Feeling self conscious, Brad pushed his goggles back to his forehead. Only the merest wrinkling at the corners of his eyes belied his age. He tried to take in Moriah’s serious face, as she waited for an answer.
“I’m too old for you,” he said.
“Give me a break. You’re fitter and stronger than any man in his prime. Added to that, you’re witty and more intelligent than most. Do you really think I’m that shallow that I’d overlook you for the sake of wrinkling and grey hair?”
“No,” he said, dropping his head. “I’m sorry. It’s just that I think of you as my little sister.”
“I’m not the little girl you rescued anymore,” she said softly. “I’m 41 now.”
She moved closer, locking stares with him.
“Do you love me, Brad?”
“Yes,” he said after a pause in barely audible whisper.
She continued to stare as if not satisfied with the answer.
“You still think about her; don’t you?”
He looked away.
Moriah held his face in her hands.
“Teyata’s gone, Brad. I don’t want you to throw away your memories. I just want you to know that I’m here. I can’t hunt or climb or do any of those things like she did, but I can love you just as much. Don’t you need that, Brad?”
His eyes became glassy. “I’ve watched you grow from a little girl into a desirable woman. You could have had any man you wanted. You’re 41 now. Don’t you see that as a waste of life?”
“To love someone is never a waste of life. I’ve got something for you.”
Moriah went behind Brad and placed something in his backpack, before doing it up again. She kissed his cheek.
“Promise me that we’ll talk more about us when you come back?”
Brad smiled, pushing his goggles to his eyes to hide his tears as he hugged her tightly. Still in their embrace, she prayed for his safety on the journey to come. Afraid that he’d break into sobbing, he pulled away from her and ran for the wall. In a few fluid bounds, he gained the top and dropped to the ground, rolling to his feet and running off for the main road.
The hours and the kilometres passed under his feet without effort. By dusk, he had reached the outskirts of the city and scaled the first tall building. A winged version of a lizard ran across the building on the opposite side of the street, covering it in spurts. It leapt into space, propelling itself beyond his sight on rapidly fluttering wings.
Not so distant sounds filled the night. Creatures of every description had meandered into the parks and abandoned buildings in the last few decades. The promise of food bought desperate human beings; it also encouraged the manog packs to stay. He smelt for their presence; nothing, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t detect him.
Dampness also filled his nostrils. Only a few stars showed in the otherwise cloud covered sky.