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Beyond frustrated, Milo threw himself into his morning's work. One by one he tossed the bags of coal into the wheelbarrow, hauled them to the truck in batches, and filled the bed up with the deliveries until it was full enough for him to drive back. [i He's going to get himself killed,] his panicked thoughts played on repeat as he white-knuckled the steering wheel.
His distraction must have been evident. More than once on his rounds, he'd neglected to notice someone speaking to him. The surly butcher slammed his meat cleaver into the wood of the counter just to get his attention, and Mrs Dowley of the greenhouses smacked him upside the head when he didn't hear her request for another seed delivery. His apologies were hurried, albeit halfhearted.
Milo's brain was so overwhelmed with figuring out what Laurel had gotten himself into, that he'd forgotten to get Selene the apple he'd promised her on his way to the school grounds. By that point, the sun was high in the clouds and he was the image of a crazed man, with his curly hair flying wild and charcoal stains on his skin and clothes.
Spotting her coming around the corner, he felt the first wave of relief he'd had all day. [b "Something's happened,"] he murmured frantically as soon as he was close enough to grab her hands. [b "It's Laurel."]
Ensuring they weren't spotted, he lead her to a more secluded area behind the building. Though his paranoia ensured he checked the area twice more before speaking. [b "I caught Laurel in the coal reserves this morning. He'd stolen a bag. Or, was in the process of stealing it. Hell, I don't even know if he's done it before."]
He was jittery on his feet, bouncing on his heels. His hand flew to his mouth to chew nervously on his thumbnail. A bad habit he'd not yet kicked. [b "I chased him but he's stronger than I am. I couldn't keep him down for long."]
Milo's eyes locked on hers. [b "He'll be killed for this."]
[center Sure enough, once it was time to start giving out rations, Selene and Mary, along with the other women around them, found themselves with their hands full. They were having to distribute less that day, and the people seemed to notice right away. But there wasn't much they could do except for tell them that that was all. Selene was even accused at one point by someone, though she wasn't the only one. Had some of the soldiers not appeared when they did, she was sure things would've gotten ugly.]
[center When things did finally calm down, Selene leaned against the wall and sighed, glancing at Mary. She had a bad feeling in her stomach now that she couldn't shake, and this time, she didn't have a solution to the problem. Mary shook her head before walking over to her, placing a hand on her shoulder. [b [i "If you need a break, love, then run off before things pick up again."]]]
[center [b "Are you sure?"] she asked, biting the inside of her cheek. She'd hate to leave her there to deal with everything alone. Despite there being other people around, she knew they wouldn't help her near as much as she did.]
[center The older woman nodded before smiling at her. [b [i "I've got this handled. Just don't stay gone too long."]]]
[center Nodding, Selene quickly took off, immediately heading for the school. While she usually listened to Mary, she would take as long as she had to to wait on Milo and tell him. This wasn't the kind of thing she was willing to keep from him, if he hadn't already heard.]
The mine was uncontested as the most depressing area of the town. Overalls hung on rusted hooks, coated in thick grease and soot. Uniforms were only washed once a week as it was deemed a waste of time to do so after every shift. The stench of sweat and muck clung to the material. Then men who wore them were just as rough and filthy.
Milo lost track of Laurel in shuffle of miners dispersing once the truck came to a stop. They gathered their tools, donned their overalls, and disappeared into the mouth of the pit. Unable to continue his inquiries with his friend, he trudged through the mud to the foreman's shack. [b "Delivery boy, present and accounted for,"] he knocked two knuckles on the open door.
A veteran of the mine, Clifton Briar was a bear of a man. He responded with a grunt and waved a paper at Milo. [i "Ten stops today. You'll have to pack it up yourself. Bags and coal are in the barn. Scale's there too. Weigh each bag until they're all the same, and each delivery gets two bags. No more, no less. Should keep you busy for the day."]
The silence that followed made it clear that Milo had been dismissed. [b "Sir, yes sir,"] he muttered under his breath.
The barn was by far the largest building on the property, protecting the massive piles of the black rocks pulled from the walls underground. It housed the entire town's supply, which was horrifying in the sense that one spark would set the whole thing ablaze in an instant and their power would be lost. Milo approached with thought in the back of his mind, not even recognizing the door was open an inch.
The shadowed sight of a crouched form frantically shoveling coal into a burlap bag caught him off guard and nearly stopped his heart. [b "Hey!"] he barked out, finding his voice. [b "What the hell are you doing?"]
