I didn’t say anything about it to Chris. But once again I begged her to come away with me.

“Why does it have to be you that’s on-duty next Monday? Aren’t things supposed to be carrying on as usual?”

“No, Dave, it’s going to be like Christmas Day. It’s not fair if some staff are on-duty and others off, so we’ve all agreed to be on the ward for the last evening.”

“Chris,” I sobbed. “Listen to me…”

“You’ll come too, won’t you, Dave? Oh Dave… please be there. For my sake.”

I knew then what I had to do. I sold my camper van and all the supplies I’d accumulated, and I bought combat fatigues, an RPG-7 rocket-launcher with two warheads, a Kalashnikov, an Uzi and boxes full of 9mm Parabellum rounds. I thought it would be difficult to buy, but no—it wasn’t. On this Monday evening, the last Monday of all time, I have come to the hospital lugging it all.

Chris was horror-struck when she saw me. “Dave—why are you dressed like that?” She’d spotted me through the window, beckoning to her to come outside. I hadn’t wanted to go into the ward and scare everybody.

“You,” I said, “have chosen of your own free will to be with your kids and comfort them right up to the last. I’m only sorry I can’t be with you.”

“Why-why not?” She was shuddering visibly.

“I’m going to make sure the kids’ last hour is a peaceful one. Full of love. Full of trust. And that means I’ve got to be on-guard out here, hiding in the dark, in case certain people have other ideas.”

She stood there silently scrutinising my face. Then she slipped her arms round my neck. Tears glued our cheeks in a fragile bond. One kiss that was all too brief and back inside she went. Back into the light and the warmth, balloons and paper-chains, and party-hats perched on uncomprehending heads.

Meanwhile here I am outside, lying on a blanket as it all goes dark.

The sky is overcast. We won’t see it coming after all. The TV spectacular won’t take place now. Instead I guess they’ll play old films dripping with nostalgia. You’ll only hear a boom to burst your head, as the sky goes brighter than you can imagine and the ground rucks up in a monstrous wave.

I shiver, staring into the deepening darkness through the sights of the rocket-launcher. Not long to go now.

Where are they? I know they’re coming. They’d better hurry up or they’ll leave themselves no time for their little bit of fun.

So… come on, you bastards. Really make my day!