Saturday, 19 May 2012

The Prophecy Chapter Three

This just did not happen. Not in the thirty-fifth century. There
was no need for it. It was barbaric.
No matter how she tugged, the tunic would not close at the
back. She couldn’t bear anything touching her breasts. She
couldn’t even bear touching them herself. And this horrid feeling
every morning, and sometimes at other times of the day. This
feeling of fullness, of something wanting to get out, then her
throat filling with the foul-tasting liquid, which forced itself out
of her mouth.
Gross! She thought as she looked at the contents of the lavatory
It wasn’t supposed to happen anymore, either. But the diastic
monitor had not been able to adjust the water supply this time.
The alarm bell rang – the first one to ring for over two hundred
Marijam shuddered as she remembered. She was alone then
and managed to disconnect the machine before it relayed its
information to central control. She started to do her own research.
It was called vomiting. It used to happen when there was
something wrong with the digestive system. Nobody had things
wrong with their digestive systems any more.
She’d found out just the day before. Vomiting also used to
happen often in the first stages of pregnancy in the old days when
babies were gestated in a human womb, not in artificial incubators
as they were now.
Surely she had received the Stopes treatment as a child? She
rechecked her medical record. Certainly, it was there. And surely
Gabrizan had done the same?
So how had this happened? She must talk to him. Last night
was the first time she hadn’t seen him since that first time at the
Waterfall when he had kissed the back of her neck, sending ripples
of excitement through her…

Gabrizan had had his interview yesterday for the Northern
Lights Project. He had had to stay overnight at the Nuffield Centre.
Would she hear something soon?
On cue, the dataserve kicked in. There was an important message
for her. She held her breath.
Her father’s picture came on to the screen. He had his official
face on. It was probably being broadcast to everyone, then, and
not a personal message.
Marijam didn’t know whether she liked him most when he
was just being Dad or when he sat there as now, looking wise and
dignified and seeming a whole ten centimetres taller.
‘Well Miss Kennedy,’ her father’s official voice spoke. ‘Good
news. You are invited for interview to join the Northern Lights
Project as a research student. On successful completion of your
Part 1, you would be able to proceed to becoming a full research
fellow.’ Frazier Kennedy then grinned. ‘Well done, sweetie,’ he
He really looked happy. For a few seconds Marijam felt
pleased as well. Then that uncontrollable wave of nausea came
again. She ran towards the bathroom.
Just in time, she managed to bend her head over the toilet.
The vile orange fluid came up again.
This is really gross. But really, thought Marijam. This can’t
be happening. Why hasn’t the Stopes programme worked?
She must find Gabrizan. Perhaps he would know how this had
happened. Was it something to do with him?
Pull yourself together, lady, she said to herself as she made
her way back to her room. You’ve got some important business to
sort out here.
The dataserve whirred.
‘Downloading joining instructions for the Northern Lights
Project interview,’ said the tinny metallic voice.
‘Relate,’ said Marijam.
‘Your interview will take place on Level 6, Lab 10 at the Nuffield
Centre,’ she read. ‘Please report 15.30, Day 79, 3500. A

transporter pod will be sent to collect you at 14.00. Please bring
overnight bag. Interview procedures take 24 hours.’
Lab 10! That was where Gabrizan had had to go yesterday.
Perhaps he would be going back there? Perhaps they would be
able to work together. If she was allowed to work at all, of
course, now.
What was she going to do? Was she some sort of freak that
the Stopes programme wouldn’t work on? Or Gabrizan? Should
she tell her parents?
She couldn’t. How could she tell that their daughter was a
misfit, a quirk of nature?
At least Gabrizan was due back this evening. How she was
going to tell him she couldn’t begin to think. But it would be
good to see him.
She didn’t look too bad in the blue velvet tunic. It was the
best colour for the moment. The only one that didn’t make her
look even greener. But it still wasn’t a pretty sight that greeted
her in the mirror. Her hair seemed to have lost most of its shine.
There were dark circles around her eyes. She had not been able to
sleep well for the last two nights. Her face was white.
