Friday, 21 August 2009 - 9:24 pm


Hello! Matt here again, but I promise that it’s not bad news this time. I told Faith about my unfortunate pattern with this fun little blog of hers and she told me to do something more regular.

Between you and me, I think she was glad for the excuse to take a break from this. She’s still kinda strung-out after all the stuff with Dillon, though she won’t admit it, and now there’s something going on with Tia. The girls won’t say what it is, but it’s bad enough to make them both unhappy. Faith has that worried face she gets when something’s eating at her.

I hope the kid isn’t getting Sick. Maybe she’s got a burn. I can’t imagine staring at that future rolling up the road towards me, waiting for the cough and the fever and knowing just how hungry I’ll become.

Dammit, I gave myself goosebumps.


Anyway. So there was a bit of excitement today. We’re searching everywhere we can find for supplies, but we haven’t had any luck in days. Not since we hit the mountains, really. Now that we’re out of that area, we had hoped to find stuff again.

We stopped at this little town on the way towards the suburbs. Everything was fine, just as it always is – we shut off the engines and piled out of the vehicles, stiff from sitting. I slipped on the ice and nearly ended up on my ass; grappling onto the big tree that is Thorpe is all that saved me. The less said about that, the better.

The open doors were our first clue that we weren’t going to find much. We wanted to look anyway, just in case whoever was here before us wasn’t as desperate or thorough as they could have been. Who are we kidding – is there anyone around that isn’t desperate and hungry?

Hungry. That brings me to what happened as we moved towards the nearest doors. Terry and Dale were calling to each other, making bets and taunts, and I joined in for the hell of it. Then we heard something down the road.

That thumping. It’s unmistakable. I think my heart was trying to beat a warning, matching their rhythm as they finally figured out how to get onto the street. They fell out of doorways like grains of puffed rice. Or like roasted coffee beans, scorched and tumbling more than walking.

Then Faith was shouting and pushing me back towards the vehicles. I ran along with everyone else, scrabbling to get them ready to move again. What I wouldn’t do for an ignition that worked. Half of us had to grab weapons to deal with the shamblers closest to us, while the others bumped the engines started.

Dan is a demon with a bat. I’ve never noticed it before – hasn’t exactly been high on my list of things to check out – but he stepped right in front of me when I was pushing the offroader. I saw it perfectly: whap whap, and then he was moving on, cool as you like. It’d be scary if he wasn’t on our side.

To my surprise, Faith was one of the fighters, too. She usually deals with the vehicles. Today, she picked up a bat and went to town. More determination than finesse, but she got the job done. I didn’t start worrying about her until we were ready to go and she wasn’t answering us. I had to grab her arm to get her attention, and nearly got smacked for my trouble.

I didn’t like the expression on her face or the way she looked at the sticky end of her bat. Then we were busy cramming ourselves into the vehicles and getting the hell out of there. She said she was okay but I didn’t believe her. She’ll talk to me when she’s ready.


We were much more cautious when we selected a house to hole up in for the night, further down the road. We checked every room, every cupboard, and not just for food. We didn’t find anything, good or bad, but at least we had a place to bed down.

Pickings are slim and spirits are down, but I can report that dog biscuits are actually quite filling, if hard on the teeth. I have no idea how Shaggy ate Scooby Snacks on a regular basis. They really suck the moisture out of you. Cat food is much easier to get down, though it does spark some arguments. I prefer the beef, if you please; fishy ones make me gag.

You know the world has ended when you have a favourite flavour of cat food.

Sunday, 23 August 2009 - 9:20 pm

Bar’s closed

I just read over the post I wrote yesterday. I don’t usually do that. I don’t usually go back, because there’s too much moving elsewhere to do. But it’s been bothering me.

I read yesterday’s post, and then I read over the first one I put up on this blog. The one I made when my life had shifted and I didn’t know which way to turn, when I couldn’t tell forward from back and struck out in whatever direction I could find. More determination than wisdom.

The things that happen to you crawl in and make themselves at home. That has been bothering me, too.


We got to the warehouse district about midday. The rumbling of our engines reflected back off fences and walls at us, blanketing us in sound until we couldn’t tell where we stopped and the silence began.

When we shut off the engines, the gulf rushed in and swallowed us. Hairs lifted on the back of my neck. It felt like there were things skittering on the edge of hearing, or just out of sight, gone when I turned my head. Then we hopped out of the vehicles and stamped our feet into life, and the feeling shattered.

We were gearing up, taking essential equipment with us, when I noticed that Dale was frowning. He’s one of the more relaxed members of the group, usually lighter than the rest of us, but he has been tense for the past few days. Last night, I saw him talking to Thorpe and not getting the answers he was looking for. Their expressions were enough to tell me that.

I don’t know what’s going on between those two, but I know that Thorpe won’t talk about it with the rest of us here. He’s so private, so protected, and we live on top of each other. We stay within sight for safety, and what we don’t see, we hear.

So I went to Thorpe and suggested that he stay behind to guard the vehicles. Something felt off, so why didn’t he make sure that what supplies we did have were safe? But not alone: Dale should stay behind with him. I wanted to tell him to talk to the poor fella – do something to sort this out – but you can’t approach Thorpe that way. You can’t put it into something as solid as words. All I could do was give them the excuse to be apart from the rest of us long enough to do whatever it was they needed to do.

