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The Return

The compartment was empty apart from Astrid, Grandfather and the echoes of the others who had sat here before. Outside, brown and grey stone merged into green fields, as blurred memories rose of her breath clouding vision and sculpting fragile hearts onto glass.

The carriage swaying, drumbeats of rail under wheel. Interrupted only by places that Grandfather spoke fondly of – Bristol – Taunton – Exeter, Astrid watched grey faces alight into a world devoured by grey rain.

Near their destination the sun banished the gloom. Astrid alighted onto the platform, the seaside town of Torquay. Holding tightly to Grandfather she navigated their way through the bustle of tourists and commuters.

The beach wasn’t far from the station, the world ending at the border of red sand and dark water. Astrid stood at the edge, time slowing as she watched white horses gallop, salt coating her skin.

Then she let Grandfather go.

Just as he had made her promise she would.

Earth grips me fiercely as I awaken. Struggling I scream into the breathing apparatus. Yet the suffocating darkness is unyielding.

I cannot move.

My last recollection is meeting the Leader, discussing my research breakthrough. Walking together across the meadow towards the hub. Explaining how I had perfected the technology, that my research would be the salvation of our resource stricken world.

He stooped inspecting the cables that drew out power, the tubes that fed nutrients down into the dirt. Enquiring after the batteries. My boastful assurances that below lay enough for a hundred years.

Now there’s just the darkness and I.

Cables slowly siphoning out my soul.

Fueling the colony.