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     Everyone would remember where they were on the Tuesday morning of the first incident – except for four-year-old Jake.
     He would be dead.


Tuesday, 5:56am

     Something goes bang and Jake Finn is up. It’s dark. He cries: "Mum?"
     But now, everything is silent. A car makes a noise as it drives along outside his bedroom window, and its lights make the Thomas the Tank Engine curtains glow for a moment – but here, inside, is silent.
     Jake swings his feet out from under his covers, the feeling forgotten. He scratches his leg, yanks up his pyjama bottoms, and shuffles towards the door. He kicks a toy train by accident and gets pain in his toe: "Ow!"
     He lifts his leg to grab his foot, and starts to fall. He reaches out quickly and leans heavily on the post of the bunk bed, which shakes. A groan comes from the top bed. Jake stops.
     Now everything is silent again. He shuffles to the door.
     As Jake opens the door, Mum’s door clicks shut. He says: "Mum?"
     Everything is silent.
     Jake shuffles heavily down the stairs. He turns at the landing and goes through the lounge into the kitchen. He climbs onto the counter, reaches into the cupboard over the kettle, and takes two chocolate biscuits from a tin. He shoves one biscuit in his mouth, and holds the other tight in his hand as he climbs back down.
     Now Jake is back in the lounge, sitting on the sofa and watching TV, gaping at the giggling cartoon characters.
     Mum is suddenly beside him: "Jake?"
     He looks up, surprised because he didn’t notice her get so close, and because the room is now full of light from the window.
     "Come on, darling, breakfast."
     Jake bounces off the sofa. He shuffles quickly into the kitchen where Mum has put a bowl of cocoa cornflakes on the table. He kneels up at the table and begins eating quickly with the spoon.
     Mum is saying something: "...get up this morning?"
     Jake shrugs.
     Mum gently rubs his back. "Did you hear anything, darling?"
     Jake shakes his head: "No."
     Mum moves away. Jake quickly finishes his breakfast, gets down, and goes back to the lounge.
     Mum says: "Go get your uniform on."
     Jake makes a grumble noise and jumps onto the sofa.
     The TV goes off. Jake cries out, a mix of horror and anger.
     Mum tells him: "Sorry, darling, come on. You’ve got school. Where’s Lois..."
     Jake says "No," and shuffles to the TV. He switches it back on. Suddenly Mum’s arms are under his armpits and scooping him into the air. He screams as Mum carries him upstairs.
     Mum speaks nicely: "Come on, there’s a good boy. Think, you’ll get to play with Steven and Katy!"
     Jake thinks of Steven and Katy. He likes them. They will be at school. Mum puts him down, and he goes to his sock drawer.
     Mum tells Lois: "Lo, come on!"
     Lois groans: "My tummy hurts."
     Mum is cross: "Lo, the holidays are over. Get up now."
     Lois moans: "My tummy hurts, it really does."
     Mum is even more cross: "I don’t have time for this! We’ve all got things we need to do today, and you need to go to school!"
     Lois doesn’t answer. Jake is picking up his school trousers from on top of the toy box.
     Mum is warning: "If you’re really that bad, you’ll have to go to Agatha’s..."
     Jake shivers. Agatha is scary. She doesn’t like him watching TV. Makes him use playdough all the time.
     Lois doesn’t answer.
     Mum tells her: "Alright, well, if you’re really poorly, great. But you have to get up so I can take Jake to school, I can’t leave you here on your own."
     Getting ready for school is boring. Now Jake is sitting on the bottom step as Mum ties his laces. He says: "Mum... Must I have to go to school?"
     Mum smiles at him. "Yes darling. Then you’ll get big and brainy, like Uncle Dore-Dore."
     Jake likes Uncle Dore-Dore.
     Jake remembers his sister. He says: "Is Lois going to school?"
     Mum gives his shoelaces a yank. "No. Lois is poorly."
     Jake says: "If I’m poorly, will I not go to school?"
     Mum looks at him, then laughs and kisses his forehead. "You’re not poorly, darling. And I promise, school is the best place for you to be!"
     Then Mum stands and shouts up the stairs.
     "Lo! Time to go!"
     Moments later, Jake is running along the pavement. People’s legs are trees he needs to dash around. Mum is calling after him but he’s concentrating on running so he doesn’t understand. He knows not to run into the road. School is only around the corner from home. He turns the corner and he can see Katy.
     As soon as Katy says hi, she begins telling him a story she’s made about a pig. Her story is boring.
     Mum kisses him on the cheek: "See you later darling!"
     His sister is standing back, looking at the pavement. She’s grumpy.
     Katy screams with excitement. Jake chases her through the school gates, away from the grey of the adult world and into the bright reds, yellows, blues and greens of the school playground. All around him are other children, most of them bigger than he is.
     Jake stops in the middle of the playground. He wants his sister, but he can’t see her. Katy comes over and tells him: "Are you OK?" Then she runs away again. Jake looks around. Maybe Steven is here?
     The bell rings. Jake sees Steven and runs over to him. They walk to their line on the playground. Steven is telling him about Minecraft. Smiley Miss Phillips comes out from their classroom and tells them: "Uh, everyone?"
     Soon they are inside. Jake runs to the cuddly bears. Miss Phillips is telling everyone to sit on their carpet spaces. Jake is pretending not to hear. Miss Phillips warns: "Jake?"
     So Jake sits on the carpet. He tries not to get in trouble – tries to sit still and ignore Katy. A grown-up with grey hair is talking with Miss Phillips. They are both wrinkling their noses and nodding. Miss Phillips says the word "air". Jake realises the air smells funny, like when he presses his nose to the side of bed at home.
     At last the grey-haired woman is gone. The big screen lights up with a picture of little cartoon children, each one holding the name of a child in Jake’s class. Each cartoon child gives a big thumbs up whenever Miss Phillips calls a name and the right child answers.
     "Good morning Steven?"
     "Morning Miss Phillips."
     "Good morning Mohamed?"
     "Good morning Miff Phillipf."
     "Good morning Petal?"
     "Good morning Miss Phiwwips!"
     "Good morning J–"
     There’s a huge bang. It sounds like a huge thump and a loud bell and a big crash all at the same time. Jake and everyone look at the door to the hall.
     Suddenly the space all around is white, and the air is roaring like a scary dinosaur. Jake is hot and cold at the same time. He wants to scream and cry at the same time, but he can’t feel any sound leaving his body.
     Now he can’t feel his body.
     Now, Jake is asleep.

Next Chapter: Theo