Sunday 21st March 2027: Sarah

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Sarah's whole family and just about everyone else she knew had died towards the beginning of the second outbreak. Sarah had stayed put after that, barricaded in her third floor flat, only venturing out under cover of darkness to gather food, bottles of water and bags of cat litter as close to home as she could find them.

She was lucky to live close to shops and restaurants, but less lucky that so many other people lived there too. There was a lot of competition for resources. As time passed though, fewer and fewer people lived there. Fewer and fewer people lived at all.

The tenement Sarah's flat was in was noisy at the best of times, with rarely a break from barking dogs, screaming children and drunk adults blasting music at all hours of the day and night. She didn't take much to do with her neighbours before, but she started to miss the noise when it faded because she knew what the silence meant.

After a while, it became obvious that no-one was going to come along and make any of this better. Travelling further and further for supplies, then returning home, was becoming impractical, so Sarah formulated a plan. Plans were comforting, necessary in the absence of any other comfort.

She knew there were cars at di Marco's that hadn't been picked up when the shit hit the fan and the garage closed for business, so she assumed there would be at least one still there that could be driven, providing they hadn't all been stolen. She'd passed the garage a number of times on recent missions, and it had always looked to still be securely shut, although abandoned.

She would go to the garage, get a car, drive it back round the corner to her street, pack her belongings and Little Cat into it, then head to Marj and Cleo's place, just in case, before getting the hell out of town. Even though everything that could go wrong had gone wrong on a massive scale, Sarah still nurtured a fragile, glowing ember of hope that they had survived. If she was immune, maybe they were too. Maybe.

The first thing Sarah saw when she unlocked the door to the office at di Marco's was a note in Marj's handwriting. Her heart sank as she read it.

Sarah,

Hope you see this. The Silver Bullet is yours. You know where it is. Keys are in the safe. It's still a mess but it goes like the clappers. Cleo and I are done. We wanted to see the end together, on our own terms. I didn't know how to say goodbye. Good luck. I'm sorry.

Love,

Marj

Sarah felt her stomach twist as she realised that Marj's joke about working at the garage until she died had ended up having a ring of truth to it.

The Silver Bullet was Marj's pet project, a sports car from the early 1980s, scratched up and falling apart but in the process of being lovingly restored as she had found the time and money to do so.

It lived in the small back workshop, an area of the garage so nondescript from the outside that not even the most enterprising of looters would have bothered to think it worth breaking into unless they knew exactly what to look for and where to look.

Sarah lifted the mat from the office floor behind the desk, then pulled up the trapdoor to the safe hidden below. The code - Cleo and Marj's chest, waist and hip measurements - was lodged in her memory and she couldn't stop herself from smiling as she turned the dial.

The keys to the back workshop and to the Silver Bullet were there, along with a photograph of Marj and Cleo on a cruise last year. Marj was laughing, voluptuous and beautiful, while Cleo, still looking for all the world like the fashion model she had been in her twenties, smiled adoringly beside her.

"I'm sorry too. And thank you," whispered Sarah, fighting back tears, as she tucked the photograph into her pocket, resolving to find somewhere to lay it to rest where Marj and Cleo could always see the sea.

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