Friday, 29 May 2009 - 6:20 pm


Last night, we found a row of shops with apartments above them about mid-afternoon. We settled the injured and ill upstairs to rest, and the able-bodied went to see what could be gleaned from the establishments below.

I didn’t like to leave Matt on his own – not with these Wolverines around – so I asked Sally to stay with him. To my surprise, she seemed relieved and went straight away. The kids were admonished to stay in sight, but of course Nugget disappeared as soon as we entered the first shop. On the plus side, she found a stock of canned drinks and that eased tempers all around.

I didn’t have to worry about Dillon straying too far away; he has stuck close to me ever since Ben left. He watches me with a worried expression, even when I tell him that I’m all right. It aches – of course it does – but I’m carrying on anyway. I give him hugs and we both feel better.


We retreated up to the apartments when it started to rain. Matt and Sally were fine, though glad to see us. I don’t know who visited them but someone clearly had.

Dillon called me over to the window just as the light was dying outside. The last slants of orange sun were reflecting off the windows opposite ours, and there were faces in them. My insides turned in chilled twists at the sight of them there like that, just standing there. Motionless, sightless, waiting.

The sun went down, and we kept someone on watch through the water-streaked windows. But it had been a hard few days and we were all strung out at the limits of our strength.

We fell asleep.


We were woken up in the early hours of this morning by thumps downstairs. We heard windows going, one pane at a time, under the weight of accumulated bodies. My innards lurched painfully as I pulled myself up out of sleep, knowing exactly what it was.

Kirk was outside our door when we got up to investigate – I think he was peeking in. I don’t know what for and there wasn’t time to ask. He just grinned at us and said that we’d better look lively, because our company didn’t. He’s about my age, cocky with a rakish edge that fails to be charming. There’s something calculating about the way he shares expressions with us. I’m not the only one he unsettles; Matt stays away from him and most of the Wolverines.

It was so hard to see anything while we got ourselves together. Peering out of the window revealed little except that there were a lot of them down there, making the darkness heave in jerky motions. They were unsubtle in their passage across the shop floors towards the stairs leading up to the apartments – we could track their progress in crashes and crunches.

We knew from our last encounter that it was easier to deal with them in the open, rather than in the confines of corridors. We also knew that we didn’t have much time.


“C’mon, we can take ’em,” one of the Wolverines said. I couldn’t tell which one just from his voice.

“In the dark, when we can barely tell each other apart?” Masterson’s tone was scathing and I could almost hear the other mens’ hackles rising in response.

I stepped in before he got himself smacked. Again. “We don’t know how many they are. If they got around us, we’d be overwhelmed before we knew it.”

“Yeah, right. And what else would you suggest? More running?”

I looked at the others in the castoff light of wavering flashlight beams, counting heads and trying to work out what to do. They were right: running wasn’t a good option, not with the ill and injured among our number and in the darkness.

“We need a rearguard,” I said. I have no idea if I even used the term correctly – too many movies, I guess. “Keep the shamblers busy while we get the rest of us away. Dillon, Nugget – you two run up ahead to make sure the way’s clear, but stay within sight of us. Do I need to ask for volunteers to help the injured, or to stay back and fight?”

The last was aimed pointedly at the Wolverines and their eagerness for another dust-up with the shamblers. They tossed it about between them while we got everyone downstairs and shouldered packs. In the end, I had Matt leaning on me, Sally supported one of the Wolverines, and another of their number – I think it was Jersey – carried the sickest one. That left Thorpe, Masterson, and three Wolverines to keep the shamblers off our tails.

It worked better than I had hoped. I had to shout for the kids to stay where we could see them, and eventually called Nugget back to run messenger between us and the boys behind, so that they didn’t fall too far behind.


We kept going until the shamblers were out of sight by a length of at least a few blocks, then the boys caught up with us and we found another building to break into. It was getting light by then, that odd seeping that tasted like an orange apology for sunlight. We collapsed for a while and tried to get some more sleep, though we posted stricter guards that time. No more sleeping on the job for any of us.

We had lost some supplies in the shuffle to get out of those apartments. Things we couldn’t really afford to lose: some food, most of those cans. We hadn’t packed them before we lost the light. What little daylight we had today between exhaustion and the rain was spent looking for replacements.

I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t running on my last thread of energy.