The people who were moving were just like Mum. They didn't look at me or answer me when I spoke to them. They scared me with their blank looks and grey skin. I got out of the village as quickly as I could. My place was at home with Mum. I ran most of the way back to the cottage and locked the door behind me.

More good news! Mum seems to be getting better every day. I still can't get her to eat or drink anything but when I went in to see her just now I'm sure she turned her head and looked at me. When I spoke to her she reacted. I think she recognised my voice. She tried to get up but I told her to relax and take things easy. She's still trying to do more than she should. She won't lie still now. She's wriggling and twisting on the bed all the time.

She's getting stronger by the hour and I've just had to tighten the ropes.

I think she's going to be all right!

JACOB FLYNN Part ii 'Bewsey?'

Flynn opened his eyes and looked up in tired disbelief at the figure standing swaying in front of him. It was Bewsey. But it couldn't be, could it? Two days ago he'd stood in this very spot and watched him die. It was impossible. Over the last forty-eight hours Flynn had been forced to consider so many impossible thoughts and possibilities that one more didn't seem to make any difference. He decided that he was hallucinating and buried his face in his grey, prison-issue pillow. That was the most plausible explanation he could think of. He'd hadn't had anything to eat or drink for more than two days, the rest of the world had either somehow been destroyed or had inexplicably disappeared, and he'd been trapped in a ten foot by seven foot cell with only the corpses of his former cell-mates for company. What was left of his mind was obviously playing tricks on him again.

Bewsey's clumsy corpse staggered across the tiny room, tripping over Salman's dead body and knocking into the small bookcase next to the sink, sending its contents crashing to the ground. Flynn sat up as the unexpected thumping and clattering rang out around the cell. This was no hallucination, much as he quickly wished it was. He pushed himself against the wall and into the shadows and watched from the relative safety of his dark bottom bunk as the body awkwardly dragged itself around.

For a while he remained completely still, almost paralysed with fear. Then, very slowly, he inched forward so that he could get a better view of what remained of Bewsey. The dead man's face was cold and expressionless, his eyes empty and unfocussed. The corpse obviously had very little control over its numb, unresponsive body. It simply shuffled across the floor until something prevented it from moving any further forward and then, more through luck than judgement, turned and shuffled back. Salman, by contrast, still lay where he had originally fallen, face down in a pool of dark brown, congealed blood.

'Bewsey?' Flynn hissed anxiously, not sure whether or not he actually wanted to attract the bizarre figure's attention. The lack of any response to his voice was strangely reassuring.

Still shell-shocked from almost forty-eight hours of silence, fear and isolation and mentally exhausted from searching constantly for the answers to countless obviously unanswerable questions, he moved forward again and cautiously swung his feet down from the bunk. Bewsey didn't react. The corpse continued to aimlessly move around, colliding with walls, furniture and, eventually, with Flynn himself. He instinctively lifted his hands and grabbed hold of the body to prevent it from getting any closer.

'Bewsey?' he asked again. 'What the fucking hell is going on? I thought you were dead...' Flynn stared deep into the dull and clouded eyes of the corpse. They were covered with a milky-white film of sorts and it was clear that they were unseeing and unfocussed. He let the body go and watched as it tripped off again in another direction before turning and tripping back towards him. No wiser and no less terrified, Flynn crawled back onto his bunk and pulled his covers tight around him.

Less than two hours had passed before he decided that he couldn't stand it any longer. Bewsey's body just never stopped, not even for a second. It continued to shuffle about aimlessly and lethargically. It was the noise and the constant movement that Flynn was finding hardest to handle. Why didn't Bewsey just lie down and stay dead like Salman? He couldn't take it any longer. He had to do something about it.

Creeping anxiously forward again, Flynn climbed off his bunk and looked around for some kind of weapon or implement with which he might be able to disable the corpse. He had finally forced himself to admit that this definitely was a corpse moving to and fro in front of him. How could it not be? How could someone lie motionless and without breathing for two days and not be dead? Mind you, he thought wearily, how could that same person now be moving again?

