Chapter Thirty-Five

'What you doing out here?' Donna turned round and saw that Nathan Holmes was standing behind her. She was sitting on a wooden bench in a small enclosed courtyard just to the side of the assembly hall. She often sat there to think and be alone, and after the long conversations of the last few hours she craved a change of surroundings. The three meter square area of concrete buried between university buildings was as close as she could safely get to being outside.

She didn't want anyone's company, least of all Holmes. She turned her back on him. Unperturbed, he sat down next to her. 'What do you want?' she sighed. 'Nothing,' he answered.

'Just thought I'd come and talk to you, that's all.' 'Why would you want to do that? It's three o'clock in the morning for Christs' sake.' He shrugged his shoulders and lit a cigarette. 'Don't know,' he replied, leaning back and looking up at a patch of dark and cloudy sky between the tall buildings which stretched up around them. 'I haven't got anything to say to you anyway,' she mumbled. 'You had plenty to say earlier.'

'You asked for it. You're a fucking arsehole.' Holmes shook his head in mock disapproval. 'Don't know why you've got it in for me,' he grinned. 'Just because I stand up for myself and don't want to risk...'

'Your fucking problem,' Donna hissed, standing up and moving away from Holmes, 'is that you don't think about anyone but yourself. And worse than that, all the things you say and the decisions you make are based on fear. You're too damn frightened to even think straight.' 'You don't know what you're talking about,' he snarled. The tone in his voice had suddenly changed. He sounded angry and yet also strangely defensive. Donna had obviously touched a nerve.

'You haven't got a bloody clue what you're talking about.'

'Let's be honest,' she continued, 'the only reason why you've been making such a noise about staying here is that you're too scared to leave. You can't face the prospect of...' 'Bullshit,' he snapped. 'Are you serious? The reason I'm staying here is...' 'The reason you're staying here is because you haven't got the balls to step outside.' 'I don't want to be attacked by a thousand bloody dead bodies, that's why I'm not moving,' he protested. 'Rubbish.' 'You take a single step outside and they'll swallow you up. There are fucking thousands of them.' 'So what would you do if they get inside?' 'They won't.' 'They might. They probably will at some point.'

'I'll deal with that when it happens. I tell you now, I'm not going out there to risk my neck unless I've got no other option.' 'You haven't got any other options.' 'I'll decide when I'm going to make my move.' 'You'll never do it. You're a bloody coward. You're just going to sit here and rot...' 'You shut your fucking mouth or I'll...' 'You'll do what? Come on, big man, what exactly are you going to do? You'll still be sat in here when the rest of us leave. You'll die in this fucking place.' Holmes jumped up from the bench and lurched towards Donna. She stumbled backwards towards the door which led to the assembly hall and collided with Phil Croft.

He'd been standing in the doorway for the best part of a minute. 'Everything okay?' he asked, grabbing hold of Donna's shoulders. She steadied herself and turned and pushed her way past him. 'Fine,' she mumbled as she disappeared into the darkness. Holmes and the doctor exchanged glances before Croft turned and followed Donna back into the building.

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