War of the Worlds

A Fan Fiction by Jake Keidel

Our world is not the only one capable of supporting life. Others have watched us, with jealous and hateful eyes. Since man's first footsteps, others have planned to bring us down. Beings from our planets neighbour have watched and planned patiently, so that our empire over this world will be crushed in a swift blow.

Chapter 1: The Invaders Arrive

Jake Keidel had been stuck in the house all day. Music blared loudly throughout the building, so loud it would have deafened any normal person. But he didn't care. He was grounded, confined to his home for a week.

The bedroom he was in was a tip. Clothes were scattered haphazardly on the floor, and various DVD's were on the desks that he had taken the time to set up himself. Even worse were the idle packets of food that had been there for days but had slipped his mind.

He was sitting on his bed, a book placed firmly in his hands. Outside, he could hear the local kids playing something ridiculous like manhunt or something like that. Once or twice he was tempted to get up off of his bed and yell at them, but he was comfy on his bed, so he let it slide. Better listening to music instead.

Slowly, his right hand left the book he was reading – a load of crap, really; it was Robinson Crusoe – and started fumbling about for the bottle of coca-cola that was on his bed. When he found it, he pushed the top of the bottom to his lips, placed the lid between his teeth and twisted it slowly. He then spat the lid out and drank from the bottle; all without taking his eyes off of his book.

God he was so bored. There was nothing to do today. Not only did the weather look terrible anyway, but he had the house to himself. His family were out, though not all together. His brother was with his parents up town, and his sister was out with her friends. And he had sod all to do in the house.

Feeling terrible, he threw Robinson Crusoe onto the floor, and lounged about on his bed. The track changed from Enter Sandman to The Trooper. That was good; he hadn't listened to Iron Maiden in weeks.

After about a minute of mutely singing along to Bruce Dickinson, Jake pushed himself off of his bunk bed, and fell to the floor landing on his feet. His foot dug into a belt, so he kicked it away near to his wardrobe. That was tidy enough for him.

Groaning, he turned left and looked out of the window. Dark clouds were gathering over, and they seemed to be heading towards the town; he couldn't really see from the angle his window was at. Ah well, if they were, excellent. If it got his parents soaked, that was brilliant! That'd teach them for grounding him.

A tree branch scraped against his window, blowing in the same direction as the same direction of the storm. Jake cocked his head to the side at that. He wasn't very informed on weather or other such subjects, but he didn't think that was normal. Sure, the wind should be blowing towards it when the storm was coming, but even from his angle he could see flashes.

Where's the thunder? With every flash, there was silence. In fact, it was eerily silent. Jake twisted round to see his lights were off, and the music had stopped. Goddamn, what the fuck was happening?

He stormed over towards the light switch outside the room, and flicked it rapidly. No luck. Damn, that meant one of the damn fuses had blown. Grunting irritably, he ran down the stairs and into the lounge, heading for the under-the-stairs cupboard.

The lounge light was off, but he didn't stop to try it. He only gave the light switch under the stairs a flick, and when that didn't work, he went to the light box, and looked for the switch that was down.

Jake cocked his head to the side. That was odd. Great, now he'd have to wait till his dad got home just so he could have a bit more music. Wouldn't that be just fun?

As if on cue, a thudding noise came from the front door as if someone was hammering it fiercely. Jake groaned, and trudged his way over to the front door.

He flung the front door open and said, "Whatdoyawant?"

"Jake, you've gotta come out and see this," one of the neighbours kids said. Jake tried to grab a name, but he couldn't remember the poor sods name. He looked about seven though, and he guessed the kids name to be James. He knew there was a seven year old called James on the street.

"Nah, honestly, I'm fine mate," Jake grunted and went to close the door.

"JAKE! COME ON OUT!" Toby Willis shouted.

Jake opened the door more to see Toby. He was one of the few people Jake bothered to get along with on the street, though even then the relationship was dubious.

The boy had short hair that was a constant mess. He was still wearing that goddamned pink shirt and blue jeans that he had been wearing for the past week now. Jake groaned somewhat at the sight of him.

"What is it?" Jake groaned.

"Dude, really, you have got to come and see this," Toby cried out.

Jake rolled his eyes. "One second."

He closed the door slowly. Then, his right hand darted up and pulled the bikers jacket off of the coat rack, and slipped it on. Next, he leant down and grabbed a pair of hiking boots from the shoe rack. It took him the whole of thirty seconds to put them on.

