Sunday, 12 July 2009 - 6:10 pm


It’s been a strange couple of days here in the Department of Chemistry and Biological Sciences. We’ve been trying to catch our breaths and get a handle on what’s here at the same time. It has been like snatching a lungful of smoke when you’re drowning.

The cold outside is winching down on the world. The rain is falling more as sleet than water and the ice is taking longer and longer to melt away in the mornings. We haven’t been eager to go outside in all of that, even if the shamblers weren’t out there. They’re still wandering around the campus, searching for prey they can’t get to thanks to the watery barrier latched onto the exterior of this building.

Inside, it’s much warmer. There’s a boiler somewhere in the bowels of the building, and there’s fuel enough to heat at least some of the rooms. Dr Kostoya, the denizen of this particular haven, has given us one of the teaching rooms to squat in while we wait out this freezing weather. We’re enjoying the chance to sit around without a few of our many layers on. No need to chance an indoor fire here or sit huddling in blankets.

We’ve been able to take stock. Masterson says that the injured are doing all right and none of us appear to have the Sickness right now. The runners are getting their strength back, and Bree’s little group are still tagged onto our edges. The Seekers are still making decisions for everyone but I don’t know how long that will last. As people get comfortable, they get confident and start to question. I don’t blame them but it does make things more complicated for all of us.

Dillon is doing better. He’s spending as much time on the crutches as he can, practicing moving around on them. I told him to take it easy, but he looked at me and said that he didn’t want to slow us down.

“Look after yourself,” I told him. “That’s the best thing you can do for everyone. We won’t leave you behind, hopalong.”

He seemed relieved but he did another circuit of the room anyway. “Just because,” he said.

Dale seems to be getting stronger, too. He hasn’t been up and about as much as the kid, but he’s shifting for himself more. Thorpe continues to keep an eye on him, though he doesn’t need to carry him any more. I’m starting to wonder if Thorpe is busying himself with the Wolverine as an excuse to stay away from Matt.

Ben is still frosty whenever my friend hangs around me for too long. I’m doing my best to ignore it; I’m not going to let his insecurity dictate who I can and can’t talk to. I don’t like to upset him but Matt and I have done nothing wrong.

Ben has been snappish since we got here, and it’s not just because of his trust issues. I noticed after we got inside that his ears were bright red, along with a stripe on his neck where his scarf had slipped. I tried to check it but he wouldn’t let me; he kept saying that he was fine. It looks like sunburn – and we were outside for most of the morning – but it still doesn’t quite make sense. We used to wander around all day when it was warmer and no-one got burnt, not with the constant cloudcover and orange sun-filter. Whatever it is, he doesn’t want me to make a fuss and it’s not worth fighting over.

He said something cryptic today about not everyone being what they appear. He was looking at Jersey when he said it, and then his eyes followed Sally as she passed in front of him. I know she’s keeping herself bundled so that no-one notices her baby-bump, but I have no idea what Jersey might be hiding. Maybe he didn’t mean that. Whatever he meant, I don’t like the taste it laid on the back of my tongue.

We have enough mysteries to keep us busy right now; we don’t need them swelling up within our own ranks.


Dr Kostoya has been elusive. He visits us every now and then, mostly to berate us about straying outside of the room he’s allowing us to stay in. He’d like us to stay in this room or leave – preferably the latter. He knows that he can’t evict us forcibly, so he’s making do with putting up fences around us. I can’t say that I blame him.

We haven’t seen anyone else since we got here. It’s possible that he’s here alone; that thought saddens me and it’s no wonder he doesn’t trust us. I keep trying to catch him for a conversation, but he’s here and then gone again. It’s like he knows that I want to talk to him and is doing his best to avoid it. I have no idea why.

The others want to explore the building, but in an effort to exhibit good faith, I’ve been keeping everyone as close as possible. I don’t know if it’s working; I can’t be everywhere.

I just realised why I don’t like how this is going. It’s politics. I hate politics, with its power struggles and promises to keep people happy. Compromises of the sort that leave me feeling dirtied. Checking familiar faces for the lie I’m starting to think is there.

Things were simpler when we were on the move, all heading in the same direction.