Chapter Thirty

I woke up in a garden. It was morning and the sun shone brightly although its brilliance, strength and power seemed to have reduced somewhat from yesterday's unprecedented levels. For a few confused moments, I struggled to remember where I was and what I had been doing before I had fallen asleep. Slowly, memories of my exhausting journey began to creep back into my mind and I recalled being dragged through the darkness into Samantha's grandmother's house. The ground that I had fallen asleep on last night had been hard, hot and uneven and was a bitter contrast to the soft, luxurious sun-lounger upon which I now relaxed in the middle of a parched lawn.

I slowly pulled myself upright and rubbed my tired, tender eyes. I felt much calmer than I had done at any time over the last few days and weeks and I could only presume that I had just woken up from an extremely long and uninterrupted sleep. I yawned, stretched and looked around the garden. Behind me stood the little house in front of which I had collapsed last night and, from a dark doorway, Samantha suddenly emerged carrying a tray of cool drinks. She walked quickly over to me, put the tray down on the grass and sat down next to me on the sun-lounger.

'Good morning,' she whispered. 'How are you feeling?'

'Better now,' I said, unable to hide the happiness I felt from finally being with Samantha. She smiled and leant across to kiss me.

'You had a good sleep,' she continued. 'I was starting to get worried. I was beginning to think that you weren't going to wake up,' I laughed and took a sip from a glass of cool, zest-filled fruit juice.

'Typical, eh?' I joked. 'It takes me ages to get to you and then when I finally arrive I fall straight asleep.'

Sam gently ran her fingers through my hair and kissed me again. I pulled her close and held her tightly to me.

'It's cooler,' I whispered to her. 'Do you think it's over?'

'It must be,' she replied.

I could feel the relief surging through my body, refreshing and revitalising me more with each passing second. I gazed deep into Sam's wonderful blue eyes and, as I did, a shadow fell across the garden. We looked up together to see that a heavy black cloud had silently drifted in front of the sun. It was the first cloud that I had seen in weeks.

'About time too,' she said softly.

The shade that the cloud cast over the garden was dark and cool. For an instant I thought that I was imagining things when a single drop of icy water landed on my face but then, as if to prove that it really had happened, the drop was followed by another and then another. The raindrops became bigger and harder and fell more and more quickly. Less than a minute later we were sat together in the middle of a heavy shower and the pure, cold water which poured over us seemed to wash away the nightmare of the last few days.

I looked around the garden to see the colour returning to the dying plants and to the tired yellow grass. As the drops of rain fell, the cloud cover above us increased further still until the sky was completely overcast and the sun had disappeared from view. I held Sam tightly again.

'I love you,' she whispered in my ear, her voice barely audible over the driving rain.

There was suddenly so much that I wanted to say to Sam but which I could not even begin to find the words to express. Instead, I kissed her once more and lay back on the sun-lounger; the happiest and wettest man on the face of the planet.

I woke up on the hard concrete floor of the garage, The stifling heat and the unexpected darkness quickly brought me crashing back into reality and my heart sank like a stone.

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