When he woke up his father was dead.
Completely drained of colour, he lay next to him on the bed they had made from a door that had been gathering dust in the far corner of their cellar. His father had instructed the boy to fetch bricks from the yard and bring them down, one by one, so that he could prop his makeshift bed up against the dry section of wall at the far end. The boy had been proud of carrying two bricks on the last of his journeys, and his father managed a warm smile as he dropped them at his feet.
“Good lad, good lad” he murmured.
Then, groaning, with his hand clamped on his wounded rib cage, he had stooped to put the last two bricks into place.
Now his father lay, his ash-grey skin tugged across the bones of his face. The boy went to tear some more material to replace the bloodied pad on his father’s side, as he had done every morning for a month now. As he eased the pad away from the skin no blood oozed. He was able to touch the wound’s jagged edge, and his nostrils could sense that the blood was no longer fresh.
He left that afternoon. He was going to walk to his grandfather’s house, outside the city. His father had talked of that house as he slid in and out of consciousness in his final hours, and the boy had joined in these musings. He liked to visit his grandfather and sit out on his patio, the two of them playing Monopoly by the light of some candles. He was always allowed ‘Park Lane’ and ‘Mayfair’ – the two most expensive properties – as a head start.
As he emerged from the cellar, his battered Monopoly box under his arm, he remembered his father’s advice.
Stay away from the riders. Listen for their engines.
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