There are more bodies than survivors, but that isn't the worst thing.
There are hills of rubble in which it's clear nothing could possibly have survived. There are crumpled, unmoving heaps at the sides of what used to be streets at which Dan tries not to look too closely. But those aren't the worst things, either.
The hardest thing to look at, he's learning, isn't the evidence of death, but the evidence that people did survive. Just for a little while. A few hours, a few days, locked in basements or tucked into under-stairs cupboards with hoarded cans and jars and bottled water and duct tape pressed hastily around the edges of the doors, as though it could keep the apocalypse out. A portable radio with flat batteries; a bucket in the corner, the contents of which make Dan glad he can't smell anything through the protective suit he's wearing; an upturned box, and on top of it a half-empty can of soup and a child's coloring book, open to a half-filled-in picture of Mickey Mouse.
The crayon doesn't stop abruptly, just fades off in a kind of lethargic scribble, like the kid just gave up slowly and quietly, realizing nobody was ever again going to care that he'd managed to keep inside the lines. The debris of the afternoon after the bomb, or the one after that, confined and scratching around for distractions, hope draining away as another hour passed and help didn't come.
There's no-one left in this basement, though, dead or alive. Deserted.
Not all of them are. Dan thinks that's easier, though. Bodies are just... bodies. You get used to them, once you've seen a few. You learn to start seeing them as objects, to just step over them and get on with the job. This way, though, he finds himself wondering about the people who were there, before -- the families, mom and dad and kids dragged out of bed in their pyjamas, the late-night drinkers back from an evening on the town, still dolled-up in the glittering scraps of their clubbing gear, the insomniacs like him, interrupted in the middle of their loneliness, finally given a good excuse for their inability to sleep.
Dan starts to turn the page of the coloring book, hesitates, lets it fall back open on the unfinished picture. He shuts the door carefully behind him.
He catches up with Adrian a half-hour or so later. It's another basement. The owner, Dan guesses, must have been the dead guy he nearly tripped over outside, wrapped in a tape-and-bin-liner attempt at a biosuit, driven outside by some impulse that might have been hunger or hope or despair, or something else entirely, something Dan has no hope of ever understanding.
The place looks deserted, at first. It's a moment before Dan's eyes adjust to the thickness of the dark, and it's only then that he makes out Adrian, kneeling in a corner, looking down at something.
It's a framed painting -- an insipid watercolor landscape, a little amateurish, all done in greens and faded gray-blues.
"Strange." Adrian's voice is toneless, and the pause before he continues is so long that Dan can't be sure he isn't just talking to himself. "The human impulse toward beauty is a strong one. It survives, even if only in mutilated form. To preserve a representation of the natural world, knowing that one will never experience the real thing again-- never even feel the wind upon one's face-- "
He trails off, and Dan isn't even sure whether he's making a point, or just musing aloud, or stringing thoughts together because to leave these places unremarked-upon would be too inhuman.
But later, when he's set Archie's course for the shelter, Dan just places his hand on Adrian's shoulder, hoping that something -- sympathy or understanding, or just the plain solidity of touch -- will get through.
Adrian's half-smile is brief and unfathomable, like he's barely even noticed. Dan stays there, anyway.