The next day starts normally enough. I wake, late as usual, and bumble around making a liquid and capsule breakfast. Kristine is unremarkably absent. She likes to jog in the morning cool and exercise in the gym.
Later I notice her bunch of master keys are missing. Guns are gone from the pegboard next to the door too. I frown. Did she go outside? There’s no need to. The genset isn’t due for a few more days and she promised not to open an outer door without me being with her. Maybe she’s out exploring. That curiosity of hers...
Lunchtime brings no sign of her. Distracted by her continued absence I take more pills on an empty stomach and am soon bent over the toilet bowl, throwing up toxic slime. The sickness clears my head. Usually Kristine will insist I eat enough to keep my stomach in check.
Sobered and worried, I pace the facility’s corridors, looking for her through office windows, hoping to spot her sunbaking in the garden or napping on an office sofa. Concern gradually winds open a panic valve as I puff my way through each wing, calling her name. I leave the roof till last, but examining the grounds from each corner of it does not reveal her.
Something is out of place. There! In the visitors’ car park! A red F100 is missing. I try to convince myself she’s taken it for a spin around the grounds. There is no common sense attached to this belief, but I don’t pretend to understand a woman’s thinking. I recheck every square metre of our large plot for signs of the faded red utility. Nothing. There are no tell-tale tracks in the long grass either.
Only one possibility remains. She’s gone. She’s left me.
I run back to the staff wing. The F100 keys are missing from the keyboard, yet her room isn’t stripped; all her stuff remains. I fire questions at a numbed brain. If she’s run away, why did she leave without packing? Where did she think she was going? Had I done something really flaky and scared her off? No, I don’t think so.
I weapon up and go outside. Jogging alongside the tarmac track I reach the main gate. No part of me appreciates the exercise or being out in the open. Creep activity has dropped significantly and I’m glad none are waiting for me beyond the wire. I remain ultra-cautious anyway.
Rain has washed dirt across the asphalt near the gate. Fresh tracks are plainly visible and lead through these heavy bars. My heart sinks. The fact that she’d turned left, away from the city centre is not consoling. I approach the gate and cling to it, resting a heavy head on the warm metal.
I have to face it, she’s gone.
Despondent, I return to my grey concrete castle. It already feels hollow and empty. Guns and a carton of beer accompany me to the roof. There I sit under the sail-shade, drinking and sweeping the road with a powerful sniper scope.
Going after her is hardly debated. What purpose would it serve? Even assuming I can track her down; do I drag her back unwillingly? Then what? Lock her up and feed her like a prize pony?
We’d both really enjoy that.
The sharpened edge of loss slips a blade through my protective iron shell. Drunken, hurt tears, dry as I doze off.