Fury raged through Sherdan as he stomped down the stairs. He returned his book to its place and paced his study for the next hour. Anya was so ridiculously stubborn. Couldn’t she see that he was significantly more powerful than her God?
When Sherdan had finally calmed himself down he went to bed. He wanted to be rested for the morning just in case he was needed. He suspected there would be a request for interviews from news teams as well. After all, it was not normal to reclaim public roads and completely seclude an entire set of buildings from the surrounding city.
Anya was calm at breakfast and didn’t make any demands. He didn’t stay long. Things had soured between them and for now she wasn’t his main focus.
Sherdan headed over to his command bunker as soon as he could. It was so early that he was one of the first people there. Rush hour was still a few minutes away and so far so good.
Over the next half hour his entire team assembled and waited in case they were needed. Sherdan sat down to await the events of he next few hours.
He listened to the radio chatter as the occasional person got aggressive or confused by the road signs. For the most part the guards handled all the people wanting to drive through without needing any assistance. There was only one occasion when the commander, Graham, had to remind the security guard to remain calm.
Sherdan was about to leave the command room when a phone call came through for him from the chief of police. He was quickly handed the phone.
“Jeremy, how are you?”
“Dr Harper, I’m very well thank you. I just thought I ought to phone to let you know that the mayor has decided he’s not very happy.”
“I thought all complaints were going to be handled?”
“I’m sorry. The mayor isn’t someone I can easily deal with.”
“Arrange a meeting with him for me. Invite him to come visit so we can discuss any issues he has.”
“Do you think that’s wise?” Jeremy asked.
“Just arrange it. Preferably for next year. As soon as you can.”
“Of course.” Sherdan slammed the phone down and swore. No one said anything.
“I want a background check on the mayor of Bristol. Find out everything you can about him and have it all forwarded to me.” Several of the people in the room leapt into action while Sherdan sat down again thoughtfully. After a few minutes he got up again and went to see Hitchin. As usual Hitchin was in his laboratory.
“To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?”
“I need to know when all our new residents are joining us?”
“First thing in the new year. The fourth of January for most of them.”
“We may need to get them here sooner. I’ve got problems with the mayor.”
“Hmm… I’ll see what I can do. How’s everything going with Miss Price?” Sherdan hesitated.
“She’s as stubborn as usual. I let her read the prophecy. I wanted her to eat and she’s not going anywhere.” Hitchin raised an eyebrow.
“What did she make of it?”
“She told me it had to be wrong.”
“Well I’m sure she’ll realise she’s wrong when more of it comes true and if she doesn’t then it doesn’t matter. She’s inconsequential.”
“Oh of course. I… I am sure that she’ll see the truth in time. How could she not?” Sherdan replied trying to convince himself as much as Hitchin. Hitchin could tell his friend wasn’t completely confident.
“Everything has gone exactly as it should so far. Miss Price is evidently part of this whole thing somehow, but I’m sure all will become clear with her. I’ve been having some snaps of something lately. There might be some more involving her.”
“Yes, It’s only coming in snapshots but something is coming through. I’ll let you know what it is as soon as I do.”
They then talked over the new batches powers. So far all of them were alive and showing good signs. Hitchin was already preparing for the next, larger batch. Sherdan left him to his work. There was lots for both of them to do.
The next two days passed in a blur of organisation and work. Sherdan had all the information on the Mayor fed to him. There wasn’t much to work with but he’d make the most of it. The meeting had been scheduled for the fourth, the same day all the residents were set to arrive. The Mayor had wanted to come straight away but Sherdan refused, he wanted more time.
Anya was still being awkward. He had caught her twice, trying to pick the lock to get out. He warned her not to keep on trying but he did not know what he would do if she continued to ignore him. Hitchin still hadn’t told him where she fit into things.
He still visited her every meal but they barely talked. This time on entering he noticed she was puffy eyed and stood at the window. All her bandages were gone and her face only had a few small fading cuts. Everything else she kept covered up with her clothes.
Realising she was upset Sherdan lingered. He just stared at her while she looked outside.
“All the snow has melted,” she said.
“You like the snow?”
“Love it, it makes winter and cold worthwhile.” Sherdan didn’t know what to say, “Are you going to keep me here forever?”
“I will keep you here as long as I want.”
“And how long will that be?”
“As long as I want it to be.”
Anya sighed. “I just want to go home.”
“You know too much.”
