"Tell me about this place," I say. "How come there are no Creatures there?"
Sven shrugs. "Luck, we think. It's a tiny place, and it seems like it just managed to dodge being hit by a meteor. I was one of the first to head out there after the rocks came down. I lived on the bay, and it seemed like a good idea to get some water between me and the craziness. I stole a boat and motored across with a couple of my good friends. We found the island villagers, all panicking and desperate for news." Sven laughs bitterly. "They didn't even believe us when we told them what had happened."
"And who's in charge? You must have a leader, right?"
"We do. Her name's Rebekah, and she's a real sweet girl when you get to know her."
"She a good leader? Fair? What happens to me and my friends if we go there?"
"She's the best leader I can think of, David. I believe in her, and I don't say that lightly. And you should know that we run a democracy in Holme. Elections every year, that's the plan. And you and your friends would become citizens of Holme, so you'd be able to vote. You'd be given houses, and jobs, and if you didn't like it you'd be free to leave anytime. Those three are for certain: everyone gets a place to live, everyone gets a job, and everyone is free. Other than that, well, we're still sort of working things out as we go along."
Sven glances around him and then slowly stands and stretches. I tense a little, but not too much. He doesn't feel like a threat anymore.
"Holme's a good place, David," says Sven. "I been travelling a month and you're the tenth survivor I've run into, and the fourth who was sane enough to make the offer to. Can I get something from my pack?"
"Sure," I say. "You mean you're offering to take me and my friends to Holme?"
Sven laughs as he kneels down to fish in his pack. "Not quite," he says. When he stands again he's holding a small fold of papers sealed in a plastic baggie. He throws them across to me, and I pick them cautiously up. The piece of paper I can see through the plastic is a map. "I can't take you there myself," says Sven. "I have a journey to complete, more survivors to find. But I can give you that. Consider it your invitation. Everything you need to know to find your way to Holme." He grins. "Look after that. I don't give those out to just anyone, you know."
"Is it far?"
"About twenty days, if you're walking," says Sven. "And I better tell you in case you haven't worked it out already: they hunt by motion, and by noise. They see you moving and you're a dead man. They hear you and you're a dead man. So when night comes you lock you and your people away out of sight and you keep as quiet as mice. Do that and you'll make the journey just fine."
Sven hoists his pack onto his back again. He looks like he's getting ready to leave.
"How do I know this isn't some kind of trap?" I say.
"You don't," says Sven simply. "Though it'd be a damn elaborate trap if you ask me. If I wanted to I could have shot you down or taken you prisoner the moment I saw you. In the end though, it's up to you to decide whether it's worth the risk or not. You know what you need to know, and I'm not going to waste time trying to sell it to you. I think you'll make the right choice for you and your people."