Sherdan slept very well that night. Things had not gone amazingly with Anya but he had all the time he wanted with her. She would remain his prisoner as long as he wanted.

He beamed when he thought of all the new applicants. The lady processing them, Janet, had asked for some more help. He had assigned her another worker who had a very special ability of being able to work out what was and wasn’t true in written words. It wouldn’t make their job go too much quicker but it would help.

Sherdan himself would take weeks to go through every application and Dr Hitchin would be kept busy for months with all the new test subjects. It was time Sherdan focused on growth and taking their organisation to the next level, however, it would get increasingly more difficult to keep all the abilities hidden from the public and keep everyone with an ability from leaving if they wished.

His first task of the new day was planning his next move. He already had an idea of what it would be, as he did for many years to come. There were always new situations and scenarios to be taken into account, however. Planning for the future was a constant mix of preparation and adjustment.

By the time lunch rolled around he was fairly sure of the plan going forward. He would need to talk to the chief of police for Bristol but the man had been in Sherdan’s pocket for years now and he had no doubt that his wishes would be honoured.

He went to see Anya again while he ate lunch but she slept through all the time he could spare to wait. He grew concerned when he noticed that she still hadn’t eaten anything. It was now her fourth day in his compound without food.

For the rest of the afternoon Sherdan visited Hitchin. Hitchin had wonderful news that one of the people in the new test batch could separate compounds by filtering them through his hands.

He thought there might be something in the man’s sweat that separated things. If so they would have their water problem solved. They would be able to recycle all of their waste water. Of course, they would only need to do as much as they required to supplement the supply they already had and at the moment their supply was enough.

They then planned where all the new recruits were going to live and the size and frequency of the test batches. Finally Sherdan ran his plan for controlled expansion past Hitchin.

His friend helped him with the fine tuning and by dinner time Sherdan was almost skipping back to his house, though no one who saw him would be able to tell he was so happy. It was only his voice that gave it away as he greeted everyone and stopped to chat with as many of the residents as gave him the time of day.

With a smile on his face he took his charge some more food. She wasn’t awake when he arrived but she stirred a few moments later when he sat down in his usual chair.

“Hello,” she said when she saw him. She looked better than she had the day before. Her eye wasn’t so puffy and swollen and she had washed her hair. He smiled at her and came over.

“How are you feeling?”

“Better, thank you.”

“Good, I brought some dinner up for you. It’s shepherd’s pie. I hope…”

“Thank you but can you take it away please,” she interrupted. He raised an eyebrow. “I’m fasting.”

“Fasting? Whatever for?”

“I won’t eat again until I’ve seen that prophecy.” Sherdan sat down again. She didn’t stop looking at him. Nothing this girl said ever seemed to be normal to him. He wasn’t used to being surprised by anyone.

“I’m not showing you the prophecy.”

“Then I’m not eating.”

“Fine,” Sherdan snapped. There was an awkward silence.

“Where am I?” she asked a moment later, oblivious to his anger.

“You’re in my house. My bedroom is across the hall.”

“It must be causing quite the stir in your family to have a girl locked up in the adjacent bedroom.” Sherdan laughed as she smiled.

“I’m alone here. None of my immediate family is alive any more.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. It means I can lock young women in bedrooms without the complication of explaining myself to a relative. Only four people know you are here and one of those is your doctor.”

She nodded, taking in the implied meaning. He was surprised how calm she remained. Other than her insistence to see the prophecy she hadn’t shown any sign of objection. He’d half expected her to attempt to break the door down.

Their conversation didn’t go any further as the doctor arrived to do another check up. He changed all Anya’s bandages and checked over her bruises. He was pleased with her progress, although he reiterated to Sherdan that she needed clothes.

Sherdan and James both left when Anya yawned; she still needed plenty of rest.

The following morning when Sherdan took her breakfast she again refused to eat and asked to see the prophecy. He said no. Lunch was the same, and dinner. When Sherdan reminded her she hadn’t eaten in five days she looked thoughtful.

