Everything actually went better than planned at first. Life carried on. Everyone on the outside thought that things were normal and each one of the family played their parts well. The kids carried on going to school for the next week and would chat to their parents through the pantry chute at night about how the day had gone and if any awkward questions had been asked of them.
Two of their teachers hadn’t turned up in the last week. The kids at school had been told they were sick but they never turned up again.
The following week the kids didn’t go to school as their parents had asked. They had told the teachers that they were going on a family holiday. This week was a little more difficult – everyone thought they were away so they couldn’t leave the house, they had to set the lights in the house on a timer (as if they were away) and they had to make sure they weren’t seen.
Luckily the morning paper was still delivered each day through the mail hole in the front door. They were able to keep up to date on the latest virus news.
Ben and Andrea would get an update each morning from Ruby and Blake. Unfortunately the situation wasn’t getting any better, in fact things were definitely getting worse. The virus had spread even further and people all over the country were perishing from this awful virus.
The Wallace family were still on alert and had stuck to the plan but their was a little relief between them all that they had been spared because they’d had the information early.
They now had a daily routine. Ruby would get up and do a bit of cleaning and make herself some breakfast while Blake would always sleep in as long as he could before Ruby would storm up the stairs and pull him out of bed. They would all crowd around the pantry chute and go through the paper telling their parents what the latest news was. There was lots of things to keep them busy. Lots of adult stuff that they weren’t used to. They had to post out any cheques for bills that had come in. Keep an eye on the food store to make sure they weren’t going to run out anytime soon and keep being careful that no one saw them.
Blake would complain how bored he was, there was nothing to do being cooped up in this stupid house all day. Ruby agreed there wasn’t anything exciting to do but they had to stick to the plan or face losing their parents forever.
Sure, Ruby missed her friends, the shopping mall, talking on the phone, McDonalds and all the things she was used to doing but she understood that this was a big deal and sacrifices had to be made. Blake was less understanding but he tried not to argue with Ruby and just get on with it.
By the time four weeks had past Ruby and Blake could tell by looking out the windows that everything was starting to go downhill. They hadn’t received a newspaper for the last four days and they barely saw anyone or anything on the streets. The house across the road had broken windows and there was rubbish all up and down the street. They’d even had some kids try and break in the other night – but Blake had scared them away.
By the next day they had no hot water but luckily the electricity was still going so they were able to boil some up in the jug or on pots on the stove.
One morning Ruby woke up dawdled around the house for while, took a cold shower and started to think about breakfast. She went to the pantry to have a look. She heard coughing coming from the basement – it was Mum. She yelled down to her Dad to see if everything was alright. He said everything was fine but asked if she could send down some paracetamol as her mother had a headache.
The next morning Blake had said he would cook breakfast. He went into the pantry to grab some pancake mix and yelled down to his parents that he was making breakfast and would they like some. Usually they wouldn’t send food down as a precaution but occasionally they did for a treat.
He heard his father trying to yell back at him that they’d already eaten and not to worry. His father’s voice sounded croaky and dry. “Are you alright Dad?” Blake said with a slightly shaky voice. His father said they were fine and not to worry. Blake made pancakes for himself and Ruby and decided that he would check on his parents again in another hour.
An hour passed and Blake went to check on them again. His father said once again that they were fine down there and Mum was asleep at the moment so could they stop checking on them every five minutes as they might wake her up with all their yelling.
When Blake told Ruby later that night she got a little worried. Something wasn’t right. She hadn’t heard Mum speak to them in a couple of days and Dad always had an excuse for why she couldn’t talk at the moment. Ruby started to panic. Her and Blake raced to the pantry and yelled down to their Dad “Daaaad, we’re getting really worried up here. Are you sure you guys are okay?”
All they could hear was gasping – it was very faint. They yelled again and heard nothing.
What should they do? If they opened the door to the basement to check on them they’d contaminate it and perhaps their parents really were fine. But what if they didn’t and their parents were dying. They felt helpless and scared. This wasn’t the sort of decisions kids of their age were used to making. Everything depended on them and they didn’t know what to do.
They made the decision – they had to go down and see what was wrong. They found the keys and undid the padlocks. They had to shove the door hard to break the seals. They raced down the stairs and saw their Dad lying in the middle of the floor. He was covered in blisters and was gasping for breath. They could see the shape of their mother lying on a bed covered in a white sheet.
The raced to their Dad. He could barely open his eyes because they were so swollen from the blisters on his face. Ruby and Blake were in shock. They were crying and gasping for breath themselves. They saw that their father was trying to say something. They tried to sit him up so that he could get the words out.
“…….the antidote….in the city lab….”
And that was all he managed to say.