Tuesday, 9 May 2022 - Later, Way Later

There are a few things that Leo told me. One, he told me he wouldn’t tell me anything unless I showed him where I hid my bike. Two, he told me he wouldn’t tell me anything unless I taught him how to ride it and fixed it to be good enough for him to cross the big fields on it. Three, he told me the only thing he would tell me before I did those things was that he was absolutely, one-hundred-percent sure and he could swear on the life of his daughter, that Jacques was murdered by people in the Kitchen Staff.

Four, he told me he loved me more than he had ever loved anyone in his life, and that he would like nothing better than to run away from here with me and find us a nice place to live in the Outside, and work as “one of those guys who turn on the streetlights when the sky starts to turn black again”. I said I didn't think that was a profession, and that I wasn’t even sure there was a person who did that, that it was probably controlled by computers or something. He said, “I don't care. I love you. It will all work out, I promise”.

So I did it. I went to get my bike in the place I’d hidden it – it’s a very good hiding place, and I still don't think it’s a good idea to write it down here, just in case I ever want to hide anything else there – and I spent the following five hours fixing it. What did I fix it with? Leo took me to the place where they’re building The Bomb. They had all sorts of bike parts there. It's really just a big warehouse filled with old stuff. I couldn’t make much sense of it. Leo wouldn’t say a word about anything. He didn’t show me The Bomb, obviously. I was barely allowed in, I just told him what things I needed and he went to get them for me. Except, he didn’t know what any of them were, I had to describe them, and he kept bringing me the completely wrong thing. We got there in the end. I think the bike is in pretty good shape now. It’s rideable, more rideable than it was before. It’s hard to say if Leo will be able to cross the big fields on it, though. It’s just hard to say if anybody will ever be able to cross the big fields on anything. Your best shot is always to rely on nothing but your feet, really. I do understand Leo, though. No one else has a bike around here.

After I finished working on the bike, we both went for a walk up the Grassy Hills, where there were still some tents up and some food and some cheap wine left. We sat down on the grass and started drinking cheap wine straight out of the bottle, both of us really gulping it down. “Things have turned so ugly so quickly”, I said, about midway through our second bottle. We had been sobbing in silence for the last half hour. Leo put his arm around me and squeezed my shoulder tight. “I’m not going to have sex with you”, I said immediately, “I’m just, I’m sorry, no”. “I know”, he said, “I wasn’t expecting you to. I just want to be close to you”. “Why?”, I asked. “There’s just no one else like you in this awful place”. He put his face right next to mine, so close I could feel the warmth of his breath. “You make me want to live”, he said, and I laughed. “What are you on about, Leo?”. It was obscene, no question about it. Even I thought it was obscene. He was fucking up everything. “Stop being so emotional”, I said, and the minute I heard it coming out of my mouth it made me want to stab my foot with a knife. He was the one to snigger then. “Come on”, he said, “You know what I’m talking about. Don't tell me they've managed to suck it all out of you”. “They?”. “They. Us. All of us.”. “No. I’m still struggling to let go of a few things”. He touched my hand. “Alejandra”, he started saying, and his eyes started getting full again. “Please”, he squeezed my hand tight, “Don't let them go”.

Things have started hurting lately. I don't really know what it is. What confuses me is that I kind of like it.

“So, what do you have to tell me?”, I asked him.

“I know what happened to Jacques”, he said. “I'm listening. Carry on,” I said. “Did anyone tell you how he died?”, he asked me. “No one told me anything. I didn't ask”. “Why not?”. “Didn’t feel like I could”. “Of course”. “Listen”, he said. “Did you ever wonder why Jonah took you on that trip to the Outside? Did you ever wonder why we even sent Jonah, of all people, who isn’t involved in building The Bomb, to go buy materials for it?”. “Yes”, I said, “I don't know why. Jonah took me because we are In Love”. He laughed, and kissed my neck.

It was a Tuesday night just like any other. Some of the colourful tents had been left up, the people in charge of them most likely found a date for the night and are going to have to wake up early tomorrow and come back here to take them down, and they will chat and play with each other’s hair and talk about their how their nights went, and they will say it was all very dissolving and very beautiful, because everything is beautiful, and they will tease each other and pinch each other’s boobs and butts and laugh, and they will probably open some cheap wine, too, even though it will be so early in the morning, and they will sip it and they will sit on the grass for a bit and watch as the sky turns pink again.

“Leo, what happened to Jacques?”

“He was killed. It was all planned. That’s the reason why we sent you and Jonah away, we needed you out of the way so we could kill him. That’s it. I don’t know who killed him. I know it was someone from the Kitchen Staff”. I was trying to decipher what he was feeling as he said these words. He didn’t seem sad or angry or resentful, but there was no noticeable absence of feeling either, he wasn’t trying to hold anything back or hide anything from me. He seemed calm, almost content, and definitely conforming. “And”, he continued, and I saw the muscles on his face get just the slightest bit tense, “Alejandra...”, he looked at me, he was trying to say something that went beyond his words now. “Alejandra”, he said. “It’s not the first time”. I just looked at him. “Not even close”.

“You’re building a bomb to wipe every single person off the face of the planet” was all I could say. "No," he said, “I don’t want to anymore. I don’t want it all to end”. He kissed me on my forehead and whispered, “Do you?”. The good thing was that I didn’t have to make my way back to the dormitories on my own this time. That almost made me feel like things are actually looking up.