What will he think? she asked herself.
Marijam felt dizzy as she made her way up the rungs in the
tube. She was used to the fresh air now, but feeling so ill and
worried seemed to make her unsteady. Even so, it was still a thrill
to breathe the natural atmosphere and taste the delicious green
smell. It would be good to see him. Even if she did have to give
him this unbelievable news.
She arrived early. That gave her time to sit and think about
what she should say to Gabrizan when he arrived.
The sound of the Waterfall was soothing somehow. She was
so looking forward to seeing him, despite everything. Everything
seemed so much more alive up on the surface. The running water
moved on its own. The water channels in the caves were driven
by motors. It smelt so different, too. She dangled her hand into
the pool that formed at the bottom of the fall. It felt silkier than
her finest tunic. The soft breeze, moved one of the ferns so it

looked as if it was waving to her. Shoots of green which were
coming up through the now much browner earth. And it was just
eight weeks since the poison cloud had lifted. What was it going
to be like when the others came up to the surface in two days’
time? She was going to have to pretend she was surprised too.
It began to get dark. Marijam shivered. Where was Gabrizan?
It wasn’t like him to be late. She was beginning to get cold. It
hadn’t been this cold before up on the surface. The sun was going
down rapidly now. Some clouds were forming on the horizon – the
first ordinary rain clouds since the poison cloud had disappeared.
Marijam decided to walk a little way up the path which led
from the base of the waterfall to the cliff above. It must have been
a natural path, because it was still easy enough to walk along,
even though no-one had been along it for over 1200 years – apart
from when she and Gabrizan had been up there a few days ago.
She just loved the view from up there. She could stare for hours
at the pink and grey rock which was getting a lace-like coating of
By the time she reached the top, though, the sun had gone all
together. The clouds were so thin and scanty it was still possible
to see the night sky. But she couldn’t see land like she had the
other time.
Marijam sat and stared at the stars. They were so clear and
bright compared with how they had looked from behind the plastiglass
and further dulled by the poison cloud. Time never seemed
to matter to her and Gabrizan when they were out there.
Only it wasn’t ‘they’ tonight. It was just ‘she’ now. Marijam
shivered again. She pressed the controls on her wristband. 20.30
already. He had never been this late. In fact, he had never been
late. Now it was more than an hour after the time he’d said he
would come. Why didn’t he use the mini compu? Was he so far
away that he was out of range? Perhaps being outside made a difference.
Marijam wasn’t so sure she liked it out here so much now that
she was on her own. It was getting colder and colder. She touched
the button of her compu.

‘Gabrizan Taylor 0051,’ she said, after the tinny voice had
asked whom she wanted to contact.
‘Unavailable,’ squeaked the robotic voice. Not out of range.
Nor occupied. Just not available. His interview was taking longer
than they had expected. Oh she hoped he would get on the Northern
Lights Project. And that she would, too. It would be great to
work together.
Except there was just this one little problem. Well, no it was
actually quite big really. Another wave of nausea passed through
Marijam. She knew that this time it was not to do with that
strange biological change that had taken place in her body. Not
directly, anyway. It was because she didn’t think she could face
the other changes which were about to happen.
She shivered again. Well, it was obvious she wasn’t going to
see Gabrizan tonight. He just must have got held up at his interview.
It was almost a relief not to have to give out this dreadful
news tonight. Even though she missed seeing him.
Marijam was quite glad to get back inside. It was more frightening
and less of an exciting adventure to go out there alone. She was
feeling tired as well. Perhaps she would sleep better tonight, now.
The lights were on in the communal room of the Kennedy
apartment when she arrived back. Both Frazier and Louish Kennedy
were sitting there in silence. Their faces looked grim.
‘Well, did you see him?’ asked Frazier. Marijam had never
heard him sound so angry.
‘Did he turn up for you?’ he demanded. ‘Because he sure
didn’t turn up for his second interview!’
‘We tried to get you on the mini compu,’ said Louish. ‘Only
we couldn’t get through.’
Marijam wondered whether it had been because she was outside.
