Tuesday, 17 November 2009 - 9:16 pm


Another day, riding on. It’s just us: the old Seekers and our new additions. We feel smaller and stranger than we did before, even though our numbers are greater than when we reached Haven.

There’s Thorpe, as stoic as always. His affection is a hand clapped on your shoulder and a gruff word. Dale has easier smiles and a casually-slung arm around someone, though not so much with Thorpe. I think he knows his boundaries there. They’re still a constant pair, though, always sitting together when we stop to eat.

Matt is Matt. More relaxed now we’re away from the cutouts, and quicker to slip his arms around me when we’re not riding the bikes. His leg isn’t getting much better with all the riding, but he’s managing with it. I’ll be glad when we can switch the bikes for more practical vehicles, or get to the University and can rest. Whichever comes first, so he can let it heal.

Jersey is grumpy and coarse, the first one to burp at a meal. She pokes at Iona every now and then, watching out for the girl the only way she knows how. Her affection is rough around the edges and pretends to be more hard-earned than it actually is. I think Iona relies on her more than Jersey realises, even though she meets the snappy attitude with a vague smile and an offer to fix her hair. She diffuses Jersey in a way that I catch myself smiling at sometimes. Luckily, the ex-Wolverine hasn’t noticed me doing that yet. I have to be careful not to let that change.

Iona does as she’s told, which makes it easier to keep this pack moving. Her bullet-wound isn’t too serious but I know the pain must pull at her. She never complains, not even when she’s pale and quiet with it. We’re keeping it clean as best we can and there’s no sign of infection yet. She’s like a white flower with a bruised petal – somehow, the damage doesn’t detract from her purity though it is a great shame. She’ll come right again, I’m sure.

Jonah often bears a dark expression, I think for the one we lost. I’ve tried to talk to him a couple of times but he hasn’t been interested in sharing. He seems to be the spokesperson for our cutouts, keeping a close eye on them and their condition. He makes requests on their behalf and tries to ensure they have everything they need. We haven’t been skimping with them, giving them a fair share of the food and water. What would be the point in starving them? They’re with us now, and maybe they’ll become a real part of the group, given time.

We don’t know them very well yet. There are long silences in the group as we all adjust to the distance from Haven, physical and emotional. The cutouts don’t speak much at all, except for the perfunctory please and thank you. At least they’re polite.

The one who rides behind me on the bike is Bobby, though I think I’ve heard him referred to as Rascal or Radical by the other soldiers. A dark-skinned fella, maybe twenty-one, with a cheeky streak in him. He’s keeping his head down, but sometimes I wonder about the way he hangs onto me on the bike. I’m not sure why, but we have kept to our original pairings when we travel – maybe it’s intertia, or maybe it’s just another issue that we don’t want to deal with yet.

The other cutout, the one with the bullet in his back, is Warren. He’s about the same age as Jonah – roughly thirty – and much more disgruntled. I can’t tell if that’s just how he is, or if it’s the pain he’s having to deal with right now. We’re tending him as best we can, but we don’t dare to dig the bullet out. Hopefully Masterson will be able to sort that out when we get to him.

So that’s our little band right now. We’re still not comfortable with each other; we’ve talked in general terms about where we’re going and why, but no-one has been eager to share the details with the newcomers. I’m not the only one who wonders if we will wake up to find a couple of the bikes missing one pre-dawn hour, especially now that the supplies are getting low and everyone is feeling the gnaw of hunger in the belly.

I should try to get Jonah on his own and talk to him. Try to find out what they were hoping for in leaving Haven, what they’re looking for out here on the lonely roads. If they want to stay with us, or go their own way. No-one would begrudge them that, though there might be blows over what supplies they got to take with them. We still haven’t given them their weapons back, so we feel like we have the upper hand. I’m afraid of what might happen if a confrontation did occur – trained soldiers against us, who have only known the scraps and scrapes out here in the After.

In the meantime, it’s time to go and find our old friends. It’s time to link up and look for something new. There are intelligent people there; they’re bound to have thought of options by now.

I just hope they’re still there waiting for us, even though we’ve been gone for weeks without news. Sally and Masterson, Kostoya and Conroy, and little Nugget. So many others – it’s hard to think about all the ones we left behind there. I wish I remembered what their faces looked like. I wish we had better news to bring them.

I just hope they’re all right.