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Authors: Kerry Wilkinson

Resurgence

BOOK: Resurgence
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Kerry Wilkinson

RESURGENCE

PAN BOOKS

Contents

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

32

33

Epilogue

Afterword

RECKONING

RENEGADE

1

As Opie and I walk into the camp, at the bottom of the gully outside Martindale, my mother has that look on her face. She tries not to, but she looks at me in the same way she
used to when I was a child returning home from the woods, soil caking my hands and feet.

‘Do you enjoy rolling in the mud, Silver Blackthorn?’ she would ask. I’d always know I was in trouble when she used my full name.

I’d be tempted to tell her that rolling in the mud
was
one of my favourite things but that look told me my only reply should be apologetic.

I’d tell her I was sorry and that I slipped. Every time, she would tilt her head and squint suspiciously, as if telepathically asking what exactly I had been doing to get myself into such
a state.

Now she’s looking at me the same way:
What have you been up to, Silver Blackthorn?

She doesn’t say the words but she may as well. A week ago, three of my friends and I walked out of this place and now just two of us return.

‘How is he?’ I ask, dropping my rucksack onto the ground as my mum walks towards me, arms outstretched in welcome.

She hugs me to her and whispers in my ear. ‘He’s surviving. How’s your ankle?’

I hadn’t said anything about being hurt but she must have noticed the limp.

‘It’s fine,’ I say dismissively – and it is. It feels a lot better having had the exercise of walking here.

The first time we walked into the hideout, there were children running in all directions amid our own amazement that we were finally there. Now it is dark, our only light seeping from a
smattering of candles outside the makeshift shelter – three cars leaning together in a pyramid-type structure. I assume they were dropped and fell into position, as opposed to being placed
there deliberately.

Everything feels different now.

‘Is everyone else okay?’ I ask.

‘They’re fine. Jela and Pietra have been fantastic. You’ve got some good friends there.’

She is telling me what I already know but the thought of them makes me think of Faith and Imrin. Two more good friends: one dead, one captured.

She looks over my shoulder. ‘Are you all right, my dear?’ she asks Opie.

He nods but doesn’t look up from the ground. His light hair is covered with dust and dirt and there’s a smear of something dark under his cheek. His once-smiling face seems a long
way away. It is nice to see he is as nervous around her as he has always been.

Around us, we are surrounded by piles of scrap: cliffs of battered fridges, washing machines, dryers and everything else we don’t have the electricity to power any longer. On the ground
there are mounds of scrapped cars, rusting and left to the elements with no fuel to run them. We are in a clearing free from rubbish, where there is room to play and work.

‘Where’s Hart?’ I ask. ‘I have something for him.’

‘He’s sleeping.’

‘We have a cure.’

‘What is it?’

My mother has been caring for him for the past week and is naturally suspicious of anything she is unfamiliar with.

‘I’m not sure. We took it from Windsor . . .’

Her eyes widen and begin to twitch. ‘Windsor Castle?’

I didn’t mean to tell her where we have been, it slipped out. It was the place where Imrin and I spent months at the mercy of the King before escaping, only for me to return to retrieve
medicine. Not to mention being tricked into stealing a vicious weapon that could kill thousands of people.

‘I’ll tell you later,’ I say. ‘Let’s see Hart first.’

I pick up my bag and she turns, leading Opie and me towards the metal tepee. Inside, there are thin mattresses and piles of blankets lining the edges. I can see the back of Jela, sleeping by
herself, facing the wall. Near to her is my younger brother, Colt, wrapped in a swaddling of blankets by an empty mattress that I assume is my mum’s. In the far corner Hart is in a bed flat
on his back, one arm flopping limply. Pietra is on the floor next to him, holding his hand.

‘She’s barely left his side,’ Mum says quietly, but I can see from the way their fingers are interlocked that she isn’t simply there to keep him company.

Hart’s chest is rising and falling slowly with the rhythm of sleep but Pietra’s eyes are wide open. When she sees us, she delicately unlocks her fingers from Hart’s and climbs
down from the improvised pile of sheets that is doubling as a bed. There are dark rings under her eyes and her long brown hair is unwashed, darker flecks of dust making it begin to mat together.
Even through the tired eyes, she’s still astonishingly pretty. As her arms wrap around me, she asks if I have anything to help him.

‘I hope so.’

She lets me go and grabs Opie for a hug but I can see in her eyes that she is curious about Faith and Imrin. I crouch, taking the first modified syringe from my bag. It is longer than a regular
syringe with a trigger like a gun on the side. I shuffle towards Hart but can’t avoid Pietra’s gaze.

‘Faith?’ she breathes, barely a whisper. She already knows.

I shake my head and she turns away quickly, swallowing awkwardly.

‘Imrin?’

‘He’s alive.’

‘Not here?’

I focus back on the instrument, making the half-a-dozen checks in the way I was taught by Xyalis before Faith killed him. I can’t face answering her, so pull Hart’s arm towards me.
Although there is a fire nearby, my fingers are chilled from the walk and Hart jumps slightly at my touch. His eyelids flicker open and he focuses on me.

There is a bandage packed around his upper arm, a memory of the wound that was there the last time I saw him. It was infected and my mother thought he might have blood poisoning. Without any
proper medical equipment, they haven’t been able to do much for him.

His voice is croaky and weak. ‘Silver . . .’

‘How’s the throwing arm?’

His lips crack into a smile and he tries to sit up but I place a hand on his arm, pushing him down again. I pull his sleeve up to see the veins on the underside of his elbow.

‘I’ve got something to help you.’

‘I’m not eating any more squirrels.’

