‘You get your jabs yet?’ Terry Goddard looked at Janey over his half moon glasses, a sad, questioning smile on his lips.
His hair was uncombed, his shirt creased. He owned one tie and in the ten years they’d worked together he’d never had that washed. Until two weeks ago she hadn’t known he lived alone with a largely absent cat and a hyacinth macaw named Fleming. Then the news had somehow leaked through of how awful it was out there – the looting, the violence, the relentless spread of the disease – and they had spent an evening under the flourescent glare of laboratory lights, drinking a ten-year-old Glenfiddich and actually talking.
Now she wished they hadn’t, that they’d remained polite strangers. Imagining his childhood hop picking in Kent, how he nursed his mother through cancer after cancer until it finally stole her away … It would make it all so much harder when the time came.
‘No,’ she said, rubbing tired eyes. ‘I didn’t see the point.’
He lowered his voice. ‘You’ve got to make a show. For the sake of the others.’ He took her hand, gave it the briefest squeeze and was gone, bustling over petri dishes and samples.
She hoped she died first.