He pulled the door open and walked out into the day. After slightly recoiling from the sudden sunlight, he stumbled forwards passed James (Josh? Charlie? Goddamn what was his name?) and walked over towards Toby, remembering to leave the door open.

"Look, look, looklooklook!" Toby called out excitedly, pointing towards the gathering of clouds.

Jake twisted his head and looked round at them as well. They were gathering around the town, thick grey clouds that hung ominously overhead. It seemed that at the centre of the storm there was a great gaping maw, from which a strange light was coming. Thick lightning bolts struck out from the light.

"What do you suppose is that?" Toby asked, ignoring the kids that seemed to be gathering around them, looking at the storm.

Jake shrugged. "I dunno; what do I look like, a weather man?"

Then, he looked at the trees. They had stopped blowing all together.

"Say, is your iPod working?" Jake asked Toby.

Toby fiddled around of his pocket, and fished one out. After pushing the power buttons a few times and smacking it against the palm of his hand, Toby said, "Nope."

"Odd, nothing's working at mine," Jake mused, cocking his head to the side.

"Hey, is all your electricity out as well?" a woman cried out from one of the houses.

"Nah, nothing's working Rach," Jake called over to the streets local alcoholic.

"Isn't that queer?" she asked, her words slightly slurred.

Suddenly, a faint cracking noise sounded over the air. It didn't sound close, but it was still sounding. Jake instantly pivoted on the spot, looking for the source of the noise. Then, he stopped pivoting, convinced it was coming from the town.

There were about sixteen people gathered at the top of the road now. Most of them were children, none of them older than Toby except Jake himself. Adults were staying in their gardens, looking out as well towards the town.

After thirty seconds, something appeared in the air. Almost everyone in the street recoiled, and stared dumbly towards it. It was a giant machine with an oval for the main body. Well, it was more of an oval mixed with a diamond, now Jake came to think of it. Coming from the main body were huge spindly legs; three of them in total.

It was looking downwards, as far as Jake could tell. It was looking down into the heart of the town, but roughly in Jake's direction.

"What the fuck is that?" Jake heard himself mumble.

As if in answer, a horn sounded out from the machine, signalling its arrival. It was a sound Jake would learn to fear.

Chapter 2: Fleeing

There was a momentary silence, as if time had frozen completely still when the machine horned. Jake was paralyzed, unable to take his eyes off of the machine (he decided to call it a tripod, due to its three legs).

What the hell was this thing? Jake tried to search his brain for a logical answer. Could it be some sort of new terrorist weapon? No, that was fucking absurd, a stupid thought born out of a stupid age. Could it be some form of new government defense system? Okay, that one did sound absurd, even to his head. What the hell was it then?

A nudge from Toby tore Jake out from his musings. The boy had a genuine look of fear on his face when Jake looked at him. Jake only just resisted the urge to slap him round the face, to shake him out of it.

"Dude, I'm outta here," Toby said, and started trudging to his house, ignoring everyone as he barged passed them.

That was when the rays started coming. When the first one launched from the tripod, Jake practically jumped backwards, threatening to stumble over. Then, he caught his balance and noticed that the rays weren't near him. Town was a ten to twenty minute walk to Poplar Road. There was no way it could harm him.

The giant spindly legs started to move forwards, and the belief that town was too far away left Jake almost as soon as it came. He backed towards his house and stumbled through the open door.

Mum and Dad and Owen. He had to get a hold of them. They were in town with that bloody thing, firing rays and charging through the streets. What if it had got them? No, it hadn't. Jake pushed those terrifying thoughts away. He knew what thoughts would do to him. And he wasn't prepared to get depressed again.

What about Jess then? Part of him thought she would be fine, but he soon pushed that thought away as well. With any luck, she was at her friend's house, away from town. With some luck.

Jake dived for the phone that was in his jeans and pulled out it out. It was completely dead. He ran through to the kitchen to check if the house phone was working. Dead as well.

Fuck, fuck, fuck, what do I do what do I do!?

Calm it Jake, just stay calm. Remember what it says in The Zombie Survival Guide: a moment spent thinking clearly is never a moment wasted. Now, what do we know?

There's a giant tripod blasty thing coming towards us.

Correct. And what has watching far too many films taught you about giant blasty things coming towards you?

That it's probably something that's going to kill you, and you're a damn fool if you stick around.

Right once more. So, we know a giant blasty thing is coming towards us. It's probably killing people. What have you gotta do?

