You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
I'm getting too far from the base.
Walking further into the Rebel's Zone, none of the lights in the residential buildings seem to be on.
The streetlights cast puddles into black ink with gold dancing on the surface. The smell of rain is strong.
There are footsteps behind me.
I glance back, nervous of the shadows that crouch behind every object, every transportation pod, every squat grey building.
There's no-one there.
I walk on, jumping when a raid siren shrieks far away - Xandran I think - and again when a skinny creature streaks across my path.
I'm sure there's someone following me.
I look back so frequently I nearly collide with a blue box - the one that houses the grid's emergency telecommunication device.
But they could be ducking into doorways.
I've reached the hub now and am heading past abandoned shops. Broken windows, boarded-up doors.
The boards are riddled with bullets and graffiti, hard black slashes of writing with drips running from them.
I can't decipher the words in the gloom - there are few street lights now - but I know they speak of anger, of hatred, of rebellion.
So much death, so much murder has tainted these streets. I'm nervous.
There is a dark shape huddled in the gutter on the other side of the road.
I'm not sure.
If I was on duty, I'd have to check. If dead, radio the co-ordinates; if alive, take back to base for breaking curfew.
But I'm not on duty, and being an officer; I am exempt from curfew.
Now I wish I wasn't.
What on Omnicron possessed me to go walking this time of night?Restlessness. Uncertainty for the future. Mine and Omnicron's.
I hear a splash. Definitely.
These are not fears born of dark and loneliness. This is real.
I flick around, quicker than ever before.
But the man in the gutter has raised his head. He's heard it, too.
I'm entering a 200m stretch where every streetlight is smashed or knocked down.
Something wet, tacky, underfoot. I shudder to think what it is.
Instead I focus my eyes on the light in the distance and concentrate on moving towards them.
What was that?
Running feet. Something whooshing, a clatter. I feel sweat coat my palms.
Abandoning all attempts at calm, I start to run.
A shrill laugh. I sprint. Towards the light. My breath comes harshly. I am going to die. Here tonight in this town of ruin, I am going to die.
No. I won't die running. Too many have before me.
I grab a shard of glass from a shop window and brace myself, more terrified than ever before.
Adrenaline pounds through every vein.
I try to strengthen my voice.
Blackness. Silence. Nothing.
Then I hear slow footsteps heading towards me.
They go on seemingly forever. I strain to hear each one.
I hurl my bit of glass, turn, and run, mentally abandoning every attempt at silence.
Pounding feet. Mine. And somebody else's? I can't tell.
Harsh breaths. Those are mine.
The light. Weak streetlight, but it's the best thing I've seen all night.
I run into it ... as it goes out.
I am thrown into all-consuming blackness.
I'll never get back to base now. All hope is entirely lost.
I'll have to hunker down in the gutter like the other man and pray to Darwin for survival.
The thought is horrific but there's no alternative.
And then the great star Titus rolls in all its speed and glory over the horizon.
There's a soft step and a scrape and a shadow steps out of sight behind the old Embassy.
The hub is flooded with searing heat, blinding light. I'll have to get back to base or risk serious burns - but I look about me first.
Every slash of paint making up the Rebellion slogans, every bullet lodged in the boards, every piece of glass smashed on the ground is thrust into sharp relief.
Wet glass sparkles.
The hub, though blood-soaked and filled with conflict, is a hundred times less frightening.
Even minus my M-16 and sniper rifle, I feel safe. And I am alone.
I look about me, at the bright steaming world and I am suddenly, blissfully, alone.
• By Rose McCulloch, Year 11, Kaikorai Valley College