Saturday, 30 May 2009 - 9:02 pm


We are definitely not used to travelling with people we don’t trust.

The way we have always worked – the Seekers, that is – is that we share everything. Everyone carries a portion of what we find depending on what they can manage, and food and drink are handed around between us when we stop to eat. I think we just got used to it that way; we’ve had children and injured people with us so often that it wasn’t possible for everyone to carry their allocation of supplies. Things got tense when supplies grew thin and hoarding instincts kicked in, but we got through it. There was never any one person left hungry; it was all or nothing.

We’ve been with the Wolverines for a bare few days, and there hasn’t been a discovery of supplies without some kind of fuss over who gets what. We tried to agree to just let each group keep what they found, but that didn’t satisfy them. The other guy always has the better stuff and luck isn’t always fair.


Early this morning, when most of us were still asleep, a couple of the Wolverines caught Dillon alone while he was on watch. He wouldn’t tell me what happened, or what they took from him.

I found him sitting by a window, looking out, hunched up and hugging his knees. He had been crying; I could see where he’d scrubbed at his cheeks to hide it. He couldn’t hide the bruises, though. I made him show me how bad it was and saw florid colours on his ribs and arms. Nothing broken, at least, but that’s not a comfort.

The idea of anyone hurting Dillon like that made me feel sick, and then tense and hot all over. I hugged him carefully and stood up, ready to go and tear strips off the damn Wolverines. I was furious, partly with myself for not keeping a closer eye on all of this but mostly with them, and I intended to give them a piece of my mind. But Dillon grabbed my hand and asked me not to. Matt was in the room by then and agreed with the kid; confronting them about it was a bad idea.

“You can’t win with them that way,” he told me. He had a look about him that took me a while to place: it was the same one he carried when we found him with the Sharks. It was that look that made me stop.

“I’m not going to live this way,” I said. Matt looked away from me, uncomfortable with the whole thing. But I had to do something; I couldn’t just let this happen to the people I care about. It’s not good enough.


When everyone gathered to eat, I could see the Wolverines watching us, waiting to see how we’d react to the attack on Dillon. We did a fairly good job of acting like nothing was wrong, not rising to their bait, but supplies were still a problem. Our packs were lighter than they should have been, though theirs weren’t.

While we were all together, I proposed a new way of doing things. There are four able-bodied members in each group capable of searching. We would pair up, one Seeker, one Wolverine, and pool everything we found in one place. Mixed pairs would keep everyone honest, and we would split up the supplies so that everyone got an even share.

They didn’t like it, but their attempts at arguing fell flat. They tried to claim that the kids shouldn’t get full portions – they don’t eat as much, they can’t carry it – but the rest of us spoke up to counter it. Thorpe said he’d carry the kids’ food if necessary. And what about Jones? Does the cat get a share too? No. Nugget hugged the scrawny creature defensively when we said that we’ve never fed him anything except scraps.

Eventually, it was agreed.

Dillon stayed back with Matt, which meant I didn’t have to worry about either of them too much. I was partnered up with Conroy, who kept trying to impress me with chattering about how this reminded him of a movie he once saw, or a particular storyline in some comic book. As if any of that stuff mattered any more.

He sidled towards me a couple of times, as if he was going to try something lame like a yawn-stretch-arm-around-shoulders move. Making him carry our find kept his hands busy, though; it was worth the risk of him slipping things in his pockets.


Today’s supply-search went well, despite all the angling and grumbling. I suspect the Wolverines are still hoarding when they can, but our packs are filling up again. That’ll have to do for now.

As for the watches, we’re doing that in our own pairs – no single Seeker is going to get caught out again. It means that we’re getting less sleep, but better that than another beating, or worse. No-one is to go off on their own, for any reason. Both Sally and I tried to convince Nugget of the seriousness of this, and I think the solemn little girl understood.

I wish there was another way to do this, but I guess this is the best lemonade we can come up with right now.