Food and water, and get the hell away from it. As fast as physically possible.

Bravo my dear boy. Now, stop having mental conversations with yourself and get your ass moving!

Jake flew through the house and up to the stairs, looking for his school bag. He groaned when he reached his room, and trudged through the amount of clothing.

Eventually he found it stuffed inside his wardrobe. As quickly as he could, he ripped it open and threw the contents onto his bed.

He risked a quick glance outside of the street. People were trying to get into their cars, panicking. Children were jumping up and down on the spot, eager to get moving. And ever second that deep mechanical thud got ever closer.

Jake reckoned he had about two minutes to spare, if that. So, without pausing, he grabbed The Zombie Survival Guide, ran down the stairs and started flicking through until he found the list of necessary foods and such things.

He ran through the kitchen, grabbing what he could. His hands flew around, taking in things that he couldn't be bothered to look at. He didn't care, really.

Thirty seconds. Damn, he had wasted time. He ran out in front of his door.

Immediately he was surprised by the wave of people. People were just running – running and screaming and crying to God to help them. Jake stepped out into the middle of the road, but was knocked to the side by someone. He only caught a quick glimpse of the tripod, about seven streets away.

"TOBY!" Jake cried out, running up his street, and then turning right on Durban Road. "TOBY!!"

Nobody replied. The street was becoming thick with people as they crashed their way forwards. The tripod horned out once more, and Jake could feel the ground shudder as it took its slow, steady steps.

He ran faster through the crowd, feeling the adrenaline rushing through his body. But already he could feel himself tire. Damn, he hated being –

A beam, intensely hot beamed passed Jake, missing him by about three inches and tore into a woman jogging in front of him. Almost immediately, she evaporated in a cloud of dust, her clothing flying her into the air.

Jake took in a breath to scream, but his throat became clogged up with ash. Instead, he pushed to the side and vaulted over fence onto the large piece of green grass that looked oddly untouched. A beam went straight into the crowd he had left, and another person went up in ashes.

He sprinted across the green, starting to pant. Then, when he reached the fence on the over side he flung himself over and started pushing through the crowd, that infected the streets as well.

He ran across the road, dodging this way and that. People all around him were starting to burn up, and he heard more people scream in that instant second than by the untouched people. Once, he nearly got caught if he had not moved his right hand up about a foot high as he ran. It burnt through a garden and a yapping dog suddenly went quiet.

Where the fuck was he heading? He couldn't think when he was running. He needed somewhere to stop, to think, to reflect –

He pushed his way passed a large man who was blocking his way, and ran across Windmill Avenue, heading for the abandoned One Stop shop.

That was it! Some of the crowd was heading towards Deeble Road Bridge. Of course, others were heading towards other places as well, but a small minority were heading for Deeble Road.

He didn't stop when he reached One Stop. Instead, he turned left, away from Deeble Road. Damn, how he wanted to know if he was making the right choice. This could end horribly wrong.

He turned right down a road – he didn't check the name of the damn thing – and ran as hard and fast as he could down it. Nobody even noticed that he was running away from the scene. Or, at least he hoped they hadn't; he couldn't hear anyone following him, and the rays had stopped coming his way.

At last, he reached the bottom of the street, and was on the field that was at the very bottom. He paused for a moment, and looked behind him. He nearly cheered! The tripod was following the larger group of people, heading along Windmill Avenue towards the exit of the town, taking them to Weekly or Warkton; he forgot which.

But he couldn't rest. Goddamn, he knew he just couldn't rest. It would turn round soon, or it would show a new trick up its sleeve and start firing behind it. God, he felt sorry for the poor bastards who were running now. Would any of them survive?

You ain't gonna survive long, my man, if you keep thinking. Get to your Nan's, and then take a break.

The annoying voice was right. But he couldn't do it; he was too damn tired. Just a moment, he begged. Please.

Fine, stay here and die. It'll be painful.

Jake got up slowly, and started walking towards the bridge that would take him to the church. There, he stopped for another breather and started running up Deeble Road.

Chapter 3: Rest and Run

Almost every part of his body ached when he made it down St Matthews. His lungs were burning, threatening to rip themselves out of his chest. Even his legs were painful. But what hurt most of all were his head and teeth.

Still, all that mattered was the fact that he had bloody made it at last. He stumbled out onto St Johns Road, and nearly collapsed. The people here seemed blissfully ignorant of what was happening, some washing their cars, some just staring at the odd clouds that had gathered over towards the town centre.