It was no surprise that the prison cell contained very few items which could be used effectively as a weapon. In fact, all that Flynn could find was the jug they used to pour drinks of water from. Long since empty, the plastic jug had a hard base which, if he used it with enough force, might just be strong enough to use to batter the body into submission. Taking a deep breath, he grabbed Bewsey by the throat with one hand, raised the jug above his head with the other, and then brought it crashing down in the middle of the dead man's face with brutal force. He lifted the jug away again and saw that, despite being a little more bruised and bloodied, the lifeless expression had not changed. He lifted the jug and brought it down again and again and again...

It wasn't working. It didn't matter what he did to Bewsey's body, the dead man didn't react. He continued to move relentlessly, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Flynn was even there.

Increasingly desperate, Flynn let the body go and then turned and dragged his bunk bed into the middle of the cell, swinging it round through ninety degrees so that it formed a barrier across the width of the small room. With mounting disgust he grabbed hold of Bewsey's body again and pushed and shoved the man's clumsy remains over the metal frame of the bed and out onto the other side, successfully confining the cadaver. Keen to separate himself from both of his dead cellmates, he then did the same with Salman. The second body was stiff and inflexible and was difficult to move.

Tired, Flynn leant against the cell door and peered out through the bars, hoping to catch sight of someone (anyone) else in the oppressive semi-darkness. He could see movement in other cells across the landing, but when he called out to the men over there they didn't respond. He assumed that they were in the same unnatural and inexplicable condition as what remained of Bewsey.

He could hear slow, heavy, dragging footsteps approaching. A figure emerged from the shadows at the other end of the corridor. He couldn't tell who it was at first. As it gradually came into view, however, he could see that it was one of the prison officers. In fact, he was sure it was the officer he'd seen dead at the bottom of the staircase. The dead guard lumbered towards him, its head hanging heavily to one side. Although tired, frightened and confused, Flynn immediately realised the importance of seeing this body. The officers had keys and, if he could reach them, then for the first time there was a real chance of him escaping from the cell.

Suddenly more alive and alert, Flynn watched the dead officer intently as it approached. Then, when it was almost level with the cell door, he stretched out his arm between the bars and attempted to grab hold of it. The tips of his outstretched fingers brushed the side of the corpse's sleeve, but not enough for him to be able to get a grip. His heart sank as the body stumbled past and out of reach again.

The prison landing was clear and without obstruction, leaving the dead officer free to continually stagger from virtually one end to the other. Flynn watched the body's every move like a hawk. Eventually, some four and a half hours after he had first noticed the corpse, he was finally able to catch hold of it. He managed to slide his fingers into the creature's shirt pocket and, once he had a grip, he was able to pull the comparatively weak figure towards him. Once close enough he then grabbed the cadaver in a neck lock and, straining to reach and having to fight to ignore the pain and discomfort as he stretched and forced his free arm through the bars, he tugged and yanked and pulled at the body until he was able to reach its belt and keys.

Half an hour later he was free. INNOCENCE

It was almost fun to begin with; a game, an adventure. But now he's had enough. He doesn't like being on his own anymore. He's scared, he's hungry and he's lonely. He wants everything to get back to how it used to be before it happened.

Dean McFarlane is seven years old.

The day before yesterday, as they were walking to school together, Dean's mother dropped dead in front of him.

'Dean,' Mum sighed, 'you've only been back at school for a couple of days, how comes you've got yourself in trouble with the teacher already?'

'She don't like me,' he answered as he followed his mum along the garden path and out onto the street. They were late setting off for school and Mum was annoyed. He'd been dragging his feet all morning and he seemed to have slowed down again now that they were finally out of the house and on their way. Even though she was seven months pregnant his mum marched along the road at double his speed. 'She picks on me,' he whined pathetically. 'She lets Gary and them lot get away with anything. I never done nothing and she blames me when...'

'What do you mean, you never done nothing?' Mum snapped, stopping and turning round to face Dean. 'What kind of a way to talk is that? If you never done nothing, then you must have done something...'

Dean looked at her and screwed up his face. What was she going on about now? She didn't believe him, did she? She didn't even want to try and understand. Anyway, he decided, he didn't care what she said because he knew Miss Jinks was picking on him and he knew that he was going to get Gary Saunders back as well at lunchtime or afternoon break because he'd got him into trouble yesterday afternoon and...

