Apart from the boy I see only a few other people on my trek. One is a woman who I find standing in the middle of the street moaning and pulling at her hair. As I approach I notice that she's drooling, and I realise with a faint thrill of horror that she's no longer sane. I pause, but at that moment she looks up and catches sight of me and, like the boy, bolts away. A dozen streets further on I see in the distance a small group of men and women dressed in grey rags, picking their way through the rubble. I almost call out a greeting, but then I notice that, while many of them wear bloodstained clothing, none are injured. I turn and quietly walk away.
Two hours after I set out, I find what I'm looking for. In front of me stands a mostly-intact supermarket. The glass frontage is completely shattered, and looking inside I can see only a mess of fallen shelves, tangled trolleys and dust. All the same, it's my best chance of finding some food. I step over the lip of the windows cautiously, and pause to allow my eyes to adjust to the relative darkness of inside.
It smells in here. Not the tang of smoke or the sweet reek of decaying bodies. More like rotten eggs than anything else. I suppose that, since the meteors fell, all the fresh produce has simply been left to rot. For some reason the place gives me shivers. I think maybe it's the signage that does it. All those brightly-coloured advertisements lying there in the dust of a broken world. Pictures of happy, healthy-looking shoppers who now surely must be dead. If I had a choice about the matter I would turn around right now and go back to my shelter. But I need food. I need water. Reluctantly, I press on.
It seems that I'm not the first person to come here. The shelves are almost empty of stock; only the foods that have rotted or spoiled remain untouched. I creep up and down the aisles, searching meticulously. I grab some empty plastic bags and fill them with my takings: a few bottles of spring water, half-a-dozen tins, a few packets and jars, lighters, a can opener and a first aid kit. It's not much, but it's more than I've had access to in days.
Once I've gathered all I can I head back to the front of the store. As soon as I'm outside I dump the bags, sit on the bonnet of a wrecked car and fish out a tin of peaches. I split the ring pull and drink messily. The syrup is so sweet, so clear and fine, and the peaches are soft and delicious. I finish the tin in a minute, and though my stomach feels empty I decide against another. I have to make this food last. I have to get back home before the day turns dark and the Creatures come prowling.
I pick up my shopping bags in one hand, grip my gun in the other, and set off back towards my lonely shelter.
An hour later I'm lost, and the sun is just beginning to set.