“No.” Annabeth states stubbornly, her arms folded across her chest. I can tell by the look in her eye that she’s not going to change her mind easily, her gaze is stiff and cold, aimed to intimidate and shrink me down. She swiftly spins on her heel and storms away, not wanting to prolong the conversation.
“But why not?” I ask, racing up behind her, “We go in, get the files, read them, and see what all the fuss is about. I mean, Charles did seem very confident that we’d be convinced by the information they contain.”
“The facility will be heavily guarded, and if those files are as important as you think they are, then it would be nearly impossible to get them. It would be too dangerous.” Annabeth points out, not looking me in the eye.
“Everything we do is dangerous.” I argue, not giving in. Annabeth turns to look at me, placing her hand on my left shoulder.
“Everything we did.” She corrects me before turning back around. I sigh, raising my hands up in the air. Can’t she see? This is what we’ve been waiting for? Something to finally give us a purpose amidst this chaos.
“You said yourself we needed more information before we picked our side, surely this is the perfect chance to get that information?” Daniel backs me up, having his say on the argument. Annabeth just rolls her eyes, acting as if our opinions don’t matter as much as her own.
“We can’t go. End of discussion.” She decides, trying to put an end to the matter.
“But why?” Daniel copies my earlier question style, contradicting his cousin.
“I said end of discussion.” Annabeth re-iterates, turning her back on us. Daniel grabs her arm and spins her back around, refusing to back down.
“You don’t get to dictate us, you’re not our leader.” He spits, not letting go of her wrist. The two remain complete eye contact, not letting the other claim authority.
“Well maybe I should be if this is how you’d all act without me. It’s a suicide mission, and I won’t allow it.” She murmurs, being perfectly clear. She’s addressing all of us, even though Daniel is the only one she’s looking at.
“You haven’t earned any authority,” Daniel shakes his head, “Leaders have to be open with their team. So tell us why we can’t do this!”
“Because we only have one gun!” Annabeth yells, screaming out at the top of her lungs. She pulls her arm out of Daniel’s grasp and raises her hands to her face, dropping to the ground. I can hear her faint sobs pulling at my conscience, clearly we missed something big here. “We only have one gun, don’t you understand that?” She looks up again, her face red and swollen, “Things aren’t like they were before, we don’t have the resistance backing us, or money for disguises, and we only have one gun. That facility will be full of security guards ready to fire at anyone causing trouble. It’s not like before, we’re not equipped enough. It’s one gun against hundreds. We won’t make it out of there alive.”
All this time, we’ve believed that Annabeth was fine, that she was adjusting the best out of all of us, but, of course, we were wrong. Like the rest of us, Annabeth is hurting, she’s just doing so quieter than the rest of us. The resistance was her entire life, and now she owns just one quarter of a gun. We all jumped at the chance to go on another mission and get back out in the field, and she had to put aside her own desire to feel that...that rush, because she had to be the rational one, and remind us all of the impossible position we are in.
Annabeth is right, it’s one gun against hundreds.
We won’t succeed, we’ll probably die trying.
It’s time we all moved on.
Daniel and I both back away slowly, guilt forcing our footsteps backwards as we leave Annabeth to cry silently in the corner. I move over to the window, using my sleeve to remove the thick layer of dust that has covered the top of the pane. The sky is very blue today. Normally I would see the vibrant colour and smile, seeing only perfection and strength...but for some reason, today I do not get the same reaction. The cloudless sky almost seems lonely to me, upset and hurt by the absence of those little white blobs that used to keep it company through both day and night. The bold colour seems weaker, as if the blinding light it emits is meant to hide it’s pain, instead of showing it’s enthusiasm. And yet, it is still just a sky. There’s nothing all to special about this section blue ceiling of the earth. The more I look at it the more drawn in I become, until it’s fully hypnotised me into a state so dazed I am oblivious to every movement and sound around me. Almost like it’s calling to me, wanting me there with it, just for a little bit of company. After all, strength comes from unity, not individuality. I think the sky might need a few clouds, to shield it from the eyes of everyone who, like me, looks up at it in times of dreariness, boredom, or, indeed, loneliness.
With only the sun to aide it, the sky lights up the earth, shining it’s rays onto the nearby bushes which brighten up under it’s touch, turning a confident shade of green, perhaps they are thanking it? I wish I could find a way of doing so, my skin is pale and cold from being trapped indoors for so long, rarely getting a chance to break free from my hiding. When the sun touches me it touches my cage, the barn I sleep and wander in, and in those brief moments when I can at last feel that soothing radiation, I am too busy rushing or running to stop, pause, and appreciate. And on days like this, with no clouds in the sky, I miss that heated sunlight even more.
“What are you thinking about?” Daniel walks up behind me, wrapping his arms around my waist...pulling me closer to him.
“Sunlight, would you believe it?” I murmur, keeping my eyes fixed on the scene that awaits me out of the window.
“I sometimes think about it too,” Daniel sympathises, “All that world that we might never get too see because we’re stuck inside this shed...sometimes safety comes at the price of freedom.” I nod, leaning my head back so it rests against his chest. I think about the lonely sky and generous sun, and how they are always so resilient. No matter what happens, you can always count on the sun rising tomorrow. And yes, I know these are but silly metaphors that I use to soothe my worries, but they seem so real to me that I can no longer escape them. I want to be like the sun, never giving up, never giving in, and never ever hiding, despite what the day may bring.
“What do you think is in those files that makes them so important?” I ask Daniel, still staring at the sky.
“Whatever it is we’re never going to get to see it, you heard Annabeth, it’s a suicide mission.” Daniel shakes his head, sighing quietly.
“The sun won’t stop rising because you’re not there to see it.” I whisper under my breathe.
“What?” Daniel hears me.
“Nothing.” I quickly mutter, breaking free from his hold. “I’m thirsty, I’m going to go and boil the kettle.” I excuse myself, walking over to our make-do ‘kitchen’. It contains a semi-broken camping stove, chipped frying-pan, a mini-fridge that we have to help out by surrounding it with ice-packs, and a kettle that it more limescale than metal. I get to work boiling some water, washing out a mug whilst I wait.
“Need a hand?” Max offers, handing me a tea-bag.
“Thanks.” I force a smile, placing it inside my damp mug so that a few brown droplets emerge.
“You know, Annabeth and Daniel seem pretty set on you not going to get those files.” Max states the obvious, confusing me in the process. Why make such a pointless and blatant comment out of the blue like that? In fact, why make it at all?
“What’s that got to do with anything?” I raise my eyebrows, pouring the water and taking a seat, using the mug to warm my chilly hands.
“Are you going to listen to them?” He interrogates me, also sitting down.
“Of course.” I nod stiffly, looking away and up to the ceiling.
“Really?” Max checks, “I thought you’d be more hesitant to drop this new lead.”
“Well, I do have a few concerns over the current approach, but Annabeth is right, the mission would be impossible.” I explain, still not meeting his gaze.
“Nearly impossible,” he corrects me, “And if you want my opinion, I think we shouldn’t be so quick to give up.” A part of me agrees with his view, and it tugs and tugs at my mind to say something to confirm it, but my hesitation is still powerful.
“It would be even harder with two instead of four.” I remind him.
“It’s going to be hard no matter what.”
“But what about-”
“Stop overthinking it, we both know what you want to do, deep deep down inside.” Max tries to sway me, and I at last turn around to look at him.
“Even if we don’t die, they’ll both be super angry at us when we get back.” I try once more to try and persuade both Max and myself.
“It will be worth it though.” Max argues.
“Yes,” I cave in, “It will.”