Bloody idiots, didn't they know what was coming?

Then shout out, my man. See where it gets you.

Jake grumbled, and trudged forwards despite his body begging for a rest. Some people looked at him, but he didn't look back. Let them stare at him; let them have an eyeful! They'd be running soon. Or not, with luck.

As he got closer to the group of bungalows that served as his destination, he groaned. His grandparents' car was gone. If there was a God up there, he was having a laughing fit.

Eventually he made it to his grandparents' home. It was a large bungalow, with a large driveway that could fit two cars on it. The downhill slope made it easier for Jake to trudge down. After a moment, he reached the front door.

He pushed down on the handle, but it didn't move far. The door was locked. Great, how brilliant was that? He kicked the front door, and stormed away from it, heading further down the driveway until he almost hit the garage.

Instead of hitting it, he turned right and pushed open the gate that separated the drive from the back garden. He walked straight forwards, ignoring the back garden and straight onto the patio. There, he went towards a flower pot and picked it up. Bingo; the key was underneath it.

After placing the flowerpot back, he went through the open gate, and back up the driveway to the house. Almost as if he was in a state of drunkenness, he placed his hand up against the door and stabbed randomly at the door with the key. Eventually, he found the hole, and he twisted it so that the door unlocked. He slammed the palm of his hand down on the door handle.

He stumbled through the door, closed it shut and threw his bag down the hallway. He took a few stumbled steps, ignoring the pain in his body. It took him a few seconds to make his way into the lounge, but when he did he sought out the lovely settee and threw himself on it.

Oh my god, did that feel good or what? His body totally relaxed, finally resting after the arduous exercise of running up Deeble Road. Though mud caked his boots, he didn't care; he put them right on the chair, and laid out flat on it.

Well, this is all well and good, isn't it? You've made it this far, and you're just going to crash out. What if there are more of them? Can you do the run again?

"No I can't, now fuck off!" Jake shouted, and then coughed unhealthily. God, he really was in massive amounts of pain.

His mind was silent. That was good. That was very good.

After about five minutes of just lying there, collapsed, Jake felt able to move again. He flexed his right arm, and then his right leg. Yes, they were working fine without being in massive amounts of pain. It was something he could stand.

Slowly, very slowly, he got up and started walking around the living room. He wasn't in perfect condition, but it was damn well good enough for the moment. At least, for what he wanted to do.

He walked out of the lounge and straight into the kitchen. The phone was close to the door, so he just hooked a hand round and grabbed the telephone. Next, he punched in his mum's mobile number, and then his dad's. Though the phone had a dial, when he rang someone up the line became dead.

After he had finished with typing in his dad's number and getting a dead line, Jake slammed the phone down. Why the hell wasn't anything working?

He thought about the question for a second, before remembering why he had come here; to gather supplies. He went into the hall way and grabbed his back, and the carried it through into the kitchen. The contents of the bag were soon emptied onto the table. There were a few packets of crisps and a packet of six Mars Bars.

Well done, Jake. At the end of the world, you remember sugary fat stuff.

Yes you do, my man. Aren't you a clever one?

I thought I told you to fuck off?

So now he thought clearly, and began packing his bag accordingly. He filled it with fruits, bottles of water, a loaf of bread and a packet of McVitie's Chocolate Digestives. After that, he went into the bathroom and piled some medicinal things in. Then he went into the computer room, searched through the drawers and pulled out a map, and stuck it in the bag as well.

Well, now he was ready to go. And if he knew his luck, Jake just knew that he would have prepared for everything and nothing would happen. He even smiled at the idea.

And then he looked in the mirror. He was covered in ash. He was back in the streets, running, fleeing as fast as he could, the giant thunderous steps of the tripod as it came ever closer, the scorching beams of heat as they shot passed...

The horn sounded. Jake froze. Could it be real? Part of him wanted to believe that it was the slightly terrified part of him just imagining things. But the way it sounded, ringing in his ears, told him that it had to be true. He swung his bag over his back, and ran outside of the front door and then up the drive way.

People were standing in the streets, staring out hopelessly at the thing. Jake saw it as well. It was far away, but it had spotted something, because it's head was down and those horrible blue beams were shooting out of it. Was it possible..? No, please God say no...

Oh yes, my man, my boy, my friend. Some smart ass had to brilliant idea of following you.

