Homecoming chapter of work in progress by Iris Carden
“Angela! You know just turning up unannounced is terribly bad manners, and brining extra guests, strangers, as well, is just too much!” her mother scolded.
“Hi Mum, it’s lovely to see you too,” Angela replied. “I would have called ahead, but the phones aren’t working, and neither is anything else. You know, because the flying saucers destroyed everything. I’d like you to meet my friends. Martha Robertson and Jamie Anderson, twins Phoebus and Esmeralda, meet my mother and father Mary and Edward James.”
“Phoebus and Esmerelda, what kind of names are those?” Mary James replied.
“They’re from the Hunchback of Notre Dame. It’s nice to meet you Mary,” Jamie said.
“Don’t you know how to address your elders, young lady?” Mary said. “Call me Mrs James. And why would you name your children after characters from a movie?”
Jamie was speechless. “It’s also a classic novel,” Angela said.
“It’s lovely to meet you, Mary,” Martha said.
“Yes, nice to meet you, too Martha, I suppose.”
“Oh Mary, manners! I’m so much older than you. I’m Mrs Robertson.”
Angela snorted. When she and Jamie first met Martha, in the ruins of Central Station, she could not have guessed that the old woman had a platinum spine, but she most certainly did.
Mary looked uncomfortable.
“We’re here to stay for a while,” Angela said. “I will take my old room, Martha can have one of the guest rooms and Jamie and the twins can have one of the others. I hope that’s OK with you?”
“How do you expect us to support you and your friends? That’s really too much. You can’t just move in. Besides that, you were Miss Independent and only too quick to move out. Why don’t you go back to your flat in the city?”
“My flat doesn’t exist any more. Neither does the city. We’ve been living in a rail tunnel for a fortnight. And we brought supplies.”
“A railway tunnel! How disgusting. Your father was right, you really couldn’t cope in the real world on your own. You always were a failure. And that woman with the babies. Where is the father? Why isn’t he looking after her.”
“He’s a soldier, and was away on exercises when the inner city was destroyed. So I guess he’s fighting aliens now, trying to protect your privileged way of life. So where are Adam and Maria, they could help us unpack the supplies we brought?”
“Those ungrateful so and sos haven’t turned up to work today.”
“Maybe they don’t want to garden and housekeep for you when the banks are out of action and you can’t pay them.”
“Oh, I’ve been recording their hours, and will pay them as soon as the banks are back online. Now, about you inviting yourself and your friends to stay, I don’t think whatever ‘supplies’ you’ve brought could possibly pay for your room and board here.”
“So write down whatever you think we owe, and we’ll pay you when the banks are functional again. Now tell me where you want the supplies left.”
While Martha got settled and Jamie fed the twins, Angela carried all the supplies to a disused stable her parents had been using as a store house. They were well supplied for most things, and Angela realised the dutiful gardener and housekeeper had been very careful to ensure they had everything they needed.
Everyone around Mary and Edward James helped to protect them from reality. It was easier than bearing the brunt of their rejection of the real world.
A massive supply of toilet paper made her question her mother and discover that yes, her parents had hoarded at least five years’ worth of toilet paper during the COVID pandemic.
She also ascertained that Adam and Maria had been working every day, but had failed to appear on this day. No, her parents had not been concerned, just angry that their employees would fail to appear for the work they weren’t being paid for. After a frustratingly long conversation on the matter, Angela was finally able to get their address from her mother, and said she would go and check if they were safe.
As she left, she noticed her parents were watching a television which was not receiving any signal.
Please note: these chapters are the very raw first draft, what appears in the final book may be different. The working title has changed from Survival to Colony, as has the draft cover art, and they may or may not change again before I finish writing the book..