“Damien. Listen. Mummy’s got to go out for a while. I’m going to lock the door. You have my number. Do not let anyone in here. OK?”

***

Storms Hill Bay. Like all buildings, the lower floors were abandoned to vandalism. Post Collapse it was cheaper to just let them go than it was to repair them.

She looked up. As far as she could remember the room was sealed. Which is why she had brought her sledge hammer.

The windows of the room. They were open.

***

He walked from another mall, smiling. He was amongst them again. That’s not why he smiled though. That was his final mall.

Now all he had to do was wait until Shopmas Day.

Oh, they’ll pay attention.

***

She ran her fingers across the wall. The door was gone.

She knocked. Wall…Wall…hollow…Wall..Wall.

Smiled. And brought the hammer down.

It took three blows before someone came and looked.

“WTF do you think UR doin?” The guy was in his 20s. This is how they treat the language.

“Sir. Go back in your room.”

“I arksed you. WTF,” he paused to give the acronym more weight. “Do you think UR doin?”

She brought the hammer down again, this time the plaster gave, with a satisfying crack. She was going to get in. She glanced at the guy. Stupid, with money. Probably worked out. Definitely snorted something before he came out. She could take him.

“What does it fucking look like I’m doing?” She hefted the hammer. “Why don’t you go back inside and call the police, like a good little boy.”

He started walking towards her. She let the hammer swing back, shifting her weight to set it down. It’d been a few years, but she was happy with the stance.

“Oh. You think you’re going to stop me, big man?”

He ran at her.

Jody shifted her weight forward, and low, she brought her rear leg up and planted it to the side of the approaching man.

That surprised him.

She focused on her sons. On her sons being attacked, and brought the palm of her hand into his stomach. He did work out. Not that that stopped him being winded.

She shifted her feet, coming up behind him and drove her elbow into his back. He went down.

She pulled her spime and dialed a number before dropping it at his side.

“Ask for Detective Westerfield. Tell him Jody Walker kicked your arse and he should come and arrest me.”

She picked up the hammer and brought it down again.

She heard a door close.

***

He watched the boat. No one seemed home.

He tried the door.

Locked.

***

She brought the hammer down.

***

He looked in the window. There was one.

The boy turned.

Screamed.

***

She brought the hammer down.

***

He walked around to a window.
If he can’t get in, they can’t get out.

***

She brought the hammer down.

***

He pushed his foot against a window.
She brought the hammer down.

It broke through.

***

She walked to collect her spime and walked into the room.
Scratched into every wall was a count. A tally.

She walked through, horrified at the careful accountancy. For what, she had no idea.

Until she saw the rats in the corner – bodies fused together, misshapen.

She hit redial.

“Westerfield. I know who he is. It’s Marino. Chris Mar-“

She turned a corner.

“Oh my God.”

***

“AARON GET UP. HE’S HERE!”

The twitching parody of a man dropped in, pulling his knife from the back of his trousers. “No pipes now, little boy. And no more being good. They won’t come with presents this time. I’ll show them.”

Damien pulled Aaron’s arm, dragging him up. He yelled in pain.

“Now, now, little one,” the man sneered. “There’s more screaming where that came from.”

He lunged, but they were faster. Damien tried the front door.

Locked.

His mum had locked them in.

***

“Charles. I’m…I’m looking at a wall. It’s full of…lights. The…Shopmas lights.” She read from a headline. “Have we not been good enough? That’s what it says.”

She walked further “Next to that is a map with all the shopping malls on it. With Shopmas Day on it.”

Westerfield said something.

“That’s what he’s counting. He’s tallying up what it would take to be naughty. That’s who he’s showing. Oh shit. Charles. Marino’s trying to get them to come back by being bad.”

***

They had retreated to the kitchen. Aaron locked the door behind him, Damien heated water in a pan.

The both looked for something to break a window.

“Mum had a hammer here! Where is it!” Aaron yelled.

Marino kicked the door.

Damien yelled. “Help me with this.”

The door flew open. Aaron whipped round, grabbed the pan and hurled it at their attacker. There was a scream as the scalding water covered him,

Together, they lifted a small stove and threw it through the window.

Marino heard the smash, and hurried to back into the room.

They had gone.