Friday, 9 August 2013


Francois is dead. Francois is dead, and I found him.

I had another bad night. No dreams I can remember, just fragments and snatched images: a swirl of blue smoke against amber glass, a shiny red stone on a field of clover, a patch of darkness crossing the moon. The last image I remember was a bright blue river passing through a mountainous red landscape. I slowly became aware that I was standing and swaying. As the final vestiges of my dream disappeared, my eyes focused on what was in front of me. I'd sleepwalked again. This time, I'd walked all the way to one of the tall mounds of dirt. Sticking out of the mound was an arm.

When I realised what I was seeing, I fell back, and scrabbled away. I ran to the camp, woke the others, and led them to the mound. I was almost relieved that the arm was still there; I've been in The Sick Land long enough to distrust my senses. Ivana, pale, said it was Francois's arm.

We dug him out. His arm was intact, but that was all. Most of his flesh had been eaten away, leaving only occasional grey lumps hanging from his bones. We dragged the body back to the camp and buried it, as far away from those awful mounds as we could.

We didn't talk about whether we should carry on. We just packed up the camp and continued.

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