“This is not a debate.” Sherdan interrupted and stepped towards her. He was angry again. Tears welled up in her eyes. “I guess your God hasn’t rescued you. Do you still think he will?”
Anya turned away from him. She shook and wouldn’t look at him. There was a long and awkward silence until he left, she continued to cry.
Sherdan ran his hand through his hair on the other side of the doorway. The girl was a complete pain but he didn’t want her to cry. He’d been doing everything he could to keep her happy. He’d given her her own clothes, a Bible, even the prophecy. He tried to talk to her and make her feel welcome but she always focused on leaving.
The schedule for the rest of the day was so tight Sherdan didn’t even get to see Anya at dinner. He had arranged a large new year’s eve party in the University’s main function room. He was technically the guest of honour. He instructed Anne to take an evening meal up to their guest and gave her the key just before leaving.
Sherdan didn’t really want to be part of such a social event but he did wish to create a buzz of excitement in the residents before his meeting with the mayor, just in case. Hitchin had promised to come to give him some light relief at points along the night.
The social side of the event passed slowly. Sherdan was preoccupied and although able to make small talk, he took no satisfaction in it. Anya had upset him.
Hitchin soon noticed that his friend wasn’t quite up to his normal standard of working a crowd and asked if there was anything he could do to help. Sherdan shook his head.
“No I will work everything out with Anya… Miss Price. Just keep up all the good work you are doing.”
“As you wish. Do try not to worry over her. She is here for a reason and I’m sure she will begin to see this project our way over time.” Sherdan just nodded as their conversation was cut short by another guest joining them. Very few of the residents knew Anya existed.
For the rest of the evening Sherdan moved around the room, making polite conversation and surprising many residents when he remembered their names. He was greeted with smiles and enthusiasm wherever he went. At least something was going right.
When it struck midnight everyone clapped and cheered. Sherdan swiftly moved to the front of the room to address everyone.
“Thank you all for coming… A new year has begun.” He had to pause for the clapping to subside, “This new year isn’t the same as any year before. We are on the verge of greatness. A greatness only made possible by everyone here.”
There were more cheers. Sherdan smiled and waited.
“Every person will play a crucial role going forward and I’m positive we will all do our part and make 2018 a year to remember. Happy new year everyone!”
Everyone cheered again. Sherdan had kept it short and sweet as well as being complimentary of the people in general. It had worked. He kept a happy smile fixed on his face as he went back to his drink and people began talking amongst themselves again. He wasn’t allowed to enjoy the excitement for long, however, as he soon got a call over the radio from Nathan.
“Sorry to disturb you Sir. I think Anya has escaped.”
“Only just now Sir. I saw it on the security footage. She’s sneaked out somehow.”
Sherdan swore and walked out of the function room and through the rest of the building.
“Graham, The female prisoner who recently attempted a break in on our compound has escaped her cell and is loose in the vicinity of my house. She must be stopped from leaving the grounds. Mobilise all security right now.”
“Let me know the second she’s sighted.”
Sherdan ran out into the streets and towards his home. He swore every few steps when he realised how much she could affect his future plans. She could also get him in a lot of trouble if she told the authorities about everything that had happened to her.
When Sherdan reached his home Nathan was outside talking on the radio. Nathan shook his head when Sherdan ran in his direction.
“We’ve not found her yet. There’s no sign of her.”
“Has she got past the perimeter?”
“Not that we know of, but she’s not been sighted. She only needs to jump the right fence.”
“Crap. We have to find her. Have a security team drive over to Bath and her house to check if she manages to get all the way back there.”
“Yes…” Nathan stopped mid sentence and looked past Sherdan. Walking towards them, completely calm, was Anya.
“There’s no need,” she said. Sherdan ran over to her livid. She stopped in the middle of the road, apprehensive at the look on his face. He grabbed her wrist, making her wince, then dragged her back into his house.
Although she did not resist, he still bundled her as fast as he could, acting like he had to force her. She hissed in pain as he accidentally banged her against the doorway through to his study and she tripped on the first step in his over eagerness to get her upstairs. Finally, he shoved her onto her bed. She pulled away, fear in her eyes.
“Nathan, find Anne and get her to bring me the key to the guest room,” he yelled into the radio. Anya curled herself up on the bed while he stood at the foot of it glaring at her.
“It’s not Anne’s fault I escaped,” she told him.
“Then how did you escape?”
