Wednesday, 22 April 2009 - 1:27 pm


Sometime during the night, Sax fell into a coma. His voice dimmed until he was moaning and wheezing, and then he was just wheezing. I don’t know if I was the only one listening to him, counting the time between his breaths, but the room felt like it was full of ears. When the air stuttered in his throat, I held my breath, willing him to keep going. Just one more breath, and another. Don’t stop.

I didn’t realise that I was crying until Ben rolled over and tried to comfort me. It felt good, burying myself against his chest and hiding from it all for a while. It was nice to have someone else’s arms around me and those meaningless words in my ear – it’ll be all right. Shhh.

It wasn’t until his chest quivered that I remembered something from a few days ago. He had been struggling to suppress coughs. I hadn’t thought much of it before then, I thought it had gone away, but of course, that’s how Sax’s sickness started. Since then, he has been clearing his throat a lot. I heard him do it again as I lay there against him, and this time I felt the spasm he was hiding. He had a cough, irritating and persistent.

I lifted my head to look him in the eye. It was just before dawn, I could barely see him at all, but it was light enough for our gazes to meet. That was enough. We both knew the truth. I felt like something had just fallen out from under me, something important, like a bridge or a floorboard or my own legs. And I started crying again, hopelessly trying to be quiet so that the others wouldn’t know.


When we got up this morning, no-one said anything about what they did or didn’t hear during the night. Then we realised that Alice was missing and all anyone would say was that they didn’t hear her go.

Thorpe is pleased and Dillon is devastated. The rest of us are relieved, even if we don’t know for sure that she brought this thing to us. She probably did. She might have killed us all. It makes sense, as much as I don’t want to admit it.

It doesn’t matter. The damage is done. It’s too late now for Sax, maybe for all of us. I don’t think he’s got long left.

Wherever she is now, Alice is probably a lot safer than she was here.

Tags: , ,