Chapter Twenty-Seven

Michael woke up with a start. It was just after ten in the morning. 'Listen,' he hissed. Drugged with sleep, Emma propped herself up on her elbows. 'What?' she mumbled. 'Listen,' he hissed again. In the distance, and disappearing quickly, was the sound of an engine.

'More people like we heard yesterday,' he said, jumping out of bed and struggling in the gloom to find his clothes and put them on. 'I've got to get out there and see where they're going.' 'Why?' asked Emma, confused. 'Stupid bloody question,' he snapped. 'You know why. These are survivors. These people could...' 'These people are leaving here,' she said, her voice still tired and heavy with sleep.

'There's no point going out now. All you're going to be able to do is watch them disappear.' 'That's got to be better than just sitting here and...' 'Why not wait? They came back yesterday, didn't they? Surely they'll come back again today?'

'Not necessarily,' he said as he pulled on his jeans and fastened his belt. 'No,' she yawned, 'not necessarily, but probably. You've got to admit, there's a damn good chance they'll be back later.' 'Yes, but...' 'But what?' Michael stopped what he was doing and peered at Emma through the early morning gloom. Dejected, he threw his T-shirt down onto the bed in front of her and sat down heavily next to her feet. He knew she was right.

In the time it had taken him to put on his jeans and socks the noise outside had already disappeared. Whoever these people were, he had to agree it was likely they'd be back again later. 'Come here,' Emma said quietly. Michael looked up at her with sad, childlike eyes. She could see that he was struggling.

As strong, resilient and brave as they both tried constantly to be for each other, it was becoming harder and harder just to get through each day. The lack of any news, direction or purpose was slowly killing them, and that was why Michael had reacted to the sound of the engine in the way that he had. Every last fibre of his body wanted to believe that the survivors they had heard would bring an end to the bleak and relentless nightmare that their once ordinary lives had become over the last few weeks. Michael lay down on the bed next to Emma and rested his head on the pillow close to hers. She rolled over onto her side and looked deep into his tired face.

He stared up at the ceiling, excited by the sound he'd heard but also angry and infuriated that he was still no closer to finding out who these survivors were and where they'd come from. He knew he'd probably get the answers to his questions in the near future but that wasn't good enough - he wanted to know now. Emma wrapped her arm around him and pulled herself closer. He could feel her breath on the side of his face. It relaxed him. For a moment it made what was happening outside feel somewhat less important. 'They will be back you know,' she whispered again with real belief and conviction in her voice. Michael knew that she was right.

'I'm sure of it. It's too much of a coincidence for us to hear them travelling past here twice in two days and back again last night. They must have a base nearby.' 'I know,' Michael grunted. 'We should move the van,' she suggested.

'Move it into a place overlooking the track.' He nodded. 'Suppose so.' 'Look, that's what we'll do,' she said gently, still trying desperately to keep him positive and focussed. 'We'll drive across the hills until we find somewhere we can see the track from and we'll sit and wait.

We can sit in the front and watch and as soon as we see them we'll try and follow them back to wherever it is they've come from.' Michael nodded again. Her well-meaning words, although perhaps said more out of duty than belief, were welcome and appreciated. He was lucky to have Emma. He glanced across at her and lifted his hand and brushed a fallen curl of hair away from her face.

She smiled and pulled herself even closer so that their faces were almost touching. He kissed her lightly on the cheek and then kissed her lips. He kissed her again and then pulled back slightly and stared deep into her eyes. Much as they both craved warmth, comfort, protection and countless other things, to be safe and to be this close to each other was enough for now.

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