Lex came back two weeks later to find his father gone and his mother smoking and drinking herself stupid. He’d seen in the newspapers that a deadly virus was sweeping the city but thought as usual that the headlines were only attention grabbing. She seemed to have resigned herself to her fate and was enjoying her last few weeks, she reckoned.
His mother was pretty drunk but managed to tell Lex that Tim had gone out one night and didn’t come home.
The house was in a mess. There were dirty dishes all over the kitchen and the tv was on repeats of Gilligans Island. Rose was picking holes in the script with a slurr in her voice that came from drinking too much vodka.
Lex couldn’t believe what he was seeing. All this time he had thought his mother was strong. She was the one thing he had counted on when Tim had lost the plot. How could she just give up like this? Had she not been worried about where he was for the last two weeks?? She didn’t even look happy to see him.
Rose finally decided to go to bed. Lex put clean sheets on her bed and gave her a glass of water and some aspirin. He went back downstairs and started tidying up – getting more and more furious about how life was treating him.
He was tidying up some old newspapers when he saw a front page headline “Virus Death Toll, latest”. He couldn’t believe what he was reading. The death toll had to be wrong. Thousands of people from every city had perished.
The next day Rose said she had spoken to a family friend who had told her about a Boot Camp that was being run by the Government to help out the kids that were to be left behind. It would teach them survival skills, trading skills and prepare them for life after the adults had gone.
It didn’t take much to convince Lex. He wasn’t stupid. He knew that things were about to get a whole lot rougher. He was still angry that his whole life was being turned up side down and that his mother was just keen to get him out of her hair. He had a couple of days to get his gear packed and then a bus would be round to pick him up.
Lex spent the next day trying to help organise his mother. He made sure there were enough supplies in the cupboard and managed to tip all the alcohol he could find in the house down the sink. He kept one bottle for himself and stashed it in his bag. He also rifled through anything valuable in the house – jewellery, cd’s, batteries. He knew they’d come in useful at some stage. He still thought that coming from a moderately wealthy family hadn’t done him any harm. And right now it was certainly handy.
The next day he kissed Rose goodbye, knowing he would probably never see her again, and jumped on the bus wondering where the next few weeks would take him.
Lex felt totally alone. He hadn’t contacted any of his friends in days – didn’t even know if he would be able to find them with all the chaos in the city. Maybe some of them would be at Boot Camp too…