He tried to say that it wasn’t necessary and I lost patience with him. There’s protected and then there’s isolation. I considered having a go at him, but butting heads wouldn’t have helped anything. Instead, I told the others that Thorpe and Dale were staying behind to guard the vehicles and it was done. The rest of us trudged off without them. I didn’t look back but he was probably glaring at me.


“Do you think it’ll work?” Matt asked me as we worked our way through the first warehouse. Trust him to be aware of the relationships of others, even ones as subtle as Thorpe’s. He’d spotted it long before I did.

I shrugged. “I don’t know. They’re both big boys.”

He couldn’t help himself: he grinned and started making comments about the boys and sizes. I had to smack him before he’d stop, but he made me laugh.

“It really doesn’t bother you?” I asked him when he had restrained himself. He looked puzzled until I admitted that I knew about him and Thorpe, about that one night they’d spent together.

Matt was sheepish about it. They’d been drunk – we were all drunk that night – and it wasn’t more than that. Just one night. “Besides, he’s not my type.”

“You have a type?”

He gave me a playful shove. “Yeah, I do.”

I teased him about all the evidence to the contrary until he told me that the big fireman is a keeper. Not so much into the casual coupling.

“Ah, I see,” I said. “That kind of not your type.”

Matt’s been a casual kinda guy for most of the time I’ve known him. He’s had a few semi-serious partners, but he always goes back to unseriousness in the end. Until the world ended, that is; I think his time with the Sharks altered him. There hasn’t been a lot of opportunity for that kind of thing anyway.


Our foray into the warehouses wasn’t very fruitful. We found lots of useless stuff – toys, baby supplies (I snagged a few bits to bring back to Sally), gardening equipment, furniture. Some clothes, some pet supplies. A lot of the crates had already been broken open and the more useful items taken. We didn’t find any perishables, no food or drink. We have a lot more warehouses to go through, so we haven’t given up yet.

It was hard to tell what had happened while we were gone. Things were definitely less frosty when we got back. Thorpe is never going to say, but Dale wasn’t wearing a frown any more. I don’t think it’s solved, but the work is definitely in progress. That must be a good thing.

Progress. Moving on. Making something new and good despite the mess the world is in. I had forgotten what that was like, but all around me it’s still going on. Even Thorpe is managing to do it, as reluctant as he is.

The things that happen to you put their feet up on your mental couch and ask for another drink.

Well, this bar is closed. This is the old Faith, one who’s done crying and feeling sorry for herself, one who’s done listening to the lies and the poison. I’m not worn down yet. I haven’t been washed away.

I’m still here, and I’m staying.

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Thursday, 3 September 2009 - 9:08 pm

Green plastic men

Hi, Matt again. Faith’s sleeping right now – she’s been asleep for most of the day. That knock on the head really laid her out, but she’s a better colour tonight.

I was naughty – while she was asleep, I read over the last lot of posts. It felt wrong – it’s like reading her diary, though she has always said that this is our story she’s recording. She puts so much of herself into this blog.

I always wondered where she got her strength from. I think I get it now – she doesn’t, not really. She’s as scared as the rest of us. She hides her fears in here and then runs full-tilt into whatever it is anyway.

Look at me, doing the same thing, trying to tuck everything in here like it’s a magic back pocket. She’s contagious, the silly brain-bruised girl.


She missed most of what happened yesterday. All heroic and trying to do the right thing, and down she went, boom. Should’ve seen Thorpe go off when she passed out – the big lump went all protective of her, and he almost got himself whalloped again for his trouble. Some of the others stepped up to support him too – Jersey and Terry, mostly. I was sure they’d get us all in trouble while our Faithful leader needed help. (Never call her that where she can hear you – she hits.)

I was too busy trying to get her to wake up. I’ve never seen her unconscious like that before and I’m not eager to do it again. I was so afraid she wouldn’t wake up again. She just has to be all dramatic, doesn’t she?

The General called for a stretcher and said they had medical facilities that could help her. The green plastic men would have carried her away from all of us if we’d let them, but while Thorpe harangued them thoroughly, I managed to sneak in and pick up one end of the stretcher. I’m not leaving her, I told them. Wherever she goes, I go.

They let me. Just me. It wasn’t great – the others were not pleased about being left behind – but I guess with this lot you gotta take what you can get. They’re not big on the giving.

This base of theirs is way bigger than it looked when we arrived. I was barely able to keep track of where we were going, too concerned with keeping up and not dropping Faith (I need to tease her about losing weight – my arms were fit to fall off by the time we got to the infirmary). So many buildings, and people! More people than I’ve seen in months outside of a shambler horde.

They’re pretty well set up here. They’ve got a doctor (so new his paint’s still wet, but he’s cute if you don’t mind the fatigues) and some supplies. Said our girl might have a cracked skull, but she’s doing better today.

Once I was sure she was okay, I asked to see the other Seekers. The green plastic men offered to take me to them, but I didn’t dare leave. I have this feeling that I’d never be able to find my way back again if I did. Or if I made it back here, she’d be gone.