The man's head turned and the light from outside caught his face. [b "Laurel, what the fuck?"] Milo pulled the door shut in a panic.
[i "Keep your voice down,"] his friend was calmer than the situation called for.
[b "Are you out of your mind?"] Milo stepped closer. [b "Do you want Clifton to shoot you where you stand? You shouldn't be in here."]
Laurel remained neutral. [i "I need you to trust me. This is what I do, I'm not going to be caught"]
[b "[i I] caught you!"] he argued.
It was madness. He knew that his friend had kleptomaniac tendecies; hell, he'd benefited from it himself. But this was different. This was treasonous in the eyes of the law. Laurel was silent as he walked around him to the door. Milo's heart was hammering. [i "Yet I'm not worried that you're going to report me."]
Before Milo could respond, Laurel was out the door in a run. He hesitated for only a moment before taking off after him. The path disappeared into the trees around the bend, leading away from the mine. He moved as quickly as he could, but Laurel's legs were longer and he stayed ahead. [b "Would you stop!"] Milo yelled, but it fell on deaf ears.
They were leaping over tree roots and stumps, barreling between the bushes. Twigs hanging down were catching their faces and nicking their skin. Milo could feel the sting that they left behind. [b "Enough!"] he snapped after chasing him for more than several minutes.
He lunged for Laurel's leg, catching him around the ankle. It tripped him up just enough to send him crashing to the forest floor. The breath was stolen from his lungs. Milo hurried to keep him pinned, using his knee to press down on Laurel's chest. [b "Are you fucking insane?"] he yelled in his face. [b "You know what they do to people for stealing from the town's resources!"]
Laurel's face finally cracked into an expression of agitation. Using his larger frame, he rolled until he was the one pinning his opponent down. [i "The only way I'm getting in trouble is if you keep yelling like a fucking moron,"] he slammed his hand on Milo's mouth to shut him up. [i "I never do anything without reason. This is important, and I need you to just shut the fuck up and trust me."]
Both men were exhausted and trying to catch their breath. Cardio wasn't a specialty of theirs, and the running had taken it out of them. Milo stopped struggling and let his head fall back to the ground. Laurel looked at their surroundings, gauging where they had ended up. Glancing down at Milo, he sighed and got to his feet. The bag of coal had landed close by, both of them now staring at it.
Laurel was the one to move first, snatching it up and dusting away the dirt and leaves clinging to the burlap. [i "I'll explain everything, but not a word until then. Understand?"]
Milo looked between the bag and Laurel's eyes. His ears were ringing with adrenaline. Resigned to his loyalty, he hung his head and nodded. Satisfied, Laurel clapped him on the shoulder. [i "Get back before they notice you've gone."]
With that, Milo was left alone.
[center Selene nodded. [b "I could sneak away. Mary can cover for me if needed."] At least, she figured she would. With the information they had, she couldn't imagine Mary would try to throw her under the bus or get her into trouble. It just wouldn't make sense. Not unless she wasn't actually helping the rebellion, but she knew that couldn't be true. If that had been the case, everything would've been shut down a long time ago.]
[center Hearing the siren, she felt her heart sink a little. While she knew they wouldn't be able to sit there all day and relax, she had still wanted a little more time. She smiled at him and stood, watching as he left before she made her way out. Maybe today wouldn't be so bad. All she had to do was push through it and everything would be fine.]
[center Finally ending up at her destination, she smiled at Mary and gave her a quick hug. Mary nodded to her before going back to inventory, a hard frown on her face. Selene tilted her head. [b "Is everything okay?"]]
[center Mary sighed and shook her head, setting the notebook down. Selene leaned over to look at what she'd written down. [b "How much is missing?"] she asked a moment later, bringing her voice to a whisper.]
[center Mary shook her head. [i [b "I haven't added it all up yet, but it's not good."]] She turned to looked at Selene, raising a brow. [b [i "I know deep down you didn't, but I have to ask..."]]]
[center Selene quickly shook her head. [b "We would never."] This wasn't good. The day before, everything had been fine. Now, a good piece of rations were missing. People were going to be pissed.]
He tilted slightly to rest his chin on her head. [b "We can meet behind the school. Everyone will be inside working, and there's no windows behind the gym. We can probably get twenty minutes of lunch without disruption."]
Everything had to be timed perfectly. With so many prying eyes around at any given point of the day, Milo had logged away decent hiding spots all over the town. If anyone got caught wasting time while they were technically on the clock, meal rations would be taken away. They barely ate enough as it was.
