Ed is sat at his desk. his headache is getting worse and the more he sneezes, the more blood he sees in the tissues he throws into the wastepaper basket. It must have been that receptionist at Carlisle’s. She was sneezing and coughing at them for the entire time they were waiting. It’s already almost five so he calls Imran his PA and tells him he is going home. He does not want to be called at any point over the weekend. His wife Claire will be getting home tomorrow morning so hopefully, paracetamol, a few stiff whiskeys and a good nights sleep will shake it. He collapses of massive internal organ failure on the train home.
Jo is sat with Cally Chen. Of everyone in her class Cally is probably her favourite, she knows she shouldn’t think that but she is such a sweet kid. So funny and smart. She has been feeling sick all day and her Father is coming to collect her. They can’t afford a school nurse anymore but it is pretty clear to everyone that Cally really is sick, she isn’t the sort to make something like that up. Only an hour ago Cally was chatty, even though she said her stomach and head hurt. Now she is saying nothing and keeps dozing off. Jo wonders if she should call an ambulance. She knows the headmaster will be furious but she really is getting worried.
… Seven months later.
Rick is trying to prime the motor of the water pump so they can get the water out of the cellar. He is filthy and he knows he must smell. They haven’t had hot water since this all started. He is tired, cold and angry. Jo brings him some bread, still warm from the oven. “Are you okay?” He kicks the generator “No I’m not fucking okay!” Jo jumps and takes a step back. Rick is ashamed of himself. “Sorry. It’s just this… All this. We got out, we got this far. We are freezing and we don’t have enough food and…” Jo holds his hand. “And we did it because of you. You can’t just fall apart on us now. I know, I know how hard this has all been but we need you.” A flock of pigeons fly up out of the trees to the west. They both wait holding their breath. It seems like an age but it is only a moment before they see the first one walk out of the treeline. Rick moves to stand in front of Jo. “Get Brian.”
Jo runs into the cottage. Elizabeth and Namita are in the kitchen. “What is it?” Elizabeth lost her husband and both sons leaving London, she has been on edge for far too long. Jo shakes her head and runs into the living room, some of the kids are playing snap but as she bursts through the door they run to hide behind he sofas. She eventually finds Brian in the Barn. She calls his name but he does not move. As she puts her hand on his shoulder he turns and she realises why. His eyes are are bloodshot and staring at nothing. His face is terribly pale. She grabs the machete from the work bench and hacks into the side of his head, once, twice, three times. He falls to the floor. Holding the machete in her hand she runs back to the house. She calls out but no one answers. She runs through the back door and Rick is huddled behind the fence. “Brian?” She touches his hand. “Gone. I’m sorry.” She peers over the top part of the fence, there must be about twenty of them. They don’t see very well and they move slowly but they are very strong. Rick grabs her wrist and drags her behind him as he runs to the jeep.
He hands her a crossbow and a quiver and they run back to the fence, keeping as low as possible. There is a terrible scream and they both turn back to look at the cottage, Elizabeth runs out into the yard, she is covered with blood. Namita is walking behind her. She is gone. They stand and fire almost at the same time. Namita is hit through the eye and spins back into the still open doorway. Elizabeth screams as the bolt smashes through her skull..
Rick runs toward the open door. “We get the kids and go!”.
Jo does not move. She has no more tears, no more sorrow. She turns and fires at the closest one, hitting him right between the eyes. She vaults the fence and takes down three more before Rick fires at one just to her left, bringing her down. She and the machete are covered in blood. The last one rears up towards her and she hits him in the mouth with the blade. His jaw is slack and wide open as she slices the top of his head off.
It takes three days to walk as far North as they can before the children need a proper rest. They find a Bank with only two entrances and nail one of them shut. Jo doesn’t remember falling asleep but when she wakes Lilly, the oldest of the kids is stood next to her. “Are you okay Lilly?” Jo is bleary eyed and not fully awake. “Lilly?” Lilly leaps breaking two of Jo’s ribs, as she sinks her teeth into Jo’s throat she stretches out her hand for the machete. She never reaches it.