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Default 10-12-2011, 09:29 PM


Damien had taken a roundabout route back to Rose by taking a detour and going through the amusement park. He took a few more photographs, before looking at his watch and seeing that he and Rose probably should be off if they were going to get to the motel on time. Damien had not been able to face the idea of catching a plane there and back on the same day, so he'd booked a hotel room for himself and Rose. It was a twin bed room, so he didn't think that Rose would have a problem with that. In any case, he was tired and he figured that Rose would be as well. Eventually, after some time of walking, he left the city and entered what had once been the farmland. Here too there was evidence of animal life; prints of the little sharp hooves of wild boar, with small marks indicating babies. Damien wasn't worried about them, and he didn't worry for Rose, who would no doubt be able to speak to the boar.

The old farmland was full of noises, but only of animal life. It was a lot easier on the nerves than the deserted city, with its near silence and complete lack of any human life save that of visitors. Damien wondered how it would be for the scientists and workers who came here all the time. Surely all the silence would tell on most people? Perhaps, since the workers were being paid a day's wage for working an hour or so, they didn't mind. Or they tried not to think about how it felt to live in a city deserted by people. Damien soon made it back to where he'd left Rose and the bike.


When Damien appeared, Rose grinned. The cat eyed him, then turned to Rose and meowed, "He's certainly good-looking for a two-legged." She winked at Rose, then called for her kittens. The kittens tumbled after her as she left. Generally, the other animals took this as their cue to leave, and a good many of them eyed Damien nervously, for they sensed the predator in him. Rose sat there blushing, glad that it wouldn't show on her rich, dark skin; she knew Damien had no idea what the cat had said, and she didn't want him to.

She stood and brushed her clothes off, then said, "Well, how'd your little project go? And where do we go to next?"


Once Damien returned to where he'd left Rose, he relaxed. She was safe and surrounded by animals; but then, Damien knew that she'd be in no danger there. In reply to Rose's question, Damien replied, "I booked us a motel room; we can go there. Of course, we can't go there straight away. We'll need to go to the place where we got the food so that we can head round the back and shower, and decontaminate our clothes. That won't take long. Then we can head to the hotel. I've already had a look around the city; if you want to go, you can but there isn't that much animal life there, that's all in the villages and farmland. Just mainly rats and mice living in the city."

Damien walked to the bike and started up the motor, warming it up because it had stood there for a while idle. The hotel that Damien had booked a room at also had internet access; not in the bedroom of course, but in a computer room inside the main hotel. He was going to scan in the photos he'd taken and send them as an attachment in an email to his private email address, just in case he lost the camera or something else untoward happen. This is how Damien always operated, and it worked well. He would of course print out the photos once they got back and send it along with his report to the President by courier.


"Well, let's go, then," Rose said. She walked with Damien over to the bike, waiting for it to warm up. They'd arrived in the late afternoon, and now the sky was ablaze with the reds and golds of sunset. Where the sky wasn't flaming, it was a soft blue-purple. Rose stared up at the sky and inhaled deeply; it was back to city air after this, and she didn't much look forward to it. She smiled as a bird flew by overhead, only the black silhouette visible against the rapidly darkening sky.

After a minute or two in silence, Rose looked back down and at Damien. She found it remarkable how, only a day or so ago, she'd been unaffected by his more subtle good looks, that she'd only seen the boy from her past. But he wasn't just a boy any more, he was rapidly becoming a man, and she knew that now. Funny that she'd only noticed reality when he'd planted her with a kiss; for an aspiring scientist, she could be remarkably unobservant. She waited for him to indicate for her to get on the bike so that they could leave.


After a while, the bike was thoroughly warmed up. Damien took a last look around, before indicating to Rose to get on the bike behind him when he did. Damien got on, waited til Rose was secure enough on the seat behind him, then he took off down the road. As before, Damien made sure of avoiding the larger cracks in the unkempt road so as to make the ride smoother for Rose. The city was now behind them, and they just had to ride down to the checkpoint so that they could be let out of the dead zone. Though, for a so called dead zone, the place was crawling with life. Perhaps not human life, but certainly all kinds of nature and plant life, and it would be empty of people for some time. Even after the deadly radiation had lessened, perhaps people would not want to inhabit the scene of such a devastating tragedy and loss of life; perhaps it would simply remain as a monument for ever more.

Damien and Rose arrived at the checkpoint as the sun went down. The guards nodded at them and raised the barrier to let them go through. Damien raised a hand, then gunned the engine of the bike. He was now going to make for the halfway place in Kiev where they could decontaminate themselves and after that, to the hotel. He had the hire of the bike til the next morning; there would be plenty of time to return the bike to the shop before they caught their flight. Damien himself hoped to return to the dead city one day; he had always been interested in the place, and there was just something about it that appealed to him. Maybe Rose would come too. He certainly hoped so. He found that he cared a lot about Rose, and wanted her by his side. But next time, Damien thought, he'd let Rose choose where they went.

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