But then her compu had communicated with the centre. Perhaps
it could get to the centre but no further…or perhaps they had
called just as she was trying to call Gabrizan.
‘He’s a waste of space,’ hissed Frazier. ‘We’d set up a really
expensive programme for him. No-one else could do what we had
in mind for him.’

Then Marijam realised what her father had just told her. Not
only had Gabrizan not turned up to see her this evening, he had
not turned up for the second part of his interview. He had disappeared.
He was gone. She was on her own now.
The nausea came again. She managed to mumble something
about being tired, and hurried off to her room.
She just made it to the bathroom in time. Now it came as a relief
to throw up the heavy feeling out of her stomach. As if she
was giving way to all the tension that was inside her.
She came back from the bathroom and collapsed on to the
bed. The tears started. She could hear her parents’ muffled
voices. She couldn’t hear what they were saying, but that her father
had sounded angry and her mother concerned. She heard the
door open and her mother say, ‘Can’t you see how pale she
looked? That boy has hurt her.’
Marijam closed her eyes. Then there was nothing. Just blackness.
Marijam hoped she might never wake up.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Chapter Two The Prophecy

The stranger was walking over towards them.
‘Hi, you guys,’ he said. ‘Can I introduce myself? Gabrizan
Taylor. I’ve just come in with my folks. My old man’s involved
with the Cloud Project.’ He shook the hands of those people
nearest to him.
How cute, thought Marijam. Where on Terrestra did he learn
Gabrizan stretched his hand out towards her. Marijam was annoyed
to find herself trembling slightly. She felt as if her chest was
going to burst. Her cheeks flushed bright red. This time not because
she was embarrassed or felt uncomfortable. This was exciting. Even
so, she was glad that it was too dark for anyone else to see. Two
deep blue eyes met hers and she felt as if she was being drawn in.
Before she could take his hand, though, Rainer interrupted.
‘How come you’re here, then?’ he asked. ‘I thought the Cloud
Project was based in Melbin.’
Gabrizan appeared thoughtful for a second or two.
‘Well’, he said suddenly, ‘you can hardly see the Northern
lights that far south. If that’s what they are. Both of my parents
are here to investigate them.’
‘Will you be schooled through Project 57?’ asked Sadie.
‘I think so,’ said Gabrizan. ‘It’s similar to the Alexander Project
we did down there.’
‘Oh, I hope they’ll put you in our Social Unit then,’ said
‘I guess they will,’ said Gabrizan, smiling warmly at Sadie.
‘They suggested I came here.’
Marijam’s fingers were pressed into her palms. Hands off,
he’s mine, she thought, trying to catch Sadie’s eye.
The excitement was growing in the Laguna. People were now
squashed up against the dark walls of the cave. Marijam sipped
her nectar slowly. As the sweet liquid smoothed the back of her
throat, she began to feel like she belonged.
Gabrizan was deep in conversation with Rainer now. She
could not hear what he was saying, but they were both frowning.
Every so often one of them would shake his head or rub his chin
thoughtfully, occasionally looking up at the big screen and pointing
to something.
Probably trying to work out what has been happening, she
thought. She wanted to join in but knew that if she tried she’d be
tongue-tied as usual. And anyway, it was actually quite nice just
sitting there watching him. His blond hair and his brown skin fascinated
her. She couldn’t help noticing how tall he was.
‘Hey,’ said Sadie, ‘what are you staring at?’
‘Oh, nothing,’ said Marijam, going red again.
‘You don’t fancy him do you?’ asked Sadie.
Marijam turned away from Sadie. She was certainly not going
to answer a silly question like that.
She was facing the two boys directly now. Gabrizan waved
and smiled. She just about managed to smile back.
I hope I don’t look stupid, she thought.
She saw Gabrizan mutter something to Rainer. Both of them
looked at her again. Rainer gestured with his hand towards her.