Jake watched it for a few more moment's, unable to stop staring at it. He could feel his jaw wide open, his eyes staring in disbelief.

Another one was just behind it.

"RUN!" Jake screamed, and starting running up St John's. Nobody followed him at his speed, though some were retreating somewhat, or calling their children to their sides. But nobody was fleeing.

"Come on, please!" Jake cried out. "It will come, and it will kill you!"

Maybe it was how hysterical he sounded. Maybe it was the groggy ash that covered his body. Or maybe, the people just realised what was happening, because now some people started getting in their cars. One man started it, but the tripods got closer and it shut off almost immediately.

Jake was now at the top of St John's, staring down at everyone. People were starting to recoil, as the frames of the tripods came ever closer. He watched with disbelief as houses were burnt and torn down in the wake of the tripods coming.

And at the base of them were a flood of people running. Hundreds of them, scrambling almost over one another to push ahead were charging up St John's. But the beams still went through, and ash and clothing filled the skies as they ran.

Jake turned around, and started walking slowly. The walk turned into a jog, and he stopped himself from breaking out into a sprint.

"Hey, hey mate, what's happening?" some man called out.

"Can't you fucking see it?" Jake screeched hysterically. He didn't turn round or look at the man. He didn't even give a damn at the way he was heading.

He came out onto Deeble Road, near the top of it. People were running as well, and the Tripods were firing their beams into the crowd as well as the ones on St John's.

Seeing the sight, Jake turned upwards and ran as fast a she could. People were starting to spill out of their houses now, taking whatever belongings they could and trying to get into their cars. He knew it was the right thing to do, but Jake couldn't find the breath to tell them that the cars were useless, that the tripods would just keep coming whilst the people were trapped.

Soon he hit a cross road. Left would take him to either Weekly or Warkton – he tried to rack his brains for which – and right would take him the long way back.

Make a decision, quick my man, can't you hear the people screaming?

Shut up, and gimme a minute. Jake's face screwed up in concentration. If everyone is running this way, that would mean the tripods are coming this way. If I can slip behind them...

You'll either make it or get caught; though even I admit that it's probably the prior one is likely

Bingo; that was it. He could sue everyone else as a distraction. But only if he slipped round now, everyone else would be chased by the Tripods. Could he really use other people as a diversion.

Shrieks behind him filled his ears. Yes he could make the decision. It was helped by the fact people were turning left instead of going right. Jake chose to go right.

Instead of sprinting or running, he settled for a jog. He was getting away now, though he supposed in a minute or so the people would crash through the small bush pass way and pour out in different directions. He would have about a minute to hide.

He risked a quick glance behind him. Nobody was really following him. One or two people were running up onto the road, making the same decision that Jake had made. They looked towards the one boy that was Jake running back into the direction of the destruction. Then they turned, and must have spotted the other people running in the other direction.

One man made his choice, but got caught in the beam, and soon he was dust, his clothing flying into the air. The same happened for several more people slow in making their choices.

Jake didn't know where to go now. He had made it just to another street. There were a bunch of tree's, but they were owned by people. He thought about going down the side street, but he didn't know where it led to, so he settled on the tree's.

Choosing one that he could actually climb took thirty seconds. Climbing up through the tree didn't take half as long, worming his way like a monkey up the tree.

Thud...Thud...Thud...Screams

That was the pattern. The screams of people seemed to carry themselves over the air until they flooded Jake's ears. Screams of terror, panic, and that moment before death filled his ears. And the thudding as well; that constant thudding with each foot making its advance towards the prey.

Two minutes he stayed up there, counting every painful heartbeat, every pulse he could feel thudding through the vein on his forehead. Eventually, though, the thudding began to fade, if not completely disappearing.

He climbed back down quickly, not jumping off until he was close to the ground. Even then, he landed badly and his feet felt painful as they hit the earth. Then he looked back up, and stared around.

The street was empty. Car doors had been flung open, abandoned. Some clothing and other things lay scattered on the floor. For a moment, Jake remained still, scanning the area. When he didn't find any ash, he moved on.

Chapter 4: The First Night

"Flash before my eyes, now it's time to die," Jake sung softly and quietly from his little hiding place.

It was night now, with the sun having disappeared roughly an hour ago. So far, no tripods had come storming through the night, though he could hear the horns every now and again, though they were far away. Besides, if there were any, he couldn't run anymore; it just wasn't possible.

