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Monday, 9 May 2011


The little town is further away than it looks. By the time we reach the outskirts the sky is getting uncomfortably dim, and I can't help but wonder if we might need to spend a night here before attempting the crossing to Holme. It's not a possibility I want to raise, somehow. Even though it's just one more night the thought of yet another delay, yet another night spent in fear and in danger is almost unbearable.

Porturaik is a peaceful-looking town, and one that seems to have escaped much of the destruction. Weeds and roots force their way up through cracks in the pavement, and some of the houses have succumbed to the elements, but here and there are whole streets of almost-intact buildings. We pass a cafe inside which tables still stand upright and a peeling menu is tacked against the damaged window. We pass a row of neatly parked cars, their shiny paintwork now filthy with dust. We seem to be walking down the main street, which curves gently along the seafront. A way further on I can see a forest of masts and sails that must indicate the marina.

"Look at the sea," says Lisa. We pause in our weary journey for a moment to lean against the railing and watch the waves washing inwards. It's weird to think how those same waves have been rolling peaceably up this same beach ever since all this trouble began.

"David?" says Lisa.


"What'll we do...when...if..." She seems to be struggling to find her words. "Do you think it's true? Do you think we'll be safe when we get to Holme?"

I bite my lip. It's a questioned I've thought over myself for many long nights. And it's not one that I'm sure of the answer. How terrible would it be to come all this way and find an island just as dead as the rest of the world? Or worse, to walk into some kind of trap? The doubts are there, strong as ever, but I know that for Lisa's sake I can't let them show.

"Of course," I say. "Sven told me all about it. They've got doctors there. They've got a leader. It's the next best thing to how things were before."

Lisa stares out at the endless ocean. She raises an arm and points. "There," she says faintly.

It takes me a while to figure out what she's pointing at, but eventually I see it. There on the horizon is a thin grey line of land. My heart leaps. It's there. It's real. I'm looking at Holme. I wonder if anyone is out there looking back?

Slowly, feeling a little silly, I raise my arm and wave at the distant island. Lisa does the same. I suddenly feel incredibly tired, as though the weight of the journey we've made is suddenly sitting squarely on my shoulders.

"And what about us?" says Lisa, still not quite looking at me. "What'll happen to us?"

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