It sounds so ridiculous when I put it like that. Paranoia much? But that’s the feeling I get when they ask if I want to go see my friends. Today, I asked them to get Tia to bring Faith’s pack, so she’d have a change of clothes, and they brought Faith’s pack. No Tia. Said she was busy. They brought mine too – so I wouldn’t ask again, I guess. None of it rings right with me.

Why haven’t the others come to visit her? I know they’d want to. I keep expecting Thorpe to tear the door off the hinges like a bear in a beehive. So what’s keeping them away?

I shouldn’t ask these questions. Especially not when I’m sitting in a dark room, all on my own (except for Faith, but she’s asleep so it doesn’t count), knowing the building is full of green plastic men.

Oh, I really creeped myself out with that one. This is the sort of thing they used to make horror movies out of. Used to make. Jeez.

At least they’re feeding us. Regularly, too. It’s not great – it’s not even warm – but it’s food. I suspect it’s dog food, but it’s not like we haven’t eaten that before.

You know what I really want? Clean underwear. It’s funny the things you miss. Me, it’s showers and clean underwear. I’m disgusted by my own clothes. If I think about it too much, my skin starts crawling, and trust me, there’s nowhere for it to go.

Look at me. The world ended and I’m bitching about underpants.

Better go before I use up all her battery. She really would kill me then.

Monday, 21 September 2009 - 10:44 pm

Tell me something

I finally got a chance to talk to Matt this morning. His swollen lip forces him to mumble and he can only see me out of one eye right now, but he seems to be doing all right.

I filled him in on what happened after Simon put him out, let him know that the others are okay. He and Thorpe took the worst of it and the Sharks came off badly. I didn’t mention the General’s appearance or the questions about the fight; there’s no point worrying him just yet. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of time to worry about repercussions once he’s back on his feet or at least able to form audible sentences.

I had to ask him about what happened. The subject stood like an elephant between us; we both knew that it needed to be aired.

“Did they go after Terry?” There wasn’t any point beating around the bush on this.

His visible eye went hard and unhappy – not a look I’ve seen on my friend before. He nodded stiffly. I held his hand loosely, unable to grip him because of the wrappings around his bruised, torn knuckles. “Couldn’t get to me,” he said.

I looked at him and saw what he meant, saw the cogs turning under his skin. My stomach went cold and I shook my head. “Matt, it wasn’t your fault.”

His glance away disagreed with me. He believed that because they couldn’t get to him, they went after his weaker friend instead. To punish him, to prove that he wasn’t as untouchable as he’d like to make out. Poor Terry never knew to protect himself from that.

“You didn’t do this,” I told him. “They did. You did nothing wrong, nothing at all. It’s not your fault.”

He didn’t answer. I couldn’t stand seeing him like that, beaten and still punishing himself. He hardly looks like the boy I grew up with, the one I’ve known forever.

“You stopped them.” I kept speaking because I hated the silence between us. “Before they– I mean, Terry, they didn’t hurt him badly.” I hoped I was right. Terry hadn’t seemed badly hurt when I checked him over – he’d been hit and his hands were the least damaged of everyone involved, but that was it. I didn’t want to put the possibility of rape into words, but luckily I didn’t need to. Neither of us wanted that spelled out, as if hearing it made it more real, more tangible.

“Yeah,” he mumbled to me, sighing. We were both relieved.

“So, you saved him.”

He glanced at me, unwilling to unbend from his guilt, but his fingers wiggled at my hand lightly. That was enough on that. “Was coming to see you.” It sounded like a change of subject but I wasn’t sure.

“Who was? You?”

He nodded. That was the only reason he came across Terry and the Sharks; he was on his way here. I don’t like to think about luck like that.

“Well, for future reference, you don’t have to go getting yourself stabbed just to see me. Next time, fake a sniffle, okay?”

He blinked at me, and then he groaned. I’m not sure if he said ‘ow’ or ‘cow’, but I am sure that he was laughing, at least a little bit. I was close enough for him to ruffle my hair with his fingertips and I grinned at him. That was better. That was more like my Matt.

Next thing I knew, he was grappling at my hand, awkwardly because of his bound knuckles. “Wanted to tell you somethin’,” he said.

He sounded so intent that my smile faded. I remembered him trying to talk to me yesterday when he had just got here, and I watched him struggling to get the words out with a growing sense of dread. “What is it? I’m here, Matt. What’s wrong?”

He shook his head and I think he tried to smile, but it was hard to tell with his fat lip. “Not wrong. S’good. Promise. You gotta come with me somewhere.”

“What, now? You’re not going anywhere, mister.”

“Soon.” He looked so proud of himself, but he was tapping the back of my hand with his fingertips the way I like, so I couldn’t hold it against him.

“Simon says you’ll be in bed for a few days.”

He gave a little whine. “Stop makin’ me laugh. Hurts.”


“Simon says? You five?”

“It’s the medic’s name!” I couldn’t help it; by then, I was giggling too.


