The Sequel to H2O
by Virginia Bergin
From Chapter 9 of The Storm by Virginia Bergin
The Spratt led me to another block and into what was basically a cell. As I have actually seen a cell—in Dartbridge Police Station—I would in fact say that it was smaller than a cell. There was one tiny single bed in there, one chair, one minute desk, a tiny TV screen stuck high on the wall, and a closet. Not exactly five star, but maybe those people in the camp were so gorged out on scarfing delicious food all day that they just needed somewhere to flop in between.
I had not scarfed delicious food, but I did need to flop—so I flopped on the bed. Darius hesitated, then took the chair—keeping his distance from my body, but not—unfortunately—from my mind.
“Ruby…” he started up.
“What?” I muttered. It felt like there was this slow-motion thought whirlpool in my head—like probably there were things to be said, but all those things were mixed up, bobbing in and out of sight as they swirled around and around and around, spiraling into sleep. Fat chance.
“I’m so glad you’re here,” he says. “I was going to come and look for you.”
“Yeah, Saskia said,” I mumble, my eyes drifting shut.
“You’ve seen Sask?!”
“Yes, Dar, I’ve seen Sask.” I sigh. “She’s in the hospital.” I haul a thing out of the whirlpool; it is Saskia’s foot. “Well, most of her is. Her foot went in some water and someone had to, you know, remove it.”
“Oh my q.”
“With an ax.”
I feel so sick. I think I’m going to be—my eyes snap open, and I edge myself up. The Spratt is staring at me with a horrified look on his face.
“It was what she wanted,” I tell him. I hear Sask begging: Cut it off, cut it off! “And then I brought her here myself, in an ice-cream van. Have you got something to drink?”
The Spratt seems to take a moment to process this simple request. He gets up and rummages in the cupboard and hands me a can of something. The crack and hiss of the ring pull is loud as a bomb.
“Is she OK?” he asks.
“I don’t know,” I say. “They said she’d be fine. I don’t think the rain thing got her, but she lost a lot of blood.”
I glug the fizzy drink, something disgusting I don’t even like.
“And a foot, obviously,” I add. “I think I’m going to be sick…”
I lurch off the bed looking for something, anything, to throw up into—there is only a trash can, so I throw up into that, the Spratt rubbing my back and me too weak to resist.
“Sorry about that,” I tell him, wiping spew drool from my mouth. I feel disgusting, inside and out. And I’m dehydrated, aren’t I? You’d think I’d know the signs by now, but, hey, no one’s perfect. (Not even me, booms the troll.)
I sip at the drink in the can. At least it’s a fluid. My stomach grudgingly accepts it.
“She said she didn’t want to come back here, not ever.”
“Yeah, well,” says the Spratt.
“She was screaming her head off about it.”
“Look, Ru,” says Darius. “Saskia…she got a little spooked.”
I am too weak to tell him not to call me Ru. I try to lie down—the whirlpool starts up and my head spins with it. I sit back up. If I think about how I feel, I really will spew again—not that there’s anything left in me to spew out, so I might as well attempt to continue with this hideous conversation.
“What about?” I ask the Spratt.
I cannot imagine what’s coming next. There are plenty of things to be spooked about in an apocalypse—being forced to share a room with Darius Spratt, for example. Sask can’t have liked that unless…
“Well,” says the Spratt, “she kind of got it into her head that…”
He tails off, looks doubtfully at me.
“Oh, it’s such a horrible thing, Ruby. Maybe now isn’t the
“Believe me,” I tell him, “there is NOTHING you could tell me that’s any more horrible than the stuff I’ve actually seen.”
The troll within me is stirring. I’ve been in this place for, like, five seconds and I already know that whatever counts as a trauma in this place—for example, they’ve run out of caviar to put on their cornflakes—does not count as a trauma in the real world—of the useless—where I have been forced to live.
“It’s just a rumor,” he says.
Ha! It’s not even a REAL thing!
“And this place is full of rumors. People say all kinds of crazy stuff.”
Yeah, and outside here, they DO it. (That would include me too, of course.)
“Someone told Saskia they’re experimenting on people,” Darius says.
“You know, trying to find a cure?”
I nod. That’s what experimenting is, isn’t it? Trying to find stuff out. I mean, actually, when you think about it, it would even make sense—in a way, I mean. If this thing doesn’t harm animals, what else would you test a cure on?
If you knew the world was ending, what would you do?
Me? I’d spend what time I had left with my arms lifted in worship and praise.
Leave me a comment below, what would you do?