Jaclyn longed for her own children. She had come from a large family herself and enjoyed the company of kids. She loved their innocence, the fact that they would always tell you how things actually were, not how you wanted them to be.
Jaclyn had missed out on affection from her own parents. Dad was a farmer and was always busy in the fields, working hard from dawn to dusk to feed and clothe his ever -expanding family. Mum was so busy washing and cooking and helping with the animals that she didn’t have much time left over for hugs and stories and playtime. Much as both parents adored their children, they showed their love through providing for their children rather than by showing them open affection.
There was a small village near the farm and Jaclyn managed to get a job at the pub when she was in her teens. It was just washing the glasses but at least it brought some money into the home and she could get out and about, away from the stink of the pigs and the barn for a few hours.
It was at the pub that Pete came into her life. After a whirlwind romance, they soon settled down and got married, moving into a small house in the city that Pete’s grandfather had left him. Jaclyn was happy in her marriage but missed her lively brothers and sisters, as the city was a world away from the village where she grew up.
After many years, Jaclyn found out that she was pregnant. She was overjoyed and soaked up every moment of her pregnancy. Charlie was born and then soon after, along came little Mouse. This was what Jaclyn had been waiting for her whole life. She had a little family that she could shower affection on. Everything was perfect.
Until Pete died in a car crash. Jaclyn’s whole world fell apart. Here she was with two small children and no family nearby. She did all she could to provide for the kids and to continue to give them the affection that she had missed out on as a child but without Pete her life could never be the same. He had been her soulmate, her one true love.
Charlie and Mouse learnt to rely on each other and developed a bond so strong that they could feel what each other was thinking without even having to speak. They were so close in age that people often mistook them for twins.
Jaclyn got more and more depressed as time went on and eventually just took to her bed. When Jaclyn’s hair went grey overnight, Charlie started to panic. He got a doctor in to see what was going on and the bad news came -Jaclyn actually had the Virus. Her health deteriorated rapidly and she drifted in and out of consciousness. One day, Charlie and Mouse came into her room with some wildflowers that they had picked on a trip to the countryside. The vibrant colours and the sweet scent of the bouquet reminded Jaclyn of the farm, of her family, of a solution. As if awakening from a dream, she became all businesslike and asked Charlie to get a neighbour to come in to talk to her. She had arrangements to make.
Charlie and Mouse were told to pack their bags, they were being sent to the village to live with their Aunt Abigail and Uncle Victor. The children clung to their mother, their tears mixing with her own and glistening on her withered face.
Jaclyn told her children the truth. She did not have much longer to live and she wanted to spare them the pain of seeing her fade away to nothing. She held them and told them to look after each other, to always be there for one another and to remember that although time and distance would soon separate her from them, the bonds of love would unite them together. Always.
Aunt Abigail and Uncle Victor were really nice. Too nice actually. They always wanted to know where Charlie and Mouse were; they read them stories at bedtime and made sure they ate their veggies.
Charlie and Mouse enjoyed the attention for a while and they definitely enjoyed Abi’s cooking. Mum hadn’t really been able to cook for them for a while and they were used to eating a lot of bread and tins of beans! Fresh meat and veggies were great - and the desserts! Heaps of steamed sponges and apple pies, ice cream. They hadn’t eaten so well in months.
There were a lot of cousins to keep them company and they all had a great time, running through the fields and making camps, hiding in the tree house when it was bedtime.
After a while, Mouse started to get a bit sick of all the attention. She had been so used to doing things her own way - what she wanted when she wanted - that she was finding it hard to share her time with everyone else.
She started to spend more and more time hiding in the treehouse and keeping the door locked tight so that she could have some space to herself. The only person she let in was Charlie and soon they were back into their old routine. Together again, they only really needed each other.
The cousins would head off to school every morning and Charlie and Mouse would head off into the countryside. They would spend hours fishing and chasing rabbits. Then they’d go back up to the tree house. Charlie would grab some supplies from the kitchen and they’d enjoy cold leftovers for their supper.
The cousins eventually got tired of trying to get into the treehouse or to get Charlie and Mouse to join in the fun.
Abi and Vic were getting more and more angry at the behavior of their niece and nephew and started to physically drag them to school. But no sooner had their aunt or uncle left the playground, then Charlie and Mouse would sneak away.
Abi got sick. She started to look really old really quickly. It was then that Charlie and Mouse knew that things would get a lot worse in this household.
Vic no longer had the energy to go chasing after Mouse and Charlie. He was slowing down himself as he spent every second he could looking after his wife and making arrangements for his children. Charlie and Mouse decided to run away.
Although they had been playing up lately, they still loved their aunt and uncle and didn’t want to watch them fade away to nothing like their Mum had done.
They took a last look behind them at the farmhouse and headed off into the night.
Mouse and Charlie headed into the city. They wanted to be back in their old stomping ground again, somewhere where they felt more comfortable. The streets were very different to how they remembered them. It was amazing how just a few months had changed things so much.
All of the adults were gone, there were only groups of kids wandering around. Some looked pretty terrifying in their costumes and make-up, some had put in wild contact lenses. Some were driving around the streets, screeching round corners and smashing into poles.
Other kids were quiet and scared, trying to keep out of the way, trying to find somewhere safe to go, somewhere warm to sleep, somewhere where they could get food.
Most of the shops had been looted and food was scarce, at least fresh food was. There were tins left, things that nobody really wanted to eat unless they had to. Mouse and Charlie found themselves eating tinned sardines and beetroot the first night they were back in the city.
After their cold supper they tried to find somewhere to sleep. They wanted to get back to their home but when they tried to find it they were blocked at every corner by these crazy guys on roller blades and others who were wearing blue robes and chanting about Power and Chaos or something.
Mouse was getting really tired and just wanted to sleep. Charlie managed to find a place in a park where there were some other kids sleeping under boxes and on benches. Luckily it wasn’t too cold and Mouse and Charlie soon fell asleep, too tired to care where they were. They were awoken by the sound of a chanting and an explosion and they jumped to their feet as someone grabbed them by their collars and told them to run.
After what seemed like an endless morning of running between buildings, hiding behind boxes and rummaging through littered stores, Mouse and Charlie settled down for another cold meal of tinned food and got to find out more about the guy who had helped them to run.
Gareth was big for his age, he was only 14 years old but he was really tall and very bulky. Although he was tough, he was an all right kind of guy and said that he would help Mouse and Charlie - if they would help him. He would find them safe places to sleep and hide if they would go into the stores and find things that he could trade. He was basically telling them that they would be his little thieving slaves. Charlie and Mouse decided that they had no choice but to do what Gareth wanted, he looked far too tough to cross and anyway, at least he knew his way around the inner sectors of the city and he could keep them safe.
Things went well for quite some time. Gareth wasn’t as bad as Mouse and Charlie thought he might be and they worked well together. Things had to be taken in this new world to trade and although it went against everything Mouse and Charlie had been taught by their mother, they had to take things just to survive. There was no other choice
Thoughts of going back to their home soon slipped away when they heard that a gang called the Locos had looted the suburbs ages ago and there wasn’t much left of the area they used to call home.
One terrible day, Gareth was caught trying to trade something that belonged to the Technos and he was taken away to the leader of the Technos, Ram himself. Gareth tried to escape but was hunted down by the Techno guards and was never heard of again. Some say that he had been deleted.
Mouse and Charlie were devastated, they couldn’t begin to survive on their own in this crazy city. They didn’t know very many kids because Gareth had always kept them on the move and had kept his contacts a secret from them. They kept as quiet as they could for as long as they could and scavenged for food. All they wanted was a mother, someone to care for them and love them. And then they found Salene…