Image : Virginia Frances Sterret
It’s getting dark as Sylvie reaches the top of the mountain, the last glow of the fat sun fading to violet and blue.
She loves nights on watch at the old Observatory. According to her friend Trad, there were ladders reaching floor to roof when the People first found the valley – cogs and wheels too, and a pulley system, rusted and choked with red vines. But it all must have been hauled away years ago, melted, broken, its use forgotten.
By the fire one night, she and Trad argued what the place would have been used for – a grainstore, a pump house, a torture chamber. Grin – the most knowledgeable of them when it comes to Before – said observe meant to look at things, though there isn’t a lot to see now: red vine (everywhere since the Invasion); the village; the distant wink of the sea.
‘A look out,’ Trad had said, sinking back, closing his eyes. ‘Top of the mountain – must have been a look out for Invaders.’
Grin shrugged. ‘Then someone fell asleep the one day they needed to be awake.’
Now alone under the empty dome, the mice scuttle round Sylvie’s boots, a barn owl glides, ghostly pale over her head.
She sits, settles her rifle at her side and gazes up at the stars.