They’re talking about me now, she thought and tried to get
away, but she was hemmed in. Gabrizan was walking straight towards
her. Rainer stayed behind, and Sadie rushed straight towards
Thanks, Sadie, thought Marijam. She couldn’t cope with this
sort of thing. She wanted the comfort of her room with the skylight
and the dataserve.
A hand was held out across the table. Marijam leant forward
to take the hand. She was trembling.
This is ridiculous, she thought. I’m behaving like a complete
The handshake was firm. She wasn’t used to people her own
age shaking hands with her. And even an adult’s hand had often
been limp and damp.
‘I’m Marijam Kennedy,’ she managed to say surprisingly
calmly. ‘I’m on Project 57’.
‘Hello, Marijam Kennedy,’ said Gabrizan slowly. ‘I’m really
glad you’re on Project 57. That’s where I’ll be schooled. Let’s
hope they have a meet soon.’
He’s flirting with me, thought Marijam. He’s flirting and I actually
think I like it. But I don’t know what to do.
He was smiling at her now, his eyebrows slightly raised.
Suddenly the News screen sprang into life, and filled with her
father’s face.
‘This is a special announcement for all seniors,’ he was saying.
‘What has happened tonight is of monumental importance
and is going to change dramatically our way of life on Terrestra.’
Frazier Kennedy paused. People gasped. Some reaffirmed their
opinion that what had happened tonight was something to do with
the poison cloud moving. Others also speculated what had caused
that to happen. When everyone had quietened down again, Frazier
‘Obviously you will wonder what I mean by that remark and
you will no doubt have many theories about what actually happened
tonight. What has happened is much too important to discuss
via a News screen. Therefore, all seniors are to return to
their homes immediately and be ready for a meet in their normal
Project Room at 9.00 a.m. sharp tomorrow. And allow plenty of
time for the journey. Everyone else has also been called for a
meet at their work centres. The transport systems will be overloaded.
But don’t worry, and sleep well. It is just good news.’
The screen went blank again. There was silence at first. Then
some students pushed towards the exits. Others got in their way
as they lingered behind, unwilling to be sent home when there
was so much to talk about. Gabrizan stood to one side as Marijam
struggled out from behind the table. He walked behind her as she
turned towards the door. He kept close to her most of the way towards
the transporters. The crowds left them little other choice.
She didn’t want to turn and look at him. That would have seemed
so rude. But she knew he was at her side all the time. That made
her feel proud, as if she were royalty, and she was sure everyone
was looking at her.
I am being ridiculous, she thought.
‘This is where I leave you,’ said Gabrizan, as they arrived at
the A Transporters Deck. The grey platform was crowded. Already
she could hear the high-pitched whirring of one of the
steel-nosed jet-trains. The usual swish of air as the machine hovered
near the platform told her she was going to have to leave this
fascinating person very soon.
‘Save me a place at the meet if you get there before me,’ he
added putting his hand gently on her back. ‘And if I’m there first
I’ll save you one.’ He smiled and winked.
Marijam felt a big lump in her throat.
‘See you tomorrow then,’ she managed to just about whisper.
* * *
‘You look very smart today, sweetie,’ said Frazier Kennedy.
Marijam plucked nervously at the edge of the navy tunic.
‘Not that you need to dress up. You’ve inherited your
mother’s good looks,’ her father continued. Then he laughed,
looking at himself in plastiglass window as the private transporter
pod they were using sped though the dark tunnels. ‘You certainly
didn’t get them from me.’
If only you knew, thought Marijam.
She had had no trouble feeling wide awake this morning, despite
not getting to bed until well past midnight, and then being
too excited to sleep for most of the night. She had dressed really
carefully today, something a bit better than the grey ripon tunic,
but nothing too showy. She was fairly confident that the well-cut
navy suede-effect tunic was just right. And she knew exactly why
she had made an effort with her appearance.
There was just one other person in the room when Marijam
arrived at the room designated for her group’s meet. Her heart
started pounding as she went through the door and saw him.
Gabrizan signalled with his head that she should sit next to him.
She felt herself blush again.
‘It certainly seems clear out there,’ he said as she sat down.
‘Have you had a look yet?’
