The third floor is made up of a couple of large rooms full of beds and screens. There's nobody there, and so I head downstairs to the second floor, where a number of doors lead off from the landing into supply cupboards and medical examination rooms. I pause on the landing, trying to make myself as still as possible. Faintly, I can hear the noise of ragged breathing, someone close by barely suppressing their sobs. The noise is coming from the room at the end of the landing, the door to which stands ajar.
Every instinct is telling me to go. To leave, head back to the safety of my shelter. Don't get involved, David. Don't put yourself at risk. There's no knowing how desperate some people might be, or how jumpy. Maybe I'll step into that room and feel a needle in my neck, a bullet in my chest. Maybe it'll be the last thing I ever do. But...
But somehow, I can't just turn around and leave. That sound, of someone crying--in pain perhaps, or out of fear or loneliness--it did something to me. I have to at least try. If I stay alone for much longer I know I'm not going to survive.
Step by step, I inch my way closer to the door. I can definitely hear someone breathing now. They're so close. There's a weird, churning apprehension in my gut. I ready the gun, finger hovering over the trigger. I'm standing right in front of the door now. With my foot, I reach out and nudge it so that it swings open.
From within the room there's a gasp. I don't allow myself another second to change my mind. I step quickly through the door. It's an examination room like all the others, furnished plainly with a bed, a desk, two chairs and a cabinet. Sitting in the corner, as far away from the door as she can get is a woman. She looks young, maybe in her late twenties, her face hidden behind a tangle of dusty brown hair. She's wearing a long skirt and a blue vest top, and staring at me with an expression of absolute terror on her face. I take all of this in within a second, and then I notice something else about her. Sticking out of her leg is a jagged piece of metal almost the size of my forearm.
Her eyes lock with mine, and then flick to the gun in my hands. Her hands fly up to hide her face. "Don't," she says. "Please, don't."