|Английски оригинал||Перевод на български|
Glass and Luke were silent as they left his flat for the very last time. As they stepped into the eerily empty corridor, Glass reached for LukeвЂ™s hand, shocked by the silence. The chaos that had overwhelmed the ship for the past few days seemed to have died down, washed away by a heavy tide of despair. The dim ceiling lights flickered wearily, like an exhausted child trying to keep his eyes open.
They took the main stairs quietly, finally reaching the lower levels of the ship, which were used to house the electrical and plumbing systems. Neither spoke until Glass pulled Luke to a stop in front of the air vent, then reached up to remove the grate.
вЂњPlease,вЂќ Luke said. вЂњAllow me.вЂќ He pulled the grate from the wall and placed it on the ground with exaggerated delicacy. вЂњAnd to think, all those hours I spent worrying what kind of date to take you on, it turns out we couldвЂ™ve gone on a romantic crawl through the ventilation system.вЂќ
вЂњItвЂ™s all your influence,вЂќ Glass said, managing a smile despite the prickle of tears she could feel building behind her eyes.
вЂњWhat?вЂќ Luke reached out and ruffled her hair. вЂњSlumming it?вЂќ
Glass rose up onto her toes to give him a kiss. вЂњBeing adventurous.вЂќ
Luke pulled her into a hug. вЂњI love you,вЂќ he murmured into her ear. Then he boosted her into the vent, waited for her to climb inside, and replaced the grate.
Glass paused for a moment to wipe away the tears threatening to obscure her vision. вЂњI love you too,вЂќ she whispered, knowing that Luke wouldnвЂ™t be able to hear it. Then she gritted her teeth and began to crawl down the narrow metal chute.
As she slowly made her way forward, straining to see in the dim light, Glass tried to imagine the look on her motherвЂ™s face when she opened the door. Would she be overwhelmed with relief? Or would part of her still be furious that Glass had risked her life by sneaking onto Walden? The thought of all the pain sheвЂ™d caused her mother over the past year made GlassвЂ™s heart cramp. If this was the end, then she needed one last chance to apologize, one final opportunity to tell her how much she loved her.
Glass winced as her ankle knocked against the metal wall. If someone had told her two years ago that she would someday crawl through an air vent from Walden to Phoenix, sheвЂ™d have laughed in their face. Things had been different thenвЂ”she had been different. She smiled in the darkness. Now her life might be in danger, but it was finally one worth fighting for.
вЂњвЂ¦ when the Cataclysm struck, there were one hundred and ninety-five sovereign nations, although the vast majority had joined one of the four major alliances.вЂќ
Glass yawned, covering her mouth halfheartedly. Their tutor had dimmed the lights to make the holograms easier to see, so there was little chance that she would notice that Glass wasnвЂ™t paying attention.
вЂњIn the first six weeks of World War Three, nearly two million people were killedвЂ¦вЂќ
вЂњCora,вЂќ Glass whispered, leaning over the desk. вЂњCora.вЂќ
Cora lifted her head and blinked sleepily at Glass. вЂњWhat?вЂќ
вЂњвЂ¦ and in the next six months, more than five million died of starvation.вЂќ
вЂњDid you get my messages?вЂќ
Cora rubbed her eyes, then blinked again, activating her cornea slip. She squinted as she scrolled through her unread messages, including one from Glass asking if she wanted to go to the Exchange after tutorial.
A few seconds later, there was a flash in the top right corner of GlassвЂ™s vision field. She blinked as a message from Cora appeared. Sure, if weвЂ™re fast. I have to meet my mother at 3.
Why? Glass blinked back.
Glass smiled. вЂњGreenhouse dutyвЂќ was CoraвЂ™s familyвЂ™s code for when they took an extra visit to the solar fields. It was totally illegal, but the guards turned a blind eye because CoraвЂ™s father was the Resources Chief and no one wanted to risk upsetting him. Glass didnвЂ™t really care that CoraвЂ™s family got the best produce this wayвЂ”her family had perks of their ownвЂ”and Cora let her come over for fresh berries every now and then.
вЂњYes, Clarke?вЂќ The tutor gestured toward a girl in the front row who had her hand raised. Glass and Cora rolled their eyes. Clarke always had a question, and the tutors were so delighted by her вЂњintellectual curiosityвЂќ that they let her babble on, even after class was supposed to have ended.
вЂњHad any species already gone extinct? Or did that all happen after the Cataclysm?вЂќ
вЂњThatвЂ™s an interesting question, Clarke. By the middle of the twenty-first century, at least a third of theвЂ¦вЂќ
вЂњI wish sheвЂ™d go extinct,вЂќ Glass muttered, not bothering to blink it to Cora as a message.