I poked fun at him until he begged me to stop – it really did hurt – and then I went and did my rounds for the day. I avoided the Shark’s room; he was awake and I didn’t want to have to suppress the urge to smack him.

The other Seekers came back for fresh dressings, fresh from a grilling by the cutouts. They have soldiers in the dorms, making sure the peace is nailed down, but somehow that’s not a great reassurance. No-one has come to talk to Matt yet, but I think Simon had something to do with that. I’m hoping that the General comes down to do it; I haven’t forgotten my list and he won’t get away from me so easily again.

In the meantime, I’m keeping my best friend company and trying to help him forget how much pain he’s in. If I have to sleep in that chair again, I’m going to wake up cricked.

Friday, 25 September 2009 - 7:49 pm


When I got back last night, I was still trying to figure out what I had learned from the General and what use it might be. I forgot most of it when I saw Matt.

His face was flushed again, but he hadn’t been up this time. He kept saying that he was fine but he was definitely too hot. I ignored his protests and did my job.

I called Simon in and the medic agreed about the fever. He checked the stab wound and found it angrier than it had been when I changed the dressings yesterday. Violent red lines lead away from it, poisoning Matt’s whole body with the infection.

It’s not really a surprise, we were told, considering the rusty blade that made the hole. I stared at my friend and asked why he didn’t mention it earlier, but he just shrugged. He didn’t want to worry anyone. I told him that he’s an idiot but I kept a tight hold on his hand.

Simon has given him antibiotics and said we’ll see how it goes. He was tight-lipped about it; he’s more guarded than usual, so it must be bad. This kind of infection is nothing to be casual about at the best of times, and this isn’t one of those.

I sat with Matt all day, even when he slept. I snuck in a bowl of water to ease the fever with, trying to make him more comfortable. The antibiotics need some time to work. A couple of days, the medic thinks, then we might see some improvement; in the meantime, he’ll probably get worse.


Matt’s more scared by this than he’s letting on. He’s keeping so much inside these days – he jokes and chats with me well enough, but he doesn’t say what’s really going on with him. I don’t know if it’s the Sharks or the space between the dorms, but something is making him clam up. He’s usually so open and honest, especially with me, and the notion that something has interfered with him that much scares me.

I’m trying my best at just being here anyway. Trying to keep him going with whatever trivialities I can think of. We talked a bit about the General and the situation here.

He squeezed my hand and said, “I know, Faithy. I know. It’ll be okay. We’ll be okay.”


The other injured Seekers came in today to get checked over. I had to pull Thorpe into another room to check on his ribs – he still won’t let any of the others know about it. From the looks Dale was giving us, I think he knows, so at least someone is looking out for the big lug day to day. They’re all healing okay, though.

We exchanged news. I told them what happened with Jersey – she’s back on sanitation duty, along with the fella she attacked – and that Matt was sick. They all went in to talk to him, and that cheered him up a bit.

Terry asked about Tia, but I haven’t seen her in days. I told him I’d find her and make sure she’s all right. Dale filled me in on the latest activities of the Sharks – in short, they’re keeping their heads down, both in regards to the cutouts and the Seekers. They’re not well-liked, so at least this might not blow up into something larger. I can only hope that it’s actually finished now.

Dan is the only one of the Seekers who wasn’t involved in the altercation, and word is that he’s doing okay. As quiet and unobtrusive as he is, I think Dan would fit in anywhere. He knows when to keep his mouth shut and do as he’s told. Maybe I should see if he’s got any advice for me in that regard.

I must have looked stressed, because each of my visiting friends asked me if I was okay. Even Thorpe – when he asked, I almost crumpled into tears again, because he doesn’t usually do that. I just miss my friends, I told him. I’m worried about all of them and Matt’s sick, and nothing here is what we were looking for. He patted my shoulder and I took a shuddering, steadying breath, trying not to lose control of my emotions all over him.

“We’ll work it out,” he said. We. That was exactly what I needed to hear.

He’s a rock. I never realised before how valuable that is, though a part of me always knew it. I don’t think I’ve needed it more than I do now. I was sad when he had to leave.


They went just before the rain came, and I returned to sit by Matt’s side. Sick of trying to sleep on a chair, I pulled a gurney into the room and crammed it against the wall. Most of my gear is here anyway. Simon tried to argue with me when I brought it over from the dorms, but I find that just not listening to him and doing what I need to works fine. I’m not leaving; it’s that simple.

Matt is still feverish and dozing. At the last check, his temperature had risen another couple of notches. There’s not a lot that we can do about it, though I’m still dampening him when I can. We just need to wait for the antibiotics to kick in. I think it’s going to be another long night.

He’s going to be all right, though. He has to be.

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Saturday, 26 September 2009 - 6:46 pm

The unseen face

Today, my heart has been pulled a hundred different ways. I have seesawed so much – despair, euphoria, pain – and now I’m wrung out and don’t know what to do next. A part of me can hardly believe that all of this is true.

It’s so muddled. I don’t know where to start. I want to skip to the end but I don’t want to forget the beginning. My heart remembers the beginning and aches.


