The Garden of Darkness

The Garden of Darkness by Gillian Murray Kendall Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: The Garden of Darkness by Gillian Murray Kendall Read Free Book Online
Authors: Gillian Murray Kendall
Tags: Science-Fiction
said Mirri. “It’s kind of pretty. I’ve decided it’s shaped like a fish. She looks old.”
    “I’m fifteen,” Clare told them.
    “This is Clare Bodine,” said Jem. “She was at school with me. She’s a cheerleader.”
    Clare felt herself blush.
    “You don’t need to be embarrassed ,” said Mirri. “I want to be a cheerleader when I grow up. Now I’m just a little kid.”
    “You’ll be a kid for ages, Mirri,” said Sarai. “I’ll be a teenager a long time before you are.”
    “You won’t be a teenager for years,” said Mirri. “And by then Clare here will be grownup . If kids can live to be grownups.”
    “That’s enough, Mirri,” said Jem.
    “It’s okay,” said Clare.
    “I didn’t mean to say you were going to be a grownup soon ,” said Mirri to Clare. “It’s not as if you were sixteen . Fifteen isn’t so much.”
    Jem sat on the curb near the swings. Mirri launched herself from the swing again and landed on her feet.
    “I don’t know how she does that,” said Sarai admiringly. She and Mirri joined Jem on the curb. The four of them sat with their feet in the dusty street as the empty swings moved back and forth in the breeze. Jem idly started throwing pebbles and soon Mirri was doing it too. Sarai watched them intently.
    “You’re the first people I’ve seen since my parents died,” said Clare. They all looked out at the silent town. The unkempt buildings loomed over the dusty street and here or there a door hung open or a sign had become detached from its moorings. Lawns were unmown and towering weeds were going to seed in a small graveyard next to the church. Grass was beginning to sprout up in the fissures in the street. Clare found herself thinking that wherever humans had left so much as a crevice, nature invaded.
    In front of some of the houses, yellowed newspapers were piled in a heap. One door had a partial red ‘X’ on it, as if someone had made an effort to impose quarantine and then given up. Farther down the street was what looked like a small heap of clothes. Clare hoped it wasn’t another body.
    “Did you see the TV spot that the grownup made at the end?” asked Clare.
    “I heard about it,” said Jem.
    “He said he had a cure,” said Clare.
    “Well,” said Jem. “We’ve seen how cures work out.” He turned and looked at her and then looked more closely. She knew it was her eyes. She moved uncomfortably.
    “What if he was telling the truth?” she asked.
    “I want to hope so,” said Jem. “If there’s no kind of cure at all, Pest will pick us off one by one as we get older. ”
    Clare pictured the emptied world. Everything would go eventually. The Golden Gate Bridge and the Eiffel Tower would join the pyramids and the Coliseum in the steady march towards ruin.
    “There doesn’t seem to be much point in anything,” said Clare. “If this really is the end of the world.”
    Jem considered her words.
    “There would be a point to a lot more things,” he said, “if we could grow up.”
    “Maybe we’ll make it.”
    “I wouldn’t put any bets on turning twenty. Pest’ll come.”
    “What about sixteen? Do you think I have a chance?”
    Jem didn’t automatically reassure her or tell her not to worry about it or promise to take care of her. She liked him for that. He said,
    “I don’t know.”
    As they sat on the curb in the rich evening light, their stories began to come.
    “I knew Sarai before Pest,” said Jem. “Our families were friends.”
    Sarai took up the story.
    “Our families were close,” she said. “Even though they were really different.” When it was clear that Sarai and Jem weren’t getting sick, their families moved in together so that the children could care for them more easily. The Cure had not yet been available.
    “Thank goodness,” said Sarai. “Because some of them might have become Cureds. Our own families.”
    Mirri threw a pebble into the street.
    “I don’t like this story,” she said. Sarai put a hand

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