The madness continues…
Egbert awoke on an unfamiliar sofa. He was draped in blankets, jumpers, towels; an assemblage of warm fabrics, and none of them were his. He looked to his left and saw a crop of short golden hair sticking out from a blanket. Oh. Jimmy. The looting. The snow. Of course.
It all seemed unrealistic still, and he had to check that the snow chaos had really happened as opposed to the more realistic and also more disturbing scenario that, filled with grief after his girlfriend had died, he had ended up in a strange girl’s bedroom.
Nope. The snow was a legitimate excuse for his situation, he told himself. And besides, they had not even so much as shaken hands let along touched.
He tiptoed over to her meagre kitchen. Surely it would be okay to raid the tea and coffee making facilities? She shouldn’t mind, especially not if she was woken up to a nice hot brew.
Jimmy woke when the kettle started roaring. Egbert made her a strong coffee and then set to making a milky one for himself, watching the anticyclonic spiral action of the liquid as he stirred in the milk. His mind was still up in the clouds.
There had been more banging and shouting in the night. More groups loitering in the streets outside. It was not really safe, he felt, and Jimmy felt so too.
‘I don’t want to spend another night here alone,’ she said, a kind of pout crossing her lips.
‘Well I don’t want to spend another night here at all,’ he replied.
‘No offence, your flat’s fine, but the location’s not so good. It’s right next to the markets. It’ll be a magnet for trouble.’
A fresh chorus of voices started up on the streets outside. He heard sirens, for the first time since the snow had begun.
‘What’s going on out there?’ Jimmy strained against the window to see.
‘Looks like the police have finally arrived,’ said Egbert. Then his face fell. Policemen were tackling rioters and looters, but it looked like ordinary people were getting drawn into the mess too. It looked too violent for comfort.
Soon came a knock at the door. Egbert dashed over to pick up the pointy umbrella again, and yelled a barrage of angry curses at whoever was doing the knocking.
‘It’s the police,’ came the responding shout.
‘It’s okay, we’re fine. We don’t need any help,’ Egbert replied. Behind him, Jimmy mouthed the words ‘I don’t trust him.’
‘I don’t care. We’re evacuating the building. This is a danger zone. You have to come with us.’
Egbert and Jimmy were silent.
‘Okay, stand back,’ said the policeman. ‘We’re going to break the door down.’
Egbert looked at Jimmy. ‘Is there any other way out of this flat?’
She pointed to the window. ‘Yes. There’s some stairs outside there.’
‘Okay. Let’s do it.’
They scrambled into their coats. She lifted the window and they squeezed out onto the narrow spiral staircase below. It took minutes but felt like aeons. When the door was finally kicked in and the flat entered, they had just reached the bottom of the staircase. It took Egbert a quick recalculation of streets and back alleys, then he pulled her along. ‘We can hide at mine for now.’
She nodded and followed him numbly.
‘Oh Eggy, you’re okay!’ Mistletoe gave him a big hug the instant he entered the house. ‘Ooh, who’s this?’
‘Name’s Jimmy,’ said Jimmy proudly. ‘I hope you don’t mind if I camp out here for a while? Police broke into my flat and stuff.’
Mistletoe nodded. ‘Wow. Yeah, sure. We have a spare room here and everything. Our last housemate moved out a while back. Is that cool?’
Jimmy nodded, smiled, and a bond of friendship formed between them. Then Mistletoe turned her attention back to Egbert.
‘So, where were you all night?’
‘I had to stay at Jimmy’s,’ he said. ‘We got followed by this gang. It’s murder out there.’
Cider Sy picked that moment to walk in.
‘Murder? Oh yeah, sure. All fifteen centimetres of it.’
‘Quit your snowcasm, Egbert almost died!’ Mistletoe said.
‘Really?’ Cider Sy raised an eyebrow.
‘No, that’s an exaggeration. I almost lost my footing a number of times, though.’ Egbert sighed and automatically ate the crisps Mistletoe passed him.
They got Jimmy settled in to the spare room, then they set to making dinner. The power cut out halfway through so they had to settle for a half-cooked pasta dish, for once thanking their lucky stars that Mistletoe had requested it be veggie food. They ate in the living room, dimly lit by candlelight, and tried to use the remaining battery on their mobiles to gain access to the news.
It was hard to find and maintain a connection. In the end, they managed to ascertain three things. One – that the Mayor of London had shut himself up inside his home and was refusing to come out. Two – that the Royal family had done the same thing. And three – that according to the Prime Minister, this snow situation was ‘unprecedented’ and had led to the mobilisation of all police forces across the country. And that was it, before all connections cut out. The age old question of whether Android phones did internet better than iPhones became obsolete as neither would operate with any degree of efficacy.
‘Well, Cider Sy announced, ‘England seems incapable of handling the two feet of snow it has been dealt, so it’s come to this.’ They waited expectantly. ‘We need some kind of plan,’ he finished.
‘Like what?’ asked Egbert.
‘Like, some way of getting food and drink and that until this is over.’
‘What kind of drink, eh?’ said Mistletoe. ‘You know your pub’s just down the road.’
Egbert groaned. ‘I have visions of spending the rest of this snow fiasco camped out there like a stereotypical British apocalyptic comedy film.’
Cider ignored him. ‘Oh I don’t need a plan for booze. That’s sorted. But – looking at the contents of the kitchen – I fear there is only so much Pot Noodle I can take.’
‘Good point,’ said Mistletoe.
‘The streets will be crawling with cops and robbers,’ Egbert began, and was promptly interrupted by Jimmy.
‘Bet you’ve been itching to say that!’
‘ – so anyway we should get out early, find some shop and if it’s empty, we leave money on the counter and take what we need.’
‘Fair enough,’ said Cider. ‘I was going to say I can just get stuff from work but I guess there’s only so much pork scratchings and scampi fries I can take too.’
Soon they were all in agreement. The following morning would be an early one. They would try to beat the crowds to the shops, and would fill the bath with fresh water in case it were to run out. Cider would pick up some spare drums from work so they could melt water from snow, if it came to it. A plan. Everything would be okay.
Later that night, Egbert reflected. He had not even told anyone about Marcy yet. There would be time enough for that, he was sure. For now things were too hectic, and he did not want to upset anyone.