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.
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>