Sleep evaded him. His bones were sore. His body despised him.
And there were things.
People, creatures, beasts, he wasn't sure. But he wasn't alone. Not anymore.
Late into the night, once the sun had set and darkness blanketted the wasteland, he could see through his stone cage as fires began to spring up. They glowed brighter and more vibrant than those of the still-burning wreckage, and they moved. No bigger than his thumbnail at any distance, they moved around, bouncing and careening through hidden pathways that he couldn't see.
With them came drums.
Steady, tribal drum beats pounded away, following the fires as they went. Voices sang along, chanting. At intervals, they would stop singing. The fire would grow fainter. Screams would ring out. Then, once the final scream was played, the singing resumed, quiet at first, then building in power and joy until the next interval.
All night, he lay awake, staring into the abysmal ceiling and its faint floral pattern.
They were hunting. This was clear. Hunting for survivors. Whoever had survived this thing, this apocalypse, whatever had happened, they were hunting for the leftovers. The screams of the dying were a sound unlike any he had ever heard. The screams of the dead were worse.
When morning arrived, the beauty he expected through the gap where the rest of the room should have been escaped him as well. No sunrise greeted him, but instead, the sun had simply began to glow behind the film of grey on the horizon, and the darkness had lifted. The fires dissipated into little more than smoke in the distance.
With shaking hands, he took up the notebook from the bookshelf. All day, he had been worried to touch it. How did it get there? He was certain he had checked the shelf just before entering the remnants of the bathroom. There had been nothing there, and surely such a spontaneous appearance of something had to be poisonous. He would die if he touched it.
It was with a growling of his stomach that he became aware he was being over-conscious. It was just a notebook. It was simply a little red notebook, composed of cardboard and paper, and he had seen the logo on the front of it a thousand times in his time in college. But then, as he lifted it from its home, he realized it was not cardboard. It was leather-bound. Red leather, and worn pages, as if it had been someone's temporary home for years.
It was just a notebook, and he'd probably just overlooked it. That was all it was. It had been there before, and in his panic, he hadn't seen it the first time around.
He needed to find a way out, and why not use the resources he had? He could document his progress, map out anything he found.
He wanted to ease the aching in his stomach. But where would he find food? He wasn't a scavenger. He wasn't an outdoorsman. He much preferred his warm pancakes and deli sandwiches to the creepy-crawlies and miscellaneous hit-or-miss poison berries that he had seen on television.
Filing away the thought of food for another time, somewhere below escaping, he glanced up. The television was still on, buzzing incessantly, as if it were laughing at his misfortune.
A hard lump formed in the back of his throat, and he jammed his fingers together hard against the pencil. He was going to write a journal, for his sister, and he started with his name in the top corner of the book.