Saturday, 9 May 2009 - 11:45 am


Last night was awful. Add it to the list of things I never want to do again.

We barricaded ourselves into a clothing store. It had been thoroughly gutted to block up the rear door and side window, so there was plenty of floor space to sleep on. I don’t think any of us did, though, not for long. Sleep was snatched in unwary breaths.

We took turns at keeping watch. What it meant was that we walked around the room one pair at a time, checking the doors and peering out the windows. Only Nugget wasn’t asked to do it, but she got up and trailed around after Thorpe when it was his turn anyway. I think she needed to feel like she was doing something just as much as the rest of us.


The day turned over into tomorrow during my watch shift. I had stopped by the window when I saw them and I was so shocked that I froze. The acid was still dribbling down the glass, a faint mist of steam hovering a few inches above the ground. It’s usually difficult to see anything outside at night – there are no stars, no streetlights, no moon to help us, just a black blanket ruffled by the meagre flickers of whatever light we can make. Perhaps it was the rain, carrying that faint glimmer over to the little store we had slept in the night before.

That’s where they were. Standing there, faces at the window, staring sightlessly out into the downpour. Lined up, perfectly still, waiting behind the broken shards of glass on the edge of the rainfall. The catch of my breath brought Ben over to me, followed by the others. We stood and stared through the gaps in the shelves and poles blocking up the window.

The shamblers didn’t look towards us. One lifted his head as if snagging a scent; his mouth opened but I couldn’t tell if he made a noise. I remembered that low, hollow moan of Sax’s, so divorced from his warm voice, and shuddered.

The rain fell between us, a thin veil of deadly liquid. We all hovered in our refuges: us in our barricaded shop and them just behind the teeth of the broken storefront. None of us moved while the downpour dribbled itself out and stopped.


When the rain stopped, the faint sheen of light faded with it. Dark wrapped us up as we fumbled for our flashlights; then thin beams of light cut the shop. A couple of us returned to the window and peeked the beams across the street, to check on the shamblers.

They were gone.

The shop window was empty, the gape of its broken mouth eyeless and deep. A piece of shattered blind waved back and forth, a last memory of its own demise.

Things turned frantic for a moment as we tried to see where they had gone, pressing ourselves against the window and peering up and down the street. Nothing – all was empty, all was quiet. It was like they had never been there.

Ben shushed us all and we fell silent to listen. I could hear us breathing and the faint shifts of the floorboards under our weight. That was all. No thumps, no moans, no distant shatter of glass. We waited, strung taut across the still air, but there was nothing. Minutes stretched out so long that I could feel the tick of the seconds falling past us.

There was a brief, hushed debate about whether we should go out to look for them. It got heated as paranoias fought – go out and find them, or wait here and hope for the best. It was a tough choice, and at the end I stepped in and said that we should try to get some rest and not fumble around in the dark. It wasn’t great – we weren’t going to sleep knowing that they were out there somewhere. But it was better than the arguing, and we’d probably only hurt ourselves trying to make our way around here in the dark.

We didn’t sleep again. We sat and we listened, and hoped that the sun would come up soon. We didn’t hear them, but I know I wasn’t the only one imagining them stumbling around in the mall, searching for us.

Today, we are checking the mall, all the places that we boarded up yesterday, to see if they did find their way in. I don’t know what I hope to find.