Outside, the seven o'clock siren blared through the speakers. Another day to survive. Milo pressed a kiss to the top of her head. [b "See you soon, Sunshine,"] he promised.
He piled into the back of the truck that transported the men to and from the mining pit on the edge of the city. Being shoulder to shoulder with them made their gaunt features more apparent. Sunken eyes and skin pulled tight over their jaws, courtesy of excessive manual labor with lacking nutrition. They were practically skeletons.
[i "Budge over,"] Laurel shoved him to make room on the bench.
Milo frowned. [b "You didn't tell me you switched jobs."]
Laurel was one of the construction crew, who went around doing tedious repairs - partly the reason he was able to acquire his stolen goods so easily. He'd flat out refused the chance to work in the mines when they'd been selected for the workforce. It definitely would have been a subject he'd have broached the night before, had he elected for a new position.
[i "I didn't,"] he responded in a tone that ended any further questions.
The route was bumpy and nauseating, full of poorly patched potholes. Milo kept sneaking glances at Laurel from the corner of his eye, but his friend's gaze remained focused straight ahead. Whatever the hell was going on with him, Selene was going to have to hear about it when he managed to sneak away to join her.
[center Selene squeezed his hand before letting go, starting on her food. While it wasn't the best, it would get her by. Better than eating nothing at all. She glanced at him, smiling a little at his words. [b "It'll have to be. We'll have to catch our own, after all."] While they didn't know how to hunt, they'd learn. They'd have to.]
[center Watching him, she tilted her head and followed his gaze, her eyes falling Laurel. She smiled and gave him a small wave, trying to be as normal as she could. In reality, it wasn't easy. Not with everything that was happening. She felt her stomach tighten a little. It wasn't going to be easy at all trying to be optimistic or normal. It was all happening so fast, she wasn't sure they'd have time to actually be ready for it.]
[center She looked away and took a deep breath, quickly shoving her last piece of bacon into her mouth. She'd just done her best to make sure Milo felt better, and yet here she as, psyching herself out. How silly was that?]
[center Glancing up at him, she nodded, doing her best to hide the internal struggle she was having. [b "An apple would be so good right now,"] she said, leaning over to rest her head on his shoulder. [b "Where would you want to meet?"] she asked, closing her eyes. Even if it was just for a second, she wanted to rest her eyes and pretend they didn't have to part ways soon.]
He exhaled and forced a smile. [b "Right. It's fine. We're fine."]
Milo would make himself believe it. Even with his brain screaming the exact opposite to him, he would repeat it to himself until it stuck. She was right. His father would notice immediately if they failed to keep it together. Things had to remain status quo if they were going to make this work.
Breakfast was as bland as always; rubbery eggs with no spices, and fatty bacon dripping grease. Nutritious enough to start the day, but nothing even remotely appetizing. Milo poked at the eggs with his fork. [b "If we get anything out of this, I hope the food is better,"] he muttered to her.
Across the room, Laurel sat with the men who worked in the coal mine. Half of them were still covered in the soot and grime from yesterday's shift, eyes half-lidded with exhaustion. For a brief moment, Milo wondered how many of them were dying already from the toxic environment where they worked twelve hours a day. Overexposure to the fumes in the mine left men sickly after a while, and a new batch of workers was always ready to replace them. A sacrifice they felt necessary, to contribute to their city.
Laurel caught his eye from across the hall. A flicker of fear stuttered Milo's heart. He didn't think that Laurel would ever betray them by spilling the secrets of last night's conversation, but the man also tended to have a loose lip whenever liquor started flowing. He spent a lot of time with his brother's mining crew, and illegal moonshine was never in short supply. It would only take one shot too many to let their plans slip from his tongue.
[b "I'm scheduled to haul the coal deliveries today. I can sweet talk Mrs Palmer into giving me a couple apples, if you want to sneak away to join me for lunch,"] he offered. [b "We can discuss things."]
[center Selene felt her face flush at his words, clearing her throat before smiling up at him. [b "Oh, quit trying to butter me up."] Though it [i was] very sweet that he always tried to make her days good, even when they were stuck in this hell hole. She had to push away the excitement that suddenly began to rise at that thought. [i Won't be in this hell hole much longer, though, now will we?] She couldn't help it. She hadn't had this much hope before now.]
