Prologue 9

End-Day + 9

"How did you find us?" my dad asks, the crow bar back in his hand.

"Wasn't difficult."

I’ve drifted into Sunday; my temperature seems a little lower. It’s late morning.

And the same old guy is at our door again.

"What do you want?" dad says.

“Open the door, for goodness sake,” says the man.

Dad pulls back the door, the bright sunshine rebounding off a layer of ash bright as snow. “Stay where you are.”

"All this..." the man says, silhouetted against the afternoon sun, "I mean, everything that's happened... it has sort of removed the luxury of having enemies." He takes a step closer, hesitates when he sees the crowbar.

I swing my legs out from the bed, rise slowly to my feet. My head swoons, stars blinking in my vision.

Dad side steps between us, "Morgan. Go and sit with your mother." Then he says to the man, "Fine. No hard feelings. Now, be on your way. And stop calling here."

I step towards mum, who has Ben sleeping in her arms. Her eyes are not wild, but alert. On her bunk, just a foot from her right hand, is a kitchen knife.

"Your child is sick," the man says, stepping forward minutely. He scratches his chin.

Dad's shoulders seem to tense, but I cannot see his face.

The old man says, "We could go together, to search for drugs? Antibiotics. I have an idea where to look."

Dad lowers the crow bar. "I can't let you sleep here. I can't feed you."

The man shakes his head, then starts nodding instead.

Just before they leave, I hear him saying, "A man looks for a cause. Someone to blame."

My father says, "Get in front."

And then my mother and I listen as their footsteps disappear.