For a long time I stay that way, frozen. The muzzle of the gun is cold, pressing into my skin. My arm trembles with the weight. I'm nothing more than a second, nothing more than a tiny movement of my finger away from ending it all, forever. How good that would be, never to have to feel hunger or fear again. Never to have to hide again, to have nightmares again, to feel grief or shock or hunger again. Never to hear another human being screaming in terror as they're hauled away to become food for the Worms.
My head is full of Sharon. Blood and Creatures. Worms and meteors and fire. I'm going to die sooner or later. Better like this than at the claws and jaws of the Creatures. I breathe in, hold that breath, squeeze my eyes tight shut...
And then I put the gun down and get up off the bed.
I've made my home on the second floor of a block of flats that survived the destruction. How I ended up here is a blur. After Sharon was killed I don't remember much except for running and hiding and stumbling blindly through that awful thick smoke. It was during that period that I found the gun, lying on the ground just inches from the outstretched hand of a dead soldier. Without thinking, I snatched the weapon up and carried on. I think it was a day, maybe two before I found this building, itself largely untouched by the devastation the meteors had brought. Of course, the windows were all broken, and a few of the lower flats flooded or gutted by fire. But up here on the second floor I found an empty apartment and made it my home.
I go to the window now and peer cautiously outside. It's daytime, the sun shining weakly through a dusty sky. Even a month later the smog remains, though the air is now clear enough to see by. Out there the city is flat, all but levelled. Here and there buildings remain, poking up from the tangled ruins like monoliths, incongruously whole. And you can see still a rough layout of the streets. In places the wreckage is interrupted by great craters, as if a giant has come along and scooped out a handful of the world, leaving nothing behind but a raw and gaping pit.
It is around these pits that the Creatures gather. It seems that they sleep during the day and hunt at night. I can see them now, scattered about the lip of the nearest crater like standing stones. Six or seven of them, and the huge, curled body of a Worm. Asleep, they are all incredibly still, so much so that if I hadn't seen them move myself I would have thought that they were statues.
I turn away from the window. The hunger is starting to gnaw already, but I know without checking that there's no food left inside the flat. For the last thirty days I've eked out what I found in this and the neighbouring apartments. The little fresh food there was lasted only a few days, and since then I've survived on tins. For the last two days, however, I've had nothing but dusty, metallic-tasting water.
I can't go on like this. I have to go and find some food. I have to leave my shelter.