[center She followed him to the hall, nodding quickly as she watched him walk away. She glanced around for a moment before finding a seat near a corner. Weaving through tables, she said quick "excuse me's" and "sorry's" before finally snagging a seat.]
[center Intentionally, she kept her back to the wall. It was the easiest way to keep an eye on everyone that was currently present. Her eyes soon fell on Mary, and she gave a short wave, though the woman hadn't seemed to notice. Slowly putting her hand down, she waited patiently for Milo to join her.]
[center Her optimistic demeanor soon came to a halt as he approached her. Moving her food in front of her, she tilted her head, focusing all of her attention on him. She felt a little silly now. While she'd been more exited than anything, he'd been worrying enough for the both of them. Giving him a smile, she placed her hands and shook her head. [b "You're not being stupid. I won't lie to you and you know that. It's alright to be worried."] She glanced around again before returning her gaze to him. [b "But if you openly act worried or paranoid, they'll catch on pretty quick, and I don't think we can afford that with your father."]]
[center She sighed before giving him a full smile. [b "It's all going to be alright. Okay?"] She had to believe that, and she wanted to do her best to help him believe it as well.]
As she broke the hug, he dramatically bowed and kissed the back of her hand. [b "Ah, Mademoiselle, t'was a long night on a lumpy mattress,"] he spoke in a poor imitation of a French accent they'd heard in the old projection movies as kids. [b "I am all the more better now, having seen the sunshine that is your face!"] he tapped her nose with his finger.
He wasn't going to tell her anything that had happened the night before. As far as she needed to know, his father was a grump of a man, but he hadn't ever mentioned the hitting, and never planned to. He was just grateful his dad hadn't left bruises on his neck from the night before.
Mary was already seated at her usual table as they entered the dining hall, which was really just the old community center crammed with old tables and chairs. Milo locked eyes with her but quickly looked away, afraid that even a shared glance would draw suspicion about their meeting the previous night. [b "Grab us seats and I'll get us food?"] he glanced at Selene, barely giving her time to respond before getting in line.
Why the hell did it feel so hard to keep a blank face? No one was looking at him. He knew no one was looking at him. So why did it feel like they were all staring? Milo busied himself with scooping scrambled eggs and two slices of bacon on each plate, acting as natural as he could.
[i "No trouble today, right kid?"] a bony elbow caught him in his ribs, nearly making him drop the plates.
[b "Excuse me?"] he instantly went on defense.
Thomas, the town baker stood behind him in line. [i "I saw you drop some of the deliveries yesterday. Don't want any bags of seeds getting ripped and wasted. No wheat crop means no business for me. Try to stay on your feet, yeah?"]
Milo forced a smile and chuckled. [b "Yeah, I'll watch out. Can't have a repeat like that."]
Breaking the conversation before it could really continue, he trudged back to their table. [b "Are you as paranoid as I am?"] he asked her, moving his seat closer to hers and keeping his voice low. [b "I feel like I'm going to go crazy by the end of the day. Please tell me I'm just being stupid."]
[center The next morning, for reasons unknown even to her, Selene took a little more time to get ready, making sure her hair was brushed at least three times and that her clothes were decent. In fact, they were a little more dressier than normal. Working with the other women in the heat with food and other things wasn't really ideal for the clothes she was choosing to wear, but for some reason, today felt like a better day than any.]
[center Perhaps it was because of the night before. A couple of great things, in her opinion at least, had happened and had brought her mood up a great deal. Looking at her reflection in a dirty, cracked mirror, she smiled. She was pretty proud of herself. Turning, she quickly made her way out of the room, bringing her father some water and kissing him on the forehead. Once again, he gave her a smile, but still hadn't said anything. Searching the kitchen, Selene bit her cheek, sighing a little. They were beginning to run low, and she wasn't sure when they'd get their rations again.]
[center Deciding to go without, she smiled at the sound of a familiar voice outside. Yelling goodbye to her father, she hurried to the door and stepped outside, giving Milo a quick hug. [b "Well, good morning, Monsieur. I hope you slept well?"]]
Milo rose the next morning, surprised to see that at some point during the night, his mother had also returned home. Greetings were clinical, and the three Powells maneuvered around each other in their morning routines. He couldn't help but feel a shiver shoot up his spine every time he caught his dad staring in his direction. His mother, thankfully, seemed none the wiser for the argument her husband and son had the night before. Either that, or her poker face was better than Milo remembered.
