I once went on holiday to a caravan park with my mum but we only lasted two days because it rained non-stop and the toilets were really dirty and the caravan was tiny and we both felt really sad about the whole thing. Even an ice cream from the shop couldn’t cheer me up. Now, me, Ellis, Abe and Amber were hiding in the office of the local caravan park, too terrified to turn on a light.
We had followed the path under the bridge and despite the fact that my arms were really aching and I was really scared we left the latest swarm a long way behind us. The river gurgled black and fast beside us and, if we weren’t fleeing for our lives, it would have sounded quite relaxing. But the fact that we were fleeing for our lives meant that that the sound was anything but relaxing. I settled into a tired-arm groove and pushed the barrow for all I was worth. Ellis didn’t move and after a while I thought she had fallen asleep. I caught up with Amber.
‘We’re going to need to rest,’ I said. ‘I can’t keep going much longer. My arms are killing me.’ Amber pointed into the darkness ahead of us.
‘The caravan park is just up there past those trees. Perhaps we can rest there?’ Abe joined us.
‘We might get some more supplies,’ he said. ‘I need some batteries for this torch and we could do with some water.’
‘Won’t it be full of viros?’ I asked, hoping that I didn’t sound too scared.
‘It might,’ replied Amber, ‘but it’s pretty far out the way and if its only one or two then we should be alright if we stick together.’
‘How come you’re both so brave?’ I asked. ‘You seem like you’ve been doing this for ages.’
Abe looked at Amber and she nodded.
‘We have been doing this for ages.’
‘We kind-of lied to you both back there,’ said Amber. ‘We weren’t waiting for our mum and dad to come back from holiday because she murdered him four years ago and then killed herself. We’ve been living in a home ever since.’
‘But they treated us really badly and so we ran away,’ said Abe. We’ve been on the run ever since.’ He laughed. ‘I guess with everything else that’s happening they’ve probably given up looking for us.’ I was stunned.
‘But how have you survived?’ I knew that I sounded young and stupid when I asked this question but I didn’t care. I simply had to know.
‘We slept rough when we had to and stole when we could,’ said Abe. ‘I know it sounds bad but we only stole things that we were sure people wouldn’t miss or worry about. We didn’t want to hurt anyone.’
‘We also begged,’ said Amber. ‘Its awkward and uncomfortable to begin with when you ask strangers for money but eventually you get used to it.’
I didn’t know what to say. This was all so far away from what I knew and understood as my childhood. First Ellis and her parents turning into blood-crazed creatures and then Abe and Amber and their tales of hardship and woe. Compared to them all, I had led such a very quiet and simple life. Up until now, that is. Now, everything was upside down and nothing was how I like it.