Mon, 9 November 2009 - 8:05 pm

Punishing warning

I’ve been getting worried about my dad. I haven’t seen him in days – I’ve lost track of when I saw him last. I’ve been hoping that he’s in the same situation as Matt – many demands and too many eyes on him, even though he’s usually allowed to see me.

Now I wonder if he was breaking the rules by coming to see me, or just ignoring them. It’s typical of him to do something like that and not tell him; he knows that I’d worry and tell him off. Or maybe he got himself in trouble and I just haven’t heard anything on Haven’s strange grapevine.

I’m sure that he’s all right. I would surely have heard something otherwise. I have to keep that in mind. No news is good news, right?

 

Something weird happened today. Walking to the infirmary, Jonah and I got past the usual pleasantries, feet moving in time with each other. But the companionable silence didn’t fall. Without so much as a glance at me, he kept speaking past telling me that breakfast was awful this morning.

“Whatever you and your friends are planning, you need to be more careful.”

He sounded so calm and casual about it, like it was nothing. My heart thumped painfully against my breastbone and it was a moment before I could respond. I had to pretend that nothing was wrong; we were out in the open and anyone might be watching. Anyone at all.

“What do you mean?”

“The officers know something’s going on. You know that most of you are being watched.”

I swallowed and restrained the urge to glance around me. Just keep looking straight ahead. Nothing is wrong.

I collected myself enough to ask, “Are they going to do anything about it?”

“They will eventually.”

We were nearly at the infirmary door; there wasn’t time to ask him much more. We don’t stop and chat, ever, and I could feel the weight of attention on me. The pressure to act normal, like nothing was wrong, was suffocating. It made it hard to think, turning my brain into a rabbit desperately running around in circles on me.

“Why are you warning me?”

I felt him flick me a sideways glance. “Are you planning to kill anyone?”

“No.” Of course not. I almost added the last part but remembered that I was talking to a soldier. Their job is to deal with people trying to kill each other, so it’s not an unreasonable question. Especially not in the After.

“That’s what I thought.” I thought that was all he was going to say, then he added, “I don’t agree with all of their… policies.”

We were at the door. It was time for me to go inside; there was no room for any more questions. I swallowed and looked up at him, forcing up a smile from somewhere.

“Thank you.” The smile might have been pulled on, but the gratitude was real. He didn’t have to do that. Then I was inside and he was at his post outside, and the exchange was over.

 

Since then, I’ve been worrying about what the officers might know, and the Scouts, as Matt called them, with their sharp eyes and too-good reporting instincts. We’d be glad of their vigilance if we agreed with their policies, but in a police state, that kind of attention is heavy and painful.

Are the others safe? My Seekers, my boys so far from reach? My dad? Is it me – have I given something away? Do they know it was me who hid that food away? Why haven’t they approached me about that yet?

Perhaps they just like watching me twist under the stress of waiting for them to come. Perhaps this unknowing is my punishment – or the first phase, at least.

In a way, I’m furious with Jonah for telling me that the cutouts definitely know we’re up to something. Of course I’m grateful for the warning, but why couldn’t he tell me on the way back to the dorms? When I might be able to do something about it, pass the word along to Jersey so she can tell the others? Instead, I’m left fretting all day about things I can’t change. I’ve probably been acting guilty as a result and not helping my case at all.

Now, sitting here and waiting for the rain to stop, I wonder if they know about the laptop too and just don’t care. I’m exhausted. I want this to be over already, dust in the mirror.

When will soon be now?

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