At the moment, he was hiding inside the wreckage of what ahd once been the main slide at Wicksteeds Park. Now, though, it was a pile of junk, destroyed earlier that day. It was the same as the rest of the park; thick ash covered it, and clothes lay haphazardly over the ash as well.

He was hiding in a small metallic tunnel that had at one point been a slide. Now it was hiding hole for Jake, where he was lying down with his trench coat covering him. The tunnel didn't provide a lot of protection, but at least it hid him. That was the main thing; hide, run and survive.

Amongst the destruction, Jake craved a nice cup of hot chocolate. If nothing had happened, he would be at home, just finishing a Cajun Chicken pizza and starting to make himself some cheap hot chocolate that his family could just afford. Even now, he thought he could smell the chocolate now, crawling up his nostrils, the taste just coming onto his tongue...

Then he felt it. The wind was picking up, but it wasn't sending over the taste of hot chocolate. Jake pressed his right forefinger onto his tongue, and wiped it downwards. He lifted his finger up and spotted flecks of ash on the finger.

Jake started to retch and so rushed out of the tunnel, and then thick sick boiled out of his mouth. He heaved and puked for several minutes before it subsided. The taste remained on his tongue, removing that taste of imaginary hot chocolate.

The stars were twinkling now, and Jake caught a glimpse of them all. For a moment, he stared up in wonder, but that wonderment soon turned to anger. It was where the invaders had come after all! Space, with its infinite vacuum and constant expansion had finally brought death to people. And man was eager to discover more about space! Jake shook his head in disgust. He would never think about finding other life out there.

In a strop, he crawled back into his little hiding hole and forced himself back underneath his trench coat. What could was this anyway? It had been a day, not even twenty-four hours. The rapid rate of destruction that had fallen on Kettering alone was massive. How were other areas of England? What about Wales, Scotland, Ireland? And then that big question: what about the rest of the world. It didn't seem likely that they were everywhere else, but nothing was impossible.

Man, you need to get some sleep. And stop thinking so heavily. It isn't going to do you any good.

Oh, and you would know best wouldn't you, mister 'disembodied voice in my head'?

Yeah, I would know best. Learn to keep your gob shut man, and take advice when you're given it.

Fuck off.

It was midnight. Jake could tell it was midnight; there was no watch to justify the reason, he just knew it. Maybe it was just because the air felt so cold, or because the night world had reached its darkest. Whatever it was, he knew it was around midnight.

There was a noise. He couldn't describe exactly what it was, but he could hear the noise, rustling and movement. Not the big heavy thudding of the tripods, but more like a soft scurrying noise.

Jake crawled out, leaving his backpack behind inside the hiding place. Then, he stood up right, and tried to look through the pitch blackness, but it was no use. The ash must have been clogging up the air or something now, because he couldn't see a thing. Then he saw something.

A beam of light was pointing at the floor.

"Keep it down, will ya? We dunno what's out there."

"Well, there ain't nothing here 'cept clothes and ash."

Jake paused for a moment, listening for the voices and movement. Whoever it was, was only a few metres away.

"Hey, who's there?" Jake cried out.

Instantly the rustling stopped, and the beam of light shone at Jake. He lifted his hands up in defense, shielding himself from the strong beam of light.

"Who was that?" a female voice called out. "Who are ya?"

Finally, Jake's eyes adjusted to the light, though he did still have to squint somewhat. In front of him was what looked like a woman, with short dark hair and large glasses. Next to her was a shape slightly smaller than her, and a strange nibbling sound came from him.

"I said who are you?" the woman called out again.

"Name's Jake, Jake Keidel," Jake called out in response. "Who are you?"

The torch went away for a moment.

"Stop nibbling that, you're embarrassing us!" the female voice cried out. There was some argument, but the nibbling noise stopped for a moment.

The light then changed, dimmed somewhat so that it wasn't as painful to Jake. The pair stepped forwards.

"Here," the woman offered, holding something out in her hand. "Don't suppose you've got a torch, have ya?"

"No," Jake said, accepting the torch. He switched it on, aiming for the floor. When the light shone it, it was too bright so he turned it down a bit and brought it back up gently.

The woman he was correct with her appearance. She had short brown hair that didn't even come down to her shoulders, but was nearly as dark as her skin. Around her eyes were large thick glasses that magnified her eyes to about an extra fifty percent of their normal size. She was wearing a thick green jumper that looked more for comfort than for show. A pair of dark blue jeans covered her legs, though they were covered heavily in ash.