“God didn’t like you mocking him. He gave me what I needed to get out.”
“No He didn’t. You’re still here.”
“I’m only here because God wants me to be.”
“No!” Sherdan flicked her dinner tray off the sideboard in his anger. “You are here because I want you here.”
“I came back. I had made it all the way off your land. God told me to come back.”
“Well forgive me for not believing you… Ah, Anne, there you are. Are you sure you locked Miss Price in after you were last here?”
“Positive sir, I double checked.”
“She escaped afterwards at some point.”
“The door was locked, I already told you, Anne locked me in just as she was meant to.” Anya got up off the bed and stood boldly between him and Anne. Of the two of them in that moment it was Anne that looked the most frightened.
“I’m really sure I locked her in sir. I knew it was important.”
“Very well Anne, the key if you please, and then you can go.”
Anna handed him the key which he instantly pocketed before she scurried off. Sherdan then turned to Anya who gulped and took a step back. He walked towards her and she put her hands up.
“Look, I came back and you have me here again, there is no harm done.”
“There is harm done. Do you want me to turn you back over to my interrogation team?”
“No and neither do you.”
“I’ve half a mind to continue what they were doing,” Sherdan growled. He took another step towards her and she backed up into the wall.
“Sir, you need to come see this,” Nathan’s voice said over the radio.
“I’m very busy right now Nathan.”
“It relates sir.”
“We’ll continue this later,” Sherdan hissed at Anya before leaving and locking her in. He went straight through to the security desk.
“This had better be good.”
“Sir, you need to watch this. It’s the feed from Anya’s room.” Nathan offered Sherdan the seat as he hit play on the camera feed. Sherdan noted that it said five to midnight. Anya was pacing the room praying. Each time she walked past the door she tried the handle, getting more forceful each time. Then, on the fifth try, the door just clicked open. Sherdan gasped.
There was no possibility that the door hadn’t been locked the first four times but the fifth it was somehow not. Sherdan made Nathan replay the feed several times.
“That’s not all, look at this feed.” Nathan switched to an outside camera that showed Anya walking right past the security guards at one of the road blocks as if they couldn’t see her. When she had regained her freedom she just turned her face upwards.
He watched her mouth move in a thank you that could only have been to her God. A single snow flake then drifted down and landed on her upturned face. She smiled and paused before going back the same way she had come, still invisible to the guards less than ten metres from her.
Sherdan sat back in his seat completely speechless. Nathan waited while he thought.
“Don’t let anyone see these or know about them until I’ve decided what to do with her, is that clear?”
“Thank you Nathan.”
With that he walked back to his study. He would need to go see Anya shortly but he wanted to get his thoughts straight first. One thing was for sure, someone or something wanted him to know that Anya was there for a reason, not just because Sherdan wanted her here. He hoped it was something Hitchin could explain to him.
The man had told him he’d been getting snapshots of something new. Hitchin wouldn’t hear of this, however. Sherdan wanted the security of knowing Hitchin saw Anya as important without being told so.
Much calmer than when he left, Sherdan went back to Anya’s room. She sat on the bed with her chin on her knees. She had her arms wrapped around herself and she pulled her legs up even closer as he came towards the bed. She looked so frightened that it stopped him in his tracks.
“You’re safe… I’m calm now. I’ve seen the footage from the camera outside the room. I don’t think the door was locked properly,” he lied. Anya’s eyes went wide but she kept her thoughts to herself.
“For now things will continue on as if this incident didn’t happen, but, if I ever catch you trying to escape again I will not be as nice as I have been, do you understand?” she nodded but still didn’t speak. When he did not move but continued to stand in her room she fidgeted. He sighed. This whole event had set things back dramatically.
“I’m here for now, anyway,” she broke the silence.
“Because your God wants you to be?” Sherdan mocked. She looked away, her pain evident. It only made him angrier.
“I don’t want to argue. Can we talk about something else?” she asked. Sherdan looked shocked. He sat down on the edge of the bed as she wiped her eyes.
“I don’t want to argue with you either. You do need to stop trying to escape though.”
“Okay. For the next little while I won’t try to leave.”
“You have my word.”
“Good, now we can move onto other things.”
Anya smiled though she still looked like she might cry at any moment. He didn’t think wishing her a happy new year was wise, especially as it had begun snowing again. They talked of trivial things for half an hour before she yawned. Sherdan left her to sleep. It was almost two in the morning.