I settle into a rhythm, and the miles roll past. Even though the day stays cold, walking with the trailer is hard work, especially as I sometimes have to drag it along the verge to get around obstructions in the road. Here and there cracks in the road will catch the wheels and bring me up short. Getting hot, I strip off my coat and throw it into the trailer. The sweat on my back and chest prickles in the cold air. How far have I come? Got to be two miles at least.
Despite the effort it's not a bad walk. For the most part it's quite peaceful: long stretches of the road pass without any sign of devastation. The trees are rich in colour, their shed leaves piling up on the ground in huge red-gold drifts. Birds sing and deer disappear into the trees at my approach.
And then, after a morning filled with peace and nature, I start to see craters.
The first one I come to is right beside the road. It's huge, perhaps a football field across, and the trees around the edge are stunted and blackened from fire. However, time has done a lot to heal the landscape. The bowl of the crater is furred with grass and shrubs, and there's a mossy pond in the very bottom of the dip. I can imagine that in a few years it may not look like a crater at all.
Strangely, there are no Creatures here. I remember when me and Lisa left the city two months ago every crater we saw had its component of bone-white monsters standing guard around the lip. But here there's no sign at all of them. Nor of the Worm which they would feed. It worries me. Does this mean the things are out hunting in the day now? Or have they abandoned this crater, moved on? What's happened here?
I don't linger for long at the edge of the pit. It unnerves me, and I move swiftly on. The next crater I see--distantly this time, a scoop taken from the side of a hill that rears up above the road--is also overgrown, also lacking in any signs of the Creatures. And so it goes for the rest of the day. I pass by seven craters in all. Some I only see in the distance and some are so close that they take a bite from the road itself. Each one of them is completely lifeless.
It's really starting to worry me as I sit down to rest and take a midday meal. The empty craters are a mystery, a source of uncertainty. Something has changed and I don't know what it is, or what it might mean for me and Lisa. On the one hand it could be a good thing: it might mean that the Creatures are dying out, that the world is reverting to how it was before. But then that can't be true: as recently as two nights ago I heard those same monsters calling out in the middle of the night.
Another thing worries me as well. Having been on the road the entire morning I haven't seen a single other human being. Not one. I remember that when I was walking away from the city with Lisa we went for days without seeing anyone, so I know that I shouldn't panic just yet. All the same I can't escape the uncomfortable feeling of emptiness that surrounds me.
I don't rest for long. Soon enough I'm back on my feet and walking. Another few hours pass, the miles dropping uneventfully behind me. The road curves gently around, and as I come to the crest of hill I look down and see the small town for which I'm heading sprawled below me. I stop walking. There in the middle of town is another crater, and this one is anything but dead.