Then he aimed the torch at her companion. He was a small, light skinned man with small eyes that didn't stop moving. He had a toothy smile that made him look slightly creepy. He was wearing several coats and a thick winter hat on his head.

"My name's Jane, Jane Dunwitch," Jane said, nodding her head towards Jake.

"Yeah, and I'm Simon, Simon Stitch," the dark skinned man muttered quickly, his hands fiddling about in his pockets for something.

"We came from Corby," Jane explained. "And we've been running from those great metal things half the day. You wanna know something about them?"

Jake nodded.

"They came outta the ground, right?" Jane said. "But, I think they ain't had no driver's for ages. I think that the ones who pilot those damn things came down in that lightning."

"Then how the hell did they come down the lightning?" Jake countered.

Jane seemed stuck for a moment, and then said, "They came out during the lightning storm. Didn't ya see the lightning? It struck each place where the tripods came about a dozen times! The pilots came down in it."

Jake thought for a moment. "What if the lightning triggered it? What if they've been lying dormant, you know, like in a coma and the lightning storms triggered them?"

"Why'd they hit the same spot again and again and again then?" Simon chirped up, his mouth full of food.

"I wasn't saying that the lightning was natural," Jake countered quickly, getting in just before Jane slapped Simon around the head.

"You bastard! Look at what the hell ya done! I bet you ate the good chocolate as well, you simple, selfish dick," she screamed, smacking him harder and harder.

Simon whimpered. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

"Hey, what the hell do you think you're doing to him!"Jake yelled.

Jane turned on him. Despite her slightly bookish looks, now she looked fierce, with a horrible glare in her eyes that made her ugly and dangerous.

"You don't know what he is!" Jane screeched. "You don't know what he's done!"

"What is he then?" Jake said angrily, grating his teeth together.

"He threw my sister into the beam to protect himself, the bastard!" Jane rasped.

Simon continued to whimper. He was on the floor now, cradling himself on the floor, rocking backwards and forwards whilst the other two were arguing.

"So, still treat him like a person!" Jake roared back.

Jane snorted through her anger, and stormed off. Simon grovelled up to Jake, who was staring after the woman.

Well done, Jake my man. Not only did you find a companion, but you managed to send her away as well. Congratulations.

"Thank you," Simon grovelled, hugging Jake's feet. "She hates me, but I'm sorry. I'm really sorry. I wanna make it all up; I wanna make everything better for her."

He was really simplistic, Jake thought. It was his voice; it sounded child-like and uneducated, or the attempts of education only just showing through, but in no great quantities. Jake realised that Simon had meant no harm; he was just trying to help himself for once. No wonder the man had decided to stick with a bullying woman.

"Hey," Jake said softly, kneeling down. "Get up, you can come with me."

Simon shook his head. "Nope, no sir mister sir. Gotta make up fer me bad thing, ent I? She'll be mighty mad if I disappear, wouldn't she sir?"

Jake shrugged. "I guess she will. But why is she keeping you?"

"She tried to get rid of me, but I kept on finding her again. She got more and more angry, and kept trying to leave me, but I kept getting lost and scared and hungry and thirsty and all that ash, I'd find her again."

"Okay then. Well, let me go and talk to her and I'll see if she's any better towards you, okay?"

Simon nodded eagerly. When Jake saw that nod, his stomach tied up into hideous knots. Owen, his six year old brother, had nodded like that on those rare occasions when Jake offered to play with him. All those wasted years, all those selfish moments.

I do believe you're about to have an epiphany, Jake.

Jake shook his head, forcing himself away from thinking about his family, focusing on the present, himself, and his survival. They weren't with him now, so what was the point in worrying yet?

Damn, you nearly had it.

Jake walked over towards Jane, who was staring blankly up at the sky. Her eyes had calmed down now, but they were threatening to cry instead of screaming with rage.

"If it helps, I don't think Simon did anything out of meanness in what he did," Jake said calmly.

Jane was silent for a minute, and Jake wondered whether she had head him or not. Then, she spoke.

"I know he didn't. But he still threw her in its way. I want to hate him."

Jake shook his head; he'd seen this kind of hatred before. Actually, that was a lie; he had felt this kind of hatred before, not seen it. It had nearly destroyed him, and he was convinced it had driven him insane, because he couldn't remember much from that year, save those few days he felt normal for a change. But they had been few and rare.