Cora laughed, then sighed and placed her head back on her desk. вЂњWake me up when itвЂ™s over.вЂќ
Glass groaned. вЂњThat girl needs to get a life,вЂќ she whispered. вЂњIf she doesnвЂ™t shut up, IвЂ™m going to float her.вЂќ
After their tutor finally dismissed them, Glass jumped to her feet and grabbed CoraвЂ™s hand. вЂњCome on,вЂќ she whined. вЂњI need to find buttons for that dress.вЂќ
вЂњAre you going to the Exchange?вЂќ Clarke asked eagerly, looking up from her desk. вЂњIвЂ™ll come with you. IвЂ™m trying to find a pillow for my friend.вЂќ
Glass ran her eyes up and down ClarkeвЂ™s ensemble of pants and a shirt so dowdy, they couldвЂ™ve come from the Arcadia Exchange. вЂњYou can burn those pants, stuff the ashes into the shirt, and voilГ , a new pillow for your friend and one less eyesore for us.вЂќ
Cora burst out laughing, but the thrill of accomplishment Glass was expecting never came. ClarkeвЂ™s eyes widened with hurt and surprise, then she pressed her lips together and spun away without a word.
Whatever, Glass thought. ThatвЂ™s what she gets for being a suck-up and ruining everyone elseвЂ™s day.
Since theyвЂ™d been kept late, Cora didnвЂ™t wind up having time for the Exchange, so Glass went home. She hated shopping by herself. She didnвЂ™t like the way the guards stared at her when the officer in charge wasnвЂ™t looking. Or the way men stared at her when their wives werenвЂ™t looking, for that matter.
On the walk back, she thought about ways to make her father give her more of their ration points. The Remembrance Day Celebration was coming up, and for once, Glass was determined to have a prettier dress than Cora.
She scanned into the flat and tossed her school bag on the floor. вЂњMom?вЂќ she called. вЂњMom, do you know where Dad is?вЂќ
Her mother wandered out from her bedroom. Her face was pale under her artfully applied blush, and her eyes glistened strangely, though it mightвЂ™ve just been a trick of the light. вЂњWhatвЂ™s wrong?вЂќ Glass asked, looking over her shoulder. She wished her father would get here. She never knew what to do when her mother was in one of her moods. вЂњWhereвЂ™s Dad? Is he still at work? I want to talk to him about my allowance.вЂќ
вЂњYour fatherвЂ™s gone.вЂќ
вЂњGone? What do youвЂ”?вЂќ
вЂњHe left us. HeвЂ™s moving in withвЂќвЂ”she closed her eyes for a momentвЂ”вЂњthat girl from the committee.вЂќ Her voice was flat, as if sheвЂ™d tucked her emotions away as neatly as one of her elaborate dresses.
Glass froze. вЂњWhat do you mean?вЂќ
вЂњIt means your allowance is the least of our problems,вЂќ Sonja said, sinking onto the couch and closing her eyes. вЂњWe have nothing.вЂќ
Her feet were cramping and her hands were raw by the time Glass crawled around the corner of the vent that led onto Phoenix. She prayed there wouldnвЂ™t be guards on the other side, that sheвЂ™d be able to turn right around and bring Luke back with her. With everything that was going on, surely she could keep Luke out of sight until they made it to her motherвЂ™s flat, and then figure out how to get onto one of the dropships.
Back when she first thought of going to EarthвЂ”when she was pulled from her Confinement cell and told that she and ninety-nine others would be sent to the surface on a dropshipвЂ”the idea of the planet had filled her with terror. But now, a different image of life on the ground began to take shape. Holding hands with Luke as they walked through the woods. Sitting on the top of a hill in perfect, contented silence as they watched a real sunset. Perhaps some cities had survivedвЂ”what if they could go to Paris like the couple on LukeвЂ™s plates?
She was smiling as she reached forward to grasp the grate on the Phoenix side, but she couldnвЂ™t take hold. Her fingers scratched around for purchase and found nothing. She could feel the edges of the vent; something flat was covering it, sealing it shut from the other side.
Glass rolled over so her feet were facing the end of the air shaft. She took a deep breath and kicked. Nothing happened. She kicked again, this time crying out in frustration when the grate rattled, but stayed in place. вЂњNo!вЂќ she exclaimed, wincing as her voice echoed through the vent. Camille mustвЂ™ve blocked it off from the other side to keep anyone from following her. It made senseвЂ”one Walden stowaway had a much better chance of staying hidden than a whole stream of them. But in doing so, sheвЂ™d sentenced Glass and Luke to die.
Glass hugged her knees to her chest, trying not to imagine the look on LukeвЂ™s face when she told him the path was blocked. How heвЂ™d use every ounce of self-control to look stoic and brave, but wouldnвЂ™t be able to keep the despair from flickering in his eyes.
SheвЂ™d never get to see her mother. When the oxygen finally ran out on Phoenix, Sonja would be all alone, huddled in her tiny flat as she wheezed a last good-bye to the daughter whoвЂ™d disappeared without a word.