Thursday, 25 June 2009 - 6:41 pm


There was movement outside a little after dawn. I woke early – Matt had shifted and pulled the blankets off my feet, and my toes were cold. I let him sleep and got up, wrapping myself in layers of clothing and stamping on my boots. That’s when I heard them, footsteps pattering across the concrete outside.

I went to one of the dusty windows to look out and saw a few of yesterday’s runners creeping out of the next building. The stained sunlight peeked through the constant cloud cover enough to give them blurry-edged shadows. They stumbled wearily but with the determination of people who know that they can’t afford to rest. I’ve felt like that recently, and often since the bomb went off. We push on to survive.


I heard my name from behind me and turned to see Dillon awake and watching. I went over to sit down next to him, warming my hands and feet at the fire’s edge.

“What’s going on out there?” he asked me. He looked worried, poor kid.

“The runners are heading out now that it’s light.”

“Shouldn’t we head out soon too?”

“Maybe.” It’s true that all the movement outside was making me itchy to get on the road. Staying still just doesn’t seem safe but neither is travelling; they each have their dangers. There’s a part of me that naturally wants to hide, but that’s the worst thing we can do; if the shamblers don’t sniff us out, the rain will work its way in or we’ll run out of food and starve to death. Pushing on is our only option for survival.

Dillon looked at me and I reached over to squeeze his hand. He feels even more helpless than most of us, unable to even get up thanks to his broken leg. He seemed to be struggling to say something, so I waited for him.

“Are we going to help any of them?” he asked finally.

It wasn’t the question that I was expecting. “I don’t know. If they need it and they’ll take it, sure.” I shrugged, knowing that it wasn’t that simple. We teamed up with the Wolverines hoping that it would be simple and now Dillon has a broken leg, Dale is badly injured and they lost three of their own. “We might not be able to.”

“You don’t think it would be better if we just looked after ourselves?” He was watching me closely, weighing my reactions, and that made me careful with how I answered. I didn’t want to lie to him; he deserved better than that.

“Better for us? Yeah, it probably would. But everyone’s in the same boat here. We all just want to survive. I don’t think we should lock anyone out in the rain, but we should protect ourselves, too.” I sighed; I was convincing myself of something I didn’t want to. “We shouldn’t hurt anyone else unless they force us to. Y’know?” I didn’t want to become one of those groups, cruel because we could be, or determined to beat down the other guy before he had the chance to do it to us. I can’t look at every stranger and think about putting my bat to his head.

“Masterson says you’re an idealist.” Dillon said it like he wasn’t sure what the word meant.

“Yeah, I guess I am.” I looked sideways at the kid. “He probably said a lot of other stuff too, huh.”

That made him smile. “Yeah. I don’t listen to most of it, though.”

“Probably a good choice.” Masterson doesn’t tend to lie, but he does put his own spin on the truth. “You want some breakfast, hopalong?”


Those on watch today reported that the runners kept moving. New ones came into sight, moving slower than the rest. One pair almost stumbled right into the warehouse, but they saw us and fled around the side. We tried to talk to them, but they weren’t interested.

We talked about moving on, but Masterson said that we shouldn’t move the injured unless we absolutely have to. Dale, in particular, needs a chance to heal before we jiggle him around.

That’s only one reason to linger, though. I think we all want to see what it is that’s chasing people through here; we want to put a face to their horror because it’s less terrifying than the unknown. No-one’s quite willing to go out and ask someone, not yet. Not when we don’t know how desperate and armed they might be.

Perhaps tomorrow, when the backrunners reach us. The ones that are moving too slowly to evade us easily.