Last One & Boy

There's a boy here now.

He's young, 5 or 6. Beaten up pretty bad — fall or fight, hard to tell. He won't talk; who knows what he's seen?

My sense is it was the cold brought him to me, but, though he follows me [everywhere? from place to place?], he won't let me near him, bolts right away if I even head in his direction [margin note: gone for hours], & he screeches something awful if I speak to him.

So I let him be, leave him food here & there, & go about my business. I've had to give up talking to myself, though, when he's around.

It distresses him so; I think it's the sound more than anything, because even when he's screaming, he claps his hands over his ears as if to shut out the noise.

[insert] >>

He won't let me touch him, but once in a while he'll reach out & tap me with a stick or something. Yesterday I took hold of a long stalk he was pointing at me, & he let me hold it a moment before dropping his end & sprinting away <<

He wasn't with the others when I left them & came here; all I can think is that he must've been caught outside. Hard to believe anyone could've survived that; possibly his story's even stranger than I can imagine.


What made me leave the House was them standing in a circle, holding hands, heads bowed. I can't tell you why that public posture revolted me so, but it did, especially when suddenly assumed by a group who up until that moment had been behaving like ordinary people. Part of it, I think, is it looks showy to me; part is also its blatant lack of sense; but worst of all is its waste of concentration, when there's so much work to be done.

Then I remembered: there's nothing to be done. So it makes no difference. Does no good, maybe — [but, maybe,] does no harm neither. If they feel better, let them go ahead.

But not in front of me — makes my skin crawl. So for this among many much better reasons, I'm making camp out here.


Last night for the first time he fell asleep in front of me. I wasn't exactly paying attention — just staring into the embers, probably dozing myself. One minute his eyes are fixed on me across the flames; next time I look up they're closed (rather hooded), and his hands & face are twitching, like a dog hunting through his dreams, or more likely the cat or squirrel the dog was hunting.


I went back to the House today, for some reason, and everyone is gone. The place is utterly empty. It's possible, I guess, that they've left on a trek somewhere, maybe to look for others like themselves, if there are any.

I could keep things going here — the boy & I've become accustomed to each other — but it's getting cold, and when the first snow hits I'm pretty sure I'd rather be watching a fire in one o' them fine rooms than scrabbling for sticks out here in the woods. I bet there's food left there, too, in places the others maybe didn't think to look.

The boy'll be a problem, though. What do I do? He's taken to following me when I gather wood or check the traps — as long as I don't go near the House. As soon as I get even close he just vanishes, & I'll find him back here at camp when I return. (Or not — he's a very independent person.) He trusts me now enough to sleep most way[s] through the night, but I don't know what he'll think or do if I "abandon" him to go live in the House. I could try to do it gradual, just move camp a little closer bit by bit, but there just isn't time — snow's coming, I can smell it.

Course, he can, too, I bet.


[What follows seems to be a transcription, either of spoken words or some kind of recording of them. Ellipses apparently indicate pauses in speaking, not lacunae in the text. All editorial marks are in the original.]

And so I started... to try to tell him... what|how I thought|think had|it happened. <inaudible>... For some time... I'd been seeing... <splice> mad, crazy, like insects, almost — racing, running everywhere, never just walking — speed, riding, skating, shoving their <kids> along <in wagons? carts?> with huge wheels for stability... <weights?> in their hands, like <torture?>

[Long blank]... falling, crashing to the ground... I don't think... it was the calamity... we all expected... just... unravel — <breaks off>

[2nd? frag] I was seeing it through their eyes. Someone will see it. It will happen... < — > countless generations... see this, through my eyes... I am the vessel, the <wagon? cart?> for their seeing, their <conveyance>, but those other... countless generations... I will see... through their eyes... they... will bear me — this — then. That's what I saw... <long pause> <inaudible> <end>