She hadn’t actually. She realised she hadn’t bothered looking
through her skylight when she got back the night before. She had
had other things on her mind. She shook her head.
‘Anyway,’ said Gabrizan, leaning back into chair, his arms
jangling limply at his side and his legs stretched out in front of
him. ‘I want to know all about you.’
As the others arrived, Gabrizan punched questions at her.
‘Do you have any brothers and sisters?’ he asked.
‘No,’ she replied. ‘I’m an only child. What about you?’
‘Just one sister. Is it as good as they say, then, being the only
child?’ he asked.
‘I don’t know really… it’s a bit lonely sometimes…’ she answered.
‘Makes sense. There couldn’t be another as gorgeous as you.’
Marijam felt her cheeks start to burn. She tried to be polite
and ask him similar questions back, but his answers were dismissive.
His home was fairly ordinary. He wanted to know about her.
And he seemed to find her answers so interesting and delightful
that she really began to feel important. His eyes smiled at all of
her answers.
Soon the room was full. The dataserve’s tinny voice proclaimed
that all students on Project 57 were present. Frazier
walked into the room.
‘Right, folks,’ he began, ‘you will be pleased to know that the
speculation was correct. The poison has indeed dispersed. Every
single trace of it has vanished and in one night of astounding
electrical activity. We are not quite sure how or why it happened
yet, but the main idea we have so far is that some strong force
entered the cloud and seeded it, just like they used to in the twentieth
and twenty-first centuries.’ He then showed them pictures of
rain clouds over the African mainland from the year 2005. Small
primitive aircraft had flown into them dispersing chemicals,
which helped the clouds to release their moisture. ‘The case is a
little different here,’ he added. ‘Something has set up electrical
charges within the cloud. We believe it is from a type of metal
not found on Terrestra, as we have already tried this with every
metal known on Terrestra. This has discharged the poison from
the cloud. That was what produced some of those glorious colours
you saw last night.’
Marijam noticed that Gabrizan was now sitting forwards on
his seat, his knuckles white as he gripped the sides. There was a
slight frown creasing his forehead. Marijam caught his eye and he
relaxed, flashing her a wide smile. His eyes danced again for a
few seconds, but then the concentration came back.
Frazier was now showing pictures from the night before.
‘You are a very privileged group,’ he said finally ‘to have
witnessed something like this in your final year of schooling.
There are five research places now open to students of Project 57.
Anyone interested can apply through InterEducation as usual.’
Everyone sat in silence for about ten seconds, then everyone
started talking at once. Questions were shouted out without the
normal order and discipline in a school meet – especially when
the Head of Education was there. Frazier Kennedy did his best to
answer them, but even he was not his usual unflappable self.
For a short while Marijam forgot who she was sitting next to.
Even Gabrizan seemed less important than the news they had just
been given. So the poison cloud was gone after all that time, and
it had gone so quickly in just one night of the most fantastic light
display she had ever seen.
‘Are you going to give it a go?’ asked Gabrizan, now sitting
back in his chair again, and pulling her out of her day dream.
A little thrill of excitement ran through her as she looked at
‘I think I’d like to,’ she managed to say. There was a strange
lump in her throat and she thought her voice came out a bit
squeaky. She was really interested in the project, but she was fascinated
by him.
‘Well, I’m going to,’ said Gabrizan. ‘Hey, don’t you think it
would be good for the two of us to work together? Maybe we
could take on a joint research project. It would be a great Part II.’
Wouldn’t it just? thought Marijam. Especially if I was doing it
with you.
‘Will you meet me later?’ asked Gabrizan, as they were about
to leave the seminar room. ‘There is something I think you would
really like to see.’
‘Oh, just one thing,’ called Frazier Kennedy as the students
started to make their way towards the exit. ‘No-one will be allowed
up to the surface for a while yet. We need to carry out
further tests, then get it ready. We’re pretty sure it’s safe out
there, but we must be certain. We think the strange metal entered
Terrestra’s atmosphere randomly, but we have to be sure
that it was not fired or planted there by people from another
planet. Also, it will take some getting used to the outside air.
