Lying on her bunk, staring at the ceiling a few feet away.Tara was worried. Zander was going to leave tonight and he was her only link to Willow.
She had run his ID number; and he was listed on Flight TRC0585 from MB4 to NSF at 1800.
Not enough time to talk to him and get more information, without him getting freaked out and running away shouting stalker.
You don't have a pass so can't follow on a faster passenger flight and wait at the other end.
That would work, if she was caught, it would cost her a lot, Job, home, no it's never felt like home since waking up in the hospital alone after 6 months of coma.
Willow who are you, am I crazy to be even thinking this, feeling this?
I've got to try.
Decision made, Tara jumped down grabbed her rucksack and packed franticly. Clothes, wash-kit, spare boots, the contents of her draw that contained snacks. Torch, Money, not a lot but it will have to do. Picture of Mum, Dad and me, in front of the Old Air refinery at base 7.
Satisfied she had everything she could get hold of. Tara put on her thickest red puffy jacket. Pulled on a Woollen hat to disguise herself as much as possible and lugging her heavy load onto her back walked out in search of hangar 19.
It wasn't hard to find Hanger 19 as hangers 1 - 25 were all in one line on the left hand side of a long grey corridor, wide enough for all the loading and unloading to be done.
Finding the large containers marked waste, Tara searched for what she was looking for.
A container not sealed due to any dangerous contents, and that was hopefully habitable for a 12 hour journey. Looking at her watch she saw it was already just past 1600, 2 Hours to Departure, they would begin loading soon.
Checking around to see if anyone was looking, she opened a large container at the rear of the hanger, away from prying eyes. Luckily it was only half full with what looked like barrels of something. The barrels didn't smell, and didn't have any markings of danger either, so putting down her rucksack inside the door; she quickly closed it after herself. Then taking out her torch, she set about moving the heavy barrels, as quietly as she could, to form a crude wall to hide behind.
An hour later huddled behind her wall of blue barrels, she heard the metal container creak and felt a steady movement as she was loaded onto the shuttle.
Tara awoke with a start. Time, how long have I slept? Glancing at her watch with the torch, she saw it was 0400 only 4 hours since she had drifted off to sleep to the hum of the engines on the other side of the metal wall.
She had dreamed again, this time Willow was older and they were having a picnic under a tree. A new dream, not like the one she always had in which Willow was younger. It was more vivid. And they had kissed... Laid down on a blanket, in a green spot under the tree, and leisurely kissed as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
Buoyed by that memory, Tara got up from under her jacket that she had used as a duvet and opened her rucksack to find something to snack on. Finding a cereal bar with apple flavouring, she munched and planned her next move in 2 hours time.
Just short of her two hour estimate on the remaining flight time, Tara heard the engines roar to full power, meaning they were descending into Earths atmosphere and not long to landing.
Not knowing were to go she had decided to just follow Zander as stealthily as she could, they were friends, a gang, they would have to meet sometime. What she would do if she did find Willow was another matter. "Hello I'm Tara, you don't know me, but I've had these dreams and you're in them, a lot, in a warm and fuzzy major crush kind of way"
Nope, faint first probably, come round, stare, and not say a word that's more your style isn't it. Tara thought. Hearing an alarm sound, Tara realised they were landing, time to get out of here and be ready for Zander.
Tara quickly gathered up her things, and slowly opened the door to the container. Poking just her head outside and waiting until a crewwoman went up a flight of steps to the flight deck. She made her move from the container to the large door which was the entire rear of the shuttle.
On seeing the red light to the right of the door turn green, she quickly gathered her rucksack on her back, and when the roar of depressurization finished and the rear door started to open downward, to become the shuttles ramp. She ran as fast as she could out the door and onto Earth for the first time, making her way to a rusting piece of machinery at the edge of the port.
Thirty minutes later, from her hiding place behind the machinery, in the morning light. Tara spotted Zander leave the shuttle's rear door with a bag over his shoulder. He had hurriedly unloaded the cargo to a hanger on the other side of the port using the shuttle's large air lifting platform and was now leaving alone.
Falling in 15 metres behind him head down, Tara followed at as close a distance as she dared. Hoping he would be too wrapped up in the music he seemed to be listening to, to notice her sooty face under the Tan woollen hat.
Zander left the port through a gate in the fence and turning left appeared to be following signs for the Telegraph Hill sector. They quickly entered crowded streets with early morning shopper's browsing the shop windows and bicycles weaving in amongst the crowd, bells ringing, to warn anyone not quick enough to clear their way.
Then after a few blocks they left the crowds behind, and he became easier to follow at a greater distance. They were walking between massive tall residential buildings. High in the sky between the building's Tara noted the sky vehicles she had seen in movies and that the air did indeed smell of sulphur. Some people seemed to wear masks, no doubt to ward off harmful particles from their lungs. She was breathing un-recycled air for the first time, it tasted thick in the back of her throat and her nose was beginning to itch a little. I think I need one of those masks Tara thought. But despite looking for clues as to where to get one, no sign's or kiosk's appeared, so she vigilantly following her link to Willow.
After a couple of more blocks and a left into a side street between two of the large Apartment blocks, Zander turned and entered the door to the building on the right with "Newsom Heights" above the entrance lobby.
So Tara sat...and waited.