An hour later we beach the little boat at the foot of the cliffs and splash through the shallows up to the sand, Lisa cradling baby London the whole while. It's cold on the beach, and I'm reluctant to leave behind the boat which carried us here. Somehow it feels like a place of safety, the only known quantity in this new world. But we set off along the beach anyway, heading for a path that leads up the cliffs. It's early still, and there are no signs of life. We walk in peaceful silence, wary and tired.
When we reach it we see that the path is cut with steps, many of which have collapsed or slid. The baby sleeps as we toil upwards, stopping frequently to rest. Seagulls coast past, cawing forlornly as we climb higher and higher. And then we're there, at the top of the cliffs at last. A short footpath leads to a road that stretches off in either direction. To our left a small cluster of whitewashed houses forms a settlement, and it is for this that we aim.
I expected to feel afraid, walking like this into the unknown. But I don't. Somehow now I'm sure that things will be okay. I feel good, strong. I have fought and lived, and I will fight again if I need to. I'll do whatever is necessary to protect Lisa and London. I'm not afraid anymore. I'm not alone.
I take Lisa's elbow as we enter the little hamlet. I can hear voices, coming from up ahead, where the road widens out into a little square. We slow a little, and move to the edge of the road so that we'll be shielded from view by the corner of a nearby house. I creep forward just far enough to see the source of the voices.
Three men and two women are standing in the centre of the square. A couple of them are smoking, and the way they're standing at ease makes me sure that they're some kind of watch. Perhaps they've just spent the night on duty and are having a quick chat before heading home to bed. I notice that each of them has a rifle slung about their shoulders, but they hold the weapons at ease, and for some reason I'm not too worried. They don't seem dangerous, these people. Something about them, as with Sven, just makes me want to trust. Perhaps it's the fact that one of the women looks to be in her sixties, and is leaning on a walking stick. Or perhaps it's the easy way they're laughing and talking with each other.
I beckon to Lisa, and she comes forward and I take her by the arm and step out into the open, free hand raised. "Hello there," I call.
They all turn at once, but not one of them reaches for a weapon. Smiles cross their faces. One by one they raise their hands and return my wave.
I clear my throat. "My name is David," I say. "And this is Lisa. We came here on invitation from a man called Sven, who I met on the mainland." At Sven's name the group look to one another, expressions of delight crossing their faces. "He told me this was a safe place for humans," I say. "He told me I'd be welcome here, that you were looking for other survivors."
We stand and wait, the unasked question hovering in the air between us. One of the men separates from the group and strides forward. He looks about forty, grey just beginning to show in his hair, a long scar on his cheek. He extends his hand and we shake.
"David and Lisa," he says, as if memorising our names. His eyes search me for a moment, and then he smiles. He looks down at baby London, and his eyebrows shoot up into his hair. "Something tells me you've had quite a journey getting here."
I smile back. I can't help it. I squeeze Lisa against me. Happiness is flourishing inside me like a tree in blossom. "Yeah," I say. "It was definitely quite a journey."
"Well," says the man, "you can tell us all about it later on. For now though, you look like you could use some breakfast, both of you. Come on, we'll fix something up for you. Oh, and before I forget, welcome. Welcome to Holme."