Sunday, 22 March 2009 - 8:06 pm

Into the open

We had a choice to make today, standing on the cusp of ruined suburbia and what lay beyond it. We hadn’t realised that we had drifted so far west; our detour around the Pride’s territory had pushed us further out of our way than we had planned.

On the map, the area we came to is a little green splodge. In reality, it’s an expanse of bare, scorched earth, stretching under the orange sky with unwise exposure. I think there used to be fields here, a small farm nestled up against the city’s outer districts. Now there’s nothing fertile or growing about it; the rain has seen to that.

There’s no cover within sight, nothing we might be able to rely on, and we reached that edge just after lunchtime. With only a few hours until the rain came, it wasn’t a risk we were eager to take. So we had a choice: cross the ex-fields and chance the exposure; or follow the suburban edge around it and risk cutting back towards the threat of the Pride. Even if we waited until tomorrow to head out across the open land, there was still the danger of being caught out.

I hadn’t realised how dependent we had become on these buildings that hunch up around us. They had seeped into my psyche until the thought of being without them made my heart beat uncomfortably fast. I have grown used to their shadows resting on my shoulders, these shells of homes and pillaged businesses. I have grown used to the security of kicked in doors and empty windowframes.


In the end, we decided that the threat of the Pride was not worth chancing. But instead of walking out bare-headed under that sky and its murderous weeping, we opted to make ourselves a third option: driving. It took us a while to find a couple of suitably big and tough vehicles, and for once I found myself glad of the housewife habit of buying 4x4s. The roads are fairly clear out here, but it is still useful to be able to climb a car around obstacles as well.

We’re still making our way across the open space, making good time because there isn’t a lot on this particular stretch of road. The boys aren’t rushing, because the last thing we need right now is a burst tyre or an accident. We’re looking for somewhere to hole up, but the farm buildings we passed earlier didn’t look good. The barn’s roof was ruined and the farmhouse itself didn’t look that much better, with the kind of ramshackle propping that suggests it was like that even in the time Before.

The clouds are gathering up overhead. I hope we find some shelter soon.