In the end it wasn’t the government sorted out the problem. I don’t think there was much government left that hadn’t flown south. Dad was worrying about how he would get his job back if the plant didn’t reopen. Our water was just about finished, and Mum was all for just boiling the water to kill whatever it was growing in it. Billy thought about it and went up on the hill where he used to sit on summer nights and look at the stars.
I don’t know whether he made contact with the stuff with the white tendrils, or whether they contacted him. Either way, he came back down from the hill with his face all lit up.
“They did it,” he said. “The people in the stars. Killed everyone except a few. The chosen ones.”
“Like in the Bible?” Dad snorted. “Bollocks! Who’d choose us?”
Billy shrugged. “We knew not to drink the water, didn’t we? So? They chose us.”
Dad thought about it, and I could see that his sense of social justice, that was usually quite well hidden, was peeking out. “So they killed everyone except the ones who didn’t drink the water? Without telling anyone or even giving them a warning?” Billy nodded. Dad exploded. “But where’s the justice in that? What did the Smithson’s do that was so bad to deserve dying with all that white stuff all over them? What did we do that was so much better?”
“Nothing, Dad,” Billy said gently. “It wasn’t anything to do with how ‘good’ anyone was. They’ve done this before. You know, Noah, the Flood, the plagues in Egypt, and all the wars and floods and famines and plagues we’ve had since then? They did it. Nobody said it was fair. It’s just what they do.”
Mum began to get excited. “So if it’s all over, does that mean everything will get back to normal again? Except that there’ll be…fewer of us, of course.”
“I suppose so,” Billy sighed.
I caught his eye. I was beginning to understand.