‘I know you only from photographs,’ she said, rubbing at her sore throat. ‘How did you know who I was?’
The woman who should have been in her mid 60s but barely looked older than Daisy, looked at her granddaughter with mild rebuke. ‘You look like your dad. I’ve not been able to think about much except my family for the past… hold old are you?’
The younger Captain Reeves stood and backed herself cautiously against the wall. ‘Thirty two.’
‘I’ve been here – what – thirty one years now?’
Daisy nodded slowly.
‘Is your granddad still alive?’
She nodded again and saw a hint of a smile on her grandmother’s face as she sat down on one of the storage containers. Daisy flinched when her grandmother stepped forward to sit on one of the storage containers.
‘I’m not going to hurt you!’ she snapped. ‘There’s nothing in that box by the way, it was just a distraction.’
‘With all due respect, you were trying to kill me not two minutes ago and I still don’t know that you won’t.’
She pressed her lips together and leaned back, folding her arms and stretching her legs out. ‘True, but it took me a minute to recognise you and I still don’t know for certain that you’re not here to kill me.’
‘Who would want to kill you, and why?’
‘Everyone, because of what I found here.’
‘This place is a ball of dust, rock and volcanic sand. What could you possibly have found and why would ESA want to kill you?’
‘No, not ESA. Nor NASA, JSA or the others. They’d have had too much to gain. But other governments? Corporate sponsors?’ She threw her hands in the air. ‘Some soldiers came – years ago now. I set a trap and they died in a rock slide about three miles from here.’
‘Sorry,’ said Daisy, rubbing her face. ‘I’m struggling with all of this.’
‘You’ll understand in time, but you have to come with me.’
‘You saw me on the beach earlier?’
‘When you disappeared under the water? You want me to go for a swim in that?’
‘It’s perfectly safe, Daisy.’
She flinched again, this time at the use of her name. It sounded so alien from a woman she only knew from photographs, a woman who no doubt for that first year acted the doting grandmother, who would then not see her for more than thirty years and on their first meeting, almost try to kill her.
‘Let’s be honest here,’ said the younger woman, ‘that neither of us really trusts each other. So I am going to follow you to the water and if you try anything I’ll-‘ she stopped, not entirely sure what she would do.
‘I am capable of defending myself and I won’t hurt you until I know for certain that you’re here to kill me.’
‘That sounds about as good as any peace treaty as I’m going to get.’ Daisy said glumly.
She stopped speaking to pick at her lip, staring into her glass as though she had never seen one before.
‘Is everything alright?’
She shook her head, snapping out of her daydream. ‘I need another cigarette now. I’m shaking. Don’t know if it’s the withdrawal or the nerves.’ For the first time, this cold-fronted woman seemed vulnerable as though reluctant to discuss what happened.
‘Where did she take you?’
‘Do you like history?’
Another strange question, but he was used to them by now. ‘Yes. My dad loved it so it rubbed off on me.’
‘What was it Howard Carter said when he opened the lavish tomb of Tutankhamun? When asked what he could see he replied-‘
‘Wonderful things!’ he responded enthusiastically.
‘That’s right,’ she repeated, ‘I saw Wonderful Things.’
‘It’s a lake – of goo.’ Daisy pointed out. They were in a cavern and the underwater lake, though serene, felt more alien than anything else she had seen on Barnard IV.
‘Go and touch it,’ insisted the elder Captain Reeves, ‘it won’t hurt you.’
She looked at her grandmother suspiciously and then tentatively, dipped her hand in the pale orange goo. She brought a handful of it up to her face and let it slide down her fingers, falling back into the lake with a plopping sound.
‘So, what is-‘ she went to say but was cut off when she was hit from behind. She fell, hit her head on a rock and passed out.