Last week's b7friday topic was peace, hope, or joy. Set just after 'Blake': 430 words, cut for length.
Vila got as far as the road before collapsing. He lay there on the verge, just clear of the trees, knowing he wouldn't get up again. Tiny yellow flowers danced in the grass before his eyes, reminding him of Fosoforon and Avon. No, don't think of Avon. Or Blake. Not now, at the end. Pretend you're a kid again, outside the dome...
He became aware of the hum of an approaching grav-sled and stared dully as it slowed. A bearded man and two light-haired children looked down at him; Vila met the girl's eyes with resignation.
"Daddy? He's hurt. We can't just leave him there."
The man sighed and dismounted, and leaned over Vila who just looked up at him. It's all right, mate. I don't mind, not now. He'd understand a father playing it safe on this planet. Then strong arms lifted him and he fell into darkness.
There was a confusing time of faces hovering: the man, an older, tough-looking woman accompanied by a smell of antiseptic, the children's anxious eyes, all mixed with dreams and nightmares of people he wanted to forget.
Then came a day when his mind was clear. He lay there, too weak to want to move, but assailed by a strange sense of well-being. The room he was in was a small and simple one, built of wood--impossibly expensive on Earth but probably the cheapest sort of house here. At the window, faded yellow curtains moved slightly in the breeze to show glimpses of blue sky, and a shaft of sunlight fell to the pale honey of the worn floor, dust motes dancing in its path. Vila turned his head. Beside the bed was a simple wooden nightstand with a glass of water and a chipped blue vase with a small bunch of flowers: bright red, and the little yellow ones he'd seen by the road. Beside them lay a round flat stone which someone had painted in a bright geometric pattern. Vila's eyes blurred, but not with faintness. Someone cared enough about him to leave these thing for him? He'd almost forgotten the ordinary goodness of people.
For some reason he thought of the Liberator and all the happy times there, and this time it was all right. If Avon had stopped being a friend months ago and even if Blake had sold them all out, the past was still his. He still had the people they'd been.
Vila felt something rising within him, and it took him a while to put a name to the unfamiliar feeling.
It was hope.