We start to move away and I can’t help but look behind us. Just moments ago Dee had been fine and now she was nothing more than a broken pile on the floor. I ought to feel something, but I don’t. At one point, when she’d held the knife on Max, I would have killed her myself, yet now that she is dead I don’t feel anything. Not sympathy, not relief, nothing.
“Max?” I call out. He slows and walks beside me. He says nothing but I know he is waiting for me to say something.
“Dee…” I start.
“I had to,” he interrupts. “She was turning and despite everything she didn’t deserve to become on of those things…”
I place a hand on his arm. “I know. I was just worried….”
I sigh and drop my hand. “I felt nothing. I ought to, but…” I shrug.
We continue walking for a while, Max not saying anything and me just looking at the floor. I have a feeling that he might be judging me and although I’m shocked that his silence hurts, it feels as though someone has stabbed me through the heart.
“Sorry,” I mumble and he looks at me, confusion on his face.
“You have nothing to be sorry for. If anything I am worried about the fact I killed her but felt nothing.”
“It’s as if she didn’t matter,” I say.
“Because she isn’t one of us,” Max finishes.
“Do you know what that stuff has done to us?” I ask.
He gives a slight shake to his head. “No, but I think we are still changing.”
Colin suddenly turns and looks at us. “Love-birds! Where am I going?”
We both look at him and I know that for a moment I find myself intensely angry that he has interrupted, but then I blink and it seems to reset my feelings. He doesn’t know the way to my friend’s house. I may even have a problem finding it.
Walking over to join him I look around to see where we are. The fire is on my left and I point just to the right of it. “That way.”
Colin nods and we set off again. This time though we set a faster pace. The only way I can describe it is by comparing it with a wolf pack. Not that I’ve ever seen one, but I have watched the documentaries about Yellowstone, the ground eating pace that they use in the snow. That is how we move. Colin is in the lead with me and Max following. We are all scenting the air and looking around, but we are leaving the directions to Colin.
“Maybe I ought to lead?” I ask.
Max stops and Colin seems to sense it and pulls up as well.
“No,” Max says.
“I know where I’m going.” I turn to Coin, expecting him to let me past, but he stands in my way. “What?” I ask, exasperated.
“You can’t,” he says. I notice that he isn’t looking at me, and something inside tells me that he ought to.
“He means,” Max says from behind me, “that you are too important to take point.”
“Important?” I can’t believe this.
“Yes, you are…”
“Oh no you don’t,” I interrupt. “You are not going to make some sexist comment about me being a woman.” I can feel the warmth of anger, but also a strange feeling that I agree with them. That I am precious because I’m female, but it goes against everything I have ever thought. I want to be an equal…
Max looks at me as if he know the inner struggle I’m going through. He doesn’t say anything though. Instead it is Colin who interrupts my thoughts.
“You are the only female of our species.”
I blink in astonishment. “But we are human…”
Colin gives a sad smile. “Not any more.”
Max looks at the ground and walks a little faster, pulling away from us. I know he is right, at least some part of me knows, but I don’t want to give up my humanity. I can’t. If I walk down that rabbit hole I just don’t know what will be at the other end. Looking at Max’s retreating back I can’t help but think that the decision has been made for me, that there is nothing I can do to stop me falling.
I just hope someone will catch me at the other end. As that thought finishes Max turns and smiles at me. It is a toothy smile full of mischief and looks like a boy’s, except for the too-black eyes and the pallor of his skin.
Colin takes a place behind me and we walk, rapidly picking up speed until my hair is whipping past me and I am smiling just from the thrill of freedom. I don’t notice if it is warm or not, I just run and feel the simple joy of my muscles moving smoothly and with more efficiency than they ever have before. I run and enjoy every moment, eyes half closed and feet making a slapping noise on the tarmac.