I was up most of last night. Matt’s fever was still high. Simon had given him what drugs he could but they weren’t doing much. He said that if Matt wasn’t better by the next afternoon, we would have to look at more extreme alternatives. When I asked him what that meant, he looked grave and gestured towards the injured leg.

“Remove the source of the problem,” is how he put it. I went cold all over and suddenly couldn’t speak at all. The idea made me sick.

“What?” I said eventually.

He looked at me sadly and sighed. “If it comes to that, it’s the leg or his life.”

I told him to get out. He couldn’t have either. He just couldn’t.

I couldn’t sleep, my head full of Simon’s ultimatum. Matt drifted in and out all through the dark hours. I talked to him, even sang a bit, though he probably didn’t hear most of it. I’m not sure if it was more for him or me. I had to keep him from slipping any further away, and they say that people can hear even when they’re asleep. Even in comas, they hear the voices around them. It was a slender thread between us, trembling on the air. I can’t even remember what I said to him – stories from when we were kids mostly, as if the weight of memories might be enough to hold him down.

He was awake long enough to drink something earlier. He smiled at me and asked how I was doing. I said I was sick of looking after his lazy ass and he laughed weakly. We knew it wasn’t true but pretending seemed better for both of us.

He fell asleep again a little while later. When I was sure he was out, I left the room to get some air and have a little break down. It’s so hard, doing this again. It was like this with Dillon. I kept telling him that it would be okay, just hold on, it’ll be all right. I talked to him about nothing and tried to keep his spirits up. He smiled and squeezed my hand and thanked me. And then he went away.

I don’t know if I can face that again. I don’t have a choice, not really; I can’t hide from this. I won’t. He’s my best friend and he’s always there for me when I need him. I won’t leave him alone, and I won’t let him leave me either. He’s not allowed.

When I got back to his room, Simon was there with his grim face and regretful expression. I told him no. I didn’t care if it was time or if it was his best chance. They’re not taking any pieces of him, and the infection was most likely too entrenched in the rest of his system by now anyway. The Sharks have taken so much from him and they’re damn well not getting a limb too. He’s going to be fine, if only to spite them and because I said so.

It was the perfect time for Matt to wake up. I’m not sure how much he heard. He asked me quietly what was going on. I didn’t want to tell him, but his expression asked for the truth and I didn’t have the heart to deny it. When I told him what Simon wanted to do, the horror that crossed his face was enough for me.

“He doesn’t want it,” I told the medic. “And he doesn’t need it. He’s gonna be fine.”

Simon knows how stubborn I can be and it wasn’t a battle he wanted to fight. He told me that it was my choice, heaped the responsibility on my head, and then left us to it. I think he knew that putting it that way would make me waver, but I can’t believe that I might be wrong. I’ve lost so much lately that I’m not losing any more, not even a part of a friend.


I sat down with Matt and he tangled his hand up with mine. His hands are still bandaged – I told him that he knows how to fight, and that he needs to keep doing that for just a little while longer, until this thing it out of his system. I wanted to tell him that he’s not allowed to go but the words wouldn’t come out of my throat. He thanked me and I kissed him instead.

“I have a confession to make,” he said suddenly. I looked puzzled, so he went on, “You remember that person you saw, when we first got here?”

I nodded. Sometimes, I couldn’t get that image out of my head: the incomplete one from the day we arrived here. The face I didn’t quite see, the body I don’t quite remember, the reason I shouted out.

“I think I know who it was. There’s someone here you need to see. Should’ve told you days ago, but he made me promise not to. Wanted to tell you himself.”

I stared at him, trying to think of who it might be and failing to come up with anything. My head has been too full of Matt and the General for there to be room for anyone else.

“He was s’posed to come see you.” He squeezed my hand. “Guess he got a little held up.” He nodded towards the door and I slid off the bed.


When I turned around, everything stopped. The world tilted and I thought I was falling, but I hadn’t moved. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe.

I was five years old and my sister was telling me that Santa Claus didn’t exist. I was eighteen, watching her being lowered into the ground. I was nineteen, watching my mother back out of the driveway for the last time. I was twenty-two and my boyfriend was screwing my closest girlfriend. My heart was breaking and, every time, there was that same hand on my shoulder, the same wordless hug.


Tuesday, 29 September 2009 - 10:30 pm

The final struggle

Matt got worse last night. He was writhing and making wordless, painful noises – that’s what dragged me away from yesterday’s post. For a while, all I could do was hold him down so he didn’t hurt himself.

I begged him to stop. My heart was thrashing in denial because my head kept whirling with ‘this is it, this is the end’. Dread crept over me like clammy ice. I can’t have them both. It’s not allowed, and so he was being taken away.

He was fighting so hard and I couldn’t help but think he would lose. This was the last of his strength, spinning itself out in a last-ditch attempt to shake off the infection.

When he started to calm, it was out of exhaustion rather than victory. He was shaking and gasping, snatching at the air while his limbs settled down on the bed again. Don’t go, I said to him. Don’t leave me. Stay. Stay here. I can’t lose you like I lost Dillon. I just can’t. You mean too much to me.

We went around like that twice more last night. Each time, he was weaker when he finished struggling. Each time, I was convinced that we were done, that he’d finally had enough.


