Claudia watched the others at work, seeing them check everywhere for a potential way of getting out or at least contacting the outside world, pausing whenever one of the creatures needed booting off of the platform.
Their situation was definitely getting worse, and she’d half considered asking Connor about his plan to run the phone signal out via the pipes again but she suspected that he wasn’t in any sort of state to attempt to set that up.
They were getting a bit desperate though, no obvious plan emerging. Stephen had even tried banging on the door again, shouting to Buckland that they had injured people in there who needed treatment, but he was either out of hearing distance or was purposely ignoring then.
Maybe he was still panicking, she told herself. Maybe, now he’d locked them in he was too scared to let them out in case he was in big trouble. She didn’t exactly find the thought comforting.
Connor sat next to her, he too silently watching the activity. Abby had asked Claudia to keep an eye on him. Claudia half suspected that it was a careful bit of people management on Abby’s part, knowing that Claudia would be happier doing a job and not just sitting around whilst others about her worked. Honestly though, she felt too grotty to care either way.
She was sure Nick was right and that she’d be fine. She had no reason not to trust him and liked to think that he’d be totally honest with her. Still, she did feel dreadful and so wasn’t too upset about the notion of sitting down doing nothing. The way she felt she knew she wouldn’t be much use anyway.
Connor was increasingly lucid, which did cheer her up somewhat, but he was still clearly concussed. Like her, his balance was completely shot which he’d proved the few times he’d tried to get up to help before Claudia lost patience and snapped at him to just sit down before he fell on his face, pain making her easily riled.
Alright then, he’d said, he would stay here and look after her instead.
She’d smiled at that.
“How’s your leg?” he asked, nodding at her injury.
“Hurts,” she admitted. “And your head?”
“Hurts,” he agreed.
She smiled again, “We make quite a pair, don’t we?”
They’d sat there in companionable silence for a while, only broken by the occasional ‘you alright?’.
Then suddenly Connor’s eyes widened, as though assaulted by a horrifying thought. His hands dived to his pockets, fumbling inside, turning them out in agitation. They were empty and he looked devastated.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, with concerned as his head fell to his hands and he shook it in denial.
“I lost the earrings,” he bemoaned. “The ones I got for Abby. They were in my pocket. They must have fallen out in the water.”
He shook his head again as though he couldn’t believe it had happened.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Connor,” she said sympathetically, pressing a hand to his shoulder to comfort him. He did look very upset. Then she purposely brightened, trying to cheer him up, “Maybe we’ll find them later, hmm? I mean, it’s not like we’re going to leave the lake in here.”
He didn’t seem in the mood for optimism.
“No chance,” he scoffed with a bitter laugh. “They’re gone.”
“Then maybe you could get some more,” she suggested, trying to be helpful.
“Can’t afford it,” he pointed out, “I spent a small fortune on those ones.”
Claudia smiled at that. “So they were expensive then?” she asked, recalling his reluctance to admit such a thing earlier in the day.
He couldn’t help but look a little bashful but there was a hint of a smile on his face.
“I’m sure she’ll be happy whatever you get her,” Claudia reassured. “She seems to like you very much.”
Connor appeared cheered up by that and then, after a moment’s hesitation, as if he was about to ask her to elaborate on it, when Stephen stormed down the stairs in between them, as frustrated as he had been throughout this whole ordeal.
He marched over to the water’s edge and began to pull his shoes and socks off.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Nick demanded, even though it was pretty clear what the answer was.
Claudia felt a cold dread at the idea and yet at the same time could see the sense in it.
“You know as well as I do,” Stephen snapped back, the animosity between the two men not having died down at all, “There’s no way out up here. There’s only one place we haven’t checked. Down there.”
And he pointed to the dark water filled with ominous shapes, confirming Claudia’s suspicions.
As a plan it was verging on suicidal but was it their only hope?