Which was how they found me."
I put the diary down, frustrated by the cliffhanger. I needed to know what happened next, and although the diary had given me new information, I had been expecting so much more when I found it in the mud. It merely confirmed what we had been suspecting for some time, that Charlie had been captured.
There was a slight glimmer of hope, no doubt about it. If he had been able to write that he had been captured, then they obviousely hadn't killed him straight away. If they hadn't killed him then, perhaps he was still alive now.
I sat down and wondered what to do. Everyone else had long since given up looking for Charlie, they were too preoccupied with their own lives. I was his last hope. If I gave up on him, he had no hope of rescue. But I'd been looking for months now, and the only clues I'd found were his knife embedded in a tree, his tent, deserted and emptied of all his possessions, and now this diary.
At least I knew for sure now that he hadn't merely been eaten by wild animals. But if Charlie, six feet tall and the strongest man I knew, hadn't been able to fight them off, what chance did I stand? I didn't even know who I was fighting.
When we moved to the Rcazza we were told it was dangerous, but we had no choice. We had to ;eave, and the Rcazza was the only place we could hide in. It was basically a jungle, although the modern world frowns on definitions like that and prefers to call it an 'area of denser foliage.' Somehow though, jungle is a better word. The Rcazza doesn't fit the definitions of the modern world because it isn't part of the modern world. The Powers have tried to take it over but it remains one of the few unconquered areas, even for them, omnipotent as they like to believe themselves.
Who was I kidding? The powers were omnipotent. Even here, where we thought we were free from them, they controlled our lives. We had to base everything we did around not being discovered by them, they had ultimate power over us. It looked as though we weren't even doing that very well. They'd caught Charlie, that seemed certain, and it was apparent that they were closing in on us. It was too much of a coincidence, that of the entire Rcazza they had picked our area by chance. No, they knew all right.
Which left me with a dilemma. Should I go back and warn the others or stay out searching for Charlie. On the one hand, the others were already fairly certain he'd been captured so there wasn't really any point in telling them what they already knew, on the other hand if the powers really were onto us it meant danger for everyone. Real danger. I had to tell them.
They reacted in the way I might have expected. Efficiency that would have put a butler to shame. It always chilled me, their calmness. But then, I was still,young. I knew that you needed detachment to survive in a world like this, but my heart hadn't caught on yet. I still felt fear, sorrow and most of all anger. All they ever felt was a need to survive.
That came first, feelings later.
I watched them all gathering their things up together, and then heard myself speaking.
'I'll stay behind and look for Charlie'.
I suprised even myself, and the others looked at me as if I'd just announced I was going to swallow an anaconda whole. 'Charlie's dead. There's nothing you can do.'
I listened to myself arguing, and even as I spoke I realised I was making no sense, but nethertheless my mouth just carried on, until they realised that there was no point trying to dissuade me. There wasn't time, they had to leave.
They didn't tell me where they were going, and I didn't ask. We knew that I was likely to be captured, and we knew that if I was there would be no hiding anything. It would be best for me not to know, that way I couldn't endanger anyone but myself.
An hour later there was no trace of anyone ever having been there. Not a scrap of rubbish, a disturbed pile of leaves, nothing.
I was more alone that I'd ever been
The first thing I did was to rummage around in the knapsack they left me for any clothes that looked like thw sort of thing an explorer would wear. I found a pair of beige shorts, which would have passed but for their tightness; they were more rent boy than rugged adventurer. Eventually I settled on a camouflage outfit, with a solider-style hat just for the sake of it.
It no doubt seems pathetic, me, in the middle of a war, basically playing games, but like I said before, I was still young. I still valued escapism, still enjoyed turning it into a game for a few brief moments, before I came back to reality and remembered why I was there; Charlie.
I emptied the rucksack to see what the others had left me. An astonishingly large number of clothes, considering how small the rucksack was, but that would be down to Elizabeth. For all her old-fashioned attitude when it came to having fun, she knew how to look after people, and of course use space efficiently. There was also a compass, not a very nice one, but better than nothing. Only one box of matches, a major blow but understandable- matches were scarce, they couldn't be wasted on futile rescue missions. The obligatory knife, useless since I now had Charlie's, a first aid kit, and some rope. On looking closer I saw that every item of clothing had it's colour written in the label. Patronising B*****ds. I can't tell red from green, but that's all, I'm fine with the other colours. And why would anybody pack me a bright yellow sweatshirt? Did they want me to get caught? I was losing my temper, so I sat down and took some deep breaths, then looked to see what clothes would offer me decent protection. As it happened, but for the yellow sweatshirt most of the clothes were inconspicuous enough to be worn on my mission, and I could always wear the sweatshirt under somthing else if it got mysteriously cold all of a sudden.
Next I needed a plan. Aimlessly looking around was all very well, but I was a rescuer now. I needed to be organised. Unfortunately, I didn't have any better ideas, so I stuck to the original strategy, renaming it a reconaissance mission.