Shortly before dawn, it was the fever that broke. Matt drifted down into a quiet slumber and the catch left his breathing. I didn’t know whether to trust it or not, so I sat up watching him, tracking the rise and fall of his chest, sponging off his face and neck. Looking for any sign that he was still in trouble.

The orange sunlight had crept over most of the room by the time he woke. He groaned and blinked up at me, then he said that I looked terrible. That wasn’t the phrase he used, but it was enough to make me laugh the kind of laugh that is all sharp edges and desperate relief. I cut it short before I slid into weeping. I feel like I’ve done little other than cry lately.

I managed to get him to eat something. I wanted to keep him awake, keep him talking and looking at me, but I let him fall asleep again. It’s good sleep now – it’s the rest he needs. He’s weak and pale, but his temperature is coming down and he’s over the worst of it. I’m too nervous to say that he’s on the mend, but that’s what it looks like.

I was so tired that I fell asleep not long after he did this morning. Simon woke me up, asking what I was doing. A small, mean part of me thinks he knew that I had been up for the past three nights and had only just gone to sleep, but I’m trying not to listen to it. He said there was work to do and I rolled over and went back to sleep. If it was an emergency, he would have woken me again, but he didn’t.


I don’t know if it’s because I’m tired or because of the draining events of the past few days, but I’m finding it hard to believe that Matt is going to be okay now. I want to be relieved but something is coiled too tightly inside me. It’s poised, holding its breath. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop and I have no idea what colour it is.

Sometimes, I tell myself I’m being paranoid and silly; it is what it looks like. I just can’t feel that right now. I want to curl up on his shoulder and sleep, and know that he’ll be all right when I wake up. But there’s no room for me on the bed and I can’t bring myself to have that much faith.

Also, something is bothering me about the soup that I gave him. Not the soup itself – that was fine, I made sure – but the can it was in. I just can’t put my finger on what’s bothering me.

Hopefully things will make more sense in the morning.

Thursday, 1 October 2009 - 8:17 pm


I can’t believe it’s October.

In the weird limbo of this After world, it’s so easy to lose track of time as it slips past us. With houses and stores still decorated for Christmas, it’s hard to remember we left the holiday behind us months ago. We’ve lost summer and passed through a frozen winter since then. Now, we’re coming back into warmer weather; there’s no more ice and it should be warm enough to actually dry the rain up properly soon. Soon, we will have moved full circle and the decorations will be timely again.

So much has stayed the same through these long months and roads. The orange tint to the sky, staining everything an eerie, Mars-like colour. The low cloud-cover creating a ceiling that weighs on us, heavy with shifting threat. The rain falling in the afternoon and eroding everything in its path. The more recent additions of the Sickness and the mindless husks that it makes us.

A lot has changed, too. The landscape is scoured down, stripped of everything green and growing. The infrastructure that let us live in accustomed comfort is gone, shattered into useless chunks of brick and metal. Fresh water cannot be trusted. There are no protections except what we make for ourselves.

More than any of that, we’ve been changed. We’re not the same people who stumbled out of the wreckage after the bomb hit. Soft edges have been replaced by lean lines, through hunger and fighting and struggling and walking, so much walking to try to find something better. All of us bear scars from our battles; some, only on the inside. They can show more clearly than the skin we cover up.


Last month, I turned twenty-three. Despite keeping this journal, I completely missed the day. It’s sad, like the sound of a single party hooter blowing in an empty room.

I feel a lot older than that. I don’t feel like the girl who was still skipping around on Cody’s arm a year ago, with no idea that he was screwing my best friend. I don’t even feel like the girl who floundered after his image shattered, trying to find out how to be someone without him. She went out and got a tattoo on her back; I keep forgetting it’s there.

Dad hasn’t seen it yet. I wonder what he’d say.

My best friend Matt has changed a lot, too. Not the bruises or his pale, thin look. That’ll fade as he gets better. Not even the scars he doesn’t think I’ve seen, from the time before the Seekers found him. It’s the things that matter to him that have shifted..

I haven’t seen his natural hair colour since he was old enough to buy his own bleach, and once he discovered gel it was short spikes all the way. Now it’s dark and shaggy, down past his ears with little blonde tips. He was always meticulous about how he dressed and showered more often than I did, but his jeans are torn and stained, his shoes have seen better days, and his shirts smell as good as mine do. He doesn’t take longer to get ready to go out than I do any more.

He doesn’t seek to stand out, either. He isn’t so eager for attention, not the way he was, though not even the end of the world could make him a shrinking violet. I guess we’re all dented in our own way.


The hard part about looking back is turning around again. When I contemplate the future, I feel even more lost and disconnected. The past stuns me – I see the path we’ve walked and can barely believe that we’ve made it all this way. But when I look forward, I struggle to see even the next step. I don’t know where we’re going any more. I don’t know if here is all there is for us – I hope not. I desperately hope that this isn’t it.

There must be more. I didn’t pick the name of our group, but I believe in it. It’s who I am now: a Seeker. It’s foolish, but I miss the road. It was always more than just surviving for us out there. It’s the striving for more that I miss.

Maybe I’ll never be happy in one place. Maybe I’m looking for something that doesn’t exist any more.

