Grey. Everything is grey. The sky, the rain, the meagre light filtering through the clouds to the grey, sodden ground. Grey skies, grey clouds, grey tears.
We've been here for days, and we've hardly done a thing. We're camped in an open field of grass, ringed by lumpy, undulating hills. The rain runs off their flanks and pools in shallow, muddy patches that squelch and suck at our feet as we scour for food. The rest of the time, we just sort of sit here together, watching the ripples of the rain on the river that flows right past our camp. Only two tents now. Just her and me.
We're not really waiting for anything. We're just... existing. Robbed entirely of our momentum, of our will to carry on, we simply sit here, listless, directionless, purposeless.
Why did Iain have to die?
It was so pointless. The voice could have moved us on, could have saved him, but it left it to me, and what could I do? I couldn't open the door with the monsters holding it shut. It was Iain's sacrifice that had allowed us to escape. But why had that even been necessary? If the voice hadn't brought us to the ice world, Iain would still be alive.
I can't really remember what happened after I pulled Hayley through the door with me. There'd been that panic again, that sense of falling and then... I can't remember. It's not blackness, it's just...
Somehow we ended up here. Perhaps I managed to grab a hold on reality at some point as we fell. Perhaps we simply washed up here like flotsam on the currents of time. I don't think I care.
On the third day, we hold a funeral for him. It's not like we have a body to bury – that will have been torn to shreds by the monsters back on the ice world. But we feel we have to honour him somehow. We only knew Iain for a short time, but we loved him. He was one of us. A brother.
"He was good," Hayley says quietly, looking down at the small cairn of pebbles we've built on a firmer patch of ground between our two tents. Were this a movie, we'd have built it around an axe of his, or a tool he used, or something that was at least vaguely relevant to him. But to our shame, we have nothing. Not a single thing between us that came from Iain. But for our memories, he might never have existed.
"He was kind," I say. "Brave, too. He died for us."
Hayley makes a noise halfway between a sob and a growl.
"What for?" she mutters. "We'll die too. It's just a matter of when."
"Don't say that!"
"Why not?" she retorts, meeting my eyes. "You know it's true. Everywhere we go there's something trying to kill us, and we're clearly not going home any time soon. The voice was happy to abandon us on the ice world. We've been forgotten, Felix."
I shake my head.
"We're not going to die, Hayley. I won't let us. I won't let Iain have died for nothing."
"This is all for nothing!" she shouts, grabbing my shoulders. "It's all just been a game! We're never going home, we're never going to get anywhere, we're just going to wander until we die."
"Shut up!" I bark, pushing her hands roughly away from me, and she stumbles backwards. "Maybe you've given up, but I won't. We survive, Hayley. We're going to make it through this, and we're going to win."
She looks at me, her eyes furious, and something breaks inside of her. Her eyes fill with tears, and she buries her face in her hands. Tentatively, I take a step towards her, and then another. I gently put my arms around her, and she leans into me, crying into my chest as I look grimly out across the fields of mud. The rain runs down our necks and backs and into our boots. I hold her, and she cries. After a while, I cry too.
YOU ARE READING
Lonely WorldsScience Fiction
Felix Aiden Lewis is alone. Somehow displaced from his home reality, he wanders from world to world, surviving however he can, never encountering another living soul - until today.