Anyone caught going out before the all-clear is given will be
dealt with severely. Everybody needs to get used to the idea
anyway. But,’ he paused. There was a twinkle in his eye.
‘Some of the outer plastiglass comes off the windows straight
‘Intersection Q5A. Seven fifteen,’ Gabrizan whispered.
Marijam turned to see Gabrizan walking away from her. He
waved and grinned.
* * *
‘Well all I can say is,’ said Louish Kennedy, looking at her
daughter in the silver silk, ‘he must be a pretty important guy.
I’ve never seen you look so well-groomed. It’s good to see you
get away from that dataserve a bit as well.’
‘It’s the new chap, isn’t it?’ said Frazier, grinning
hugely. ‘That’s okay by me. He’s quite a man. Got his application
in for Project Northern Lights already. And it’s looking
Already? thought Marijam. How on Terrestra had he managed
that? She would have to get cracking. But not tonight. She briefly
thought of the chaos she’d left in her bedroom. All of her tunics
were strewn across the bed. It had taken forever to decide what to
wear, and even now she wasn’t sure. But it was time to go. The
silver silk would have to do.
* * *
Marijam had never been to Q5A or even to this side of town before.
It was right where this cave network ended. A transporter
system could take you to the next network, but it would usually
take a long time for one to arrive.
There was something dull and tarnished about the caves here.
They looked as if they had not been cared for in a long time.
Marijam was so nervous that when her arm brushed one of the
sides, she sprang away, startled.
‘Leave me alone!’ she shouted. It had only been the bare rock,
though. She put her hand on its surface. It was cold and clammy.
Obviously, it had not been dehumidified and damp-proofed like
the other cave networks she knew.
‘You look gorgeous,’ said a voice. Marijam jumped again.
She hadn’t seen him there, standing in the shadows.
‘Thank you,’ she managed to remember to say.
‘Come on,’ he said. ‘You’ll find this unbelievable.’
‘Where are we going?’ she asked.
‘Don’t be frightened,’ he said. Could he see how much she
was shaking? ‘Nothing’s going to hurt you.’
She followed him along the cave path. It was really rough just
here. There were loose rocks, which you couldn’t actually see, all
along the pathway. Marijam tripped several times. Once, she fell
to the floor, grazing her hand.
‘Are you all right?’ asked Gabrizan, moving towards her. He
sounded concerned.
‘I’m fine,’ she said, quickly getting back up before he could
help her. She wasn’t really. Her hand was throbbing. But she felt
too embarrassed to admit that she was hurt. He might think she
was clumsy.
What a silly time to wear a silk tunic, she thought.
It was really hard to walk. And it was so dark here. She supposed
it was because they were so close to the edge of the cave
network. Every so often, Gabrizan turned to see whether she was
still coming.
‘Nearly there,’ he said, as they came to a real bit of cave
where it was even more difficult to keep going.
‘Here,’ he said a few minutes later as they arrived in front of a
steel door.
Gabrizan took a strange looking object out of his pocket and
started to work at the door’s lock with it.
‘What’s that?’ asked Marijam.
‘Have you not seen one before?’ Gabrizan was not looking at
her. ‘It’s a just a little gadget I always carry with me. It’s especially
good for opening stubborn doors.’
In seconds the door was open. Marijam realised what was
happening. She remembered her father’s warning about how it
might not be all right outside and how people would be punished
if they were caught.
Gabrizan turned to face her.
‘It will be all right. Really, it will. Trust me.’
Marijam’s mouth went dry. The shaking became worse.
Gabrizan was still staring at her. His eyebrows were slightly
raised as if he was asking a question. He smiled slowly. Of course
she could trust him!
‘I’ll be behind you all the way,’ he said. ‘It’s only a few metres
up here. But you might feel funny when the air hits you.’
Carefully, Marijam stepped on to the first rung of the metal
ladder. She made her way up slowly. She was afraid of what she
was going to see at the other end. Gabrizan didn’t say anything as
they went up, but she knew he was behind her and that reassured
‘We’re half way there,’ he said suddenly. ‘Just another twenty
rungs to go.’
