"Hey! Hey, you!"
I jumped, noticing the lone figure at the end of the street for the first time. My small town had been desolate for months, so how could this stranger be here? Everyone had either died or moved into Liverpool where there was bound to be more supplies. I thought I was the only one left.
"Young girl! Who are you?" He shouted again, moving closer. I blinked again in surprise and then found my voice.
"I'm Thea," I said, walking towards him. "I used to live here. Who are you?"
As he got closer I noticed he was quite old, around sixty perhaps. He seemed strong though, as if age hadn't taken it's toll yet. His hair was shaggy and grey, and his eyes were framed by squared glasses.
"Don't come any closer!" He shouted suddenly, stopping about ten paces ahead. I stopped in my tracks. "Just in case."
He looked confused. "Who are you?" I asked again.
"I'm Larry." He told me. His voice was rough and he had a strong Liverpudlian accent. "Why are you here?"
"Why are you here?" I asked, avoiding his question. "Why can't I come closer?"
That's when I noticed the early stages of the disease. There were pale patches on his arms and his eyes seemed bloodshot.
"That's right." He said, as he saw my expression changed. "It's not affected me yet too much, but I'll be damned if it's not contagious yet, so you be careful not to come closer"
"I'm so sorry." I said, my eyes filling up without my consent.
"Less of that, I won't have you crying on my account." He said, smiling. "How old are you Thea?"
"Twenty, just turned. I used to live in number sixteen down the road." I said, pointing towards my old home.
"Ah, the bombs." He said, closing his eyes. "They took my family too."
We stood in silence as the past relived itself in our minds. There had been panic and fire and smoke everywhere. Screams filled the night and calm was only restored in the morning light, which seemed to shine on the scene cruelly.
"I think I've got a mask somewhere in that old house that's still standing. If you give me five minutes to put it on, you can come in and I'll make you a drink?" He said suddenly. I nodded, speechless. He entered the old house and five minutes later knocked on the window showing me he was masked up.
As I stood on the threshold, I hesitated. A family had died here from the disease, and now this man had it. Was it safe for me to enter? I hadn't had a drink in days, so my thirst pushed all worries of the illness straight out of my mind as I stepped through the door.