The clean white flashed to black – pushing into Damien’s eyes as he shot up, sucking air into his scream but holding it in.

He fumbled for the switch and his pod lit up. The familiar sights almost pushed the dream away but it lingered at the edges. He lowered the lights. He knew they had enough power but he wasn’t going to read, just be comforted a little.

The boat rocked gently. He tried to let it lull him a bit but it was pretty clear that wasn’t going to happen. Getting to his knees he looked out of his window. The cold air from outside formed a small pocket and his breath plumed, first misting the glass, then condensing.

He rubbed it clean.

Outside, across the lake, lay Storms Hill Bay. He looked at the houses lit up there. Before he was born, he mum told him, they lived in a place like that. There were other houses like that – along way from the water. But it rose and, for a period, they went from inland estates to waterfront apartments.

And then, more quickly, a danger to all who lived in them, closely followed by demolished.

He wasn’t sure what all that meant – but he did know he lived on a cool boat.

She switched his light off and watched the moon break through the clouds.

Maybe he could lay down, and watch the moon…

He yawned.

The moon through his…his wind-

***

The moon flooded the room. The door had been sealed. Getting in was getting harder and harder.

It didn’t matter. It was where he belonged.

But he had to be careful now. The work had to be carried out elsewhere. Remains smelt, after all.

He tested his rope and slipped over the roof, keeping the the darkness, to the shadows.

Sliding the window over he slipped into his old place. His safe place. His hands were still wet. Good. He looked at the walls, all covered with small lines – countless, countless lines.

He added a diagonal over 4 straights and giggled. Another five.

He sat in the middle of the room, rocked and started counting.

***

They lay in bed, backs to each other. The space between them was thick with things said, and unsaid. His eyes were open, his head angled to look through the window.

The Ash Storm had ended. “I shouldn’t have said that.” Not that he’d ever say it out loud. He shifted his weight. He wasn’t going to sleep tonight, but he wasn’t going to get up, either. He wouldn’t give her the satisfaction.

She faced the wall, silent tears running down her face. Why did she start these arguments. She loved him and didn’t want him to go. She didn’t know why he stayed.

She just wanted him to hold her.

***

Damien turned in his sleep. Speaking as he breathed out. “Dowhaan..presehn.”

***

And in the cold night, an orange light blinked forlornly.