“It’s eight actually,” Sherdan was surprised for the third time by her, “I fasted before I came… I was nervous, so I fasted and prayed to succeed in what I was being asked to do.”

“You need to eat.”

“No. I need to see the prophecy.”

Sherdan sighed. He didn’t want to keep going over the same thing.

First thing the following morning Sherdan went to talk to Hitchin about Anya. He wanted advice on how to persuade her to eat as well as check over the abilities of the new group of subjects.

They had found that the people living here were generally happier if they could get involved with the future of the organisation. A sense of belonging in their new family and life was important. Hitchin and Sherdan spent a long time discussing where abilities could be useful to make sure people could be involved.

Spending time with Hitchin helped Sherdan refocus and by the time he had his meeting with the chief of police Sherdan was confident again.

“Jeremy, so good to see you. How is your daughter? Did she get her degree result reviewed?” Sherdan asked politely. Jeremy, the chief of police shook his hand.

“She did. She got her first after all and has that top notch job I was telling you about.”

“Fantastic. I did hope it would all get resolved.” Sherdan smiled. He had arranged it. The lecturer had managed to find the young woman some extra marks and the employer had gone to school with Sherdan.

“What can I do for you?”

“Well, I need some information regarding policing private land and reclaiming public roads for my compound.”

“That’s a big operation.”

“There’s bound to be complaints, especially when we close the roads off.”

“I understand. I’ll make sure any complaints are dealt with quietly but effectively.”

“Thank you Jeremy, I’ll make sure this one is remembered.”

Sherdan had everything he wanted. He informed the guards to begin the preparations on the piece of paper he gave them when he got back and continued with his duties.

As usual he went to see Anya with her dinner. Her first question was to to see the prophecy. He answered as he usually did.

“What does it matter if I see? I’m locked in this room and you’ve told me that I’ll never leave. What would be the harm in showing me?” Sherdan didn’t reply but walked over to the window.

“We always talk about this one thing. Can we not talk about something else?”

“What do you have in mind?”

“Why do you willingly put your life on the line for your God?”

“Because he gave me my life. He can take it away. I was created to do His will.”

“But isn’t death by starvation suicide?”

“No, He won’t let me die. He’ll either keep me alive or tell me I can stop fasting.” Sherdan looked at her again. She was so calm but evidently very tired. He didn’t understand her faith. After a pause she looked away.

“Can I have some clothes please?” Anya asked, her voice trembling a little.

“Anything in particular?”

“Well I’d like the clothes I’ve got at home the most, but at the very least a change of underwear and some jeans and t-shirts It would mean I could get out of this bed when someone else was here.”

“Me you mean?” She nodded. “I’ll get something fetched for you.”

“Thank you.”

As soon as Sherdan had left Anya he went to his security team. Nathan was at the desk. Sherdan passed on Anya’s request for her own clothes and asked him to find out her address and fetch all of the clothes in her house. He wasn’t going to tell her that he’d done as she asked, just show up with them one day.

During breakfast the following morning his maid, Anne lagged after bringing the food through to him. He raised an eyebrow at her.

“Are you going to need me tomorrow Sir? What with it being Christmas I was hoping to spend the day with my husband and daughter.”

“Of course Anne. Take the following day off as well.”

“Thank you sir.”

Sherdan hadn’t noticed the date and had forgotten all about Christmas. He would have to remind Hitchin that they had agreed to spend the day together. He also promptly informed the guards that they could have the day off as well.

By the end of the afternoon Sherdan had approved a total of two hundred more people for the program and added almost another thousand to the waiting list. All the preparations for the next stage of his plan were ready and would go into action before the twenty-seventh. Hitchin had been reminded to come for Christmas dinner and Anya’s clothes had been fetched.

It was Christmas eve and he knew of no where he wanted to spend it more than in Anya’s company. He took her dinner and her clothes. She thanked him for the clothes and he begged her to eat with him. She refused. Sherdan lost his temper.

“You stubborn fool, you’re killing yourself. You had better eat tomorrow!”

