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The Sleeper – Part 4

The supermarket was a frightening place, like a trusted friend who had suddenly become violent. Jeremy huddled in tight against his mother as they pushed forward into the throng. The aisles were packed with people, all fighting and shoving to get to the shelves. As they got near what was left of the dried pasta a man surged past them knocking Jeremy to his knees. He grabbed the last bag from an old woman who had been struggling to liberate it from its box.

“I have a family” he snarled before disappearing back into the crowd. Jeremy clung closer to his Mum and tried to hide between her and the trolley. He yelped as she suddenly pulled it into him, twisting it away from a woman as she tried to grab the food out of it.

“That stuff’s ours” she snapped and abruptly surged forward, pushing on down the aisle and hauling stuff off the shelves at random as she went. Jeremy tugged at her coat, whimpering and trying to get her to give up and leave. Marina twisted out of his grip, forcing him forward and hissing at him to behave; he could see what was going on, he must realise that this was bad, they needed to buy the food now. While there was still some left.

“Why would there not be any food left?” he was shocked, as though the magnitude of what was happening had only just occurred to him.

“Because some idiot Minister has just been on telly talking about crop failures and telling everyone not to panic!” She rubbed her face wearily but quickly snapped back to alertness, pushing yet another hand out of the trolley. “Here – put these in your jacket” she whispered urgently and began bundling sachets of flavoured rice and pasta into Jeremy’s clothes, “and zip it up so no-one can see.” Stuffing her own clothes with everything she could manage, she abandoned the trolley and pushed Jeremy towards the door. Thrusting what money she had at the nearest cashier Marina stalked out with her haul. The security guard was trying to break up a fight and barely glanced at them as they passed.

Once they got outside Marina grabbed Jeremy’s arm and ran, dragging him to the safety of their car. People watched as they ran and some started towards them. Marina searched desperately for her keys.

“I didn’t think it’d be so bad!” she sobbed, moving so that she stood hopelessly between her son and the mob. The nearest man was almost close enough to touch them when she finally found the key. Bundling Jeremy into the car she sat on him in her panic to get away. She swerved hard to avoid hitting the man as he came up behind them and then frowned as she suddenly recognised him.

“David?” Her relief was mixed with fear as he pulled open the passenger door and jumped in.

“Just go!” He told her, punching at the door lock, “Just get out of here!”

When they were far enough away to relax slightly he looked over at Jeremy, unhurt but afraid, and still squashed under his mother’s weight. He took the boy’s arm and pulled at him while Marina, not stopping, arched her back just enough to allow him to escape. Jeremy tumbled onto his father’s lap and stayed there till they got home.

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