FOUR DAYS LATER
The door has been knocked off its hinges, and lies at an angle across the hallway. I clamber past it and stop still to listen for any sounds inside the house. There are none, and the air in here is rich with the sweet stink of rotting flesh. I move towards the back of the house. Plastic CD cases and damp-ruined books litter the floor. Windows are smashed and dust is everywhere. In the kitchen I slip my backpack off and set it open against a wall, before beginning my systematic search of the cupboards.
Food and water are, as always, the priority. But I know that both me and Lisa need new clothes as well. We've no water to wash clothing, and so it's easier just to find new sets every now and again. And I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for any of the other essentials: gas canisters, bottles, flashlights, medicines and even a few decent books to read.
This house yields only a few tins, a bottle of powdered milk, some chocolate bars and a box of cereal. It's not much, but it's enough to fill the space that remains in my backpack. Satisfied, I close the pack and hoist it onto my shoulders again.
It's not a long walk back to the clinic, and the day is still bright. With time and practice I've gotten better at locating supplies: the bigger shops are almost useless, as they were the first to be stripped of their stock by survivors. What remains are the small caches of food to be found in the kitchens and storerooms of remaining houses. It's not as safe, of course, but so long as I'm careful, keep my ears open and my guard up I can manage to stay out of trouble.
In my search I've made a few good discoveries too. A gas cooker (which I lugged back to the clinic despite it weighing a ton), a portable radio and batteries, a powerful flashlight, and most importantly of all, another weapon. In the back of an overturned army jeep I found a rifle, ammunition and a belt of grenades, all of which remain back at the clinic with Lisa. I was nervous about leaving her at first, but we needed supplies, and now that she has the rifle I'm not so afraid. Of course, I'm fairly sure she'd never use it, but it should act as a deterrent to anyone who might come prowling.
I make my way back through the house to the front door and outside. I stand for a few moments, looking at the sky, feeling the weight of the pack on my back. I check the pistol is still in position on my belt. The street around me is eerily still, but I'm used to it by now. At the far end of the road a dog trots into view, pauses for a moment, then disappears again behind a pile of bricks.
I set off towards home, walking slowly, enjoying the freedom of being outside. These times, during the day, when the Creatures are frozen into statues, it seems as though the world could be a human place again. Could be mine again.
Like an idiot, I'm lost in my thoughts as I round a corner and come face to face with them.