I have a sinking feeling about this story now, but I have to push on and try to finsih it.
Fourth part below, for what it’s worth…
“Are you going to hop a train?” he asks her. The train line is the towns main artery, more so than the roads. It’s little station more for commerce than passengers, the cattle yards over beyond the building they stand atop.
Not that the trains stop for long now, most of the stock has gone and the jobs with it.
The town is withering on the vine.
No-one comes to Thunder Rock now.
Not by chance anyway.
They all turn up with a purpose, looking for something, even if they don’t know it.
Out in the desert, many miles to their west a couple hold each other in a camper van. He is cool, calm, she is tired, hungry and scarred.
Both of them waiting for darkness so they can get on the move again, get to Thunder Rock and wait.
The young man looks twenty but he has been to the town before, a long, long time before Val, Ellie or even Alex Swanmore were born.
This time when he gets to the town, he’s going to wait for as long as it takes.
He wants answers and he’s prepared to wait centuries for them if he has to.
To the east Joseph Lincoln lays awake in his small shack, made all the smaller by the cheap mattresses nailed to all the walls.
He lays gnawing on his thumb, wide-eyed waiting for night and the voices to whisper in his ear.
Every night he resolves to ignore them, to screw his eyes shut and clamp the thin, filthy pillow over his ears and wait it out until morning.
But they’ll insist and cajole and eventually he’ll have to rise and sit at the table and start to draw and after a while the voices will subside and he will be left with four or five sheets of fantastic designs.
He will pin them to the wall and in the morning, despite the door remaining firmly shut and no one entering the shack, they will be gone.
Joseph hates the voices, not because they scare him, or because of the obscene ideas they place in their mind but because without them he cannot draw or plan at all.
They make him feel alive.
Back on top of the roof Ellie looks at Val with a cold, clear clarity as if this is a moment she has been practising for.
She pulls her self upright and tells Val, “I’m not taking the train. I’m flying out.”
“Flying?” Val looks around him and back at her, “Flying? How are you flying out, there’s no airstrip here!”
There is a horrible look in her eyes now and Val isn’t certain but he thinks he’s seen it before somewhere and it scares him.
“No plane. I’m flying away. Me.”
As he struggles to understand what it is she means, she reaches into her jacket and produces a test tube.
An honest-to-God test tube, complete with an orange rubber stopper in the top.
She holds it up, looking at it, a strange half smile flickers across her lips as she looks up at the clear, purple liquid within.
Val looks back at her to see that there are tears in her eyes, but she is not crying.
The sleeve has slipped down her wrist, there is an ugly purple bruise on her arm, the same colour as the sky.
Her voice cracks slightly.
“I made this. It will make me fly.”