When Larry started to come home and was sick without even having been drinking at the Dessie started to get worried. She had been aware that more and more of the neighbours were going into hospital – and not coming back – and she was getting more and more concerned as customers were stockpiling groceries at the store and a group of kids had taken to the streets screaming about power and chaos.
Cloe remained blissfully unaware of what was going on in the world and thought that her father had some kind of sicky bug. She thought that the sirens she could hear at night were just the police.
It wasn’t until Larry started to stay home from work and sit in the bathroom for hours at a time that she realised that something more sinister was going on. Dessie sat with her daughter one night to break the news to her – Larry wasn’t going to make it. Cloe cried for what seemed like hours, days even but she snapped out of it abruptly when Sylvie phoned one afternoon.
Sylvie had some more bad news to break to her but this time it was anger instead of tears that tore Cloe apart. Sylvie was leaving the city with her family before any of them grew sick. She had an auntie up north who lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere and Sylvie’s parents thought that this would be the safest place for them all to go.
Cloe’s shouts of despair brought Dessie rushing in to see what was happening and she grabbed the phone out of Cloe’s hands. Dessie pleaded with Sylvie’s parents to take Cloe with them, to the safety of the countryside. Cloe couldn’t believe what she was hearing! Her own mother was trying to get rid of her!
In growing anger Dessie realised that her pleas were futile. Sylvie’s parents wouldn’t take Cloe with them because Larry had contracted the Virus and they were scared that Cloe might be a carrier. Dessie hung up and then hurled the phone against the wall, breaking down in tears. She and Cloe clung to each other – Cloe sobbing in fear and frustration. Her best friend was leaving, her father was growing sicker by the day and her own mother wanted her gone. Dessie tried to comfort her daughter, explaining that all she wanted was for her to be safe.
As darkness fell, Cloe hugged her mother fiercly and they fell asleep in each other’s arms. When Cloe awoke, tear stained and feeling sick from crying so much she noticed that her mother had blood streaming out of her ears. She screamed out in terror and as Dessie opened her eyes and felt the warmth of the blood on her face she knew that she would not be long for this world.
Cloe was beside herself with fear. How would she survive without her parents? How could she even begin to want to live without them?
After she had attended the mass burial and said goodbye to her parents Cloe wandered the city in a state of disbelief. She lived in the streets for days, foraging for food and ignoring the stares of passing kids. She hid from the noise of the sirens and tried to avoid contact with anyone.
She didn’t want to be on her own but she didn’t want to be with anyone that she could lose. She was depressed, scared and alone.
And then she met Amber and Dal.