25.1 You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry
London: 7 June 2128
"Mila, wake up! Wake up!"
"Rick," she screamed. The noise of her own screech petered out as she realised where she was. "Oh, so sorry, Yan. Another nightmare."
"Damn it, Mila. That wasn't just a dream."
"You were glowing. Hell, you were lit up like Garter and Krista just before they burnt up."
The expression on Mila's face was a mixture of shock and disbelief.
"Burning? Oh, that was happening in the dream. It felt so real."
"They often do."
"It was like being back at the recombination. I was trying to help Rick with the flow from the source. I couldn't give him enough and he slipped away."
"I thought you were going the same way." Yan placed a hand on Mila's forehead. "You don't feel hot."
"I was actually visibly glowing?"
Yan nodded. "Half scared me to death," he said, and Mila could tell from his expression that it was the truth. Yan had been less scared at recombination than he appeared to be now.
"Maybe, somehow, I was connected to the source. It must still be there, mustn't it?"
"I– I really don't know any more," he said. "I can't feel it. But I never had the same connection to it you did."
"I want to find it again. I want to be able to do the things I could do before." Her voice darkened. "Maybe, if you hadn't woken me, I might have found a way to do that. Damn it, why didn't you leave me alone?" she screamed.
"What? How can you say that?"
"We need the source. I need the source."
"Even if it's no longer safe?"
"What's that got to do with it? Was attempting to control the recombination safe?"
"We didn't have a choice about that."
"We still don't have a choice – other than dying without making any attempt."
"I'm not sure I agree with–"
"Hell, Alin, if I can't do this, what's the point of living? It's all I've ever done. You've got your electrics or electronics, or whatever you call them, to go back to. What have I got? I've been nothing for the past few days. All we've done since recombination is grub around in the remnants of a broken world, hoping things will get better. But they're not getting any better, are they? The rain is still coming down, there's no proper food or drink, unless we get lucky with another one of those food dispensers. And there's pretty much nobody else alive. What the hell are we achieving? Nothing. Absolutely bloody fuck all!"
"Mila, you need patience. It–"
"No! Don't lecture me about patience. I've been patient for years. What good has it done me? Right now, we're just existing, drifting, delaying the end. I can't accept that fate. I won't accept that fate. I've had enough of this, of everything. And of your defeatist attitude!"
"Mila, stop!" Yan shouted. "You're glo–"
"Shut up, Alin," she shouted. "You've let this get to you. It may have beaten you but I'm not going to... going to... what?"
Mila looked down at herself, finally seeing the way her hands were emitting light. Sparks flew from her fingers and she screamed.
"No!" Yan shouted, but he had to close his eyes and retreat from the heat emanating from her.
There was a flash which singed the remaining hair on Alin Yan's head. He cowered in the corner of the room. Then came the sound he was dreading – he'd heard it before during recombination when Rick had disappeared.
It was nearly a full minute before he dared open his eyes. His shoulders heaved and trembled, and he could no longer hold back his tears.
He was alone.
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