It was morning. Light filtered through the grimy curtainless window and woke me up. I groaned and got up, pulled on my clothes, and made my way through the empty mall to the cafe to make breakfast. I carefully measured the right amount of water into the saucepan and placed it onto the camping stove. It took a few tries to strike a match, and when I touched the flame to the gas it flared up a moment then settled the normal. As I waited for the water to boil I opened a nearby cupboard and pulled out a tin of cat food. Rabbit and duck. Taking a clean dish from the same cupboard, I opened the tin and scraped half of the meat into the dish. I threw the spoon casually into the washing up bowl, sealed the tin with a plastic lid, and placed the dish on the floor under the table.
"Snowflake! Time for breakfast!"
Not waiting for the cat to come, I turned back to the counter and selected the cereal I wanted. The coco pops had long since run out, but there still a few boxes of honey nut cornflakes; after than, only rice crispies and bran flakes. I poured some cornflakes into my breakfast bowl and added a little water, not too much. I took a fresh spoon from the drawer and sat down, scooping up my cornflakes as I looked at the newspaper.
The headline read "Virus death toll latest" in huge black letters, and under that, in smaller bold lettering, "Hospitals and cemeteries full. Bodies of dead burned in pits." I read the article underneath it, knowing each word before my eyes met it. I didn't look at the picture; I didn't need to. I'd been there, along with dozens of other mourning kids.
"This was the last ever newspaper," I told the enormous bear sitting across from me. "It's hardly news any more. I don't know why you read it every day."
I got up, leaving the paper in front of the teddy bear, to check on my water. It was boiled now. I fetched my favourite mug from the drying up rack next to the sink and poured the water into it. I opened another cupboard to reveal boxes and boxes of different types of tea. After a moment's hesitation, I chose the assam. I'd not had assam tea for a few weeks. I dunked the teabag in with a teaspoon, stirred it, pressed it against the side of the mug and scooped it out, dropping the teabag into the compost bucket.
As I turned back to the table, Snowflake rounded the corner and went right for her food bowl. I sat down and reached a hand under the table to stroke her, then slowly drank my tea.
"If you want some tea, get some for yourself," I told Edward the bear. He didn't move, just say there with his smile and his smart blue waistcoat that stretched across his large belly. He'd not worn the waistcoat when I'd found him in the gift shop. I got it for him from the men's formalwear shop. It suited his golden fur.
I finished my tea and quickly washed up all my breakfast things in the minimal of water possible. Snowflake came up to me as I was doing so and wound herself around my legs, looking up at me, asking for strokes.
"I can't stroke you now, Snowy, my hands are wet, and you don't like wet. Wait til I've finished washing up, okay?"
When I finished I picked up my cat and stroked her, tickled her under her chin and behind her ears. She purred with pleasure and dug her claws into my arm.
"Ouch! Okay, time for you to get down now," I told her. "I have to fetch some water from the tank. It rained last night, did you know?"
It was still drizzling when I got up to the roof with four empty bottles. I glanced over at my garden. The rain had done it some good. The leaves seemed a little greener than they had been, the buds of the flowers a little larger. I smiled, then turned back to the water tank. Going on tip toe, I looked over the edge. It was fuller than it had been in a long time, perhaps a foot deep. I tapped off enough water to fill the bottles I'd brought up with me. The water wasn't quite clear, but there was nothing I could do about that. The water that collected in the tank was never clean, but that didn't matter. I only used rainwater for washing in and feeding the cat. There was still enough bottled water and other drinks left for me to drink.
I heard a siren. Leaving the bottles where they were on the gravel of the flat roof, I crossed to the edge of the roof and looked down, clinging to the steel railings. A soggy newspaper on the distant pavement flapped in the wind next to an unturned shopping trolley.
A kid with green hair came running round the corner, followed by a few older guys dressed in dark overalls. They followed the green haired boy on roller blades, and were catching up with him. Behind the rollerblade kids came the police car, the windscreen replaced with some sort of wire mesh, the whole thing covered in red and black graffiti. Standing in the car with torsos out the top through the sun roof were two people. Zoot had his arms crossed above his head, and was shouting "Power and Chaos" over the sounds of the car and the siren. Beside him was Ebony, her hair in a style I'd not seen before. Both had red and black tribe paint on their faces. They passed around another corner, still chasing the green haired boy, and the siren faded away, leaving the street empty for as far as I could see.
I shook my head, gathered up my water bottles, and returned inside. Once I'd stowed them neatly I pondered what to do. Could I spare some batteries to listen to some music? I decided against it, and made my way to what had once been the comic shop. I flicked through a few before settling on a Spiderman one, which I took to the furniture store to read. There was a large comfortable sofa in there, but it was too big to take down to the store I'd claimed for my own bedroom.
I'd been reading the Spiderman comic for maybe fifteen minutes when I heard something. It was definitely in the Mall. At first I thought it was just Snowflake messing around, but then she jumped up onto the sofa and sat on my lap, and the sound came again.
There was someone in the Mall.