Thanks for all the comments
Taylor woke up that morning to see Turk’s tired face. She sat up, dazed from being asleep.
“What do you want?” She asked bluntly. If she didn’t like someone, she didn’t hide it. And she definitely didn’t like Turk.
“Caine wants you.” He said quietly. He always looked defeated nowadays.
“But it’s like, seven am.” She said, annoyed. “Caine’s going to have to wait.”
She lay back down and closed her eyes. Turk didn’t move.
“King Caine doesn’t wait for anyone.” He said. “You should know that.” Then he left.
Taylor sat up again and rolled her eyes. Sure, she did get her rewards, but working for Caine could be a pain in the backside. She took her own time getting ready and then bounced into the town hall, where Caine lived.
“Taylor.” She heard his voice behind her and turned around quickly.
“This better be worth it. I’m losing my beauty sleep.” She crossed her arms.
Caine waited in silence until Taylor remembered. “Oh, right.” She realised. She bowed. “Good morning, your majesty.” She said in a falsely innocent voice.
He smiled, but his eyes were still cold. “You need to go to the lake.”
She laughed. “Are you being serious? I’m not going there. What if I get caught?”
“Don’t get caught. Don’t let anyone see you. I just need you to bring someone back.”
Taylor looked at him patronizingly. “You know she won’t come, right?”
Caine ignored her. “I don’t care how you make it happen. Do whatever you have to do. Just make sure you bring her back.” Taylor didn’t look too happy about it, but she nodded. She was about to bounce when he spoke again. “And Taylor, if you come back here without her, there’ll consequences.”
Taylor sighed. She bowed again. “Yes, your majesty.” She bounced back to her room.
Poor Diana, she thought.
Sam and Edilio were eating dried apricots for breakfast. It was still such a novelty; they enjoyed every second of it. They barely exchanged two words whilst eating.
“Is Dekka OK?” Edilio asked after they finished. She barely ever hung out with them.
Sam was careful not to say anything he shouldn’t. “I think she’s upset about something. I’ll try talking to her.”
They had left the boat and were now walking towards the forest, carrying some shovels.
“Are you OK?” Edilio looked concerned. As much as Sam had tried to hide it, the change in him was still noticeable.
Sam smiled. “I miss her.” He said. He didn’t want to say her name. “I guess I spend every day hoping she’ll come back. I mean, how long can she survive on her own, out in the middle of nowhere?”
Edilio patted him on the back. “Don’t worry, man. She’ll come back when she’s ready.”
Sam smiled back at him, but he wasn’t convinced. Edilio was the only person he had told about Astrid killing Little Pete.
They finally stopped walking when they knew that they were far enough from the lake. They started digging another slit trench.
“What about you?” Sam asked.
“Are you OK?”
Edilio laughed. “Yeah, I guess.”
Sam looked sincere. “You spend so much time looking after other people; you need to look after yourself, too.”
“You can talk.” Edilio smiled. Then he stopped digging. “Actually, Sam, I’m really missing Caine.” They laughed.
Sam missed Astrid, a lot. But he was also kind of happy, right where he was.
Lana drank her Pepsi happily. She drank it so fast that it burned her throat. She still wasn’t over the fact that there was plenty more where it came from.
She went outside and joined Sanjit, who was whistling as he sat with his legs in the water.
“Morning Grumpy.” He said.
“You know, like from Snow White. The dwarf. I think you’d be Grumpy.” He beamed at her.
Lana tried not to smile back. “I’m not going to question how you know so much about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
“Hey, I have two little sisters. They used to watch it all the time.”
“Didn’t mean you had to watch it with them.”
Sanjit laughed. “OK, fine. You caught me. I have a passion for Disney.”
They fell silent, but it wasn’t awkward. It was never really awkward between them.
“I checked on Bowie just now.” Lana said.
“Yeah. I think he’s completely recovered.”
Sanjit smiled. “That’s what I thought, but thanks for checking anyway.” He liked that she cared that much. He watched her as she looked out onto the lake.
Lana sighed. “You’re doing it again.”
“What?” He asked innocently.
“Staring. You know, normal people actually know that staring is rude.” She said.
He laughed. “Yeah, because you’re the epitome of normal.”
She took a deep breath of the fresh air. She felt different to how she usually did. She felt less...weighed down. As if the Darkness which had touched her mind more than once was finally at rest.
She felt peaceful.
Howard was left with nothing. Not even one drop.
Sam had gone and confiscated all his alcohol so that people would stop getting drunk, and he was too far away from Coates to go and make some more.
Orc was now in a permanently bad mood. He wanted to be alone most days.
So Howard walked out onto the marina and looked around, wondering who he would go and annoy.
That was when he saw Dekka sitting on the edge of the lake, with her feet in the water. He walked up to her.
“T’sup, sister.” He said, making himself comfortable next to her.
She turned to him, annoyed. “I’m not your sister.”
“Oh, come on, Dekka. We’re both black; we’re the minority here. We’ve gotta stick together. And it’s not like you can be my girlfriend, seeing as...you know...”
She rolled her eyes. “What do you want, Howard?”
He raised his hands defensively. “Who said I wanted everything? You know, I’m kind of sick of everyone judging me as some kind of user.”
Dekka took a deep breath. “I heard that when Albert was dying, you would only save him if you got some kind of reward.”
Howard paused at that. “Yeah, well...you know what they say. Every man for himself.” He stopped again, suddenly realising. “Hey, I never got a reward...”
Dekka stood up. “And that’s where this conversation ends.” She started walking back to her boat, but Howard just followed her.
“Hey, wait up!” She turned around to face him, irritated. “OK,” he said, “maybe I do kind of want a favour. You see, the thing is, I know you and Sam are kind of like ‘BFF’s or whatever those sixth-graders call it. But Sam went and took away all my alcohol, so-”
“No way.” Dekka interrupted. “I’m not convincing him to give you your alcohol.”
Suddenly Sam appeared behind her with Edilio, both of them carrying shovels. “Dekka, is Howard annoying you?” Sam asked.
“Nah,” Howard said, “Dekka and I are practically related. Which is why she’ll, er, think about my proposition.” He winked at Dekka and walked away.
Sam went up to Dekka. “Actually, I’ve been meaning to talk to you.” He said. Edilio took a hint and went inside.
Dekka smiled. “Is this gonna be one of those embarrassing pep talks?”
“I just want to know how you’re doing. You know, after...”
She sighed. “Brianna doesn’t even look at me anymore. I mean, I get that I made it a bit awkward, but she could at least pretend that it never happened.” She looked sad. “Oh, God. I wish I could take it all back.”
Sam tried to be comforting, but he wasn’t sure how. “She’ll come around. She’s probably just...confused, I guess.”
Dekka didn’t reply, so Sam started to walk away. Then he turned back. “Are you still up for this afternoon? You don’t have to come if you don’t want to.”
She smiled at him. “No, it’s fine. Who else can actually carry a train-car full of missiles?”