'When I tell your father what you've been up to,' Mrs McFarlane warned, pointing her finger accusingly at her son, 'he'll kick your backside.' She turned and began to walk again, still talking. 'You know what he's like, he just won't stand for this kind of behaviour. I suggest that you...'

She stopped talking mid-sentence.

'Mum?'

Mrs McFarlane stopped walking again. Suddenly she was standing in the middle of the pavement looking straight ahead, pulling that kind of puzzled, almost angry face that she pulled when she was out shopping with Dean and she couldn't remember what she needed, or when she didn't know which way to go, or when Dean's baby brother growing inside her started to kick and move. Expecting her to start walking again, Dean went a few steps further forward before stopping and turning back when he realised she still wasn't moving. She was still stood in the same spot, looking frozen and lost. Now she was rubbing the side of her neck and she looked like she was in pain.

'What's the matter, Mum?' he asked again. Mrs McFarlane looked down at her son but didn't say anything. She couldn't speak. The pain in her throat was getting worse. Her eyes were suddenly watery and wide with unexpected shock and sudden, searing agony. She dropped her shopping bag and it tipped over onto its side. Dean immediately crouched down and began to quickly gather up her spilled belongings, still looking up anxiously into her face.

'Dean, I can't...' she began to try and say, her voice a quiet, strangled whisper. 'My throat is...'

Without warning she fell to her knees directly in front of her son. He jumped back in fear. Suddenly at eye level with him she began to retch and gag violently. The inside of her throat had swollen rapidly and already her windpipe was almost completely blocked. In seconds blood began to trickle freely from brutal lesions which had ripped open at the back of her mouth. Her head hung forward and she dribbled, spat and coughed a long, sticky string of bloodied saliva onto the grey pavement. Reaching out for her son she spluttered and coughed again and began to choke.

'Mum...' Dean whined with tears of panic and fear rolling down his cheeks. He shuffled back along the ground away from her, scared and confused by what was happening. He scrambled up onto his feet and looked around for help but he couldn't see anyone else nearby. If he could just find another grown-up who could help... He looked for Mrs Campbell who lived three doors down at number seventeen - she was always sat looking out of her living room window. If she could see what was happening then maybe she'd come out to help him and...

Clutching her stomach in agony, Mrs McFarlane groaned, screwed up her bloodied face, rolled over onto her back and then began to spasm and twitch. Now sobbing with helpless terror, Dean crouched back down next to her and grabbed her shoulder, trying desperately to hold her steady and to make her stop throwing herself about. He was scared that she was going to hurt herself or the baby. Her eyes were still wide open and she stared at him with an expression on her face which frightened him more than anything he'd ever seen before.

And then it stopped.

As quickly as it had started it was over and Mrs McFarlane lay motionless on the ground. Her eyes were staring up into space and her mouth hung wide open. A pool of dark blood was gathering around her frozen face.

Dean shoved her and shook her and tried to get her to respond but she wouldn't move.

I knew straightaway that she had died because I kept shouting at her to wake up but she wouldn't. I kept shaking her shoulder and shouting into her ear but she wouldn't move. I tried to clear up some of the blood that was on her face. I got some tissues out of her handbag but I just made things worse and got her in even more of a mess. She'd got blood in her hair and inside one of her ears and I couldn't get that out either.

Grandad Johnson told me once about the time he'd saved a man's life when there had been an accident. He said you had to make sure the person who's hurt is breathing before you do anything, and he showed me how to do it. He said you could feel for a thing like a little heartbeat on their wrist or their neck, or you could just listen to them breathing. I couldn't remember exactly where to hold Mum's wrist so I just listened to her instead. I put my ear right next to her mouth and listened and listened and listened but I couldn't hear anything.

I kept looking up for someone to help me but I couldn't see anyone. I remembered Grandad telling me that you had to get the person you're looking after to a hospital quickly by phoning for an ambulance. We learnt that at school last year as well and I knew what to do. I got Mum's mobile out of her pocket and dialled '999' like I'd been shown. No-one answered. That scared me because my teacher and Grandad had both said that someone would always answer '999'.

