His dad woke him up, gently shaking his shoulders. “I’ve got a surprise for you.”
Christopher yawned. “What is it? Smarties?”
“Look out the window.”
He slid out of bed and climbed up on a chair and peered out of the window. They were surrounded by water. “What is it?” he gasped.
“It’s a flood. We can’t go downstairs. The house is flooded.”
Christopher gawped down at the muddy brown water. A sofa bobbled around on the choppy waves in the middle of the road. A black dog sat on the wall of the house opposite yelping forlornly. They were half a mile from the River Thames. Last night when he looked out of his bedroom window he had seen the familiar houses and gardens glistening under the yellow street lamps. The road that ran past their house had been empty apart from a few parked cars. While he had been asleep the world had changed completely.
There was a funny smell in the air like after you went into the bathroom straight after your parents.
He rubbed his eyes to make sure he wasn't dreaming. “What’s happened, dad?”
“I don't know, son. We’re marooned. That water’s about three feet deep and it’s filthy. It might get deeper. Here, come and put your clothes on.”
His mum shuffled through to the bedroom. She looked scared. “I’m dying for a fag,” she said, “But they’re all downstairs.”
They heard shouting. They all went and leaned out of his bedroom window. A man in a canoe came down the street.
“What’s happening?” his dad called out.
“Don’t worry,” the man in the canoe called back, “The army’s coming. Stay where you are.”
“Will it get deeper?”
“Shouldn’t do. The high tide is past. “
“A big storm breached the sea defences.”
"Oh my God, we're going to drown," said Mrs Fillary.
It was cold in the house because there was no electricity. They were hungry. And thirsty. There was nothing to drink. The water that came out of the taps in the bathroom was black.
After about an hour his dad stood up. “I’m going to get something to eat,” he said. He sat on the edge of the bed and pulled off his trousers and socks.
“Get my fags,” said Mrs Fillary, hitting her chest with her fist as she started coughing.
His dad went down to the scullery in his underpants. Christopher stood at the top of the stairs and watched him step into the murky water. The water came all the way up to his dad’s waist. “Jesus, that’s cold,” his dad gasped as he waded forward.
When he came back up the stairs he was shivering and dripping water. He carried two tins of beans and a tin opener.
“That’s all there is in the larder,” he said.
“What about my fags?”
“Gone. Must’ve floated off somewhere.”
“Did you have a proper look?”
“For Christ’s sake, Anne.”
They sat on the bed and ate some cold beans from the tin with a spoon.
“I hope I get rescued in a boat,” said Christopher. He’d never been in a boat before.
“I hope they come soon,” said Mrs Fillary. “I’m freezing.”
“Get into bed,” said Mr Fillary.
Mrs Fillary climbed into Christopher’s bed and pulled the sheets up to her chin. “Why does it always have to happen to us?”
“It’s not just us, it’s everybody.”
“I wish I was back home in Scotland. We should never have come down to this godforsaken country.”
Christopher found his book, The Famous Five, and climbed in beside his mother. “I hope it’s a canoe,” he said, giggling with excitement.
After about three hours they heard the sound of an engine. They rushed to the window again. It was a green Bedford Army truck just like one of his toy motors. Some soldiers with waders on jumped out and started knocking on their front door. His dad went down and unlocked the door. Then he got a piggy back out to the truck. Two of the soldiers came up the stairs and wrapped Christopher in a grey blanket and one of them carried him out to the truck in his arms. The soldier said, “Don’t worry, son, everything’s gonna be all right.” He spoke in an American accent.
“I wanted to go in a boat,” said Christopher, looking glum.
The American handed him a bar of Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut chocolate. “Maybe you will one day,” he said.
It took three of them to get his mum out after she became hysterical.