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Wednesday, 20 April 2011


Progress is slow. Lisa's pregnancy is telling now, and we have to stop for rests every hour. Even with me carrying her pack for her, she has constant back pain. Not that she complains--in fact she keeps resolutely silent about it, her suffering only given away by her face. On our third rest I find a fallen road sign and wipe away the crust of dirt to reveal that we have twelve miles to go to the motorway.

Already I'm wondering if this is a good idea. Travelling now, like this, with Lisa so heavily pregnant means that we're vulnerable. And what if the stresses of travelling hurt the child? But then the alternatives are just as grim: delivering the baby alone and without the help of a doctor could be a disaster.

Either way we're lost.

I can't think clearly anymore. Every so often the image of the crazy falling to the ground will pop back into my head and send my thoughts scattering.

"Okay," says Lisa, standing once more. "Let's go on." We set off again, labouring silently. It's cold enough for our breath to come as vapour, but walking and our layers of warm clothing keep us from feeling it too badly. At midday we pause and eat a small meal, and then we set to walking again, already on the lookout for a place to spend the night. In the end we come to a layby where half a dozen eighteen-wheelers are parked. One has toppled over on its side, spilling its cargo of metal piping out across the road. We check the cabs until we find one with a small compartment in the back, where the driver would have slept. It's as safe and secure as anywhere would be, and me and Lisa climb inside. The cramped little space is decorated with all sorts of charms: brightly-coloured prayer flags cover the walls and a dreamcatcher dangles from the ceiling. Once we've spread out our blankets it's actually quite cosy.

"I wonder what happened to him," says Lisa.

"To who?"

"The driver." She's looking at the prayer flags as she speaks, a small frown creasing her forehead. She's cradling her bump, as she often does these days.

We eat and drink and then settle down to sleep a little before it gets dark. Mindful of what Sven told me about how the Creatures hunt I make sure that we cannot be seen from outside and remind Lisa that we have to be as quiet as we possibly can.

Before long, Lisa has dropped off, but I cannot sleep. It has nothing to do with our surroundings either. Apart from a single Creature call that comes at just past midnight things are silent, at peace. I can feel Lisa's calm and quiet presence beside me, lost in sleep. But each time I come close to drifting off I jerk back awake, the noise of a gunshot replaying in my head, a sour taste filling my mouth.

Sleep, I tell myself furiously the fifth time this happens. You need your rest. There's still a long, long way to go.

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