Ready before his parents, Milo reached for the front door, only for a meaty hand to catch the wood and shove it closed again. Andrew stood close, head stooped to catch his son's eye. [i "I don't expect a repeat of last night, am I clear? Curfew means your ass is in this house, whether your mother and I are here to enforce it or not. Do you understand me?"]
A flurry of sarcastic and vulgar come-backs flashed through Milo's brain, but he bit down on his tongue. Andrew reached out and grabbed his chin, forcing his head to the side. [i "I said, am I understood?"]
[b "Yes sir,"] Milo dictated back.
[i "Don't be late for work,"] Andrew's aggression melted to that of a dutiful father, clapping Milo on the back and stepping around him to leave for the hunters meeting.
Closing his eyes, he counted to ten. Breathe in for four seconds, and out for seven. Steady rhythm. Stay focused on the air in his lungs. Shaking off the tension, he walked to Selene's front door and knocked. [b "Your escort awaits, Mademoiselle Selene!"] he called through the chipping wood.
As was routine, he waited on the front steps for her to finish getting ready. Her father, in his unwell state, was too weak to entertain any guests. It was better to leave the house quiet for him, especially first thing in the morning. Milo was more than happy to leave him be, having heard stories from Selene of how withdrawn her father had been becoming.
[center Selene stared up at him, her cheeks flushing a little. She could only hope that he wouldn't notice. Giving him a quick hug, she whispered goodnight and hurried back inside of her own home. She hoped her would be okay. She hated when he felt panicked and she wasn't there to help. Then again, she felt like it was her fault most of the time, though if it was Milo would never tell her.]
[center Walking through the dark house, Selene made her way to the kitchen, taking a few minutes to make something small. She'd been gone far longer than she had intended to and she was sure her father was hungry. Of course, it wasn't much. Just a few sandwiches, but it was better than nothing. Placing two of them on a tray, she made her way to his room, placing them on the window in front of him. To her surprise, he actually smiled at her a little.]
[center She smiled back at him. [b "Do you need some water or anything?"] she asked. He nodded, and she hurried back to the kitchen for a glass. He hadn't said anything to her yet, but just acknowledging that she was there was enough to make her feel good. Bringing the drink back to him, she set it down, sitting on the bed and telling him about how her day went with Milo. Of course, she left out all of the details about the documents and Mary's house, but he seemed invested enough.]
[center Giving him a kiss on the forehead, she told him goodnight and left the room, taking notice that, even though he had said he wanted the drink, he hadn't touched any of it. However, she shrugged it off. He had said yes and that was enough for her. Perhaps, if he was finally coming out of his fog, she could tell him everything and convince him to come with them.]
[center As she got ready for bed, though, a feeling of dread washed over her. She'd always had a small fear that he wouldn't be able to make it out and for the longest time, she'd just tried to accept it. Now she was regaining some hope that he [i would] make it, and it terrified her. Sighing, she laid down and closed her eyes. If she could, she would talk to Milo about it. If anything, he could make her feel better.]
That was all they had to hold on to while everything was so uncertain. A perfect life they could form for themselves, away from the rules and restrictions of the city. The idea of perfection would have to appease them until escape became a reality.
Milo gave her a soft smile. [b "Don't mind me. I think I'm just exhausted, and it's messing with my anxiety. I'm excited for this. Really."]
Stepping forward, he pressed his lips to her forehead. [b "Go get some sleep. I'll see you in the morning for breakfast."]
Out of habit, he waited until she disappeared into her house before going to his own. She was unlikely to find trouble between the side of the house and her front door, but his protectiveness kept him firmly rooted in place until he heard the sound of the lock clicking. Only then did he retreat to his own personal prison.
Milo was halfway to the stairs when he caught sight of his father's silhouette in the armchair by the window. [b "Holy fuck, what are you doing?"] he choked out.
Andrew Powell was every bit as serious as he was large and intimidating. His body filled the cracked leather chair, broad shoulders hiding the back rest. He was still in his hunting attire, which meant he either hadn't been home long, or he'd been waiting for Milo to make an appearance. [i "Where the hell have you been?"] he drawled the question.
Milo could feel his heart hammering in his chest. [i Do not lose it again tonight,] he warned himself. [b "I was with Selene next door. We were playing cards and lost track of time,"] the lie spilled out smoothly.
[i "As the son of a council member, I would hope you'd take curfew a little more seriously,"] his father's stare was penetrating.
[b "Curfew means we have to be inside of a house. The law doesn't stipulate it has to be our own,"] Milo countered.