Mum started to get cold really quickly. I tried to move her closer to the house but she was too heavy. I dragged her a little way closer, but not far. I got the keys from her coat pocket and ran back to the house. It took me ages to get inside because I couldn't get the right key at first. When I got in I ran upstairs and took one of the blankets out from the drawer under Mum and Dad's bed and one of Mum's pillows. I went back out and covered Mum up and put the pillow under her head. I was scared that something was going to happen to the baby. I put my hands under the blanket and onto Mum's tummy but I couldn't feel anything. The baby wasn't moving but it might just have been asleep.

I thought I should sit outside and wait with her.

Dean needed the toilet. He held on for as long as he could but, after an hour and a half sitting outside in the cold next to his mother, he couldn't wait any longer. He ran back to the house, unlocked the door, dashed to the toilet and then ran back out to Mum. He'd naively hoped that when he got back out to her he'd find that she'd opened her eyes or rolled over or made any movement that might indicate that she wasn't dead and that he wasn't on his own any longer. Nothing.

Before sitting down next to his mother's body again Dean walked the length of the street looking for help. He didn't dare go any further than that. From the end of the road he could see more than twenty other people lying on the ground like his mum. As far as he could see there was no-one else still moving around like he was. For a while he thought about going a little further but, when he found the body of his friend Shaun Wallis lying face down in the middle of the road with his dad, he got scared and ran back to Mum again. He tried knocking on a few of his neighbours' doors but none of them answered.

The sun had disappeared behind a dark grey cloud and it had begun to rain. Dean made another quick trip back to the house and fetched an umbrella to keep him and Mum dry. He was soon wet and shivering with cold but he couldn't go back inside. He couldn't leave Mum, could he? What if something happened to her? It didn't matter that he hadn't seen anyone else all morning, he just didn't want to leave her on her own out there in case someone came along and took her or did something horrible to her. And anyway, he decided, he wanted to be there when she woke up. She'd be really proud when she found out that he'd looked after her like this. She had to wake up, he thought. If anything happened to Mum, who would look after me? And what about our baby?

A short time later a loud and unexpected electronic bleep shattered the relentless, uncomfortable silence. Dean jumped up with fright and then relaxed when he realised it was just Mum's mobile phone. He picked it up from where he'd left it and looked at the display. On the screen it showed a picture of a battery that was almost empty. Mum had shown him how to use the phone in case anything happened with the baby and they needed to get in touch with the hospital or Dean's dad quickly. He tried the emergency number again but there was still no answer. He decided that the police and the ambulance people must have been busy looking after all the other sick people he'd seen lying on the ground beyond the end of the road. Dean pressed the button which made a list of names come up. Mum had made him remember how to do this. He then pressed the button with an arrow on it which was pointing down and the list of names began to move. Some of the names he knew, others he didn't. Some he couldn't even read. He saw the names of his Aunt Edie and Caroline, Mum's best friend. Further on down the list he found the name he'd been looking for - Royston McFarlane - his dad. He'd call him and tell him what had happened and get him to come home. He should have thought of doing it sooner.

He couldn't get the phone to work.

He was sure he was doing it right, just how Mum had shown him. He highlighted his dad's name on the list, then pressed the green button in the top left corner of the keypad to make it ring. He kept trying but it just wouldn't work. It looked like it was going to work, but then it just beeped in his ear three times and disconnected. It kept on happening. After a while the battery picture came back on for a second before the phone switched itself off completely.

As the long day dragged on Dean became increasingly tired, cold and hungry. Sitting on the pavement next to his dead mother he ate the packed lunch she'd made him for school while he waited for his dad to come home from work.

By half-past six, when it was starting to get dark and still no-one had come, Dean became increasingly upset. He didn't know what to do. He wanted to go back to the house, but he didn't want to leave Mum outside on her own. He tried to drag her again but only managed to move her a little way. When he touched her skin she felt even colder than he was. When the light had almost completely disappeared he reluctantly accepted that there was nothing more he could do. He tucked Mum under the blanket again, put the pillow back under her head and ran back home.

