promise to stay away and be careful, but he refused. He said that what we really needed to do was find a better way for him to get in. My stomach flutters when I think about the risks he’s taking, but I’d be a liar if I said I minded. Seeing him is worth it. Stolen time and whispered secrets, and so many hopes for the future.

I was grateful that no-one came looking for me until I was dressed again. I heard the voices raised downstairs and rushed back, just as Jonah and Simon were discussing where I might have got to. I gave them an excuse and got back to work, and they dropped the matter.

All we need now is a ladder for Matt to sneak in by. And for no-one to miss us when we’re together. And a bag full of luck if we’re going to pull this off.

Share