Chapter Forty One

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Max arrived in Lizzie's hometown, pulling the car over to one side and continuing on foot. He had managed to find another working car a while back; it even had the keys still in the ignition. That wasn't exactly uncommon. Most people had abandoned their vehicles in the middle of the road. Max guessed they were more intent on not becoming clicker fodder than they were assuring their cars weren't stolen.

The town was a classic, quaint, British town. A picturesque stone church stood proud in the centre, surrounded by a mixture of old cottages and more modern houses. Max walked towards the church, moving slowly to take in the scenery.

He imagined Lizzie growing up here, running around the streets and playing with her friends. He imagined her learning to drive here, pulling into the garage next to her house. He imagined her meeting someone here. He imagined her getting married in that church. He imagined her buying a house of her own and moving in to start a family. He imagined her life, what she could have had, and it saddened him to his core.

He lifted the latch on the metal gate and it creaked open as he entered the church grounds. He shut it carefully behind him before walking up the stone pathway. The pebbles and gravel crunched beneath his feet.

He walked round the side of the church, carefully stepping between gravestones. The clumps of black, dead flowers sitting next to each one brought a tear to his eye. He wondered if normality would ever return to this world. Would it ever return to this? Would anyone still mourn in the same way? Or was death now just ordinary?

Max didn't know if the world would ever be the same, or if eventually every last living human would be wiped out by the undead. He didn't have any of the answers, and part of him was glad he wouldn't be around to find out.

Max continued to step around the gravestones, thinking about each person lying beneath. Then, after turning the corner at the back of the church, he saw it.

At the very back of the graveyard, peering over the top of the other stones, he saw an angel. He walked towards it, slowly and apprehensively, very aware that this was his last act. The last thing he would ever do.

He approached the grave, staring up at the angel. Her face was sad, with stone tears running down her face, but it was beautiful.

Max dipped his head, tears streaming down his face. This wasn't just Lizzie's mum's grave to him; it was Lizzie's too. He wiped his eyes before setting on the engraved letters, carved into the stone.

Then he dropped to his knees in disbelief.

Here lies Katherine Pickett

Loving Mother

You will be missed

Max read those words, over and over, convinced that he had made a mistake.

He hadn't.

His fingers trembled as he felt the letters etched into the stone, tracing their outlines.

He knelt there for an eternity, staring back at that name. The name of his one and only love. The name of the woman he planned to spend the rest of his life with. The one who had left him.

Max had never even asked Lizzie her surname. It has never seemed important. He was wrong.

He hadn't just lost the woman he loved forever. He had lost his daughter. Lizzie.

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