Friday, 30 October 2009 - 6:58 pm

Anywhere but here

No progress today, not for the Seekers. Or not in any good direction.

Like little Debbie. Her fever is spiking and she hasn’t been fully conscious since early this morning. She murmurs and calls for her mother sometimes, or makes whimpers that tug at me. All I can do is try to keep her cool with fans and a tiny bit of water.

This afternoon, I caved and told her, “I’m here, it’s all right, Debs. I’m here.”

“Mum?” she said without opening her eyes, so desperately hopeful. I stroked sticky hair back from her face and told her yes, and she fell into a quiet sleep for a little while. It was worth that little bit of heartbreak to give her some relief. She’ll never get well enough to know I lied, anyway.


Dad made it over today, but not with dinner. One of the mechanics had got himself in an accident and had a suspected broken ankle. Dad half-carried him in, waving off help until he got the guy sitting down. I got up from Debbie’s bed to lend a hand, but Simon was already there and Peter was hurrying over too. Then Dad was standing in front of me and I forgot all about them. It was all I could do not to throw my arms around his neck right then.

We retreated down to the other end of the room to where Debbie was shifting restlessly under the fever’s grip. We had no fear of the little girl hearing us, even if she could make sense of it through the delirium.

The first thing Dad said was sorry, for not being able to come. He has been put onto the Converter recovery project and can’t get away as easily any more. From the hard edge to his tone, I think the assignment was very deliberate and more to do with the restriction than the work. They knew exactly what they were doing. He didn’t say, but I’m sure that Dad volunteered to bring the broken ankle in so that he could see me.

I told him about the missing food stash and he didn’t seem surprised. Someone is suspicious about something, though we’re not sure how high the concern goes. They can’t know what we’re planning, but they might easily think that we’re planning something. The question is how many of us are being watched and what will give us away. Caution begs an extreme answer.

I had to ask about Matt. I haven’t seen him for a couple of days, and the last time we parted, he said he’d try to make it over every day. Was he all right? Had something happened?

Dad shrugged. “Probably just got caught up. Haven’t heard anything,” he said. He seemed very sure that nothing was wrong, as if he has been keeping tabs on Matt and the other Seekers. That would be like him – he has always been fond of Matt. He patted my hand and told me not to worry.

I hugged him before he left. Wrapped my arms around his middle and leaned into his chest. He rested his cheek on the top of my head and I felt safe. For that moment, I was safe and everything was going to be okay.

Then he sighed and told me he had to go, and the bubble shattered. Debbie murmured behind me, distress etching the noise into the air around us. I sighed and nodded, and briefly considered begging him to tell the cutouts where to go so he could stay with me. Then I did the right thing and told him goodbye. He can’t stay and we all know it. As he was leaving, I noticed just how grey his hair is getting – it’s almost pure white at the temples now.

I can’t wait to get out of here.


Before the rain came, I told Jonah that I would have to stay in the infirmary tonight. Debbie needs to be watched and I don’t want to leave her alone. She doesn’t respond to the boys as well as she does to me. He wasn’t happy – he feels it’s necessary to stay if I’m staying – but he didn’t argue. He merely excused himself to fetch some gear while there were other cutouts around – for their injured comrade – and came back prepared to camp in one of the empty beds.

I guess that’s what we’re all doing tonight. Camping in beds that aren’t ours and wishing we could be elsewhere.

Anywhere but here.