When most people had an upset stomach, they did’t carry the same implications as this. What did it mean? He wasn’t sure just yet. He was a little worried that’s for sure; what if this is how it started? What if, after everything he had been through, the virus ripped him apart while he sat there on the toilet? That wasn’t the way he thought it would happen. Not that he’d ever imagined dying before this all began, what fourteen-year-old had? What it did mean though, was that they shouldn’t be drinking the water any more, even though they had been doing their best to boil it beforehand. The implications that this carried already meant they were in trouble.

He heard another firework explode outside, this one made the place shudder. He listened for the old man; he would know what to do. He always did. Another twist in his in stomach and he twisted and convulsed as he felt like something was alive in there. He was convinced that he was about to turn into one of them. He hoped that it would be quick and he hoped that he wouldn’t be conscious for it.

“They must be in trouble”, the old man shouted. James didn’t really hear him. He was sweating, maybe it was panic or at least he was trying to convince himself it was panic. He had absolutely no idea whether it was panic, or whether he was beginning to turn. He felt faint. He leaned forwards as his stomach twisted in pain again. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He tried to picture things that would keep him calm, a beach first of all. It didn’t work. Then his house, and that certainly didn’t work, bearing in mind what he had left behind there. The face of his mum popped into his mind and he instantly felt a little relief. That was it, it seemed to be working. His mum made him feel much better. The old man banged something out there. The bang sounded a little panicked and then he heard a groan. A groan from a dead person.

“What was that?!” He shouted.

“SHHHHhhhhh… Stay where you are and don’t move”, Grant whispered back from the main cabin. Oh god. This can’t be good.

“Oh I’m going nowhere just yet”, James whispered. Almost on cue, his stomach turned again and what felt like the entire contents of his body fell into the toilet. Something was clambering at the side of the boat, suddenly the thin wooden walls didn’t feel safe enough. More movement in his gut and more of his intestines fell into the toilet, or so he thought. He was going to have to check this out. He slid back on the seat and looked down the pan. Thankfully he was faced with no intestines, not even any blood. He had emptied his bowels though, and that looked bad enough. He felt a little better; maybe he wasn’t dying after all.

“I need to go and shut these up, stay where you are!” The old man shouted.

He would do what the old man said; the amount of trust he had in him was incredible. He looked up to him, he had done for years, the term ‘old man’ was carved purely in affection and respect. He closed his eyes again and there she was. He could feel her warmth, it gave him goosebumps on the inside and bought tears to his eyes. He would love to say that he knew she was alive, but he didn’t. What he did feel though, was that if she was alive she was giving it her best. This was enough for now, he thought. The face of his mother calmed him down enough for the sweats to stop. He sat up straight and took another deep breath.

A few minutes later the old man was back, and was gone just as quickly. James finally felt it time to leave the bathroom. For now at least.

He’d been in there for almost an hour and only now had he begun to calm down properly. His thoughts turned to Grant and what he was doing somewhere outside. The seriousness of what had happened started to sink in. The old man was out there, alone. That’s not to say he can’t handle himself, because he absolutely can, if there’s one thing James has learned over the past few weeks, it’s to see this new world through the eyes of Grant Kirkman. Do that and you might just be okay. What was worrying him however, was that the old man wasn’t what he used to be. His knee was giving him hell and since the night they had left Werrington his decisions had been rash, to say the least. Understandably so, James was worried.

He picked up the box of matches on the sideboard and lit a candle. He loved the smell the match left behind, and the hissing sound of the cool wick becoming hot was rather comforting for some reason. They had a fragranced candle which helped with the damp-old-wood-smell of the whole place, but it certainly didn’t help with the wet and the mould. The place needed a lick of paint. He looked around the boat and felt lonely. If Grant didn’t come back, this is all he had now. Him and the floating caravan.

James sat on the sofa and he waited. He waited and he hoped.