Footprint. Snowman wakes up before dawn. He pees on the grasshoppers, returning to his old routine. He dips his foot in the ocean, feeling that something had burst overnight and the wound had expanded. He hears a voice in his head, saying, “oh honey, you’re my only hope.” He follows the shore northward, and suddenly comes upon a human footprint. He continues, and can smell smoke and hear voices. He begins to shiver—he has a fever. He smells roast meat.
Snowman’s wound seems to have worsened, and as it seems like he will die he hears a female voice (perhaps his mother, perhaps Oryx, perhaps all of humanity) urging him on, to survive. And in this moment he sees the footprint (recalling also a moment in Robinson Crusoe when the stranded Crusoe sees a footprint on the beach signaling that he is not in fact alone).
He imagines how they may react to him. They could accept him or attack him, ask him questions or give him no chance to speak. He wonders if they will kill him, or if he will kill them. He whispers, “what do you want me to do” to the empty air. A voice says “oh Jimmy, you were so funny.” Another says “Don’t let me down.” He looks at his watch, out of habit, even though the face has long been blank. The book ends with Snowman thinking, “time to go.”
Snowman knows that, though these people represent hope, they also pose a threat—they could react to him with hostility. He is unsure what to do, and asks the voices in his head to give him answers. They respond, but give no clear indication of the right choice. The ending is ambiguous. His words could mean that its time to go and meet these people, or time to leave them entirely. The ending is both a cliffhanger (this is the first book of a trilogy, if not your normal trilogy) and also captures the indecision he must face as he ponders both the possible joy of not being alone and safety from extinction, and the potential horror of what humans have shown they can do.