A Writer of Sorts
April 30th (2)
Spiggy found Mooks bag, and his own rucksack that he’d forgotten about, thrown into a corner of the room furthest from the door. He grabbed both bags and clutched them to his chest then looked round for anything that might have fallen out.
Satisfied that the last remnants of his old life were gathered up, he walked to the van and dumped the bags on the central seat. He strapped himself in and I drove for about five minutes in silence before pulling over. I had seen a mini-market hoarding in the rubble and wondered if it was worth digging around.
I told Spiggy what I had planned and he skipped out of the van and immediately started pulling out the rock from around the sign. You could make out the shape of the building, still. I went round to the back of the building remnants, where the delivery gates would have been and found a body. Another man, mid thirties by the looks of it. I guessed that he arrived around the same time as Spiggy and Mook did. He wasn’t so lucky though. I guess he was looking for shelter when the building collapsed on him. He was partly submerged in rubble and most of the visible parts were torn to shreds; partially eaten.
I walked back round to Spiggy who was still hauling rocks around. I don’t think he had any plan, but he needed to blow off steam. I told him about the body. He took a deep breath and said,
“We should bury him.”
There wasn’t a lot to bury, but I think he needed to make the gesture. Sounds callous, but if I’d been on my own, I’d have just left him. I didn’t have time for sentimentality. It’s strange that this was the first body I’d come across in five years, but then it’s been a weird week. I guessed that the body and Spiggy and Mooks arrival was tied up with the storm. This guy was probably swept up with them. It seemed likely but puzzled me. I don’t remember a storm when I came here. Just a flash of light, a disorientation, pain arriving and immediately passing out.
We found a suitable place to bury him in what had been the cellar of a semi-detached house. The ground floor had collapsed and the cellar exposed. We were able to wrap the body in as shroud – actually my coat – and placed him on the rough floor of the cellar. We found pieces of stone and rubble and made sort of cairn.
Since everyone left, there has been little need of ritual or solemnity in my solitary life. Things change when others come into your arena.
“You should say something,” he said, once we had finished building. I didn’t know what. I didn’t know anything about him except that he’d ruined my coat.
“Say a prayer or something,” he insisted.
“I’m an atheist”
He became angry and shouted,
“Fuck it Keats, this is important.”
I could see that. The only prayers I knew were ‘The Lords Prayer’ or ‘A Punk Prayer’ by Ronnie Biggs and The Sex Pistols. I took a wild punt and thought the Spiggy might prefer the former.
There was a moments silence and I began to recite. Spiggy joined in. I don’t think this was about the unknown man at all. I think this was about Spiggy saying goodbye to and burying his past life. I expected tears. I got resolve.
“We’ve got about another hour before we need to get going. We need to make this count.”
I followed his lead. He walked back to the hoarding and instructed me to take one end and between us, we lifted it from the floor and threw it to one side. We carried on shifting rock until we found a way in. It was tight, but we could see that there was a large space The ceiling had fallen and was relatively intact If we could raise it a little . . .
I ran to the van, opened the back and pulled out a couple of jacks and a flashlight. We only had about fifteen minutes left. It took us five to get the jacks in place and raise the large chunk of collapsed ceiling. Spiggy grabbed the flashlight and jumped down. Usually I’d do a few ‘poke’ tests and make sure it was safe before entering a large dark hole, but despite shouting at him, he went anyway.
“Score!” He shouted.
What the fuck. I jumped down and found shelves of food. In ten minutes, we had enough cans and packets to last us for months. We grabbed trolleys and ‘bags for life’ and hauled stuff off the shelves. I had a flashback to Dale Winton’s Supermarket Sweep and screamed,
“Lets go wild in the aisles!”
Spiggy didn’t get the reference, but it didn’t matter. We filled trolleys hauled them out of the building and we overran by about fifteen minutes. This was too good an opportunity to miss. In another twenty or so minutes, we had all but filled the van.
We got into the van just as the sun dipped below the horizon. We were cutting it way too fine and as soon as the door slammed, the foot went down and we rocketed out of there and back towards home.
Twilight was passing into night as we rounded the corner into the main gate. We could feel Their eyes watching us and we felt the terror as the unseen ‘They’ brushed against the roof of the van. Panic set in.
I parked the van with its side door up against the entrance to the School, there was no room for anything to get in. Climbing over the back of the seats and over the booty we had claimed was tough, but Spiggy managed to climb out of the van and into safety. I grabbed his and Mooks bags and followed, slamming the doors as behind me.
Mook was angry with us. We had taken a lot longer than we had intended in the scramble to get more and more groceries. I suppose we had both forgotten that Mook needed a lot of attention. The pain showed on his face and I gave him a small shot of morphine to take the edge off then returned him to his regimen of tramadol.
We made sure Mook was comfortable and happy before I said I’d go and make our tea. Spiggy looked at me and smiled. He knew I was giving him some time alone with Mook.
I went to the kitchen and made a fuss of the cats. They had been a bit freaked by the manner and frantic nature of our arrival home, but once they heard the can opener going and smelled the faintly disgusting aromas of cat food fill the kitchen, they were fine with it.
Once the cats were fed, I began to shake again. Today I was reckless. We were out after dark and had come into close contact with Them. I would never have done this if I was on my own. Never. Why would I risk our lives like that now? We could easily have surveyed the shop and come back in the morning.
I couldn’t work out whether the emotional nature of the afternoon had clouded my judgement or whether just being with people made me modify my behaviour because now perceive myself to have ‘back up’. I was angry that the first time I’d taken someone out, I had allowed them to dictate the course of action we took, regardless of the dangers.
Spiggy does not understand this place and I should be teaching him that it is dangerous. The act of just living outside of the safety of the school means that you are in danger. I need to make him aware of that; make him aware that the way we went about things was putting everyone at risk. Had we been killed, what would have happened to Mook?
Tea went down well.
Bad mood. Still angry with self.
Group dynamics. It’ll be the death of me, I’m sure.