"The school's boiler room has flooded so it is with deepest regret that I must send you home." said the voice of Mrs Smith, the headteacher, crackling through the old speakers.
A cheer went up inside the classroom as everyone headed for the exit. Alec followed, preparing for the worst of the rain.
A group of chattering girls pushed past in the corridor, among them was Veronika Polovski. She smiled at him then was swept away with the other girls, through the door at the end of the corridor and into the yard beyond. Alec didn't know many people at the school - he had been there for only six weeks after moving to London from Boston - but he knew Veronika. She was the nicest person at the school, anyone would agree. She had straight black hair that fell to just below her shoulders with a side parting and soft, dark brown eyes which were framed by black glasses. Alec knew only one other person at the school and that was Harvey Chicungwa but he had been ill all that week so had not been in school.
He set of home, knowing his two sisters would already be there as they had half days at the primary on Thursday's, and was thankful he didn't have very far to walk. He left through the main gates of Saint Matthew's High School and walked down Wright Street. When he reached the cross roads he hurried left onto Albamar Road and carried on in a straight line in the downpour. He went underneath the round-a-bout in the subway and finally turned left onto Shrew Way. He went to the fifth house on the street lined with three-storey Georgian houses, each was grey stone with black fencing for no reason by the walls, steps up to the door and large windows. Number five was where Alec lived with his father and two younger sisters.
He opened his door and Louise ran up while Alice pounded down the stairs behind her. His sisters were twins and both had black eyes like their father, while Alec had inherited his mother's blue-green eyes, and long mousy hair like their mother and Alec, except his was paler. Everything about them was identical, right down to their freckles. Alec remembered a couple of months ago when Alice had said whoever had more freckles got to cut their ninth birthday cake and had then tried to count Lou's freckles. It had ended in a fight.
"Alec! Alec! Alice pushed me into your room!" Louise squealed at him.
Alice ran up next to her sister. "Did not, Lou! You went in and I tried to stop you!" Alice said, stamping her foot and glaring at Louise.
"You're lying!" Lou screamed and pushed Alice. Before Alec could do anything they were scratching, pulling hair and kicking each other.
Alec sighed and went to the stairs, same old, same old. He started climbing to the top floor knowing they would be best friends again in a few minutes. He was just so bored with the same things going on every day, day in and day out, he just wanted something different to happen. He had no idea what but he knew he wanted it to be exciting.
"Stop dreaming." he muttered to himself.
Chapter 1 - When The Silence Came...
Alec sat on the window seat in his room, not really focusing on his biology homework and just staring out at the storm and the street below through the rain streaked windows. Everything seemed quieter for some reason except Lou and Alice who he could still hear bickering downstairs. His father's black car pulled up and Stephen Hunts go out and came in.
"Alec?" he called up the stairs. "Can you come here for a second?"
Alec climbed up from the window seat, knocking the biology book to the floor, and went downstairs as the clock in the hall chimed three o'clock. His dad wasn't usually back early so Alec reasoned something must be wrong.
He was right.
"Alec, I'm not going to be back in until about ten tonight. The office is chaos because of the storm so I have to go back in and help. I want Lou and Alice in bed by nine and you need sleep too." Stephen said, facing Alec. Alec's father was a policeman so by the 'office' he meant the crowded room at the back of the station where they got the calls about stolen wheelie bins and missing cats. Never anything important.
Alec nodded. "'Kay." he said.
"Right, I'll see you later then." his dad said and left.
Alice popped her head round the door to the living room when the front door had snapped shut. "Can we have popcorn then?" she asked, big eyes and fluttering eyelids. She had clearly been listening.
Alec smiled. "Yeah, why not?" he replied and Alice hugged him then went to, probably, choose a film to watch too. He went into the kitchen and put the bag of popcorn into the microwave. He leaned against the island counter and waited as another clap of thunder rumbled in from outside. Alec hear the plates wobble in the cupboards.
Big storm, he thought, hoping the power will stay on. The house got freezing when the electricity went off.
The microwave dinged and he poured the popcorn into a large glass bowl and carried it into the living room.
Alice had chosen the third Harry Potter to watch and it was already playing so Alec sat down on the sofa as Harry's aunt floated out of the conservatory.
The hours passed, one film being played after the next and two bags of popcorn eaten. The fifth film they had watched finished and Alec realised it was five to ten.
He stretched and got up, turning off the DVD player. "Go on, bed now." he said and picked up the bowl and carried it into the kitchen. He placed it in the bowl - he'd wash it in the morning - as Alice and Lou dragged their feet up the stairs whining.
Alec followed them up but actually had no intention of sleeping. He went into his room on the third floor and opened up his laptop. He clicked open the internet and loaded YouTube. He watched anything he could think of, watching whole playlists of some things, and eventually the videos started to melt together. Finally, at a quarter past midnight, Alec fell asleep while his father still had not returned home.
Alec woke to the sound of birds and nothing else. Living in Boston and the London meant he was used to the background noise of sirens, horns and general traffic at all times of the day and night but now he heard none of this.
He opened his eyes, rubbed them and looked at the clock on his bedside table. Eleven o'clock. He closed the still running laptop and got up. He couldn't remember his dad coming in so he went to the floor below and knocked on his father's door.
"Dad?" he asked.
Alec opened he door and looked in. There was the picture of his mother on the bedside table, everything neat on the shelves and nothing out of place.
But no father.
Puzzled, Alec went to the ground floor. "Dad?" he called again.
Alec went to the first floor and knocked on Alice and Louise's door. "Alice? Lou?"
"Yeah?" came Lou's voice from the other side of the door.
"Was dad here earlier?" he asked.
The door opened and the twins looked out at him. "Nope," they chorused.
"We've been up since seven," Lou said.
"We would've heard him or seen him." Alice finished.
Alec was now thoroughly confused and slightly worried. "Right, stay in the house and don't let anyone in until I get back." he said and went downstairs.
"Where are you going?" Alice called.
"Out." Alec replied simply, swapping his school shoes for a pair of trainers, pulling off his tie and pulling on his red hoodie then stepping outside into the new eerie quiet of the surrounding suburban area.
What do you think?