Saturday, 18 July 2009 - 7:01 pm


I didn’t get a chance to talk to Kostoya today.

Caroline went missing. The shell-shocked runner has been wandering around in a daze since we picked her up. She went out with the foragers yesterday and was more hindrance than help, they told me. They gave her things to carry and had someone keep an eye on her the whole time. She definitely came back to the chemistry building with them last night before the sleet started.

There was no sign of her this morning. Those on watch didn’t see her wander off and her cluster of blankets is still all ruffled up from when she got out of them. We’re sure she didn’t disappear while it was still raining, so we’re searching the building in case she just found somewhere else to curl up for the night. It was cold last night, but not enough to kill her on its own.

The search of the building proved fruitless, but we had more luck when we widened the net. We found her in a maintenance shed, lying amid defunct machines that haven’t moved in six months, covered in dust and a faint sheen of ice.

No-one said anything. There wasn’t much to say. I felt my mind ticking through the details, clinking coldly as I tried to make sense of it. She didn’t freeze to death: her neck and a few other body-parts looked like they had been chewed on. She was a sad, broken collection of meat turning blue, staring blankly at the ceiling. Next to her, there were a couple of dead rats, also torn up.

Someone threw up – I think it was Conroy. Thorpe kept most of the others away so they wouldn’t see her. Dale asked if she would get up again and the general consensus was no; she didn’t die of the Sickness, and that was how it worked, right?

So what killed her? It could have been shamblers, though by all accounts, there’d be nothing left of her if they were responsible. They tend to tear people up, not take bite-sized chunks out of them. And there was so little blood; usually there’s a lot more blood than this. It terrifies me that I know that.

It could have been an animal – canine, feline, there are some running around. It could even have been a pack of hunters. None of us heard anything last night, but the shed is outside on the far side of the building: too far for us to hear most things. Even screams, though I don’t know if Caroline got much of a chance for that.

We covered her with a piece of old tarp and dragged her outside so that the rain will take her. None of us wanted to leave her body in the shed, partly because of the animals and partly in case she did rise and come after us with empty hunger. It might be unlikely but fear doesn’t always listen to reason.

There’s no sign of what did it. There wasn’t much doubt that it was probably what stole Norman from us, too. We all agreed to be more vigilant and to go nowhere alone. There wasn’t a lot else for us to do and that was the worst part of it. We had just started to unravel one threat and another one reared its head, faceless, nameless, hovering in the shadows to claw us down in our weak moments.

Matt walked back to the building with me and asked if I was all right. I said no and he put his arm around me, hugged me lightly.

“Me neither,” he said. We leaned on each other all the way back to the teaching room.

Ben was there, scowling as I went over to him and explained what we’d found. He didn’t ask me about Caroline or the beast that killed her; he asked me about Matt. I snapped at him that we were just friends and he made it clear that he didn’t believe me. The look on his face said everything. I don’t know how I’m supposed to prove it to him when he doesn’t respond to my attempts at intimacy.

I won’t give up my best friend. We all need to keep each other close these days. I wish that Ben understood that.

We should sing for Caroline tonight. None of us knew her very well but it feels important to do it anyway. For us.