“What’s so special about tomorrow?”

“It’s Christmas!”

“I will eat when I see the prophecy and not before, regardless of the occasion.”

Sherdan glared at her but she sat at the top of the four poster bed calmly waiting. He picked up her dinner tray and left the room with it slamming the door as he did. He turned the key with a lot more fervour than was needed.

Anne had already left so he had to take Anya’s tray to the kitchen and clear it away himself. He banged and clattered everything around the kitchen.

Anya was so stubborn and difficult to talk to. He wanted to get to know her and she didn’t want to talk about anything but the stupid prophecy. Sherdan caught himself in the middle of his thought. He had never been so sure he wanted to get closer to somebody and this surprised him. He had no idea what was different about this girl. He didn’t love her. He hardly knew her.

When he had finished tidying up the kitchen he went through to his study to have a nightcap before sleeping. He noticed Anya crying on the TV monitor as soon as he was in the room. He sat and watched her cry herself to sleep while he drank his brandy.

Christmas day dawned bright and sunny. There wasn’t any snow although they had already had some earlier in the winter. Sherdan had been up less than half an hour when Hitchin arrived, giving Sherdan no time to see Anya.

He was soon talking to Hitchin about some of his issues, although he was guarded in what he said. Without being able to explain why, he didn’t want his friend to think Anya meant more than she did. He didn’t tell Hitchin that much about her although he did talk about her dream.

“It is possible she had some purpose in our plans somewhere but I wouldn’t worry yourself about her. She is locked here right where you want her. She won’t be leaving. Don’t fret if she’s uncooperative now. She’ll come around in time,” Hitchin reassured him.

“You really think so?”

“Of course. You have her right where you want her and since when have you had any trouble getting women to do what you want them to?”

Sherdan and Hitchin both smiled and chuckled at this and reminisced of old times together when they were both courting at university themselves.

They spent the rest of the day together amiably chatting and hardly noticed the time go by. Hitchin was the only person he spent large quantities of time with. They talked for so long that it was almost midnight by the time Sherdan was left alone. Anya had been forgotten about and unvisited all day.

He rushed up the stairs to see if she was still awake, forgetting to check the security camera first. He turned the key quietly and opened the door with as little noise as he could manage to not disturb her if she had already fallen asleep. He was pleased to find her wide awake and standing at the window staring at the night outside.

“I was watching for snow,” she said as if that explained everything. Sherdan just nodded. “I haven’t ever had a white Christmas so I pray for one every year. There’s not really anything left of today though.” Sherdan still didn’t say anything. She hadn’t moved from the window and he took the time to admire her. She was wearing some black jeans and a loose fitting smock top. She looked a little hippy with her bare feet.

“Did you have a good Christmas?” she asked, giving him her full attention at last. He nodded and walked further into the room. She sat down on the edge of the bed.

“If I’m going to be kept here a while I would appreciate having a Bible.”

“I think that can be arranged,” Sherdan smiled. She hadn’t asked to see the prophecy and had actually said something conversational. Hitchin was right. Time would achieve everything he wanted and she would live here on his land for the rest of her life if he wanted her to.

“Do you mind if I join you for a bit? I’m not feeling like sleeping yet?” Sherdan asked.

“By all means, I’m wide awake myself.”

She moved over on the bed to make room for him. He smiled and sat down beside her. She soon struck up a conversation with him about past Christmas memories and hopes for the new year.

Over the next couple of hours they talked of everything from politics to money and careers. They were almost polar opposites in everything. He was a scientist, she an artist. She had a large family, he had hardly any.

The only thing they agreed on after many hours searching was that the best form of leadership for any country was a benevolent dictatorship, although she called it a righteous monarch.

By the time they had talked this long they were both getting sleepy and having made themselves comfortable it wasn’t long before their eyelids were drooping.

Anya dropped off first but Sherdan had hardly noticed before he too fell into a deep sleep right beside her on the bed.

As usual if you want to go over any other chapters or find out the backstory here’s the page it’s all being kept on.