Chapter Twenty

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**Celestia**

I insist that Bryony sleeps first. The relief is obvious in her eyes.

She is asleep within minutes of laying down. I watch her pretty face as her breathing slows down, steadies. When she is asleep, I can't see the problems, the stress, the worry that haunts her when she is awake. The heavy bags and sharp lines under her eyes fade; her mouth is twitched upwards into a slight smile. She looks happy, peaceful, content.

The hour of my shift crawls by slowly, dragging on unwillingly. I want to dig in my heels and completely stop it, let Bryony get more of her well-deserved rest, but I know that I need the rest too. I feel guilty as I wake her up, but it is needed for both of our survival.

I doze off almost instantly. I remember thinking it might be the last time I am ever awake. I remember wondering if I would live to see the morning. I remember falling asleep drowning in worry and concern.

I remember dreaming of horror and blood and a gruesome death. I remember waking up as if in a haze, Bryony shaking me awake like a rag doll.

You know in movies, when the movement slows down to a snail's pace, and you can see lights flashing, and you just know the main character is about to die? You watch the character's mouths move, but nothing comes out but a slow, deep, incomprehensible mix of words, and it's almost funny. That's what is happening right now, only this isn't a movie - this is my life.

Bryony gestures to me. She mouths, "Run!" and points to the horizon, somewhere in the distance. The sun is rising, and the sky is bleeding, and everything is bathed in oranges and pinks and blood reds.

"Why?" I try and utter back, but nothing comes out. Bryony seems to understand my confusion.

"The sky. It's..it's going to do something. Soon. I know it."

"How?" I try and speak again. This time, a quiet croak comes out. I don't know why I can't speak properly, and it frustrates me.

"I can just feel it." I know what she means: the air feels thick, and the danger is almost palpable.

"Come with me," I plead. I can't run away if Bryony is staying here. It would go against everything she has ever done for me.

Bryony nods. "I will come. I just need to get our supplies first. I'm more awake; I can do it quicker."

She is more awake; she is also more brave, more selfless and more kind. I nod, and begin to hobble away, directly away from the bleeding sunrise. Something about it is making my blood curdle in a way I don't understand.

Suddenly, there is a loud, low rumble. I look around, trying to pinpoint where it came from, when there is another, and I realise it is coming from the sky. And just like that, the world snaps back into place, and I can run, running away, and I'm tripping over my own feet, and I can hear my heart pounding, and my palms are sweating, and -

Bryony is running beside me now, and I hear the sky rumble again, and then all of a sudden, like a gunshot, the rumbling stops, and in its place comes the gentle pitter-patter of raindrops falling to the ground. Only they aren't touching us, until -

A raindrop hits my arm, and I yelp in surprise. The drop is burning hot, and feels like acid, corroding my skin. It evaporates almost instantly, but in its place leaves a large, purple lump on my arm.

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