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“What the hell are you doing?”, Darrell jumped at the sound of Alicia's voice and looked up guiltily from her position lain on her front next to the lamp, not where Alicia had left her.
“I couldn't keep reading this in the dark, and I need to move around a bit”
“Then you wait for me to come back and help you”, Alicia shot as she put down the water and food she had gathered, “You shouldn't be crawling around the cave, you'll get hurt.” Darrell bit back the retort that it was more dragging herself around than crawling, as she imagined that would only serve to make Alicia more irate.
“You look really pale”, Alicia sat down opposite Darrell and took a drink from the metal container then offered it to Darrell, “Have you hurt yourself?”
Darrell took the water and took a few sips, “You need to stop treating me like I'm so fragile”.
“Are you hurting?”, Alicia passed over some of the fruit and leaves that they had found to be edible, and Darrell rolled her eyes at the blatant ignoring of her question.
“Of course it hurts Alicia, I have a constant headache and when I can feel my leg, it's agony”, Darrell pushed herself up into a more comfortable position, “But lying around and waiting to die of my injuries isn't going to help either of us.”
“Don't say that”, Alicia's words came out as a sharp bark that made Darrell jerk back in shock, “You're not going to die, don't say things like that”.
“My chances are much better if we get back home”, Darrell nibbled on the edge of one of the pieces of fruit, was it even fruit if it existed before anyone had been around to name it? She felt her thoughts start to drift and she refocused them on Alicia.
“How it going anyway?”, Alicia nodded towards the notepad and Darrell was grateful for the change of topic.
“I think I know how to force an anomaly to open, well the codes to set the device to do it anyway”, Darrell put her fruit to one side and lay back down, resting her forehead on her folded arms, “I just don't know how to set a date.”
“We could just open one and see?”
“I think there's only going to be enough charge for one, maybe two anomaly openings”, Darrell closed her eyes and breathed slowly through the pain before she continued, “It hasn't been plugged into the mains for weeks, even if it's been turned off. I don't want to risk ending up somewhere worse”.
“Worse than here?”
“Remember the predators from the future?”, Darrell moved her head to one side so she could see Alicia out of one eye. Alicia grimaced and nodded,
“Okay, so we'll wait. You need to eat something”
“You are unbearably attentive at the moment Alicia, when is the real you making a reappearance?”, Darrell groaned.
“You nearly died Darrell, it's going to take a while”
“I nearly died at that abandoned warehouse estate a few months back, you weren't like this afterwards”, Darrell wasn't sure what response she was trying to goad out of Alicia, did she really want to have to deal with whatever it was Alicia felt for her when it was just the two of them, stuck here?
“That's because I was an idiot”, she hadn't expected that response, “I got you caught up in all this and I've nearly got you killed twice.”, Darrell felt guilty as she raised her head and watched Alicia sit, body tensed and eyes focussed on the floor.
“I didn't mean...it's not your fault Alicia...”
“I should have just accepted it when you turned down the journalist job. Then none of this would have happened.”
Darrell didn't have a response to that and dropped her head back onto her arms, no longer having the strength to keep talking.
Alicia spat water out as she dragged herself up on the shore. Her throat burned where she had choked on the water in the lake. She clawed at the sandy mud and dragged herself away from the water, as images of some of the sea creatures they had dealt with before came back to her. Her legs wobbled as she staggered to her feet, and she tried to scan for the dinosaur that she had been running from.
She struggled a few more steps and collapsed onto her knees, and coughed until she was certain she would be sick. As her head pounded with each breath she took, she fought against her body's desire to fall onto her front and lie in the dirt. That would be certain death. If she collapsed out here, if she died, then she condemned Darrell to the same fate.
That thought was enough to get her back on her feet, and once she started to walk, it got easier to put one foot in front of the other. The sky hung dark overhead, and the air felt heavy on her back, but she kept walking.
It had gotten easier to pretend that things were going to be okay; having Darrell awake and talking to her made it seem like losing her was less likely. Of course, rationally, Alicia knew that was a load of rubbish. You could have talked to someone on the phone and hear the next day that they'd dropped dead of a heart attack an hour after you hung up.
Alicia leant heavily against a nearby rock and struggled to catch her breath, trying to make herself just focus on getting back to the cave instead of all this preoccupation with death. She tried to push away the thoughts that Darrell was so much weaker than Alicia had ever seen; that the grey of Darrell's complexion made her look half-way towards death already. Alicia briefly considered smacking herself in the head in her frustration at her own train of thoughts but instead clenched and unclenched her fists as she pushed herself off the rock and back into a determined walk back towards the cave.
She would have been a prime target for any predator that had happened upon her, and Alicia stopped just short of thanking divine intervention for the fact that the carnivore that had driven her into the water in the first place had decided she was far too small for too much effort. Still, intervention from higher or not, Alicia was grateful when she finally crawled back through into the cave. She slid the rock across behind her, just in case something had caught her scent, and staggered forward towards the small glow of the lamp.
She crumpled. The dull thud of her knees hitting the stone floor echoed around the cave and in the meagre light she saw Darrell glance around, and then try to move.
“Don't!”, Alicia cringed at the sharpness of her own voice, but it did stop Darrell in her tracks. Alicia took a few deep breathes and then forced herself back to her feet, “I'm fine”.
“You are a truly awful liar”, Darrell replied as she carefully manoeuvred herself around to face Alicia. Alicia sat down beside Darrell and squinted at her friend against the faint glow of the lamp.
“You look really...”
“I know how to get us home”.