I don’t know, but a part of me wants to find out.

Friday, 2 October 2009 - 8:23 pm

While the cat’s away

Hey, it’s Matt here.

Bet you didn’t think you’d hear from me again. Tell the truth, neither did I for a while, and I think Faith was there too.

She’s off at the admin building, harassing the General again. The rain’s running late tonight – it’s only a fine mist, but still not something anyone wants to walk in. She won’t be back until after it stops completely.

I hope she’s all right over there. She can look after herself well enough, but her mouth isn’t always smart. It has a habit of running away with her and they don’t even need their military weapons to be a danger to her. She still believes that basic decency will stop people from doing what they want, until they prove otherwise. Even after everything.

I had to insist that she go, though. She didn’t want to leave me – she thinks I’ll evaporate when she’s not looking. It’s touching but it’s time for her to do what she needs to do. If that means going to berate the leader of this place we’re in, then she should go do that. I’m still stuck in this bed, so I’ll be right here when she gets back.

I haven’t read over any of her posts. I won’t lie – it was tempting (who wouldn’t be tempted by a chance to read someone else’s diary? Especially when they might have talked about you?). She knew it was a risk when she left the laptop with me for safekeeping. But I don’t want to look at it. I don’t want to see what the past few days did to her. I still haven’t got over it all myself.

She’s so thin. Not physically – well, she is a bit, but that’s not what I mean. She’s worn down and papery on the inside, so easily torn.

I’m not quite egotistical enough to believe that it’s all me. It’s this place. It wears at all of us – it’s not just her; I’ve seen it in others around here. Contrarily, the ones least affected by Haven are those I despise most: the Sharks. Not exactly a model that any of us with a heart and a conscience want to emulate.


I feel like there’s stuff I should write here. About nearly dying. About seeing the Sharks again. About Faith and her dad.

I’m not ready for all that yet. Faith works her issues out in words, typed into this blog as if that helps them make sense. That’s not me. Sometimes it is, but not right now. I guess we’re all hardening against the world in our own way.

I can talk about Faith and her dad, I guess. That’s okay. He’s a good guy, never gave me crap about anything, though once he did ask me, “Are you going to lead my girl into trouble?” I laughed – if anyone else had asked me that, I would have been angry, but he sounded like he didn’t want to ask at all. Always did struggle with the whole fatherly thing; women are a mystery to him, including his daughters. He did his best to tick all the boxes he knew about.

Back then, he frowned at me and said I’d better look out for her. And I did. I have no idea if Faith ever knew about that, my little promise to her dad. I think she would have been furious with both of us.

It was an off-hand comment from Thorpe that took me to find him. I haven’t had much to do with the machine shops and garages – they kept sticking me up on roofs, taping plastic down to keep the rain out. There are so many guys here that I just hadn’t seen him. Then the big lug goes and mentions a MacIntyre, and off I run to see if it really is my best friend’s father.

I wouldn’t have been so pleased if it was my own father, but that’s another story.

He was so surprised he nearly fell over. I grinned so hard I nearly cried and shouted, “Daddy Mac!” He frowned at me the way he always did and I laughed. He hates it when I call him that. When Faith was about twelve, she decided she hated her name and wanted to be called ‘Mac’, so it was only natural that her father became ‘Daddy Mac’. It gets a disapproving look out of him every time, but he loves it really. Well, it’s a private joke between us. Mostly.

Of course, he asked about his little girl, all propped up for bad news. He almost broke down when I said that she was not only alive, but here, right here. It’s so embarrassing when a guy like him cries – you end up looking away until he’s done, out of mutual discomfort and a weird sense of courtesy. He controlled himself and asked how she was. If I’d been looking after her. All that stuff.

I wanted to drag him off to see her right then, but he said he needed time to clean himself up. Like any of us can ever really wash any more (I still hate that). He made me promise not to tell her that he’s here – he wanted to do it himself. He wanted to go meet her. I wasn’t going to take that away from him.

Of course, that was days before he actually came to see her. I don’t know what held him up. I waited for a few days, got angry and asked him why he hadn’t gone to let her know that he’s alive, and decided to bring her to him. Then… well. That’s when I found Terry and the Sharks.

He got here eventually, though. I saw the look on her face when she saw him. Poor Faith, strong for everyone except herself. I guess that means she still needs her friends, huh?


Speak of the devil, here she comes. I’d know that doorslam anywhere. I’d better put this away and look pathetic so she takes care of me. Not that I need to – I’m pathetic enough already, thanks very much, and Faith is a big softie.

Can’t wait to hobble the hell out of here.

Sunday, 4 October 2009 - 10:12 pm

Clipping cover

It’s been a couple of hours since the cutouts came through. I didn’t dare check on the laptop before now.

When I got up this morning, I wasn’t sure about whether or not I would be able to post. The battery on the laptop was critically low and I didn’t want to get caught charging it on the base’s circuits. The last time I tried was too close for comfort. I know they’ll take the laptop if they find out about it, and dammit, it’s mine.


