Wednesday, 5 August 2009 - 7:55 pm


So today was it. Today, we stood together and said our farewells. Today, the Seekers reformed and set out on the road again, where we belong.

Before we left, I went around to the back of the building to say my own private, apologetic goodbye to a square of concrete marred by scraps of cloth. This is where they brought him after he died, so that he would never come back. The rain made him what he was; it only seemed right that it took the rest of him after he died.

My Ben. The rock I leaned on, the arms I took comfort in. The man I loved, and killed.

I remember lying with him at night, when his skin was still warm. I remember when he got burned, the way his screams tore right through me. I remember all the times he was there when I needed someone. His hand in mine, gripping tight.

He came back for me. That night, he came back to ask me to go away with him. He came back to see if he had a life left, a life with me, but he knew the answer even before I went to see what all the noise was about.

A couple of the others were standing in his way and Dillon was struggling into the room on his crutches when I got there. The way that Ben was standing made my heart thump uncomfortably; it looked dangerous.

“…you’ll kill her,” Matt was saying.

“I won’t.” Ben knew that he wasn’t convincing anyone, not even himself. Then his expression hardened. “Not her.”

Matt drew a breath to argue but he never got the chance to speak – Ben struck out and knocked him down. Thorpe walked in with my father’s rifle and handed it to me so he could wade in and pull his old friend off of mine. He was thrown across the room for his trouble. I was the only one in the room who wasn’t reaching for a weapon to brandish. I told them to stop but no-one heard me – I barely heard myself, my voice was so thin. I cleared my throat and shouted so loud it hurt.

I must have looked terrible, pale and sickly after that last feeding. I tried not to let my hands shake. Ben glared at me and spat accusations at me: I had told them all about him. I gave up his secret. I’d given him nowhere to come back to.

“I came to ask you to leave with me.” I could see the betrayal in his face and the hope slipping away from behind it. “What do I have left now? Should I just become what I am?” he asked me. “Maybe I’ll start with him.”

I don’t know where he got the knife from; suddenly, it was pointing at Matt. That jealous beast had never left him alone.

“Are you going to stop me, Faith?” His eyes flicked to the weapon in my hands; that was the first time I was truly aware of it and the choice I had in front of me. Even Thorpe couldn’t stand against him, but they’d all try if they had to. And some of them would lose. The rifle – my father’s rifle – was the only thing that might stop him.

“Is this really what you want?” I asked him. I felt so tiny.

It was the clench of his jaw that gave him away. He didn’t want this at all, any of it. He was desperate to find a way to live with himself and us. He wanted to know if it was possible and he was losing hope. He was standing with a knife in his hand, trying to work out whether or not he was a monster. I think he has known the answer to that all along, but he didn’t want to admit it.

I begged him not to do this. I asked him to stop, to let us try… something. But he knew it was past all that now. His face twisted with anger and he grabbed at Matt. The gun went off in my hands; I didn’t even think about it.

He stared at me and touched the mark on his shirt. It barely bled at all.

“So this is how it is,” he said, with barely any emotion at all. “That’s not enough to stop me.” Then he lunged for my friend again and I fired.

I think he knew that if he had come at me, I wouldn’t have. I would have let him come, heeding the tiny voice in my head that was telling me that he’d never hurt me, not really. But Matt – I knew he would, and could, and wanted to hurt him.

He didn’t make a sound. Not a cry or a whimper. Just a soft huff as he fell to the floor. The gun was louder when it clattered next to my feet. I stared at him, at the perfect circle on his forehead. Then I just ran, out and up and away from the body.


Now all that’s left of him are scraps of his clothes and the soles of his shoes. The rain has washed him away, scoured him out of this tainted world. I don’t even have a picture of him. Nothing to remember him by but the things I’ve lost.

There wasn’t much left in me by the time we were ready to leave; I was hollowed out and wrung dry. But still, the other farewells made me ache inside.

Sally gave me a hug and kissed my cheek. She was the one least afraid of touching me. She’s staying behind so that Masterson and Kostoya can keep an eye on her and the baby. I told the doctor to take care of her and he patted me on the shoulder. The unexpected gesture lifted a lump into my throat. As if it all wasn’t hard enough, he had to choose that moment to be nice.

Nugget is staying behind, and Estebar with her. It’s safer there than out on the road. Matt got a hug from her, but she stayed away from me. I didn’t blame her.

Of the Wolverines, only Dale is coming with us. He has recovered and wants to stretch his legs now that he’s back on them. Conroy wants to help Kostoya with his research, and Jersey is staying in the hopes that they might find a way to stop her getting Sick. Her. I still can’t get used to that. But in a group of over-enthusiastic boys, I can’t blame her, either.

Most of the runners are staying behind too. Iris has taken up the maternal reins for the youngsters. I think she knows that Ben might have killed her husband; she hasn’t looked at me in days. Tom’s knee is still injured, so he’s resting up and Janice is naturally staying with him. No-one expected Bree and her two friends to come along, so we weren’t surprised when they opted not to come.

Terry and Tia decided to join the Seekers, though. I think Terry is a little freaked out by Jersey’s revelation and wants to get away from her, and Tia goes everywhere her brother does.

The biggest surprise is Dan, the so-far withdrawn fella. When we were forming up, he stepped forward and said that he wanted to accompany us. He didn’t give a reason and we didn’t ask; we just made a space for him.

The eight of us set out without fanfare or celebration, tyres slithering over the melting ice. Thorpe, Dillon, Matt, Dale, Terry, Tia, Dan, and me. Those staying in the university stood on the road and watched us go; even Kostoya came down to see us off.

I’m glad to be moving again. I’m glad to be heading for something new, but right now, I’m far more grateful to be heading away from that place.

I can’t count the pieces of myself I left behind.