This morning the Oracle gave me a poem based on my rewriting. Looking at Sue’s photo for this week’s Thursday Writephoto prompt, I see that this is also from the story. Here is a section from the end of Book Two.
Gula held Halki’s hand as they hurried towards the red glow, listening to the roaring of hundreds of frantic voices and the screaming of women. Her face darkened—she thought she heard the cries of children too. She glanced at Halki and saw the same expression of suppressed anger and disgust. Suddenly she was filled with pride in her old man, with his strong chin, his big nose, his receding hairline, and a heart full of compassion.
Something was changing in Providence. She felt it and saw it in the faces of the enders who had also refused their destiny. Something terrible was happening, but it signalled a break in the deadly rhythm, the dull monotony. The air was filled with electricity, as if a storm were breaking within the Hemisphere. The bridge between the past and the present was broken, and the future seemed suddenly possible.
Halki sensed Gula’s eyes on him and his expression softened. He had felt the change too and realised he was grinning. He didn’t care about anything any more, except the future. He wanted a future, and he wanted to share it with Gula.
An astonished cry rang out. Halki looked over his shoulder—the medic must have had a look in the waiting room. He had burst into the corridor and was shouting for the guards. Almost instantly, his voice was drowned by the pounding of heavy-booted feet. Halki was filled with dismay. He hadn’t expected the Black Boys to be alerted so soon.
“Run,” he shouted, grabbing Gula’s arm.
“No, wait.” Vidarr stopped him, counting the running shapes rapidly. “We can take ’em. The corridor’s narrow—they can only come at us two at a time.”
The men hesitated, clenched their fists and nodded. The women stood back against the wall but made no attempt to run. They had all begun to dream of a future, and they could not envisage it without their husbands.
Shouting their excited war cries the Black Boys were upon them, but strangely their batons were held low, not raised to strike.
“Get outta the way!” they yelled, and without slowing their pace shouldered past the stupefied men to disappear into the red glow round the last corner.
Gula put her hand on Halki’s arm. “Things are changing,” she said, and set off in the wake of the Black Boys.
When they rounded the corner they looked down on the glittering altars and fluted columns of the Great Temple bathed in red light. The air was dry, crackling with heat and noise and vibrating with the running steps of the Black Boys. They hurried down a staircase leading to one of the lateral chapels, hesitating to set out across the echoing marble immensity. The Black Boys were pouring out through the half-open temple doors in a howling mob, eager to get to grips with whatever was outside.
The world was changing. She was the proof. Gula looked at the faces of the enders gathered about her and recognised the light in their faces, knowing the same light was shining in hers. Whatever happened next, nothing could take this moment away from them. They had defied the destiny imposed by the law and they had not died. They hesitated at the foot of the staircase, listening to the roar of a great crowd in the Square. Things were changing and they had no idea how. They hesitated, not wishing to break the spell of the moment of complete freedom, unwilling to tread the marble pavement and perhaps discover slavery and death at the far side.
Gula looked into Halki’s eyes as if for the last time, to take the memory of them wherever she was going. Then she flung her arms about his neck and reached up for his lips. Nothing would ever erase that moment, that kiss that might have to replace a lifetime of tenderness. They made that one kiss count for a thousand, and when they parted, they were ready. Hand in hand, they walked across the cold marble towards the din and however much future the changing times had in store for them.