Those of you who have not read previous installments of this serialized story can find it all on this PAGE.
Memoirs From the End of the World
The next couple of months passed largely without incident. The rebels had to uproot twice within that time, moving their base of operations to keep any patrols, robotic or organic, from figuring out where they were hiding. The snow disappeared, then reappeared a couple more times before melting away for the last time of the season.
The largest indicator of the passage of time, however, came from RC’s body. A distinctive bump began to appear on her slender frame, and she knew her clothes would no longer be able to hide it. The time for full disclosure had come.
RC lay awake long into the night, struggling to work out what to say. Would there be questions about who the father was? Beneath the thin blanket, she rested her hand on her growing stomach. Alyx’s hand rested next to hers as they lay shoulder to shoulder in the dark. He didn’t fill the silence with platitudes, but he didn’t have to. Just having him there next to her in quiet solidarity steadied her.
As it turned out, RC’s worries were unjustified. When she approached Brock and Becca the following morning, Alyx and Harrison were with her. Alyx held her hand while she spit out the only words that would come out of her mouth. “I’m pregnant.”
Brock looked calmly at Harrison. “Have you confirmed this?”
Harrison nodded. “Yes sir.”
Brock glanced back at RC and shrugged. “All right. We’ll take care of you and figure things out as we go.” Then he looked at Becca. “We need to get going if we’re going to have those mines set up in time.”
That was it. No overt concern. No talk about handing her over to the overlords. No awkward questions.
That is, there were no awkward questions until the rebels returned later that night with Ollie in tow. He headed immediately over to confront RC and Alyx. Crouching down beside them, he didn’t waste any time with small talk. “Why didn’t you guys tell me? I had to find out from William.”
“I guess word has traveled fast since this morning,” RC grumbled.
“It’s a sensitive topic,” Alyx insisted. “This isn’t exactly what she’d planned on, you know.”
“So, whose baby is it? Since it’s obviously not yours,” Ollie said with a quick nod to Alyx.
“Obviously not,” Alyx replied, his volume rising in sync with his level of irritation.
Ollie sighed. “I’m sorry, Alyx. I didn’t mean to insult you, but it’s a valid question. I’m not hinting at anything but the simple medical reality that you can’t have kids.”
Which is one of the facts you used to justify getting romantic with him in the first place, she reminded herself. Still, she could have hardly expected everything to work out the way that she planned. And ignoring Ollie’s question would do nothing to change that. “It happened when Alyx and I were captured. Let’s just say that the person who did this to me didn’t ask my permission.”
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Alyx turn away, and she assumed he did so to choke back the anger that still flared up from time to time.
Ollie seemed to deflate a little. He leaned back and bit his lower lip. “To be honest, I should have known by looking at you when we got you out of there. I guess I just ignored the obvious.”
The conversation dwindled after that, though plenty remained to be said. As RC once again dove into the safe embrace of Romero’s pages, she overheard Ollie whispering to Alyx. “What are you going to do about all this? This doesn’t have to be your responsibility, you know.”
“It may not have to be, but it is,” Alyx replied firmly. “I’m going to stand by her through this, and that’s final.” He paused. “Remember talking about leaving the city? How we wanted to find the group that Sheera and Peter came from?”
“Yes. I remember.”
“Rose and I have been thinking that would be the best option. She doesn’t want to have a baby here for obvious reasons.”
Ollie exhaled slowly. “That makes sense. Look, I can help you guys get there, but I won’t be leaving with you. I like it here, and I feel like I’m fighting for something important. You looked after me for long enough. It’s time for me to stand on my own.”
“But . . .” Alyx started to protest, but the words wouldn’t come. Finally, he simply said, “You’re sure about this, aren’t you?”
“You’re sure about staying with her, aren’t you?” Ollie replied. That single question stopped any further inquiries.
“I’ll miss you.”
Ollie laughed nervously. It must have been a tad too much emotion for him to process. “I’ll miss you too.”
Over the next few days, plans fell into place. Brock seemed to have no problem with the departure plans, most likely because that would end his responsibility toward RC before anything became too complicated.
Sheera and Peter seemed anxious to accompany them, and understandably so. That would complicate matters slightly, but it hardly seemed right to deny them the ability to find something of their old lives again.
In the end, they decided to have Ollie and a few more rebel soldiers escort the four of them out of the city. The plans were carefully drawn up over the course of a couple of weeks. Soon the night before their departure arrived, and nerves mounted as they all considered the things that could go wrong.
RC could only hope their plans would unfold the way they’d anticipated. Not that they ever really had.