Matt and I were talking about nothing when the idea struck us. He’s doing much better – he’s got his colour back and even tried to hobble around the room today. Afterwards, he was breathless but not flushed or shaky like he was before. I think it’s safe to believe that he’s going to be okay now. As I was watching him today, something relaxed inside me and I felt myself smiling like I haven’t in so long. No reservations, no caution. Just smiling.

As he was crutching his way around the bed, he kept shaking his head so he could see through his mop. I teased him about it and he suggested that I cut it for him. I had nothing better to do at the time, so I went to find scissors. Buried among the medical equipment was a set of clippers, so I brought them back, too.

At first, I had no idea why an infirmary would have a set of electric clippers. Then I thought about the times when they might have to be used – headwounds, or delicately-placed wounds, or just really hairy guys. I looked at them differently after I realised their real purpose, and I didn’t particularly want to touch them. I checked the blades for blood as well as rust, just in case.

If Matt has the same realisation, he didn’t show it, and I know he’s more squeamish than I am. He was pleased to see them, eager to deal with his overgrown shag, but I had to pause.

“We’ll get in trouble,” I told him. I explained what happened the first time I tried to plug in.

He went quiet, musing over the risk and reward, and then gave me a sideways look that was all mischief. I know that look – it means he’s having an idea that’s bound to get someone in trouble.

“They’ll notice one – but will they know if there’s two?” he said.

Neither of us knew the answer to that, but it was a fair bet that they probably wouldn’t notice an extra electrical device. They knew where there was a draw on the system, but did they know how many, or how much? It was risky for many reasons, not least of all what their idea of punishment might be.

I checked with him four times to make sure he really wanted to do it – get caught with the clippers so we could hide the charging of the laptop. Then I pointed out that he would have to trust me with clippers near his head. He laughed and said he was sure.

My heart was thrumming quickly the whole time. We had to wait until the rain started and then for it to start to get dark, when the generators kicked in and sent electricity sluggishly through the circuits. We had a candle to see by, and cutting hair by candlelight is harder than you’d think. Matt had to show me how to use the clippers and I strained my eyes desperately trying not to nick his ears or neck.

It took them a lot longer to find us than we thought. On the plus side, the laptop’s battery is almost completely full – good enough for a while. By the time we heard the approaching footsteps, I was so nervous that I was almost jiggling from foot to foot – I only held still because I had to be careful and concentrate on what I was doing. Then my pulse ratcheted up a couple of notches and I hurried to hide the laptop and its cord.

We were caught red-handed. Me with buzzing clippers in hand and a horribly guilty expression, and Matt with most of his hair on the floor. He does a good wide-eyed expression when he wants to.

The cutouts were less impressed, and none too gentle in taking the clippers off me. I had to struggle briefly so that the one reaching for them didn’t cut himself, and it took me several minutes to convince them to let me show them where the cover was. I was sure one of them would get hurt.

I was terrified that they’d look under Matt’s bed and see the laptop secreted away underneath among the metal struts. I had to make a conscious effort not to glance at it, just in case a loop of wire was showing, just in case it had fallen down to the floor, because one of them might see me look and go to investigate. To me, it pulsed under there like a beacon begging to be located, an itch on my senses. Luckily, the cutouts were oblivious.

After they left, I leant on the bed, shaking. I couldn’t believe they didn’t find it. They had made all kinds of ominous noises about reporting the clipper-incident to the General, but I didn’t really care about that. I still don’t. My laptop is here and charged up, and that’s what really matters.

Put like that, it sounds small and petty. It’s just a laptop. But it’s so much more to me. It’s our story. It’s all I have left of those I’ve lost along the way. Ben, Dillon. Thorpe’s Trevor. Sax. Carter. Those we left behind at the University. It could be used to find those at the University. I don’t trust Haven with anyone there.

No, the laptop is mine and I’m going to keep it. I’ll take whatever the General dishes out. I can handle him, I think.

I didn’t need to explain any of this to Matt – he gets it. He has used it to post too and it means almost as much to him as it does to me. He’s a good friend, too. He’d have helped me today even if he hadn’t put himself in here.

I made him keep some of his hair long at the front. Longer than usual – enough to flop into his eyes. It’s cuter that way. He rolled his eyes at me but he let me do it. For a little while there, he let me do anything I wanted. It feels so strange, trusting and being trusted. Like a tiny piece of home in the middle of a swamp.


Mission accomplished. It’s a tiny victory and we can’t tell anyone about it, but it’s a flag we’ve planted in our hearts. In the face of the obelisk that is Haven, a small win like this matters. It’s for us, it helps us stay who we are.

I don’t like the Sharks or their victories, but I understand them now. I don’t like seeing from the perspective of people like that – it makes my flesh crawl with the kind of unclean that you can’t wash off, not even with water. They’re in Haven, but they’re still Sharks. They do what makes them Sharks.

We’re here but we’re still Seekers. We still Seek – answers, mostly. A safer, better place to be. And I still record it all, for that future set of eyes that will look back and wonder how any of us made it through this.

Here is how. We did things we aren’t proud of. We made compromises and sacrifices. We hid behind a pair of clippers and innocent expressions, and prepared to swallow the punishment. But we stayed ourselves.

It’s worth it.