There was a moment of pause while Andrew got to his feet and crossed the room. The two men stared each other down until his father reached out a hand and grabbed him by the throat, slamming Milo back against the wall. [i "Don't try to pull that sarcastic bullshit with me, because I will put you on your ass in a second. This is my house, and I will be respected in my own house. You will obey the law while you're in my house."]
Milo clawed at his father's hand, trying to get some room to breathe. He forced himself to stay silent, not wanting to make matters worse. He could smell the whisky on Andrew's breath, a telltale sign that the hunters had broken in to one of the bottles they'd found months back during an excavation near the old factory. [i "You are to be in this house by curfew every night, do I make myself clear?"] Andrew forced his head back to meet his eyes.
[b "Yes sir,"] Milo choked out.
The rush of air in his lungs was welcomed as his father let him go. [i "Get your ass upstairs and don't let me catch you out this late again,"] he was dismissed.
In the safety of his room with the door locked, his hand went to his throat to feel the tender skin. God, he hoped it wouldn't bruise. He crawled into bed with his wounded pride and waited for sleep to claim him, hoping that freedom would come soon.
[center Selene smiled to him. She had to have faith that they could do this. Once moment of hesitation or doubt and they would be done for. Yes, she was scared and she was worried, but they'd already come this far. She had no intention of backing away from what they wanted now. They were so close she could almost taste it!]
[center Following him back to Mary, she gave the older woman a small smile, letting him do the talking. She trusted Mary with her life. Besides Milo, she was probably the only other once that Selene knew she could run to. She couldn't actually remember a time she hadn't spoken to the woman.]
[center Giving her a quick hug, she allowed her to usher them outside before looking at Milo. Taking his arm, she nodded. [b "You're right. Which means we have to go through this with everything we have."] Wrapping her arms around his, she stayed as close to him as she could. She didn't want to get caught now that they were so close. If they did, it would be the end for them.]
[center Gasping a little as he pulled her to the side, she looked up at him, a little concerned. Had she pushed him too hard when it came to giving away the documents? Her stomach immediately twisted. She hadn't meant to if she did.]
[center Reaching up, she ran a hand through his hair, smiling at him. [b "Don't worry. Everything will work out, I'm sure of it! Very soon, we'll be out of this wretched place and living a life that [i we] make for ourselves, with our own rules. It'll be perfect."] Yes, it would be. She had to believe that, and no matter what, she was going to hold onto that belief.]
Milo raised his eyes to meet her eyes. Releasing a slow breath, he leaned his cheek into her hand. He knew she was most likely right. They had a chance, and they'd be idiots to throw it away on the slight chance that this was a trap. If they came this far and backed away with their tails between their legs, what kind of rebels were they?
[b "Okay,"] he spoke quietly. [b "We give her the documents then."]
Mary didn't appear to have moved in their absence. Milo was still a little shaky as he knelt down in front of her again. The papers were on the table beside her, waiting for their decision. The manila folders hadn't felt quite so heavy before. Flashes of Selene and Mary in handcuffs flashed before his eyes, but he shook them away.
He held them out to the elder woman, locking eyes with her. [b "It's probably best if you do it. They trust you. We trust you,"] he added on a broken note.
She smiled warmly and took the documents with steady hands. [i "The rebellion will thank you greatly for your contribution. Your efforts will not be forgotten once we are freed from this city."]
Milo tried to smile but it barely flickered on his face. The papers condemned his parents clearly, but the potential situation of them getting into the wrong hands also condemned himself. He had to remember Selene's point. What good was life if it was to be spent in the concrete prison built around them? Even he had to admit that death would be a release from the hell they've lived in.
Mary prepared for them to leave, not wanting them to overstay their welcome and risk getting caught by patrol. [i "You'll be the first to know what happens,"] she assured them before closing the door and leaving them in the dark of night.
[b "No going back,"] he murmured to Selene, offering his arm for her to take.
The streets were eerily quiet after curfew. Electricity was turned off every night at nine to conserve the little power the solar panels were able to generate for them. Luckily, that meant no streetlights. They were able to move in the shadows without a spotlight finding them. They didn't live too far from Mary, which meant it was only a ten minute walk before their houses came into view.
Milo pulled her out of view between the two homes, using the shrubs for cover. He dropped his arms to the sides and leaned up against the clapboard siding of his house. [b "I'm more exhausted by tonight than I was at work all day,"] he let his head hit the wall behind him.
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