Episode 10 – Night Whispers

Episode 10 – Night Whispers

Rania lies on her back, staring up at the canopy of stars visible through the gaps in the trees. Sleep eludes her, her mind too full of thoughts and worries to allow for rest. Beside her, Mireya sleeps soundly, her small body curled up under a blanket. The girl’s steady breathing provides a comforting rhythm in the quiet camp.

Across the campfire, Cael is also awake. His silhouette was just visible in the dim light, his posture relaxed but his eyes alert. Rania shifts slightly, the movement catching his attention. He turns his head, their eyes meeting across the flickering flames.

“Can’t sleep?” Cael’s voice is a low whisper, careful not to disturb Mireya.

Rania shakes her head, pushing herself up to a sitting position. “Too much on my mind,” she replies quietly.

Cael nods, understanding. He rises and moves around the fire to sit beside her. The warmth of the flames is comforting in the cool night air, but it’s the company that eases the tension in Rania’s chest.

“Leadership isn’t easy,” Cael says after a moment, his voice thoughtful. “Especially not in times like these.”

Rania sighs, running a hand through her hair. “No, it’s not. Every decision feels like life or death. And it’s not just my life I’m responsible for.”

Cael leans back, his gaze drifting to the stars. “You’re doing a good job, Rania. You’ve kept us alive this far. That’s more than most can say.”

Rania offers a small smile, finding comfort in his steadiness yet unable to shake her own concerns. “It’s just… I want to do more than survive. I want to rebuild, to give Mireya a chance at a real future.”

Cael’s eyes soften as he looks at her. “I want that too. For all of us.” He pauses, then adds, “What do you hope for if this was over?”

Rania is quiet for a moment, considering the question. “I hope for a place where we can live without fear. Where we can have some semblance of normal life again. I want Mireya to grow up knowing there’s more to life than just surviving like this.”

Cael nods, his expression thoughtful. “I think about that, too. I want to stay in a place where we can always be safe. Maybe even find a cure for the zombies.”

Rania smiles slightly, the thought bringing a flicker of warmth to her heart. “It’s a nice dream.”

They fall silent, the weight of their hopes and fears settling between them. The fire crackles softly, the night wrapping around them like a comforting blanket. Rania watches the flames dance, lost in thought.

“Do you ever think about what you’d do differently?” Cael asks suddenly, his voice barely above a whisper.

Rania looks at him, her brow furrowing slightly. “What do you mean?”

“If you could go back, change something in the past. Would you?”

Rania considers this, her mind drifting back to the early days of the outbreak. “I don’t know,” she admits. “There are things I wish I could have done differently, people I wish I could have saved. But… dwelling on the past doesn’t change the present. We have to keep moving forward.”

Cael nods, his expression thoughtful. “We can’t change the past, but we can decide how we move forward.”

They sit in companionable silence for a while, the night stretching out around them. Rania feels a sense of calm she hasn’t experienced in a long time. She glances at Cael, noticing the way the firelight casts shadows on his face, highlighting the lines of worry and determination etched into his features.

Rania looks into the fire, her voice barely above a whisper. “I’m glad you’re here, Cael.”

Cael meets her gaze, his eyes warm. “We’re in this together, Rania. I’ve got your back.”

Rania feels a surge of emotion, a mix of gratitude and something deeper she can’t quite name. She offers him a small smile, appreciating his support without feeling the need to define it.

“Always,” he adds, his voice a soft promise.

Rania lets out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding. They fall into an easy silence again, the fire crackling between them.

After a while, Rania shifts her gaze back to Cael. “Do you ever think about what you’d do if things went back to normal?”

Cael’s eyes drift back to the fire, his expression thoughtful. “Sometimes. I think about using my skills again, helping people. Maybe make a real difference.”

Rania nods, finding comfort in his words. Mireya stirs in her sleep, her small hand reaching out and resting on Rania’s arm. Rania looks down at the girl, her heart swelling. She gently adjusts the blanket around Mireya, ensuring she stays warm.

“We’ll manage,” Cael says quietly, as if reading her thoughts.

Rania meets his gaze, feeling a renewed sense of determination. “Yes, we will.”

As the fire burns down to embers, Rania finally feels the pull of sleep. She lies back down, the warmth of the fire and Cael’s presence easing her worries. “Good night, Cael,” she whispers.

“Good night, Rania,” he replies softly.

Rania closes her eyes, letting the night wrap around her. Sleep comes more easily now, her mind at peace knowing that she’s not alone. Cael’s silent promise echoes in her thoughts.