1 | Lacey
That day started normally for me. I had woken up at my usual time of 8:05, ten minutes before I actually had to leave for school, had forced my mother out of bed to drive me down to school and had also sent my streaks to everyone. It's funny how something as trivial as treats was on the forefront of my mind that morning.
When the power plant blew up, I was actually learning about fission and fusion, and how nuclear power plants work. Unlike everyone else, I felt the explosion. I felt how the ground trembled slightly and how the wind seemed to rush past my face, even though I was indoors. I felt the sweltering heat. So much so that I even had to leave the class. That wasn't what pushed me over the edge. What made me start panting and crying was the weird feeling that part of me had died.
No one knew what was wrong with me. They thought I was just getting a panic attack, about the GCSE's that they want us to ace.
But the effects of what I had experienced were deadly.
The nuclear power plant near us was wildly experimental. They were trying a new radioactive source and it backfired. Firstly, it was flammable, and very reactive. The addition of carbon monoxide to the situation did not help. Secondly, unlike other types of radiation, this actually killed you. It attacked the cells of the tissue in the throat and mutated them. It made it extremely hard to breathe, especially for older people and very young kids.
It also killed my mum.
I knew the second she died, because it felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest. It felt like my driving force had been siphoned off.
Within a two weeks, half of my class was gone.
In a month, I was the only child left in town.
I found it so ironic, everyone had been so against having nuclear power stations being so close to cities and homes, and near Britain's coasts. Especially the ones in the south of the city. The government didn't listen and did it anyway. Here we are, a full city destroyed and dismantled, left as ruins.
When I think back to that day, yes, I had dragged my mum out of bed, but I had done it reluctantly. She started work at twelve and finished late, and I didn't feel like being on my own that day. I was very feeble in my attempts to haul her out of bed.
There was something heavy in the air. Something that just wasn't right. Being an empath always gave me a bit of an inkling to things that were going to happen. I will never forget the last morning I spent as a oblivious teenager.
For over fifty years, countries had been fighting about the fact the world was gaining one degree centigrade every five years, but nothing ever happened to fix the crisis. People continued to stuff their faces with meat, and drive theory petroleum fuelled cars until the petrol ran out, and they all scrambled to buy Teslas. Resources just ran out.
I hoped that humanity would never reach this phase. I hoped that I would want to continue living in the world I was born into, but I didn't. I wanted out.
I waited a week, before really allowing myself to accept that my mum was gone. And after that, I cried for two days straight. I didn't notice as the bustle of the city got quieter, I didn't notice when my next door neighbour stopped checking in on me.
Eventually my sadness turned to anger. Red, raw anger that tore from right inside me. I screamed at the sky, I punched walls, I looked at my mum's photos on my phone, with her beautiful smile, and large Afro, and just yelled.
Sometimes it was desperate babble, begging the God that I had been brought up to believe in to give me my mother back, and other times it was ugly threats. However, it was mainly: "Why ddI you leave me when I needed your guidance most? Why now?"
Whilst I was trying to mend my wounds, the people around me were dying from theirs.
* * *
"Come on, Lacey, you're nearly fifteen. You can do this." I whisper to myself, as I sit in my jeep. It's been four weeks since my mother died and, as much as I want to, I can't stay here. I can drive my way out of here, since my mum taught me as soon as I turned fourteen, but I've never really driven on public roads. At least if I crash like this, I won't be putting anyone else's life in danger.
I take a peak at by backseat, where all my clothes are, forced into a black bin bag which is close to bursting. The book is packed with food, water, fruits and other canned things that won't perish. But that much food might only last me a month or two at most, so I have to find a safe place.
I have my phone with me, but who am I going to call? Who am I going to send a snap to? Nobody. Because everyone I know and love is dead. At least no one will try and stop me from leaving.
I put my picture frame on the dash, the picture of my mum, dad and I reminding me that there was a time when my life was fine. Normal, even. It's going to keep me going. I am going to survive for them.
I nervously pull on the gearstick and the car jolts forward, with the grace of a three legged hippo. I scream and slam my foot on the accelerator, mistaking it for the brakes. I fumble for the actual brakes, and eventually bring the car to a stop, taking a moment to just breathe.
I look over my shoulder as I steel myself to start driving. I'm taking a huge risk by leaving everything behind. My home, my memories, my life. I shake my head at that thought. This is not my life anymore. This ghost town is not my home. There is no one left here. So, why is it so hard for me to leave?
I - more gently this time - push my foot down on the accelerator and feel the care growl into life. I know my. Way to the motorway, which is my ticket out of her. If I can get to the safe house I read about in the memo my mum left, I can move on from this.
As I cruise down the lifeless streets, my thought drift to what life would have been like if people actually listed to the likes of Greta Thunberg, or didn't have the climate strikes banned. I'm not willing to accept that what I'm going through right now could have been avoided. It's a nightmare that I'm caged in, and I don't know who has the key. But what I do know is that I will survive this.
I have to. It's what Degrasseys do. We fight our way to survival.
I keep my average speed high, since I am the only one using these roads. I will always be grateful to my mum for teaching me how to drive. This would be such a mess if she hadn't. It's like she knew that something like this would happen and I would have to save myself somehow. She wanted to make sure I would know how to do it.
I wouldn't be surprised if she knew this was going to happen. Her boss was a very shady person and since my dad died, she open up to me less. I don't really blame her. I just wish I knew more.
My eyes stay trained on the road. If I look at my surroundings I will feel the aura of the stripped trees. I'll feel their desperation and their sadness, and it will break my heart. It will overpower me and I won't be able to function with out learning their stories.
I attempt to turn on the radio, but today is not my day, and nothing play. I need something to block out the sound of restless souls that follows me. The one thing my mum never taught me was to mask them out myself. Maybe it just isn't possible, maybe she was holding out on me. I will never know. I find one of her old songcards and passed it over the reader. I know this will block out the sound, she never listened to anything that didn't.
Her favourite song plays through the speakers, and I smile.
'Don't you worry,
About a thing.
'Cause every little thing
Is gonna be alright...'
The song does a great job of blocking out voices, but it doesn't do anything for blocking my tears. This was the song my parents first danced to as husband and wife. I miss them so much. I want them back. I don't want to be out here.
The tears subside after a while. I make them subside, since I can't really see where I'm driving, and as much as this is hell on Earth, I don't want to die as of yet.
I imagine their voices singing along. They were always severely off key, but that didn't matter to them because they were happy. I was happy. As a family unit, we were happy.
It was all three of us against the world until dad died. Then it was the world against me.