Friday, 4 December 2009 - 5:45 pm

Biting in the belly

Despite yesterday’s disappointing start, we’re making fairly good time. Thanks to the foraging party’s forays, they know a clear route to the south, so we haven’t hit any roadblocks yet. Unfortunately, because the foraging party has been this way, it has already been picked clean of supplies.

Nothing untoward has happened. No more signs of sabotage, and the watches all reported a quiet night.

As much as it can in a group this size, things are going pretty smoothly. The mountains are rising against the horizon already – we’ll be skirting around them this time, sticking to more built-up areas and closer to the coast. We need to stay nearer to where there might be supplies to leech, and there isn’t much up in the foothills, let alone higher up the mountain roads.

There’s a part of me that wants to go back up there anyway. There’s sky up there – real sky, blue and clean, above the poisoned cloud layer. Green things are growing and if we don’t look down too far, it’s like Before. Shards of an unbroken world.

Thinking about that reminds me of Dillon. Playing soccer with the others in unfiltered sunlight, smacking the ball around with his crutch. The memory makes me sad and smile at the same time – that’s how I want to remember him. Not how he was those last days, in the back of a campervan in so much pain, but when he was grinning and running around like the kid he was.

I still miss him. Sometimes I still expect him to come up to me out of the blue, with some small gesture to cheer me up. He was so good at that. The little brother I got to have for such a short time.


Anyway. Here we are, heading southwards. Tomorrow we’ll move from suburbia into the outlying areas, passing through small towns with houses scattered between them. The air tastes of the salt already; we’re skirting closer to the coast than we have in a while. It feels cleaner down this way than when we butted up against the sea on our way between Haven and the University, as if there’s less poison weighing down the sea’s effusiveness. Maybe it’s just that the breeze is coming from over the water today.

A part of me wonders if we’ll find more people down this way. So far from the bomb’s blast, shouldn’t there be more survivors? The land is as stripped and barren as everywhere else – the rain still falls here, eating through anything soft and growing – but it feels like people should be holed up in the remote areas. As if the farms and sprawling houses on their huge blankets of bare earth should have been more prepared for the end of the world than the rest of us.

Maybe that’s silly. Maybe it’s dangerous – they’re likely to be armed against invaders alive or undead, if they’ve survived this long. I don’t know. But I hope. We haven’t seen any other living thing in so long that I’d welcome someone with a gun pointed at us right now. Just so we know we’re not the only ones left.

It makes those we have with us more precious. We don’t all get on – some parties actively despise each other. We settle into little groups when we stop for the night, not even coming together for food because there isn’t any to give out. I wish there was a way to mend the divisions in the group, but I can’t see it. Tempers are too short right now, worn thin and sharp by the empty feeling in our bellies. I don’t want to fight those battles right now.

Tomorrow, we’ll get out of the area that the foragers have been through. We’ll stop to look for supplies again. Food, fuel. We’re doing all right for water – the water tank is precarious on top of the offroader, but it’s doing its job and we have enough to drink. But we need food. I don’t know how much further we’re going to get if we don’t find some soon.

There’s that word again: soon. Everything has to be soon, but it never comes soon enough. We can’t ever catch our breath.

I’m so tired of all of this, and we’ve barely got started.