poet. writer. imposter.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks and I’ve not had much time for the luxury of writing. Life with Spiggy and Mook has never been less than interesting. It’s good to have people to talk to. Telling them tales of survival and triumph, how we overcame problems and how I overcame adversity and loneliness became a regular feature of the evening. Spiggy and Mook were enthralled. I appear to have become some sort of folk hero simply by surviving. I never saw myself as a hero of any sort. I still don’t. You play the hand you’re dealt, to use a well worn cliche.
Mook asks a lot of questions! He doesn’t like being out of the loop on anything. Sometimes he asks a question and the answer renders him silent. You can see him processing the information. Mulling it over and working out how best to use the information.
He got a bit antsy when Spiggy mentioned burying the body. It hadn’t occurred to us to mention it. He asked if it was something I’d had to do a lot. I thought about it and really, I’ve not had to burying many people at all; Tam obviously, Trevor and Janet, a couple of others and those who died on arrival. Well, some of those. I don’t really want to think about that.
I can’t say I wasn’t happy and content, though. Between them, they made excellent company. Even though I feel sad about them losing their old lives, I couldn’t have asked for a better set of companions.
Mook’s leg gave us little trouble. After a week of the cast being elevated, with Mook looking like a refugee from “Only When I Laugh”, we set out to rehabilitate him. The first few of sessions were not ideal. We had no crutches and he had to lean on us. No one was happy.
Spiggy disappeared after morning chores one day and didn’t get back until around tea-time. I wasn’t worried. He sometimes sits in the orchard and meditates. He got that from me when I told him about how I first coped with being here. He had taken to it well. Maybe I should start up again.
Anyway, on that particular day, after Mook and I had had lunch, we chatted. Mook asked about our last scavenger raid. We hadn’t been out since recovering their bags, so I was expecting a bit of a delayed telling off. He had been very quiet about being left on his own; very quiet about his fears and feelings of (temporary) abandonment. But that wasn’t it. He wanted to know why we didn’t go out at night. I did a double take. I thought it was obvious.
“Yes, I understand that those things are out there. Is that the only reason?”
“Isn’t that enough?”
He smiled and said,
I stared at him and realised he was going somewhere with this.
“We’re locked in here after dark, yes?”
“Yes.” I said.
“Do we have to be?”
I thought for a moment. However preposterous the thought, I wanted to take the conversation seriously.
“I don’t see any real need to be out after dark, so it’s never been an issue.”
“What about winter?”
I didn’t understand.
“Well, I remember you telling us that sometimes in winter, you sit in the Kitchen to keep warm because it’s so cold everywhere else.”
“Well, yes, that’s just basic conservation. By midwinter, oil and petrol are running low. You use what you have in the most efficient way you can.”
“Very wise,” he said with an infuriating smugness.
“And I can’t go and get more because of the minimal daylight. I’ve used up most of the local stocks and have to travel further than I can in the small amount of daylight hours we have. I don’t have the storage space for more, so I have to be very frugal.”
“Which is my point.” said Mook
“Okay.” I was confused. What was his point?
“As I can see it, there are three problems. Lack of light, lack of storage, and poor availability, yes?”
“So if we could extend the usable daylight hours, that would be good, yes?”
“Well, yes, but we are bound by physics and the rotation of the Earth!.”
He laughed, “Well obviously.”
I looked even more confused.
“How about finding a tanker? There must be one nearby? There are plenty of industrial estates and we’re in Kent. Doctor Who tells me there are endless quarries in Kent.”
I smirked, appreciating the reference and thought about this for a moment.
“Yes, but those creatures are . . . I don’t think they could knock the lorry over, but they could sure as hell break the windscreen and scoop us out”
“So line it with UV lights. Rig up UV floods on top of the cabin. You’d attract their attention, but they wouldn’t be able to get close.”
This much was true.
“But what about getting back indoors. If we had a tanker, we wouldn’t be able to line the doors up as we did with the Bedford. The risk would be too great getting in from the truck. I couldn’t allow that. Prioritising our safety is my prime concern.”
I thought that would be an end to it, but Mook grinned,
“Well, I’ve been thinking about that,” he said.
Why didn’t this surprise me?
“What if we had a large garage attached to the building. We could fill it with UV lighting so if we got back after dark, the doors would open automatically, flood the area with UV, allow us to enter and automatically close the door behind us.”
I thought about it for a while before pointing out the obvious.
“We don’t have the skill or equipment to build a garage of that size. It would have to be big enough to fit the Bedford, a tanker, the Range Rover and maybe the quadbikes. We couldn’t construct a building of that height.”
“No need,” he said, “We already have one.”
“Oh God . . .” Realisation dawned!
“The gym! We could convert the gym.”
Triple height, sound construction, already UV’d. We’d just need to cut a doorway. The space between the gym and the rest of the school is protected and sound. They couldn’t get in with the UVs anyway.
“Mook! You are a genius”
“I know. It’s a good stop gap. We’re not going to get the solar or wind power working until next spring. Not with me in this state. And there are no guarantees that it will work properly straight away, so we need to be prepared.”
We talked, excited and enthusiastic for a while until Mook began to flag. The chat had exhausted him and he settled down for a snooze. I went to the garden and did a little weeding. A lot of the last week had been spent restructuring the greenhouse and planning a new watering system. Spiggy seemed to think it was possible to run hoses through the length and breadth of the greenhouse. The hoses would be drilled along the length so they become submerged sprinklers. Any excess would drip through the holes we’d had made for drainage.. He reckoned that if we put metal ‘gullies’ on the cellar ceiling, we could drain the excess into water troughs for the animals. Maybe even rig up a recycling pump to put it back into the garden. It seemed like a reasonable idea and I’m sure he and Mook could rig it up but I figured we should wait until he was up and about.
On this particular day, though. Spig’s disappearance was the result of very practical thinking. We all congregated in Mooks room for tea and after we finished, Spig and I stood up in order to give Mook support while he exercised his leg.
“Oh, hang on!” said Spiggy.
He ran out of the room and a couple of minutes later returned with a pair of hand-made wooden crutches.
“I made them today”, he said.
Mook and I stared. Spiggy saw the look on our faces and thought we were less than impressed. Quite the opposite, actually.
“They work. They take my weight,” he insisted. We weren’t doubting that. Mook had already said Spiggy was brilliant at solid crafting. We were just stunned that anything so professional looking could be made here. After congratulating him and giving him the approval and fuss he so clearly needed, we helped Mook stand and position himself on the crutches. He managed to keep himself upright, but the pain meant he couldn’t really take more than three or four steps. After exhausting himself, he stood still, and said,
“Come on, then. Group hug”.
Spiggy was straight there and I stood back and smiled, leaving them to it. After a few seconds, Spiggy turned round made a grab for my hand and pulled me into the hug. I understand that in the years since my arrival here, it became a lot more acceptable for men to show affection. Hugs and stuff were actively encouraged. I’m not of that time and still find it a bit strange. I had to admit it though. It was a pretty good feeling.
I think that was the moment we stopped being ‘me and them’ and became “Spiggy, Keats and Mook.”