The first problem with the Chunnel was its lack of light. At some point, there had been overhead lighting that illuminated the platforms, but since the electricity was no longer running, the only light came from the dim red glow of the emergency lights.
Sean tried to make a torch by lighting the end of a board on fire, but since they had no fat or oil, the flame traveled down the board and the whole thing was abandoned. They could make due with the red lights–they didn’t have much choice.
The second problem with the Chunnel involved animals. Pests such as rats and insects had moved into the tunnel when the people had moved out. No one knew how they had gotten in, but they were everywhere–especially the rats, which were the biggest and the meanest rats that Jay had ever seen. As someone who lived in London, he was both impressed and terrified.
It was easy enough to deal with the rats until Melanie stepped on one, crushing it under her foot. She screamed so loud Jay thought someone had stabbed her. When he turned around, she was crouched over the broken body, crying.
“I didn’t mean to hurt him.”
“We know you didn’t, Mels. It’s all right,” Sean said.
“Let’s bury him,” she said.
“The ground is concrete,” Maia said. “We can’t exactly dig here.” She drew in air and covered her mouth with her hand. Jay recognized the gesture as bracing for a cough. Thankfully, nothing happened. “Just leave it. He’ll be fine.”
“He’s not fine. He’s dead.”
“You know what I mean. It’s the circle of life.”
“Damn it,” Sean said, “can we stop talking about death?”
He picked up a candy bar wrapper and draped it over the dead rat.
Jay shot Sean a look. “We need to calm down.”
“Don’t tell me to calm down. I can’t bloody calm down.”
“Sean, just take a breath.”
“Don’t tell me to do that, either. Just shut your damn mouth.”
Jay clenched his jaw. He knew Sean was only acting out because he was worried about Jay’s illness, but that didn’t give him an excuse to be hateful. He looked at Melanie for confirmation that Sean was out of line. She was focused on the rat’s still form, covered with the candy wrapper. He looked at Maia. She frowned.
“Sorry,” Jay said. “We just need to keep moving.”
“Don’t you think I know that?” Sean spat. “I’m well aware that every second we spend in here puts my best mate one second closer to death. I’m not a moron.”
“Sean,” Melanie said.
“No, don’t you start.” He whirled around to face his girlfriend, who had mascara streaks across her face. “You’ve known for bloody ages that he was sick and never thought to tell me. You don’t have a say in how I feel about this.”
“We’re all upset,” she said.
“Oh, sod off,” Sean retorted.
“Please don’t talk to her like that,” said Jay. “She didn’t think—”
“How I talk to my girlfriend is my own business, mate.” He hissed the last word like a curse. Jay had never seen Sean so angry before. His face contorted in rage. He took a step toward Jay, and Jay took a step back.
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