They gave us five minutes, and I never saw him again. "Goodbye," I whispered, my throat choked with emotion and my eyes filling with hot, uncontainable tears. "Doc, goodbye."
He didn't say anything, still muttering to himself. But it looked like he was crying too, and that touched me. Finally, after what seemed like the longest pause in history but also passed far too quickly for normal time, he said, "This can't be the end. This can't be goodbye. It's too soon, Shelley, too soon."
"Goodbyes always come too soon," I replied. "But we'll meet again. I'm sure of it." I hugged him again. We seemed to spend all our time hugging, but perhaps that was because the only moments we had together were quite possible our last on this world: we were constantly in danger, constantly trying to make up for what might happen.
"Don't let them take you without a fight," he said fiercely.
"Do you think I'm really likely to?" I replied, my warrior spirit returning with a vengeance. "Trust me, they won't take this 'queen' without just a little bit of difficulty. I may never have had to go to school but I'm still strong enough to protect myself. I've just never had any bullies to test it on." I laughed. It was a humourless sound. "These are just bullies, but bigger."
"Keep thinking like that," said Doc. "Maybe that'll help you to keep going." The Voices were coming closer again, warning us that our time was almost up. On an impulse, Doc whispered to me, "My name is Shane." I took the name to my heart -- I would remember it.
"Goodbye, Doctor Shane Waltham," I said ironically. "Bye, Shane."
He looked me in the eyes and responded with a soft, personal, "Goodbye, Shelley." Then they took him away, out of the room to whatever tortures or mind games they had decided would be his fate. And as I said before, I never saw him again.
Every night I would look up at the stars and remember him. I cried every evening for about a week, alone in the room that was so like mine and yet so different. No one had bothered me but my grief was enough to hurt like any knives. Shane. Where was he? Was he even alive?
Three years later and still I look for him at night, looking up at the stars in an effort to see his face, like a sign. Three years later and still I haven't forgotten him. Not a day goes by when I do not think of him.
Is he alive?
I just wish I knew where they took him. Because the last thing I saw was his pale, frightened face -- so young, so vulnerable, despite his years -- as they dragged him out of the room away from me, and how everything was slow motion monochrome before it returned with colour, and I was seeing red.
They had taken my Doc away from me.