I woke up to the sensation of a twig poking me in the butt. I jolted awake, suddenly acutely aware that the sun was setting. My diary was on the ground, cover-up and my pen a few feet away in the grass.
I’d wasted the whole day!
Well… At the very least, it meant Living Wasteland hadn’t found a way to betray us all yet.
I couldn’t see Living Wasteland anywhere. Had she found her way out of Heavestone and sacrificed herself to an unforgiving Miralay? Or had she come to her senses and gone back to my house or maybe Mr. Greenland’s house- or any house in Heavestone, really; I didn’t particularly care as long as she wasn’t planning on betraying herself and potentially the rest of us in the process.
I slid out of the tree, collected my things, and wandered back to my house. Mom was the only person there, Dad having gone off to work and Mr. Greenland evidently having left shortly after Living Wasteland’s outburst. I put my notebook and pen on the table and wandered into the kitchen, where Mom was reorganizing the refrigerator.
“Oh!” Startled, she took a few steps back, shutting the fridge door. “Eponine. You’re back. Where’s Serlis?”
“Oh- the girl?”
My eyebrows wrinkled. “Living Wasteland?”
Mom sighed. “Mr. Greenland and I agreed that it would be better for her… integration if we referred to her by her real name.”
I shrugged. She probably wouldn’t respond to me either way, so what was the point? And what kind of a name was “Serlis”, anyways? I would have expected something relatively normal- like Nora, or Janie, or Sara.
Not Serlis, and definitely not Living Wasteland.
I retreated down to my room. My bed was exactly as I’d left it that morning- sheets strewn carelessly aside, the clothes I should have worn that day still nicely folded in their shelf in my closet.
The faint imprint of Living Wasteland’s body was still visible on the carpet.
I knelt down next to the body-shaped mark, ruffling the carpet strands until I couldn’t see the contour of her slim body anymore, replaced with random zig-zags that were lightyears more impersonal. Satisfied, I collapsed onto my bed and released a groan.
Boney and I should have never discovered that sleeping pod. Should have never been exploring that building in the first place. There were countless other things we could have stumbled upon that would have made for a better story- asbestos, a spider nest, a pack of rodents living in the walls. Multitudes of building code violations and health hazards that had accumulated since the dollar store had closed. And now Boney was missing, and so was the girl, both of them hazards to the secrecy of Heavestone.
Would the girl really be so selfish as to put the safety of every Heavestone inhabitant on the line just so she could go play queen somewhere?
I would sure hope not.