Friday, 3 April 2009 - 11:16 am


We were all set to head out yesterday, just a little after midday, but we didn’t make it outside the mall. I thank the numerous little delays – having to fetch Nugget from the toy store three times, telling Dillon only to take what he could carry, pulling Masterson away from the chemist after he had scoured it repeatedly. All of those things saved us, I think.

We were heading down the stairs towards the exit doors when it happened, when the light on the concrete turned ruddy beyond the threshold, and we stopped in puzzlement. It grew dark very quickly – it felt strange to notice it inside, but there are no bulbs burning to disguise the outdoor conditions. When the sky thickened and turned to red-shot black, it dipped the mall into a gloaming.

The first crack of thunder scared the crap out of us; it sounded like it was directly overhead, splitting the roof in two. We all flinched, some of us ducked, and the gaping silence that followed it was peppered with muttered swearwords. When the second flashbang ripped the air above the mall, we retreated back up the stairs. It didn’t make any difference except to make us feel better.

There were a couple more lightning flashes before the rain fell. It was like someone had turned on a tap: all of a sudden, there was a downpour happening, hissing and spraying up off the concrete at the glass mall doors. I haven’t seen it fall that hard since the bomb went off. Usually, it’s a slithering, melting thing, but this was all about pounding and filling up the streets with its glistening, deadly mass.

If we had been out there, we wouldn’t have had time to get inside before it came.

Knowing that still makes my abdomen contract, shrinking in on itself with fear. The skin between my shoulderblades crawls as if it can already feel the acid trickling over and through it.


We were all quiet as we watched it turn the parking lot outside into a shallow lake. Then I sighed and said we should find somewhere to settle down. We trudged back to the bedding store and unslung our packs again, and set about making ourselves comfortable. We rescued the candles that the Rats had pelted us with and turned the store into a flickering haven.

The Rats came to harry us not long after the storm started, asking what the hell we were still doing in the mall. They wanted us out of there, and they definitely didn’t like seeing us making ourselves at home.

I lost my temper with them. I told them that if we had left, we’d all be dead now, melted into nothing like so many other people. Is that what they want: to wish death on people? Don’t they know how few of us there are left, how many more are lost every day? Hasn’t there been enough of that by now? But anyway, it’s tough; we’re here, and we’re staying, and that’s it. So they can either leave, or be quiet, or both.

I’m not sure what I was channeling in that speech. The closed look on Ben’s face. The desperate huddle in Alice’s shoulders. The rattling cough that’s keeping Sax awake at night. My own fear, twisted into an angry front. All of it was spilt on their heads.

They were surprised enough to be silent while I turned on my heel and walked away. I got as far as one of the beds and then sat down, shaking. The strange thing was that I don’t think it was adrenaline that was making me tremble; it felt like something else. It was hard to catch my breath. The spots are on more than just my arms now.

I think there’s something wrong with me.