Sunday, 11 October 2009 - 10:59 pm


Despite all of Simon’s hard work, Clancy slipped away from us today. His shoulder started bleeding again and we couldn’t stop it. Before we knew what had happened, he was pale and fading, and there was a red puddle growing on the floor. Then he just stopped.

Simon, Peter, and I were quiet for a moment after we realised he was gone. I felt like I should say something but nothing would come out – my mind was as blank as his eyes. Simon nodded to us and straightened his thin shoulders, then went to tell the injured resting up in the main room. They had all worked with Clancy and were his friends, andd I don’t envy him the job of breaking the news. I drew the blood-soaked sheet over the dead man’s face, trying to ignore his eyes, and strained to hear the fallout out there.

There was barely a peep. It was creepy – the murmur of Simon’s voice carried through the closed door and then there was nothing. I knew it wasn’t a surprise to them – the medic wasn’t expecting Clancy to last this long – but I thought there would be a reaction. It seemed like they just sucked it up like bitter medicine.

The patients were quieter than usual when I came out of Clancy’s side room. A couple of them were well enough to head back to the dorms, and they were promising to pass the news on. There was a weight on the room, pressing words down into a hush and keeping glances on the floor. I saw one fella cross himself and another spat over the side of his bed.

It was more than just losing Clancy. They’ve been like this since the roof came down – this death has made it worse, darker. The morose feeling is palpable now; sometimes it gets so thick that it’s hard to breathe.

They wouldn’t say much to me, so I went outside to get some air. After the cloy of blood and the atmosphere in there, even the low orange sky was a relief. Jonah was out there, standing watch, and scowled when I stepped outside. I waggled a hand at him and leant against the wall, assuring him that I wasn’t going anywhere.

“Did you hear?” I asked him. I could feel the sky lowering as the cutout’s expression darkened. I took that to mean ‘yes’. “I’m really sorry.”

“I didn’t know him that well.”

“Oh. You just seemed– something wrong?”

“I’m fine.”

“It’s not the first time something like this has happened, is it?”

Jonah speared a glance at me, weighing my worth against his distrust of me. “Yeah. Couple of accidents before this one.” Apparently, he didn’t think there was any danger in telling me.

“Like what?”

“Truck lost control and took out a wall, destroyed a month’s worth of parts. Then a fire gutted a building – only reason it stopped was the rain.”

I’ve seen a shell of a building with blackened walls, out towards the far edge of the compound – that must be the one that burnt. “Sounds pretty bad. Were many hurt?”

Jonah shook his head slowly. “Not like this. Minor stuff.” He glanced at me and then frowned at the door to the boys’ dorm across the courtyard. “No-one died.”

“Yeah, it’s awful.” I feel like I should be more used to it by now, but I still couldn’t shake the look on Clancy’s face after he was gone. I rubbed my arms as if I could drub the feel of it off me.

“Yeah. And each time, we get set back.”

“With the Converter?”

Jonah nodded and kicked a heel at the ground. The gesture made him look like a kid wearing grown-up shoes, and for a second, I was tempted to straighten his collar.

Jonah seemed more disturbed by the whole business than he wanted to share, so I left him alone after that. I have to admit that it seems strange. I’m not superstitious – I don’t believe that these things come in threes, or that there’s some kind of curse. There has to be more to it than that, or possibly a lot less.

I’m hoping for the latter, but a part of me can’t help seeing the former. What happened to me to make me so paranoid? Or is it cynicism?