He tries to lick his lips but his mouth is parched. It looks as if he might cough, so I start rubbing the area around his elbow with a gentle dab of iodine. It is one of the few medical items in
the camp and he winces as I brush the yellowy-brown liquid onto his skin.

‘How old are you?’ I ask with a smile.

‘Nineteen.’

‘Right, and my little brother is half your age and wouldn’t make such a fuss.’

He smiles but his fingers twitch as I hold up the gun-like applicator. Pietra sits behind me on the bed, taking his hand in hers.

‘This might hurt,’ I say. Before he can tense, I push the nib of the device into his arm and squeeze the trigger in one quick movement. It clicks satisfyingly in my hand,
there’s a low whoosh and then it’s over.

He gasps and coughs loudly before rolling onto his front and throwing up into my lap. I am so shocked that I can’t move, but the second heave is deeper and louder as he grunts in pain. I
flail backwards, remembering that I only have the word of someone crazed and dead to say that what I have just injected into Hart is a cure. It could be anything.

Pietra rushes around the bed, still holding his hand. ‘Hart, honey.’

Once more he throws up, this time on the floor, away from me.

Pietra has a hand on his back, smoothing it delicately. ‘Hart, talk to me.’

He is panting for breath, sweat pouring from his forehead and dripping into a puddle on the bed. He tries to speak but the words are caught in his throat. Pietra meets my eyes across his back.
‘What did you inject into him?’

I shake my head. ‘I don’t know . . . he told us it was a cure.’

Hart rolls onto his back as Pietra again shuffles around to keep hold of him. He slaps the other hand to his forehead and wipes away a palmful of sweat, hurling it to the floor. His knees cramp
up to his stomach and after one more grunt of pain, he lies flat, breathing quickly.

‘Hart?’

Suddenly he sits up straight, back rigid, muscles tense. Something is different. There is a twinkle in his eyes and Pietra peers down at her hand, surprised he is squeezing back.

He is smiling at me. ‘You stink.’

I look down at my clothes, drenched with the contents of his stomach. ‘That’s gratitude for you.’

He laughs, running a hand across the bandage on his arm. ‘I feel all right.’

Mum steps around the puddle on the floor and pulls a disapproving face at me as if it is my fault. ‘There are a couple of buckets of rainwater out the back,’ she says, nodding as if
I am still that ten-year-old girl walking into the house with dirty hands and feet.

She checks Hart’s pulse and I don’t argue, hauling myself up and walking around to the rear of the shelter where I drop my clothes on the ground and start to bathe in the water in
front of a cracked mirror. Seeing my reflection without clothes is horrible, even in the exotic blue glow of the moon. As I brush the water across my arms, trying not to shiver in the cold, I can
feel the bones jutting out of my skin. My fingers slip into the gaps between my rack-like ribs. My legs are so straight and shapeless that I’m not sure how they are able to hold me up.

As I finish washing myself, I feel a towel being draped around my shoulders.

‘Hart seems fine,’ Opie says. I feel his arms embrace me as they did last night when I cried myself to sleep next to Faith’s grave. Tonight it doesn’t feel right and I
pull away, using the towel to shield myself from him.

‘Are you okay?’ he asks, stung by my rejection.

‘Cold,’ I reply, goosebumps rising on my arms as if I have willed them there. I throw my clothes into one of the buckets and then head inside, pulling clean clothes out of my bag and
changing in front of the fire close to Pietra and Hart. My mother is watching with disapproval. Whether or not she knows it, let alone whether she likes it, we have had to sleep in such proximity
to each other for warmth that there is little privacy between any of us.

When I am dressed, she examines my ankle, assuring me that it is only bruised, and then straps it up tightly. By the time she is finished, it barely feels injured at all, even though I can still
see the snarl on the Minister Prime’s face as he ruthlessly punched the joint.

At Hart’s bed, Pietra is pushing the hair from his face.

‘How are you feeling?’ I ask.

One of his legs is shaking as if wanting to be put to use. ‘Really good. I want to go and do things.’

‘You should stay here for a while and make sure there are no after-effects.’

Hart is not the teenager I knew before he was taken to Windsor. He had big arms then, and a bulging chest. Now his face is thinner, his frame leaner, but that teenage spark in his eyes from all
those years ago has returned. Whatever was in the medicine we stole seems to have done the trick. This is the first time I have seen Hart not looking sickly.

He glances around, spotting Opie behind me. ‘Are Imrin and Faith sleeping?’

I shake my head.

‘Oh.’

‘Imrin was captured at Windsor . . .’

‘You went back?!’ Hart flips his legs off the bed, his voice raised and annoyed.

I nod towards his arm. ‘It was the only place to get that.’

His hand jolts out, gripping my wrist. I snatch it back, giving him the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t realise how fragile I am feeling.

‘Sorry,’ he says as I rub my wrist. ‘I can’t believe you went back there for me. Why would you do that?’

‘We helped the new Offerings escape too.’

Pietra squeaks involuntarily. ‘All of them?’

Finally, a grin. ‘
All
of them.’

‘We’ve been watching the screens every evening – there hasn’t been anything on there.’

‘Are you surprised? It was bad enough they had to admit that a dozen of us had escaped – they won’t want everyone knowing that another twenty-nine have gone.’

They are both open-mouthed. ‘How did you do it?’ Pietra asks.

I shake my head, tired and knowing it is too long a story for now. ‘When we were leaving, Imrin was trapped. We couldn’t go back for him.’

‘He’s not been on the news either. Perhaps he found a way to escape?’

I’d love to think that was true but the last thing I saw was a Kingsman clinging on to Imrin’s foot. ‘If they’ve not paraded him, it’s because they’re
figuring out what to do with him.’

BOOK: Resurgence
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