Chapter Fifty-One: Water Water Everywhere
Trudging through the gloopy mud Silas ran over to the body of the woman Rory had just killed, the red haired woman lay face down in the river, blood sliding into the rushing water and her canteen still held tightly in her hand. 'I'm so sorry,' he whispered to the woman. Pulling the knife from her spine and pushing her body into the deeper parts of the river with his foot. The current soon caught her and like a dead leaf it flowed, almost serenely, down the bending river.
'We've never seen so many people together like this,' Rory's whispered voice said through the torrential rain as she crouched beside him in the river. 'The Game Operators must be doing this...'
'That means there can't be many of us left.' he said staring into her cerulean eyes. The locks of her hair stuck to her porcelain skin as the rain lashed down upon them relentlessly. 'Get the water then find a place high up to stay the night.' He didn't even need to say anymore, she just nodded and pulled their huge water skins from the pack lashed across her back. She understood, she knew what was coming as much as he did. Running back through the swamp like forest Silas found the body of the man he'd killed, Silas was nearly sick when he saw him...He was just a child. Barely fifteen years old...crouching down Silas said his apologies before he began searching through the boys pockets and pack. He had nothing. Literally. A torn bloodied blanket and an empty ration packet. Silas suddenly felt a little better about killing him, he'd atleast given the boy a quick painless end. Starvation was no way for a person to die, let alone a child. Running back through the mud towards the river Silas found its banks a good four feet wider already, a flood was coming. Where's Rory? A large voice asked in his head. Panic flying through him Silas spun, looking in every direction for her but he couldn't see a thing through the thick foliage.
Heart thundering in his chest he was just about to scream her name when a vine slapped him on the shoulder. Looking up above him he saw Rory crouched on a huge branch like a bird, the vine held in her hand and a wry smile across her face. Breathing out a long sigh of relief Silas felt a small laugh break from his lips, he didn't know why, nothing was particularly funny, but it did. Perhaps it was just a nervous tick, or a coping mechanism. He didn't care really. He was just glad she was safe. And his child. Climbing the vine was harder than he thought, the rain made the tacky mosses that made the vine incredibly moist. So every five inches he climbed he slipped another two. Nearing the top a gentle hand grabbed his as Rory helped him up the last few feet. 'Thanks.' he said breathlessly, hauling himself onto the massive branch Rory had chosen as their bedroom for the night.
'Not done yet.' she grinned. What? Watching her move through the treetops was a strange sight, leaping from branch to branch as elegantly as a dancer but with all the confident and surefooted movements of a mountain goat. Silas tried his best to keep up with her. But he definitely wasn't built for heights. At one point when she walked over two overlapping branches Silas had to hold his arms out to steady himself, and not look down...every time he did the forest floor seemed to rush up towards him and everything started to spin. 'You coming or what?' Rory joked from the other tree. Stood with her hands on her hips and rain sliding gently down her face.
'Oh don't worry I'm coming.' he said, but quiet enough so only he could hear himself. That was the hardest part. And luckily after that it was only a simple climb up to the tree Rory had picked out for them. Reaching it Silas knew she'd chosen well. It had good leaf coverage above them to stop the rain, its branches were incredibly sparse around the bottom so it made it far more difficult for anyone to climb up and the top of the trees trunk had been rotten away. Revealing a large hollow that was just large enough for two people, so long as they weren't afraid of getting a little close. 'Look at that.' Rory said looking over the edge of the branch she sat in. Peering over uneasily Silas saw the forest floor was now nothing but sickly brown water. It covered everything from horizon to horizon, debris and other rubbish from the forest floor now floated on the top, bobbing along passively as the water swept trees and plants away with ease.
'They must be getting desperate.' Silas said staring at the flooded area they were going to be sleeping above.
'How many of us are left?' asked Rory, looking at him inquisitively.
'I dunno'. Six...maybe five?' he said with a shrug.
'We should have kept better track.'
'We had other things to worry about.' he said flicking his eyes to Rory's stomach. Whether the move was sub-conscious or not he didn't know, but she smiled and placed a hand across her waist. Rubbing her palm over her layers of clothes as if trying to sooth the baby beneath. 'It doesn't matter how many are left anyway,' he said turning uneasily and backing into the small hallow. Getting out of the rain felt good, and taking his pack off even better. 'We'll win all the same.' Rory smiled at him from the outside. Soon they were both curled up in the hallow. Rory sat between Silas's legs with her back pressed against his chest, their feet sticking out of their little hole and her own pack tied to a branch high above their heads. Camouflaged with leaves and branches of course. Sharing body heat Silas placed his hands onto her stomach, lifting her jacket and shirt to get skin to skin contact with his child.
'It's not going anywhere you know Silas.' she said jokingly. He didn't even need to see her to know that she was smiling.
Silas however...wasn't. Running his hands across Rory's taught stomach he thought about the child that was growing inside her, his child...he thought what kind of a person they would grow up to be...what they would look like? Would they look like him? Or their mother? What job would they do, what would they find fun? When would they have their first kiss, or learn to read and write, or start climbing? Would he teach them to hunt...fish...who would they fall in love with. Would they have children? Grandchildren...who would they be?
All these questions...and he didn't have the answers. And he never would.
The reality that he would never know his child was finally sinking in, they would be fatherless. Or would they? Would Rory find someone else? Would this mysterious stranger be responsible for raising his child?
This was the unavoidable truth...Silas would never know his child. The thing he created with the woman he loved with all his soul...he would never see it smile, or laugh, or take its first steps, or cry, or run or climb. He wouldn't see any of it. He'd be dead. Burned to ashes and spread on the wind. He'd be a spirit searching for his child...'Silas...Silas!' Rory suddenly barked.
'Huh?' he said, pulling his brain from his dark thoughts.
'Baby what's wrong?' Rory asked, craning her head to the side painfully so she could look at him.
'Nothing.' he said removing his hands from her body. A short silence fell between them as Rory stared at him, he could feel her eyes running across every inch of his face, every scar and every patch of uneaven stubble.
'Silas...you don't have to,'
'Yes I do.' he interrupted. 'I do Rory and nothing you can say is going to change my mind.'
'I...I know...I just wish all this could be different. Easier.'
'Me too.' he said wrapping his arms around her and holding her. 'Me too.'
'I...I sort of thought of some names.' she said shyly.
'Oh?' Silas smiled.
'Yeah. I want our child to know it's father. So if its a boy, Silas. And if it’s a girl, Siren.'
'Siren Savage...catchy.' Silas joked. Rory laughed and elbowed him in the ribs gently. 'I love it.' he whispered hugging her close. Holding the mother of his child, as the sun set beyond the forest canopy.