Wednesday, 8 July 2009 - 9:33 pm

Missing heads

We spent most of today searching for a missing fella. I’d like to say that it was worth the effort, but we didn’t find him.

Last night, I went around and tried to take stock. It was easier once everyone had settled down and stopped moving around so much. All of the Seekers were accounted for except Jones. Poor Nugget is still upset about that; she won’t say anything except his name if she’s questioned, or offered food, or told to cheer up. I’ve seen her looking under chairs and in cupboards in the hopes that he’s here somehow. No-one has seen him since we left the warehouse, but I don’t think any of us has the heart to tell her the obvious. He’s gone and he’s not coming back.

Dillon and Dale were made comfortable with the rest of those needing attention on padded seats and sofas. Our two injured boys are looking better, though Dillon still can’t put weight on that broken leg. Thorpe is usually hovering around there, keeping an eye on them. I offered to relieve him for a while but he told me that he was fine. I don’t know how to talk to him, not after the thing with Matt, so I left him to it.

I don’t think it’s a thing between those two. I’ve hardly seen them exchange five words since that morning. It’s a shame – I think they might be good for each other – but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved.

Matt has been mostly keeping an eye on the newcomers, making sure that they get what they need. He has an easy way with people – always has – and they seem to trust him. Most of them are automatically wary with me and I’m not sure why. The rumours about the Seekers, perhaps. I wish that my name wasn’t attached to those whispers.

Bree’s group was short a person last night. Steve – the wannabe Pride-member who had a bandaged arm and seemed to be getting sick the last time I saw him – was gone and they couldn’t tell me where. Bree was pale and refused to say much about it. Perhaps the Sickness took him and they left him behind. They said that’s what the Pride had done.

They didn’t ask us to look for him. This morning, one of the runners we picked up yesterday was missing. A man in his fifties – his wife was desperate for our help in finding him. He went off to relieve himself sometime after dark and didn’t come back. No-one on watch saw him go or what happened after. We searched the campus buildings, calling his name – Norman, are you there? Norman? – but there wasn’t any answer.

His wife is distraught. They had made it this far, through all this craziness. They haven’t been apart in nearly forty years, she said. Childhood sweethearts, married young, parents, grandparents, and now surviving the end of the world. They saw each other through all of that.

“We live in each other’s pockets, got used to the lint and lost pennies,” Iris told me. Now she’s alone and she doesn’t know what to do with herself.

I had no comfort to give her. He’s probably dead and we all know it. I suggested that she help Sally with making sure people were fed and she went off with a vague air. Hopefully the purpose and activity will help her.

We picked up seven in total. Iris and Norman were the first, scooped up by Matt in the offroader behind mine. There’s a young boy, Estebar – just short of Dillon’s age, so eleven or twelve years old – who keeps asking if we’ve seen his sister. He last saw her a few days ago, so I think she’s lost. The Asian fella in his thirties hasn’t said much to anyone and keeps to himself. I don’t know his name. Janice and Tom are a dark-skinned couple, about my age. They keep to themselves too, but seem well-adjusted with everything that’s happening. Caroline is the last one that was picked up and she’s far from well-adjusted. From her shell-shocked look, she lost someone close to her recently. I don’t know who.

We’ve been sharing our supplies carefully with these runners. There’s always at least a couple of the boys watching over the stocks, but there’s only one or two of the newcomers that I think are a danger in that way. The Wolverines in particular are grumbly and defensive, and have convinced Thorpe to help them. He seems to be spending a lot of time with the Wolverines lately, but maybe that’s just because they stick close to injured Dale and Thorpe is always near our healing pair.


We have a fire tonight, lit carefully in a drum dragged inside. Tom has offered to tell stories about the land – his family goes way back in this area, he says. Tales of the past to ward off the present; it sounds like a good way to pass the evening while we try not to listen to the rain.

Tomorrow, we’re going to have to make a decision. Who comes, who is left behind. I look at them all and know I can’t be the one to say. I don’t want fear to make the choice either. In this group of friends, allies, and strangers, I don’t know which way it will all go.

For tonight, we’ll remember what was. I think I hear Iris crying somewhere.