One Little Victory

by Gary Merchant [Reviews - 3]

  • All Ages
  • General
  • Angst, Hurt/Comfort, General


After all the scrapes in her eventful life, she never thought this would be the hardest thing to do. Not that she had ever envisaged this, or the circumstances leading up to it, in the first place. There had been Brendan, of course, but he had been older, and more tuned in to the world outside. This time, it was like starting with a blank slate. The business with Bubbleshock had brought one unexpected addition into Sarah Jane’s life — a son. And after the immediate euphoria, she wasn’t altogether sure what to do. “Luke, you have to. It’s expected.”

“But I’m frightened.”

“It’s a good thing,” she insisted. But Luke was not convinced.

Luke had not so much been born as created. It was all down to Ms Wormwood, who had grown Luke from cells taken from other children, filtering out all the impurities to create the Archetype, as Luke had been named then. Now he was free of her influence, and Sarah had had legal papers drawn up and legally adopted Luke as her own. But that brought additional responsibilities, as now.

Try as she might, Sarah could not persuade him to go to bed. He had steadfastly remained awake the last few days and nights, refusing all attempts to rest. Even Maria had failed. “It’s no good,” she said. “I’m amazed we’ve got him to lie in the bed, but he won’t give in, Sarah. He won’t close his eyes.” The two of them were in Sarah’s attic, wondering what to try next.

“I suppose I can understand,” said Sarah. “When you think that the only bed Luke’s ever known was that slab in the Bubbleshock factory. I can’t imagine it — waking up with no idea of who you are, surrounded by machines and connected to various wires and feed tubes.”

“Well, when you put it like that…” Maria shivered. “But he’s got to give in to sleep sometime. Can’t we just leave him to it?”

Sarah shook her head. “He needs to be reassured first — and it’s just clicked. I know exactly what to do.” She leapt out of her chair and headed across the hall to Luke’s bedroom. The main light was still on. He hadn’t even compromised with having the bedside lamp on instead. “Luke?”

He lay there in bed, staring up at the ceiling. “I’m scared.”

“It’s all right, Luke,” she said, stroking his hair. “It’s all right to be scared. But will you do something for me?”

“A good thing?”

“Yes,” she promised. “Just close your eyes — don’t worry, I’ll leave the light on. But close your eyes and tell me what you see.”

He was unsure, but he did so. “I can’t see anything,” he said, after a moment.

“Now, that’s what you see when you go to sleep,” Sarah told him. “So, if you’re frightened to go to sleep, but you can’t see anything when you close your eyes, then how can you be frightened of nothing?”

He looked up at her. “I don’t know.”

She sat on the bed. “You can trust me, Luke. Nothing will happen to you while you sleep, and not while you live under this roof.”

“All right, I’ll try,” he finally agreed. “But if I don’t like it…”

“Then you don’t have to do it. Agreed.” Luke closed his eyes once more, and Sarah gave him a few minutes to settle before she moved away from the bed to the doorway, where Maria had been listening in. “I may have scored a little victory there,” she whispered hopefully.

“I think that’s a certainty.” Maria nodded to the bed. Luke was now sound asleep, the excesses of the last few days having finally caught up with him. Not even the turning off of the bedroom light disturbed him.

“Poor little mite,” Sarah sighed. “He was completely whacked out. I think he’ll sleep ‘round the clock now.” She stifled a yawn.

“Looks like he’s not the only one,” said Maria. “Cup of tea, Sarah?”

“Oh, yes please,” she replied gratefully.

Grinning, Maria made her way downstairs toward the kitchen, with Sarah following on behind her. Minutes later they were in her living room, at last able to relax. “That was a great idea of yours with Luke, Sarah.”

“One of the oldest tricks in the book,” she explained. “It worked on me when I was small.” She sipped at her tea, deep in thought. “One little victory — how many more to come, I wonder?”