After The Event, I don’t believe that anyone understood how quickly the world fell apart. In the space of four days, there was no water, no power and no more gas. While the radio and televisions were still working, all we heard were reports of massive death tolls. Just on the first day 234, 000 people died.. My Fiance Lizzie froze to death in her car trying to get to her Parents in Oxford.
Tom wakes me and tells me that we have lost three more in the night. Mrs and Mrs Patel died in the night of their injuries and Graham found Louise in her bunk. She had slit her wrists. We have been travelling for almost three weeks. Vikram and Asha were caught in the rubble when the ceiling of the motorway services collapsed. We had been foraging for food. Louise was by my shoulder as we lifted them out. Later that evening we had found an old Scout hut. There was a dormitory with bunk beds and fuel oil heaters. We had put three kids into each bottom bunk and covered them with duvets, blankets and the curtains from the windows. Tom and I lit fires where ever we thought they would burn safely. The most important thing is to keep the cold out. In the first week of walking through the snow we lost seven people to Hypothermia. The ground was too solid to even bury them.
We have been here in Birmingham for almost a month now. There are frozen bodies everywhere. Adults, children, dogs, cats.
Food is very scarce. We are all hungry, all the time. Almost everyone is afraid to go to sleep in case they don’t wake up. Me, Tom and Graham spend most of our time breaking up fights. Everyone is on edge. Everyone is terrified. As the sun come up I climb into bed. We found Sarah and her friends at the side of the motorway. She rolls over and is almost warm to the touch. She wraps her arms and legs around me even though I must be like ice. For a little while I fall asleep.
“Finn?” I can barely open my eyes. Sarah has a steaming cup of coffee. In the early hours Tom and Jane found their way into a supermarket. They have flour, yeast, coffee and tinned food. I take the cup from her hands. It is burning my fingers but it is a relief from the constant cold. “Hi.” My voice sounds hoarse and croaky. I must have been pushing myself to hard these last few days. “Tom is making bread, real bread from scratch.” She smiles and her pale green eyes look more happy than they have for as long as I can remember. “Good.” I reply. “I’m starving!” I pull on my boots and a thick woolen jumper and put on my padded jacket over the top. Sarah kisses the corner of my mouth. “Are you okay? You look knackered.”
I can’t bring myself to speak. I feel much older than my 34 years. I am weary to the bone. I run my hand through her hair and smile. She kisses me again, more insistent and more passionate than before and soon we are lying in bed, spent and satisfied.
Even as I hear the running footsteps I know something terrible has happened. Tom bursts into the room. “Finn! It’s the militia!” He already has a pistol in his hand.
When everything fell apart the remnants of the Army and ‘conscripted’ civilians formed a working regiment, they soon realised the futility of trying to restore order to a dying a world and became, more or less a band of raiders. We had managed to avoid them so far but we had heard stories. I took the Colt from the nightstand and gave it to Sarah. “Stay here!” I grabbed the rifle I kept by the bed and ran after Tom downstairs. In the hallway was a boy of maybe 19 years old. He looked so scared. Even as he raised his gun I knew what would happen and shot him in the head. From behind us there were screams and more gunshots. I grabbed Tom and ran out through the front door. As I pushed him against the wall he fired his pistol over my shoulder. Behind us was a what was left of a man. There was a scarlet splash in the snow and steam rising from a hole in his chest. We doubled back to the rear of the house taking out two more of the soldiers. From inside the house I could hear gunshots and weeping and terrible screams. As we reached the backdoor, even as I saw the grey haired man I raised my rifle. he fired first and a second later was lying dead on the ground. I turned to tell Tom to get the kids out but he is on his back. I dropped to my knees. There was a bullet hole in his neck. He grabbed my hand and tried to speak but his eyes closed before he ever said a word.
It’s been six weeks since we left Birmingham. There are only eighteen of us left now. All but three of the children died when the Militia burned the house to the ground. We ran, as far and as fast as we could. Me, Sarah and Graham try to find food and shelter for everyone as best we can. Graham is ill. He never mentions it but he is loosing weight too fast and seems weaker and weaker by the day. Sarah wants us to find somewhere we can defend. Somewhere we can stop running and start to build a life. I say nothing because I already know, am certain that mankind is becoming extinct. It has been three weeks since we met anyone on the roads.. We have seen nothing of the militia since that day. I doubt there are any of them left. In another lifetime I taught English. I was quite quiet and slightly shy. Now I am regarded as the leader of what may be the last of humanity.
When I wake, I roll over and wrap myself around Sarah. She is cold, so I kiss her neck. That is when I realise she is actually cold. She must have died at sometime in the night. Now there is nothing left in this world for me.