Philip Evans (part i)
Philip is discovered towards the end of the first AUTUMN novel by Michael and Emma. A sad and lonely bachelor, all he knows is the house he shares with his elderly mother and the small village community nearby. Anyone would struggle to comprehend the effects that the virus has had on the rest of the world, but Philip’s naivety distorts his understanding of what has happened to everyone else.
In the 2009 Renegade Motion Pictures film of AUTUMN, Philip was played by the legendary David Carradine.
Mom’s not well.
She’s suffered with her health for years and she’s practically been bed-ridden since last December, but she’s really taken a turn for the worst this morning. I’ll have to get the doctor out to see her if she doesn’t pick up soon.
I don’t know what I’d do without my mom. I know I should think about it, mind, ’cause I know she’s not going to be around forever. We’re very close, Mom and me. Dad died when I was little and there’s just been the two of us since then. I don’t ’cause I look after her, so we don’t get out much. We pretty much live out on our own here. There’s our cottage and one other on either side and that’s about all. The village is five minutes down the road by bike. We’ve never bothered with a car. Never seen the point. We can get a bus into town if we really need to, but there ain’t much we need that we can’t find in the village.
She’s calling again. I’ll make some tea and take it up with her tablets. I don’t like this. This isn’t like her. She always says she doesn’t like making a fuss. She tells the doctor that, and the health visitor, and the District Nurse, and the priest.
It’s just her way.
I need to go and get help but I can’t leave the house. I can’t leave Mom on her own.
Oh, God, I don’t know what to do. I was up there with her when it happened. I was trying to get her onto the toilet when it started. Usually when she has one of her turns she’ll let me know it’s coming, but she didn’t just now. This came out of the blue. It took her by surprise as much as me.
She started to choke. Mom’s chest has been bad for a long time and it’s been getting worse, but nothing like this. It was almost like she’d got something stuck in her throat, but she turned her nose up at breakfast this morning and she hadn’t eaten anything else, so that was impossible. Anyway, before I knew what was happening she was coughing and retching and her whole body was shaking. I lay her down on the bed and tried to get her to calm down and breathe slow and not panic, but she couldn’t stop. She couldn’t swallow, couldn’t talk. I didn’t even know if she could hear me. Her eyes were bulging wide and I knew she wasn’t getting any air but there wasn’t anything I could do. I tried to tip her head back to open up her windpipe like the nurse showed me once but she wouldn’t lie still. She kept fighting. She was thrashing her arms around and coughing and spluttering, making these horrible noises. She didn’t sound like Mom anymore. It was like something out of one of them horror films. She was making this croaking, gargling noise and I thought there was phlegm or something stuck or she was choking on her tongue (the nurse told me about that once too) so I put my fingers in her mouth to make sure it was clear. When I pulled them out again they were covered in blood. Then she stopped moving. As suddenly as the fit had started, it stopped.
I knew there was nothing I could do. I sat down on the carpet next to her and held her hand until I was certain she’d gone.
I could still hear that horrible choking sound she was making in my head, long after Mom stopped fighting. I could hear it ringing in my ears when everything else went quiet.
It’s been quiet like this for hours now.
I can’t just sit here and do nothing. I know I can’t help her, but I can’t just leave her lying here either. The doctor will have to come around and check her, then someone else will come to take her away and then … and then I don’t know what I’ll do. I’ve always had my mom.
About half an hour ago I moved her. I couldn’t leave her lying on the floor in the middle of the landing like that, that just wouldn’t have been right. She was twice as heavy as when she was alive. I put my hands under her arms and dragged her into the bedroom, then lifted her onto the bed. I wiped the blood off her face and tried to close her eyes to make it look like she was just sleeping like they do in the films. I got one eye shut but the other one stayed open, staring at me. It was like she was still watching me, like one of those paintings of faces where the eyes follow you around the room. It was freaky, but in a way it made me feel a little better. Even though she’s gone it’s like she hasn’t stopped looking out for me.
I tried phoning the doctor but I couldn’t get an answer. Someone should have been at the surgery (it’s open until late on Tuesdays) so I guessed it was our telephone that wasn’t working. The lines often go down in winter because we’re so isolated out here. But it isn’t winter. It’s early September and the weather’s been fine for weeks.
I didn’t want to leave her but I didn’t have any choice. I shut the bedroom door, locked up the house and got my bike out of the shed. It didn’t take long to get into the village. Mom never liked me riding on the road (she said it was the other people she didn’t trust, not me) but it didn’t matter this morning because there wasn’t any traffic about. The village ain’t the busiest of places, but there’s usually always something happening. This morning it was so quiet that all I could hear was the sound of my bike. And as I went further into the village, it got much worse. So much worse that I nearly turned around and came back home, but thinking about Mom made me keep going forward.
I was cycling down past Jack Halshaw’s house when I saw his front door was open. That was odd because Jack’s always been careful about things like that. He used to be a friend of my dad’s and I’ve known him all my life, so I stopped the bike because I thought I should tell him about Mom and I thought he might help me get things sorted out. I went down the path and leant into the house and shouted to him but he didn’t answer. I checked to see if he was in his back garden, and that was where I found him. He was lying flat on his back and I could tell just by looking at him he was dead. There was a pool of blood all round his mouth and it looked like he’d died the same way Mom had, even though that didn’t make no sense.
I didn’t know what to do. I kept going until I got to the middle of the village. When I got there I just stopped the bike and stared. Whatever had happened to Mom and Jack Halshaw had happened to other people too. All the other people. The longer I stayed there, the more obvious it was that I was the only one it hadn’t happened got. Inside the doctor’s, Mrs Cribbins from the chip shop and Dr Grainger were both lying dead in the middle of the waiting room. Their faces were horrible — splattered with blood and all screwed up like they’d been in terrible pain when they’d died. The doctor looked like he’d been trying to scream when it had happened.
I kept going, but I wished that I hadn’t. Even though it had happened early in the morning, there had been lots of people out and about. They’d all died wherever they’d been, whatever they’d been doing. And because our village is a small place I knew them all. Bill Linturn from the hardware shop was dead in his car outside the store. Vera Price, the lady who’s on the till at the grocer’s on Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays was lying dead on the pavement just outside the shop. She’d fallen into the middle of the fruit and veg displays they always have outside. There were potatoes, carrots and apples all over the place.
I kept looking, but there was no one left to help me. It sounds silly, but I didn’t want to leave Mom alone for too long, so I got back on my bike and cycled home.
It’s been almost half a day now since it happened. I can’t get a picture on the telly and I still can’t get anyone on the phone. I’ve tried listening to the radio to find out what’s happening but all I can hear is silence or hissing and crackling like it’s out of tune. I’ve been into the cottages next door on either side but both Ed and Mrs Chester are dead as well. I found Ed in his bath (the water was all pink because of the blood he’d been dribbling) and Mrs Chester was at the bottom of her stairs with her neck all twisted. I tried to move her into her living room but her legs and arms had gone all stiff and hard. She was wedged behind the door and I couldn’t move her.
I think I’m just going to sit here and wait for a bit longer. Someone will come sooner or later, I’m sure they will. And anyway, I can’t leave Mom here on her own. We did our weekly shop yesterday morning so I’ve got enough food in. Everything will be all right again in a couple of days time when the police and the government start sorting out what’s happened. I’ll have to phone around the rest of the family and let them know about Mom.