The Changes by Peter Dickinson - Part One
Nicky and her parents are at home. It is late but Nicky is trying to finish her English homework as she has a test the very next morning. For some reason her head feels as though it has a block and she has difficulty concentrating. Her mum and dad feel the same way but blame it on the unusual weather they have been having. The television is on in the background and a news reader tells of strange weather all over the country. Suddenly without warning a loud grinding like noise is heard and Nicky's dad picks up a lamp shade and starts smashing up the television set (I get a similar feeling whenever reality type programs are on). The family then turn on anything with power running through it and gather all lamps, toasters, etc. into the middle of the kitchen floor and starts destroying them. Outside a state of anarchy seems to be ruling. Buildings are being destroyed and set on fire and vehicles are smashed.
The next morning Nicky is adamant that she is going to school to sit the English tests. Her mother forbids it as she is worried about dad as he left a short while ago to see if he could find out what was happening and has not yet returned. Nicky storms off to her bedroom annoyed that she cannot go to school. Half way up the stairs though she makes a quick break for the door, grabs her coat and heads off through the streets. Everywhere, machines and being smashed and fires are lit. No one seems to notice her as they are all too busy destroying technology. She eventually arrives at school only to find a notice on the gate stating that it is closed. She returns home where her frantic parents are packing and intending on heading for France where everything is okay. Strange, if it were my daughter that had gone to school amidst a state of anarchy, I would have been out there looking for her, not Mr. and Mrs. Gore they have other important things to be thinking of such as France.
Outside Nicky and her parents move slowly through the streets where upon Nicky hears a man preaching about the evil amongst them. Suddenly Nicky is overcome with the urge to start smashing items up. Her parents (dozy buggers) do not notice that she has wandered off and when Nicky returns to normal again she is lost. Her father goes in search of her but cannot find her (not that he looked very hard..mind). Nicky returns home alone and waits in the house as this is the first place her parents should return to, if they are loving, caring responsible and concerned for her welfare parents that is.
The next morning, Nicky awakens to find herself still alone. Her mother and father have made it too the coast (hard to believe they would abandon their daughter in order to get to France) but before they can get onto a boat, Nicky's pregnant mum complains about the baby starting to come.
Back at the Gore house, Nicky leaves a note on the door and then decides to head out on her own. Each day she scouts the town for her mum and dad before returning each night. On one of her outings she comes across an old man sat on a door step. He tells her not to drink the water as there is something bad in it. He tells her that if she stays she too will become like the others. He is a very nice old man but does not have long for this world. He wishes to remain with his cats where he intends to die. She leaves him on the doorstep stroking is cat.
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