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.'
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.
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.