I sat on the floor so that I was level with the children, under the dim light of two small candles. Rhubarb sat nearby, watching quietly.
"OK," I said. "You all have to listen very carefully, because this is very important."
They all nodded and the whispering became more hushed.
I smiled. "No," I said under my breath. "I mean really quiet, so that no-one can hear you."
A gradual silence fell upon the group.
"Thank you," I muttered. "You're all here so we can talk about what happened before Jon and Tom and Si found you, okay?" They all agreed and I waited for a hush again. "Before I tell you, does anyone know what happened?"
They were obviously taking this as a class lesson, because a few of them raised their arms into the air quietly.
"Juniper," I said, picking out Si's child. "Can you tell me what happened?"
"Everyone's gone," she whispered.
I swallowed. "Yes, that's right."
"Where are they?" she asked.
At that point, Tom walked in and sat beside me. "I wasn't going to make you do this alone," he said.
I smiled gratefully. Juniper repeated her question.
"Well... they... the zombies were very bad things. The lady who walked into the room was a zombie."
They all had questions about what zombies are and what they do. Tom explained that some people who were bitten by the zombies turned into zombies, and they might have bitten the children.
"But what wash the loud exploshun?" Maddie climbed onto my knee, directing her words at Tom.
He hesitated, looking to me for confirmation that he could say it. "Well, Maddie... me and Si and Jon... we were worried that the zombies might hurt you so... we had to kill the zombies..."
They seemed to accept it, but then one of Rhu's kids asked, "Did you even kill Mr Walters?"
Tom nodded painfully.
"Did you even kill my friends?"
"We... killed everyone who was bitten..."
Some of them were scared, and Juniper asked, "What's kill?"
"It's... it's when you make someone die," I told them hesitantly.
They were shocked, Juniper asked, "What's die?"
A few of the other children said that they didn't know either.
I explained the best I could. "It's like... you go to sleep... but then... but then you don't wake up. You go to sleep forever."
"Does it hurt?"
"Sometimes it does," Tom said. "But most of the time it's nice. It's like being in a warm comfy bed and everything is quiet."
"Where do you go?" Maddie wondered.
"I don't know," Tom and I said at the same time.
One of the children put his hand up. "My mummy said that when granny died, she went to heaven."
"My auntie says that heaven isn't real," another objected. Ouch. Why would you tell your child that?
"If he says his granny went to heaven, then his granny went to heaven," I told her.
"But my daddy says ot's not real though," she replied.
"I think heaven is real," Tom smiled at the boy, who was close to tears. "But I know Berny doesn't. But just because she doesn't believe in it doesn't mean it's not there."
Juniper asked, "What's heaven?"
"Heaven is where all the good people who die go," Tom told her. "And then God looks after them and makes sure they're happy."
"Oh," she said, and smiled, happy with the idea.
I quite liked the idea of heaven, too, despite the fact that I wasn't religious. It was a nice alternative to the view that my dad had, that you get put in the ground and that's the end of it. Although I had a different theory, that ghosts were real, and that your ghost is your soul. When you die, your body decays because your soul isn't in it any more, and that is what gave you your appearance. That's why ghost are claimed to look like the people they used to be.
"Are the zombies in heaven," the boy asked Tom.
He nodded after thinking for a second. "Yes, I think they are. They didn't mean to be zombies."
"Are they angels?"
We smiled and nodded, and one by one they fell asleep in a discussion about heaven and angels.
Tom nudged me before he left. "Will you go out with me?"
I laughed and shook my head.