Authors: Malorie Blackman
Olivia and her twin brother, Aidan, are heading alone back to Earth following the virus that completely wiped out the rest of their crew, and their family.
Nathan is part of a community heading in the opposite direction. But on their journey Nathan’s ship is attacked and most of the community killed. Only a few survive.
Their lives unexpectedly collide. Nathan and Vee are instantly attracted to each other, deeply, head over heels – like nothing they have ever experienced.
But not everyone is pleased. And surrounded by rumours, deception – even murder – is it possible to live out a happily ever after . . . ?
For Neil and Lizzy, with love
Perdition catch my soul
But I do love thee! and when I love thee not,
Chaos is come again.
, Act III, Scene 3
Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.
Dad jumped to his feet, straightening out his right arm in front of him. He moved his hand from right to left, nodding his head as he did so. Pumping his arm out to the side, then up, then out, then up, he then switched to his other arm to move it slowly but steadily before him, his head still nodding.
!’ I shouted.
‘Ah, but which bit?’
‘Please!’ I said, insulted. ‘The song,
Dad straightened up, disgruntled. He was just winding up to mime the moves to the entire song and I’d spoiled his fun by guessing so quickly. He tapped his nose, pointed at me and smiled. ‘I should’ve given you a harder one.’
‘My turn.’ I sprang to my feet as Dad sat down.
I loved playing film charades with Dad. We were the only two people on board who loved old twentieth- and twenty-first century films. Pressing a make-believe switch to activate my imaginary lightsaber, I leaped high into the air whilst performing the side splits, all the while fighting off the imaginary foe who was trying to split me in two.
!’ Dad bounced in his chair.
‘Ah, but which one?’ I challenged.
‘Which one of the whole series?’ Dad exclaimed.
‘Really?’ Dad raised an eyebrow. ‘I’m supposed to guess which one of the
films you’re reenacting?’
‘Yep! And here’s a clue, it’s not one of the animated ones.’ I continued to jump around, swirling my arm to deflect imaginary blows.
‘Number eight!’ said Dad.
My mouth fell open as I stared at him, stunned. ‘How in the world did you get that?’
‘Now if I told you that, you’d know as much as I do,’ laughed Dad. ‘My turn again. You’ll never get this one.’ Dad was already on his feet, his smile wide. I loved his smile. It was wide and infectious and made everyone else around him smile too, guaranteed.
‘Why are you watching that? Again.’
At the sound of Aidan’s voice, I stopped the recording, swiping my hand downwards to dismiss the image playing in front of me. Dad’s laughing face vanished. I turned my face away, quickly brushing my fingertips across my cheeks to smooth my expression.
‘Vee, are you all right?’ Aidan walked over to me.
I shrugged. ‘Of course. I just like to watch recordings of Mum and Dad.’
A reminder of better times.
There were recordings of the whole family together but far fewer than I would’ve liked, and very little footage of just Mum and me. Her job had meant that she’d had very little free time.
Aidan frowned, his gaze intense. ‘I don’t understand. Watching them hurts you. So why do it?’
‘They make me smile,’ I replied. ‘I don’t do much of that any more.’
Puzzled, Aidan tilted his head as he regarded me.
‘I laugh a lot. I don’t smile much,’ I explained.
‘What’s the difference?’ asked Aidan seriously.
‘Not enough to worry about,’ I replied at last.
Aidan reached out, one of his fingers brushing against my cheek just beneath my right eye. When he drew back his hand, a single tear lay on his index finger. He studied it for a moment.
‘I don’t like to see you sad.’
‘Watching the recordings makes me happy too,’ I said. ‘That’s the point.’
Aidan scrutinized me, those dark brown eyes of his not missing much, as per usual.
‘Aidan, I’m OK.’
He stepped forward and gave me a hug. As he stepped back, I dredged up a smile which Aidan accepted at face value.
‘No more recordings?’ said Aidan.
‘No more recordings.’
Aidan smiled and nodded, relieved. ‘Now how about a nice game of chess?’
Agony detonated inside me, raw and devouring. I’d never felt anything like it. I wasn’t so much crying out as screaming out in pain. My left foot and lower leg were completely crushed beneath the weight of fallen rocks and boulders. Gasping, panting, I had to make a superhuman effort to get myself together. If I gave in to the pain and panic slicing through me, I’d stand no chance at all. Grabbing hold of my left leg at the knee, I tried to pull myself free. I used my right foot to push and kick against the fallen boulders.
Nothing doing. The rocks weren’t budging.
I was going nowhere.
The left leg of my environment suit was in shreds. Ironically the self-same boulder that had pinned my leg and ripped my suit in the first place was also the object now sealing the breach. But I’d lost a lot of oxygen from my suit in the process. When I came down into the mine thirty minutes ago, I’d had over ten hours of oxygen left in my suit. The heads-up display of my helmet now showed I had less than fifty minutes of air left. Which would see me off first? The intense cold, the carbon dioxide atmosphere down here in the mine, or the blood loss from my crushed foot?
Having fun yet, Nate?
The sickly yellow lights which marked our route through the mine flickered and dimmed. In a few hours they would be switched off completely – not that I’d be alive to see that if I didn’t get the hell out of here.
The trouble was, Anjuli was the only one who knew I’d come back down here to retrieve my tablet. That fact did me no good at all as she’d gone back to the barracks to get some rest. Knowing Anjuli she was already fast asleep.
And the filling in my life’s-a-vindictive-bitch sandwich?
The moment I’d heard the ominous creaking and cracking which signalled a cave-in I’d started to run, but had dropped my damned tablet as I stumbled and fell. The tablet was about one metre behind me, buried under the same tonne or more of rubble as my leg, and undoubtedly sharing the same fate – smashed to pieces.
Stupid to call for help when I knew there was no one around to hear me. But it made me feel like I was doing something. A pathetic something, a useless something, but something nonetheless.
I needed to do more.
The next shift was due to start mining at least seven kilometres away from my current location. The seams in the vast mines which criss-crossed this area were only excavated for a few months at a time before we moved on to a new section. The known seams were worked in a strict rotation. That’s the reason I’d come down here to retrieve my tablet. I knew if I didn’t get it now, I’d have to wait too many months before they opened up this section again. No way could I go that long with no lifeline to the world outside this mining colony.
But now I was trapped and alone.
If I didn’t find a way to get out of here and fast, my buff and perfectly preserved but incredibly dead body would not be found for several months. I needed to figure something out.