Summary: Chapter 9

Snowman continues on his way to the RejoovenEsense Compound. He moves through a former residential sector that is now slowly being reclaimed by vines and other natural growth. As he proceeds, Snowman wonders about whether others have survived. He also thinks about what the survivors’ descendants will make of the ruins of civilization. Vultures circle overhead, and as noon approaches, Snowman worries about finding shelter.

Snowman arrives at the twelve-foot-high wall that surrounds RejoovenEsense and passes through the outer gate, which is no longer electrified. He makes note of a trail of objects that people left behind when they fled the Compound. After passing the gate and the abandoned security checkpoint, Snowman proceeds down the main street toward the residences. He goes into a medium-sized house, where he finds a small amount of bourbon in the liquor cabinet and a dead man in the bathroom. He finds the corpse of a woman in the bedroom, and her pixie haircut reminds him of a wig Oryx used to have. Snowman also walks through a child’s room, but the child’s body isn’t in there.

Snowman proceeds to the kitchen hoping to find food, but someone else has already raided the cupboards, leaving nothing more than stale cereal, three packets of cashews, and a tin of SoyOBoy sardines. He also finds a working flashlight, candle ends, and matches, and then stuffs everything into a garbage bag. Next Snowman goes down the hall to the home office, where he finds a computer as well as a pile of reference books. Snowman hypothesizes that the dead man in the bathroom must have worked as an advertiser or speechwriter for RejoovenEsense, and then imagines that he’s broken into his own childhood home.

Snowman leaves, hoping to find another house with a stash of canned goods. But as soon as he crawls out a window he’s confronted by a group of pigoons. He stands still until the pigoons wander off, then cautiously move away, thinking he could take refuge in the nearby checkpoint gatehouse. At the same time ominous clouds roll in, signaling a coming tornado.

Rain, wind, and thunder swell, and Snowman ducks into a gatehouse. Inside he finds two dead men in biosuits and a mess of scattered paper. The storm outside frightens Snowman, and his hands shake. He worries about the possibility that there are rats in the gatehouse, and that if water floods in, they will swarm around him. As he curls his legs up on the chair, a voice in his head counsels, “Having to face a crisis causes you to grow as a person.”

In the dark he lights a match, eats a packet of cashews, and drinks the partial bottle of bourbon. He hears a woman’s voice, possibly Oryx’s, assure him, “You’re doing really well.” A puff of air blows out Snowman’s candle, leaving him in the dark once again.