The Sparrow looked down on the city from the rooftops. It had rained in the night, leaving pools of water everywhere that were slowly shrinking in the sun. The empty streets lay out before her like a school-book map. She put a hand over one eye and traced the route with an outstretched finger of her free hand. She talked quietly to herself.
'There. That's the way we want to go.'
Tekla crawled out from under their makeshift shelter and rubbed her eyes. 'Don't wanna go anywhere. Food first.'
The Sparrow hopped down from the wall, landing on both feet with a bump. 'Nup. Not happening.'
'Foooood.' Tekla made a face. 'Food, food, food...'
'Shut UP. We haven't got any food, right? So we need to go someplace that does have food.'
It was quiet. Zed was used to silence, but this was too quiet. He lay on his bunk staring at the white ceiling, counting all the cracks in the paint before he realised what was missing. The hum was gone. Now that he'd noticed, the emptiness seemed to fill his ears. He propped himself up on his elbow and shifted his legs to hang over the side of the bed, his feet hovering just above the floor. He slid off, using his hand to steady himself. Something about the door was wrong, like the silence was wrong. He went over to investigate, sliding his feet across the tiles and putting out his hand to stop himself crashing into the door. Under his weight, the door swung open and he fell into the corridor, sprawling across the floor at the feet of a tall dark-haired girl with a wrap across her eyes. He kept quiet, because that was what you did when you met new people, and he was good at that. She kicked him in the side, not hard, but he rolled away onto his stomach and scrambled to his feet, pulling himself up by the door handle.
'What did you do that for?'
She turned her head in the direction of his voice, 'Where are you?'
He held his breath and edged slowly backwards. She followed him along the corridor, feeling her way with her hands. He backed into a door and reached for the handle, but it wouldn't open.
Bett cleared the table and took two cups from a shelf at the back of the room. They were fragile looking things, with a thin, wavering rim and a pattern of painted flowers under the network of cracks that spread across the glaze. Mirren picked one up while the Outsider woman was busy at the stove. It was chipped and uneven in form, the pattern worn down by years of use and cleaning. The base was criss-crossed with scratches and marks. She tapped it with her fingernail. It gave a dull ‘ting’ that ended abruptly as she set it down on the table.