Tuesday 30th March 2027: Chance and Jac

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The morning light was thin and watery, moon and stars long gone, sun hidden behind bruised clouds. Jac had built a miniature fire pit shortly after they woke up. It made the whole thing feel more like a camping trip and less like the end of the world, and as long as the fire was kept small it was unlikely anyone would notice the smoke. Hopefully.

They warmed their hands by the flames while the water boiled in a stove-top kettle Chance had acquired from the home of someone who was well beyond having any use for it. Even while it was still too hot to drink, the mug of coffee was a comfort. After it had cooled down a little, it was perfection.

Coffee never lost its appeal. Coffee was universal, timeless, just like fire. Just like love. Jac thought of their parents, of all the things they would never get to tell Mama and Papa, of all the ways the world was different now. They bowed their head and whispered, "Keep them in heaven, where they belong."

Hearing footsteps, Jac forced back tears that threatened every time they thought about their parents and secured a smile on their face before turning round.

Chance returned the smile, something he'd been making an effort to do lately, however unnatural it may have felt. "What are you thinking about?" he asked.

"My parents. What are you thinking about?"

"Nothing."

"Really?"

"No."

"You want to talk about it?"

"I'm not great at talking about things."

"I know. It can be good though, if someone really listens. Sit down and I'll top up the coffee, if you don't mind sharing a mug."

"I don't mind. And thanks. For the coffee."

"So what's up?"

"It's not really...up. I just keep thinking about this kid I ran into a while back at the Forth bridges. I'd gone there thinking even if I had to leave the car I'd get across on foot and find another car on the other side, but then I couldn't. Get across, I mean. No-one could. It was a fucking disaster and there was no getting past it all. I tried to figure out a way through it or round it, but it wasn't happening."

"Yeah, I went there too, in the car. I turned back pretty quickly. It was a mess," Jac nodded, trying not to remember in too much detail. "I guess too many people must have had that idea. Sorry, I totally interrupted you. What happened next?"

"So I was on the old road bridge. I'd tried the other one first. And the rail bridge...there was a chunk missing part of the way along, but I guess you probably saw that too."

"Yeah. I don't even know how...but yeah. Sorry, go on."

"Then there was this kid, taking his clothes off. Not all of them. He kept his trousers on, and his socks. I stood back and watched cause fuck knows what state anyone still alive around there was in, but something about it didn't feel right. I mean, none of it felt right, but this really didn't. I started walking over to him and I kept thinking he was going to notice me. We were the only people there. The only people there still alive anyway. Then he started to climb over the barrier like he was going to jump. I flipped a coin and it came up heads, so I ran over and grabbed him, pulled him back. Then I left. Never saw him again."

"Wow!" Jac's eyes widened. "Didn't you want to find out what was going on with him? Like, how he got there and why he was trying to jump?"

"Honestly? No. I didn't give a shit. I didn't even look back when I was walking away and he didn't follow me, so I don't know if he jumped as soon as I was out of sight or if he's still out there somewhere."

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