Thu, 17 September 2009 - 10:07 pm

Familiarity

I thought it was strange that the General never asked me about the other people we had encountered in our travels. I had assumed that he had already talked with the other Seekers, but I checked with Jersey this morning, and they were never asked either.

I thought that the army was all about debriefing, but that doesn’t seem to have happened at all. They’re sending out their message, calling for survivors to come, but they’re not actively seeking anyone. The only groups they know about are the ones that make it to the gates and the rumours that circulate over dinner. I had worried about our friends at the university being found out, but we haven’t even been asked. There’s something missing there, something that doesn’t quite make sense. I don’t like that there are gaps I can’t fill; they make me unsettled.

I should go to the General and ask him. At this rate, I’m going to have a list of questions as long as my leg by the time I get to his office again.

 

I spent most of the day trying to find Matt. I showed my face in the infirmary and volunteered to go beat on the bedding until it was clean. Once outside, I slipped away and headed down towards the boys’ dorms. I felt bad, shirking my duties, but my friend’s safety and happiness are far higher in my personal list of priorities.

I found Dale first, carrying equipment between buildings. He was so surprised to see me that he nearly dropped the chunk of metal he was transporting, and I gave him a hand with it while we talked. It was heavy and twisted; I have no idea what the thing was supposed to be, but it needed to be moved into one of the big warehouses, so that’s what we did.

Dale was as cheerful and easy-going as ever. I think some of it was put on for my benefit but he assured me that the rest of my boys were doing okay. They’d seen a couple of fights but were staying clear of them so far. Thorpe was over working with the mechanics; Dan and Matt were on roof repair duty; and Terry was working around the stores and warehouse-buildings with Dale, mostly moving equipment and materials around.

We put down the chunk of metal and he told me to go back to the infirmary. I wasn’t supposed to be there. I refused to turn away and Dale reluctantly pointed me towards where Matt was supposed to be working. I felt eyes on me as I headed in that direction, but I straightened my shoulders and strode. I have no reason to skulk and hide, and there were cutouts lounging around anyway.

There was no-one on the rooftop when I got there. I wandered around for a while, poking at stuff while I looked for my friend. They seem to be building something in there, but I can’t imagine what. It’s a conglomeration of so many things, bits of engines and plumbing, most of it unrecognisable now. Looking at it for too long gave me a headache, so I went outside to search again.

I wandered around a corner and found the garages, all banging and engines revving. I hadn’t gone three steps before someone grabbed my arm and pulled me aside. I was about to protest when I recognised the smudged shape looming over me, with its angry scowl and short, sharp words.

“What the hell are you doing here?”

I couldn’t help it – I grinned at him. Thorpe never changes. “Looking for Matt. Have you seen him?”

“Not lately. You have to go.”

I refused and we argued about it briefly. Thorpe was determined that I was going to go back to the infirmary – he even threatened to smack me around the head if that would keep me there. Eventually, he cracked and said that it wasn’t safe for me – he’s starting to sound as paranoid as the General in that respect – and marched me towards the courtyard I had come from. I tried to tell him that it was important and he demanded to know why.

“I have to tell him something.” I realised then that Matt probably already knew about the Sharks. The men’s dorms were a lot bigger than the women’s, but he must have already crossed paths with them. “I have to make sure he’s okay.”

“He’s fine. Go on, go. Shoo.”

I couldn’t talk him around. Finally, I managed to convince him to take Matt a message for me. Just to let him know that I heard there were Sharks here, and that I’m worried. When I mentioned the name, Thorpe went quiet. He understood, but while the big fireman might sympathise, he won’t ever show it.

“It’s in hand,” he told me, then refused to elaborate even when I insisted and shook his arm in frustration. He just firmly detached my hold on him and placed me in the doorway, positioning me like a doll. “I’ll tell him to come see you. Will that stop you from doing something stupid?”

“Probably not.” I was feeling belligerent by that point. “But it might help,” I added, in case he changed his mind. Then I confused him by giving him a hug. Dammit, I’d missed the stupid great lump and the way he orders me about protectively. He doesn’t give much away, but I trust him. He’ll look out for Matt. My best friend’s not on his own any more.

 

So now here I am, back to waiting and wondering, and worrying. I don’t have anything better to do.

Maybe that face I saw but didn’t see, the figure I glimpsed on the day we arrived here, maybe that was one of the Sharks. Maybe that’s why I called out, why I was so frantic. The splinter of memory I have doesn’t taste like that. It doesn’t taste like panic, or dread. But it’s so tiny and twisted that I can hardly tell, like a shard of black glass turned over in my hands too many times. I don’t know which way up it goes any more.

I should ask the General for a list of Haven’s people. There might be others we know here. I can only hope that if there are, we’re on better terms with them than we are with the Sharks.

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