"We're heading to Wales," Jane said first. "I'll take him with me. I have some relatives in the south of Wales. Do you wanna join us?"

Jake shook his head. "I'm heading to London. If I can make it to the Eurostar, I can get into France. Maybe we're just isolated."

Jane shook her head. "Remember those news broadcasts about Ukraine, America and all those other countries? I don't think us Brits have been given special privileges."

"I think my family maybe there," Jake added defensively.

That was only half the truth. London was the centre of the government. If there was any order, it would be there.

One of the tripods horns, far away and getting fainter, sounded throughout the air. They both recoiled

"Suit yourself, friend," Jane said softly. "I think we'll head off now. At least we have the cover of darkness on our side."

She offered her hand, and Jake accepted it slowly.

"Hope ya have some luck about you Jake."

"You too, Take care of Simon. I think he deserves it."

She winked at him. "Don't worry, I'll treat him right."

He smiled, then covered his ears as she shouted, "Oi, Simon. Get ya sorry arse over here, we're moving out."

Simon scooted over shyly. "We gonna go now?"

"Yes, Sime," Jane exclaimed with little patience.

"Can the boy with long hair come too?"

Jane and Jake both laughed. "No he can't," Jane giggled. "He's gotta go some place."

After a few hugs and farewells, Jake watched the pair of them scurrying along. For a moment, his mind wanted him to join them, but his thoughts returned to Jess, Owen and his parents. For once in his life, he missed them more than anything. Even his school friends meant little to him at this moment in time. He just wanted to see his family one final time.

Jake sighed and went back over to his hiding hole. It took him an hour to doze off to sleep. There were no horns during the night.

Chapter 5: On the Road Again

Jake was now on a motorway, kneeling down whilst he consulted a map. How he hated those infuriating things! So many lines leading to nowhere, so much small writing that couldn't show up at all. And, to make things even better, all the streets and motorway were just numbers. Numbers! How in the name of the holy bearded man in the sky was he meant to find out where he was when everything was labelled with goddamed numbers?

With a grunt, he threw the map book on the floor and kicked it downwards. It fluttered in the morning wind, until it stopped underneath the wheel of a destroyed car. For a moment, Jake stared at it, his anger slowly subsiding. Then, he stormed over, swiped it up in his hand and then placed it into his backpack.

It had been about three hours since he had left the park and his hiding hole. The sound of horns had stopped, but there had been no more people now, and no sight at all of Jane or Simon.

So now here he was, on some abandoned, destroyed motorway, hoping to Christ that there were no tripods on the motorway. If there were any, he was absolutely screwed. They would target him with no-one else to focus on. The only hope he did have was that the majority of people were travelling in groups to lead the tripods away from him.

Selfish? Yes. A necessity in the wake of the apocalypse? Of course.

After sitting on the floor for a few minutes, he continued on his way. The sky, he noticed, was a horrible grey colour, dominated by the thick clouds in the air. He guessed that it was going to rain sooner or later, which would be fucking fantastic, wouldn't it? He'd thought of everything during his stay, everything, except in the possibility of rain. Stupid, stupid, goddamn stupid!

And then there was the road, of course. He was surprised, to say the least, to find it almost desolate. Ash covered the floor and the air, and so did clothes as well, but no cars. Not a single vehicle was on the road. It was only when he looked about around him that he saw.

In trees and on grass, on fields and in bushes, were the cars. Or rather, the desolate ruins that were once vehicles. Scattered and thrown, and some of them burnt to a crisps, each car told a macabre tale. Some of them were ripped in half, laden with ash that must have once belonged to their previous owners.

Jake heaved, and threw up. After that, he coughed up blood.

An hour, then two went by. Every ten minutes or so, he consulted the map. He was heading in a southern direction. If he continued, he would just come to the outskirts of London, he hoped. How he hated these maps.

It was coming to about eleven, he reckoned, but without his phone or a watch, he was clueless. His stomach, though, was starting to feel like it needed replenishing. He sighed, and stopped for a quick snack. It was a Mars Bar, but he regretted it as soon as he bit into it.

"Ah son of a..." Jake spat as pain soared through one of his teeth. Quickly, he spat out the remains of the Mars Bar, and kicked it into the ash. His stomach grumbled in protest, but he was in too much of a mood now. Screw his stomach. If this was what the rest of the world was like – desolate and empty, with ash-ridden lands and grey-filled skies – then he knew that it would soon be impossible to ever eat his fill.