Marijam could feel the air on her face now. It felt like the way
the water from the cooler tasted. Of nothing, but cool and fresh.
Everything seemed to be jumping around and she couldn’t focus
her eyes on anything.
‘Careful,’ said Gabrizan, gently. ‘Don’t breathe in too much
at once. You’re not ready for the natural mix yet. There’s actually
more oxygen out here than in what they pump through the caves.’
How does he know? thought Marijam. How can he know it’s
that safe?
Marijam couldn’t help feeling excited, though, as she came to
the top of the shaft. She felt even dizzier as she let go of the rungs
and pushed herself onto the surface of Terrestra. There was something
soft and powdery beneath her hands. Pink dust.
‘It’s been scorched,’ said Gabrizan, coming up behind her.
She was glad he was there. It made her feel safe. ‘It will soon be
green again, though,’ he added. ‘Now that the poison cloud’s
gone, they can bring the plant life back.’
‘How long do you think it will take to come back?’ she asked.
After all, the cloud had arrived gradually. No-one had realised at
first. But she remembered from her history lessons that the plants
had started to die and then people started to cough and choke on
the bad air. The authorities at the time had decided to get everything
that lived underground. Would it come back just as gradually?
Gabrizan shrugged.
‘I guess it’ll take a while,’ he said. ‘Oh, but just look at that,’
he said, pointing towards the dark blue sky.
Marijam stared at the stars. They seemed so near, and she
could see so far. A bright moon was shining. It seemed to Marijam
brighter than the sun usually was. There was no plastiglass or
rim in the way. A breeze tickled her neck. There was the faint
scent of something a little familiar but which she could not name.
‘What’s that?’ she said.
‘What?’ asked Gabrizan.
‘That sort of green smell,’ she replied suddenly realising it
was what the greenhouses smelt like, only not so overpowering.
‘I wonder…’ He grabbed her hand.
Gabrizan walked rather quickly. Marijam found herself slipping
on the pink powder. It was so different from walking on the
special surfaces in the caves. Each step took longer as she kept on
sliding back. Soon she was out of breath.
‘We’re nearly there,’ said Gabrizan.
Marijam could hear water rushing. It sounded like a huge tap
running. The ground beneath them had stopped being soft and
had now turned into solid rock. It was hard and cold beneath her
feet. Gabrizan stopped suddenly. Marijam shivered. Gabrizan put
his arm around the waist and held her closer.
‘Look,’ he said.
In front of them a waterfall tumbled over the rocks.
‘Can you see it?’ asked Gabrizan.
Marijam looked to where he was pointing. Nestled in the
rocks were a few strands of green.
‘That’s what you could smell,’ he said, ‘ferns which have
lived despite the poison cloud.’
Marijam breathed in deeply. She could taste the air. There
was something sweet about its dampness, and underneath a taste
of something like fresh salad. The breeze danced around her
cheeks again.
‘How did you know it was here?’ she asked Gabrizan.
‘I’d seen there used to be a waterfall on the map,’ he said.
‘And when we noticed the green smell, I guessed it was still
Marijam bent down and touched the ground beneath her. Its
hardness and rough surface startled her. She drank the air, swallowing
mouthfuls at a time. She looked up at the sky again. She
had never seen so much sky. She had never seen its blueness
properly before. The poison cloud had always cast a grey
‘It is so amazing,’ she said quietly. ‘So… it’s hard to describe…
well, alive, I suppose…’
But there was something else.
Marijam turned to face Gabrizan. He was staring at her, his
eyes wide open.
‘What I see is also fantastic,’ he murmured.
Marijam suddenly felt uneasy. Yet tingles of excitement ran
up and down her body. Gabrizan touched her face gently.
‘You’re so beautiful,’ he said. Then he laughed suddenly.
‘Come on,’ he said. ‘We’d better get back. Being outside for
the first time is too much of a shock.’
But Marijam knew they would be back. Oh yes they would!
Outside was definitely good!