After an accident on his way home from school, 17-year-old Joe Harding is locked out of his house. A stranger, who appears to own Joe's house, warns him to escape. Huge bells on rooftops ring out, and Joe is chased out of town by a band of citizens determined to kill him. He escapes, and after surviving alone in an England that is wild and uncultivated, joins a small band of young people in hiding. He is in a parallel world in which he wants to remain, but fate has other things in store for him.