The Carhullan Army
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Book by Hall, Sarah
known stability, appliances, and readily available goods. For them it was simply madness to have to give up their homes, to be supplied with canned food instead of fresh global produce, and to be told that Britain was now little more than a dependent colony. My father’s generation seemed to die out quickly, though their lives had been lived in prosperity. The health system cracked apart. Epidemics swept through the quarters in every town and city. There were new viruses too aggressive to treat.
weight on the knee I had not jarred, and as I looked at her I knew for certain she was one of Carhullan’s residents. She was about my height. She was my size, and my sex, but she looked almost alien. Her face was brown and lined, and the eyes in it were pale green, careful but indifferent. On top of her head the hair was short, it looked oily and separated, like an otter’s pelt. At the back it was longer; she wore it pulled away and tied at her neck. She had on rough black trousers made of
glanced up towards the fells. There was now so little daylight that the horizon had almost disappeared. I squinted into the distance. The ground had lost its definition and the summit of High Street seemed to bleed into the deep teal of the night. The elements were combining darkly, but for a second or two I thought I saw a long row of black outlines, human figures, standing on the ridge against the sky. I could not be sure of it. But in that one glance, before I was pushed inside the narrow iron
what she had done, without my having to apply officially, was make it clear to me that I could stay at Carhullan. At least for the time being. * From the bedroom window I had been watching small groups of women running furtively up the ridge, scaling its steep sides and attempting to gain the summit without being seen by the two sentries stationed at the cairn. Some of them appeared to be carrying wooden shafts in their hands. Others lay back behind stands of gorse, waiting for a signal. It
dressed in the dark blue collarless uniform of the Authority. He held the document out to me and said nothing. Six weeks later I walked to the hospital in Rith and went in to be fitted. In reception I was fingerprinted and handed a thick cotton gown. I waited in a room with twelve other women of varying age. The youngest was about sixteen. She looked terrified, and every few seconds she sniffed and rubbed her nose. I wondered if she had even had sex yet. Nobody spoke. A nurse came in and quickly