Dean struggled to open the front door. Finding the right key had been hard enough in the daylight, now it was almost impossible. Nothing was working when he finally managed to get inside. The lights wouldn't come on and the television wouldn't work. The telephone was dead. He tried to dial '999' again but it didn't even ring out. He locked the door (Dad had his own key and would be able to let himself in when he got back) and went upstairs. He sat on the end of his bed and looked out of the window and waited. From where he was sitting he could just about see the top of his mother's head on the pavement.

It was exciting for a while, being on my own in the house. Even though it was dark and cold I could do whatever I wanted. I had a torch and a toy with a light in it so I could stay up and read and draw. I wanted to play games but I couldn't get the computer to work.

I kept getting upset when I looked out of the window and saw Mum, especially when it got really dark. I didn't like leaving her out there but I couldn't do anything about it. I tried not to cry and I kept hoping that I'd see Dad coming home soon. I sometimes used to sit in my room and look out for him coming home from work. I used to know which car was his as soon as it turned into our road. But the weird thing was I didn't see any cars at all, not even one.

I got myself some crisps and chocolate from the kitchen and ate them in my room. Mum never let me do that normally, but it wasn't a normal night and I didn't think she'd mind.

I'm not very good at telling the time. I know when it's something o'clock or half-past something, but I get mixed-up with quarter-past and quarter-to's. I remember going to the toilet and then looking at the alarm clock in Mum and Dad's room. I think it said it was almost ten o'clock but I wasn't sure. Whatever time it was, I knew that it was way past bedtime. I started to get really scared then. Dad should have been home from work hours ago. I didn't know why he hadn't come back. Maybe he'd been going out somewhere after work and Mum hadn't told me?

Some nights in the school holidays I used to try and stay up as long as I could but I always seemed to fall asleep. Now I wanted to get to sleep and I couldn't. I wanted to go to sleep and wake up when it was morning. I didn't like being on my own in the dark. I wanted to go back outside and sit with Mum for a bit but I was too scared. I didn't want to go downstairs on my own. The moon came out a few times and when it did I could just about see her. She was still lying on the pavement where I'd left her. I wished she'd get up and come indoors.

When Dean woke up next morning it was late. It was almost midday by the time he climbed out of bed. He remained blissfully unaware of the fact that he had stayed awake virtually all night and had slept through almost the entire morning. He lay still for a while and ran over the events of the previous day in his head. He remembered his mum and how he'd left her lying in the street. He jumped up and his heart sank when he saw that she was still there on the pavement. Then he remembered his dad. He must have been home by now, he thought. He checked his parents' bedroom but the bed hadn't been slept in and, he realised sadly, the car wasn't outside either. Why hadn't Dad come back yet?

The sunlight had been streaming in through Dean's window, warming the area on the top of his bed where he'd curled up and fallen asleep. The temperature dropped noticeably as he moved around the rest of the cold house. He took off his school uniform (which he'd slept in) and, without thinking, threw it downstairs for Mum to wash. Then he grabbed the warmest set of clothes he could find from the wardrobe and got dressed. He'd never known the house to be this cold. It was quiet too. There usually always seemed to be noise all around him and this silence was frightening.

Before going down Dean returned to his bedroom and stared at his mother's body outside again. Why hadn't she moved? What was wrong with her? He decided that he'd go out and see her in a few minutes, once he'd had some breakfast. He didn't much feel like eating but his stomach was rumbling and he knew he'd have to eat something soon. He hadn't eaten much yesterday and he hadn't had anything hot to eat since dinner the night before. He couldn't ever remember feeling so hungry.

Down in the kitchen he fetched himself some cereal with warm milk (the fridge wasn't as cold as it usually was), some bread and a few biscuits. He couldn't find anything else. He didn't know how to use the oven and he couldn't get the kettle, the microwave or the toaster to work. Mum had shown him how to make a pizza in the microwave before now. He decided he wouldn't use any of the food from the freezer. Everything in there was warm and wet and the ice had melted leaving a puddle of water in the middle of the kitchen floor.

Dean put on his school coat and, clutching his food and a half-full bottle of lemonade, walked out of the front door and made his way over to where his mum still lay. All day he sat on the pavement next to her. He didn't know what else to do. He didn't feel safe anywhere else. During the course of the day he tried again to drag her back closer to home. He managed to move her a couple more meters, almost to the edge of their drive, but that was all. As the darkness drew closer again he stumbled dejectedly back indoors.

