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Monday, 31 January 2011


Sitting there waiting, the tiredness of a disturbed night's sleep overwhelms me, and I doze off. This time there are no dreams, and when I wake it's to the sound of someone saying my name. I open my eyes, blink away grogginess. Lisa has moved; she's sitting now on one of the padded chairs at the desk. I notice that the bandage around her leg is clean and fresh; she must have changed it herself. I wonder how long I've been out. The patch of sky I can see through the window looks dark, edging towards night.

"David?" says Lisa again.

I sit up. "You okay?"

She nods. "It's getting dark out there. D'you think we'll be safe in this office?"

"No. But then I don't think we'll be safe anywhere, really." I see her worried expression and I realise that this is not what she wanted to hear. I scramble to my feet. "I'll block off the door," I say, doing my best to sound reassuring. "It's worked for me so far."

With a great deal of effort I manage to push the desk and the cabinet up against the door. Both are pretty heavy, and both will be no defence whatsoever in the face of an attack by the Creatures, but once it's done I feel slightly safer.

"You hungry?" I ask.

For a few minutes we busy ourselves with food and water. We eat chocolate and biscuits and some cold tinned vegetables between us. It's a meal, if not a great one. We both eat intently, in silence, the room growing darker around us as night falls. It's only once we've finished that we start to talk. There's no working up to it or anything; it's as if it's a conversation we've been waiting to have all day.

I tell her what happened to me on the day the meteors fell. I do it quickly, not getting too much into the details. I don't want to bring to mind the things I saw, the terror I felt. And Sharon--I see her die too many times in my sleep. The last thing I want to do is haunt my waking hours with the memory of her falling into that gaping mouth.

But I tell her everything, right up until meeting her. When I finish I feel drained, confused, weak. Did all that really happen to me? Did I really see all those awful things? How am I sitting here so calmly? I should be screaming...

But then it's Lisa's turn.

"Well," she says, frowning as she recalls. "I was at home when that first one hit..." She was at home, waiting for her husband to return from the railway station, where he was picking up tickets. And when the first meteor hit she didn't know what to do. She tried to turn on the news but the set wasn't working, so she went out into the street instead, and joined the crowds of worried neighbours who were milling about there.

And then the other rocks started to fall. "I ran back into the house and hid," she says, her voice shaking. "It was like being in an earthquake that just wouldn't stop. For hours. I didn't know what was going on. I was expecting to die any second. I just...I just wanted it all to stop."

Her house wasn't destroyed, but it was pretty badly damaged. As soon as the meteors stopped falling she went to look for her husband. It wasn't long before she ran into chaos.

"There were so many injured people. Hundreds of them, limping or crawling or crying out from the wreckage. There was this one man who I tried to help, but he was so badly burned, all over, all over his whole body. And he couldn't move and he was shaking really badly, and then he just...right there in front of me he just..." She swallows. "Eventually I ran into a group of soldiers."

She fell in with them for a while, and helped to set up a first aid post. And then, out of the dust and the smoke and the confusion, the Creatures came.

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