Friday, 10 July 2009 - 10:02 am

Light in the darkness

Sometime in the middle of the night, Matt roused us. I remember hearing his voice sliding into my dream, and then Ben was shaking my shoulder and telling me to get up.

Everyone gathered at the windows and glass doors, looking out like children who had heard that Santa had been spotted against the moon. There has been no moon for months and Santa didn’t come last Christmas, but we all looked anyway. I’m not sure what we hoped to see.

“There, there!” There was pointing and straining as we strove not to touch the icy glass.

It was there: a single square of light against the blackness. Not the scorched orange of the sky, not the white of stars, but a warm, electric yellow. It beamed steadily across to us from such a distance, not a fiery flicker in its form.

Those who spotted it whooped and slapped their neighbours indiscriminately. I think I laughed and grabbed onto Ben’s cold hand. It’s hard to know why it was such a stirring sight, but it made my heart lift in my chest. Electricity, power. Safety, perhaps. Survival. Promise. All those things, bundled into one small square of light and shone in our direction.

It went out and our breathing almost stopped. We misted up the glass before it came on again. Then someone scrabbled for a pen and started to scribble on the window, trying to record its position.

There’s someone there. There’s a survivor who can run electric lights even after six months of a broken, powerless world.

No-one said that we should go find it. No-one questioned the assumption that we’re going to set out and see who’s there, first thing in the morning. Our consensus was immediate and, for once, without paranoia. We just have to go and see what gives.


This morning is orange and hard, frozen solid outside annd reflecting the tainted light back at us. There’s a black square drawn on a window that we think is pointing us towards the right building, like a symbol from a movie I saw a lifetime ago.

The building is tall and dark today, but not as far as we had feared. It doesn’t seem worth the fuel to drive there, so we’ll walk, heralded by the steam of our own breath.

The footing outside is slippery but we’re all gearing up anyway, even the injured. Dillon wants to go on his crutches, but I plan to keep a close eye on him; I don’t trust the ice. Thorpe is supporting Dale. We won’t move fast but we’ll get there.

Time to wrap up and make a move. Wish us luck.