I couldn't help it. I didn't mean to do it, it just happened. Mum's going to be mad at me.

I'd been sitting outside with her for ages and it started to get dark again so I came back in. I'd been thinking about using my torch under the covers to read or trying to get the telly to work but when I got inside the house was all dark and quiet and empty again and I got really scared. I could hear loads of noises and I knew what they all were but they still scared me. There was dripping water coming from the freezer in the kitchen and I could hear the blind at the window in Mum and Dad's room being blown by the wind. It kept hitting the window and making a tapping noise. And every so often the wind made the letter box in the front door flap. Mum's been nagging at Dad for ages to get it fixed. It sounded like someone coming to the house and, the first few times, I ran to the door because I thought it was going to be Mum or Dad. I got upset when there was no-one there.

I didn't want to go upstairs. I wanted to hide away out of sight so I crawled under the dining room table. I only came out a couple of times, first to get some more food from the kitchen and then to try and find my torch. I got myself another packet of crisps and the last bar of chocolate from the cupboard. I wanted some bread and butter but I must have left the bread open because it had gone all hard and it tasted horrible. All of the lemonade and cans of Coke had gone. I had to drink orange juice straight from the bottle because there wasn't any water to make it properly with. It made me feel a bit sick but I was really thirsty so I kept drinking it.

It didn't feel like home anymore. Everything felt different and strange without Mum and Dad and it seemed to be getting colder and colder. I didn't want to go upstairs so I put my coat back on and my dirty school jumper that I'd thrown downstairs that morning for Mum to wash. Thinking about Mum and Dad made me upset again. I was starting to think I was never going to see Dad again and that he wasn't coming home. I was glad I'd missed two days of school but I would have rather gone there and have everything back how it used to be.

I've made a real mess in here. They're going to be mad at me. The dark frightens me so I tried to light the big yellow candle that Mum keeps on the sideboard. I took it under the table with me and used a match from the box out of the kitchen. Anyway I lit the candle and I must have had it too close to the tablecloth because it started to burn. It burned really, really quickly. I crawled out from under the table and used the bottle of orange juice to put out the fire. I tried to pull the tablecloth off. I didn't know that there were plates and things on the table. I pulled it and they fell on the carpet and most of them smashed. That made me upset again because the noise made me jump and because I knew that Mum would be cross that I'd broken her plates. She always got cross if I broke a plate or a dish or a cup. I didn't want to move because was scared I might cut myself on some of the broken pieces.

I think I fell asleep soon after that. When I woke up I was wet. I thought it was just orange juice at first but then I realised it was all over my trousers and all over the floor and I knew that I'd wet myself. I haven't wet myself since I was four. It was all over the carpet and I tried to clean it up with the burnt tablecloth but all that did was make things worse. My trousers were soaked so I took them off. I didn't want to go upstairs so I put my coat over the top of me and tried to keep warm but I couldn't stop shivering.

Exhausted and suffering from shock and mild exposure, Dean slept intermittently for a further few hours. The morning finally arrived, bringing with it some welcome light and warmth. Tired and aching, he crawled back upstairs and got himself dressed in some clean clothes. He smelled from the accident he'd had in the night but he couldn't wash because he couldn't get any water to come out of the taps. He used some of Dad's deodorant spray to try and cover up the smell.

Dean was finding it harder and harder to come upstairs on his own. Dad had recently decorated the spare room ready as a nursery ready for the birth of Dean's baby brother. He'd painted teddy bears and cartoon characters on the walls. When Dean walked past the open door of the room he felt like their eyes were moving, watching him as he crept around the house.

While Dean was up in his bedroom getting changed he noticed that his mum had gone. For a second he was excited and relieved and he ran back downstairs to find her, expecting that she'd be back inside, cleaning up the mess in the kitchen or sitting on the sofa waiting for him. When he discovered that she wasn't there he slumped down at the bottom of the stairs and began to sob. Where had she gone? Why had she gone? Why had she left him and why hadn't she come back to the house? The pain of this sudden, unexpected rejection was in many ways worse than the unexplained loss and confusion he'd been trying to deal with for the last two days.

He had to go and find her.

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