Monday, 6 July 2009 - 8:42 pm

Rising words

I woke up this morning to the whispering echo of a prayer in the ceiling. In that strange land between sleeping and waking, it was a tug back to a time when I was small and my mother took my sister and me to a church.

I remember the hush that stole over my whole body when I stepped inside, and the quiet reverence it inserted into my shoes. I exchanged a glance with Chastity and she gave me a cheeky grin in return, clattering off down the aisle to poke into the side chapels. My mother took a firm hold of my hand to stop me thinking about following and drew me up the centre. There was that same indistinguishable murmur moving around in the air and I looked up; it felt like I might be able to see the words on their way up to God’s ears. Then it stopped and the robed figure kneeling before the altar stood up, crossing himself.

That was the last time I was in a church. This time, the priests were mindless and faithless, at least at the end. I don’t like the patterns this world has fallen into. I hope their God has mercy on them. It’d be nice if He had mercy on all of us down here too, but I’ll take what hope I can get right now.

I pushed the blankets off me and sat up, wincing at the hardness of the pew. It might have been nice to stretch out for a change, but at least the offroader’s seats were padded. I tried to be quiet, because that whispered prayer was real and I didn’t want to disturb it.

It was Sally, kneeling before the altar, her head bowed. She had lit five candles in the rack nearby and their ruddy light brushed her hair in highlights; the black dye was growing out, and I think the auburn underneath suited her better.

Ben was watching her pray too. He was sitting on the pew past my feet, silent as a rock. At first, I hadn’t even realised he was there. I don’t know how he does that.

Everyone else was still asleep when Sally finished her prayer and got up.


We didn’t waste much time in heading outside and fixing the tyre. There was an awful moment when the jack shifted: the whole vehicle nearly toppled onto Thorpe and Jersey while they tried to get a spare wheel on. Ben caught it in time to stop it crashing down and, a second later, a couple of the other boys jumped in to help too. Between them, they managed to keep it propped up long enough to fasten the wheel on.

We checked everything else over quickly before we got in and hauled ourselves into motion. I think we’re all paranoid about people getting to our vehicles and the gear we recklessly keep inside. We haven’t seen anyone else today, though, and after the incident at the church, I’m relieved. I’m not sure I can take another encounter like that. I remember Jake pulling the door closed after him, already dissolving, and I shudder.

We stopped a little early today to refill our cans when we found a gas station. We’re all topped up and trying not to think about the rain now. It’s hard when the damned stuff is hissing up the concrete just a short distance away. If we feed enough to the fire, perhaps its snapping will drown out the drizzle.