Monday, July 28, 2014

Part 21

The girl Sammy told the guy, "She's clean."  Her tone though said she wasn't happy about it.

"Geez, you really want this guy to have someone to put out of their misery don't you?"  I wasn't feeling too charitable towards Sammy.  She'd gotten pretty personal space invasive checking to make sure I wasn't infected.  It was like she enjoyed trying to humiliate me which was really creepy since she was a girl and close to my age.

The guy sighed.  "I don't need another snarky girl so knock it off."

I looked at him and then at the gun and then back at him.  I wanted to say something but he had the gun so I kept my mouth shut.  "I don't need your water.  I'm outta here.  Just tell me if I'm going to run into anyone else's turf going north."

The guy - I still didn't know his name - shook his head.  "It really is getting too dark to travel.  You can stay with us."

Sammy shrieked, "Oh no she can't!"

The guy was snake fast and grabbed her and shook her pretty hard one handed.  "Will ... you ... knock ... it ... off.  We need information.  She comes from the city."

Sammy spit, "You came from the city and said no one else would be coming from that direction."

I asked carefully, "You were ... you escaped from the city?  Six months ago?  How?  The ... the bridges ..."

"Not St. Louis, I came out of Springfield."

Slowly I said, "I came through there.  Springfield is still pretty infested.  Where did all the people go?  They left a lot of good stuff behind."

The guy relaxed but he still had the gun so I didn't relax.  He didn't seem to notice ... or maybe it was that he didn't seem to care.  "A lot of them just got infected."

Risking it I said, "Uh uh, something is off.  The city had a lot of puss brains too but there was still people and the food got scarce fast which made people do crazy stuff like risk the bridges even though they got shot trying to cross.  Springfield still had food but no people."

He looked at me and then glanced at Sammy who was starting to look interested.  "Let's go grab something to eat," he said.

Uh huh.  There was a story and he didn't want Sammy to know what it was.  I wasn't too sure I wanted to be part of whatever their damage was but the guy didn't give me any choice; he shooed me along with the rifle.

We went around back of the store and then into it.  The guy said, "This was my uncle's place.  He went off about three months ago.  He said he was going to get help.  We haven't heard from him since."

I shrugged.  "I haven't seen anyone running loose or claiming to have kids they were trying to get back to if that's what you were wondering."

He shook his head morosely.  "He's dead."

Sammy hissed, "You don't know that."

I looked at the guy and he knew alright.  And I think he knew it literally as in he knew something the girl did not.  As my English teacher would have said, "The plot thickened."

I looked at Sammy and said, "I'll give him 99.9% of being right.  Lone people don't last long."

She sneered.  "Jace did.  You say you did."

So the guy's name was Jace.  "I don't know Jace's story but you heard part of mine.  Up until a couple of weeks ago, give or take a few days, I was with a group of people.  And even hitting the town where I grew up there was a whole thriving community of people.  I'm not alone by choice - well except for the ..."

Jace asked suspiciously, "For the what?"

I sighed.  "Long story.  Bottom line is the people that are kinda in charge of that town either didn't - or didn't want to which amounts to the same thing - believe me about coming from the city.  They don't want to believe the puss brains are going to figure out a way out of there and run amok like they did in the beginning.  They were looking to shut me up and I didn't want the few friends I had there to get hurt because of it.  So traveling alone is a choice I made ... it just wasn't my first choice.  Get it?"

Jace nodded slowly.  "Yeah.  OK.  I'll buy that.  You look like the kind of girl that would do something that stupid."

"Hey!" I said while Sammy and her little brother snickered at my expense.

Jace said, "You're a girl.  You're a little girl ..."

"I'm fifteen."  I may be "little" but that didn't mean I was young.  I really wish people would understand the difference.

The guy shrugged.  "You're what Uncle Simon called tea cup sized.  Puny and little.  It might have worked to draw all the guys before ..."

"OK.  Ew.  You can stop that right there.  Even if I had been inclined to do the gross, my dad was a cop and would have blistered my backside and that after he had decapitated anyone dumb enough to risk doing it with me."

"You're dad was a cop?  What happened to him?" Jace asked.

"What do you think happened?  Now who is being stupid?"

Sammy was on me with her claws and the only thing that saved me was Jace was just a little faster than her.  He all but threw her against the wall.  "What is your problem?!" he yelled.

"She insulted you."

He shook his head.  "Will you stop acting like a psycho off your meds?!  Go take John-John upstairs and get him down for a nap or something.  He's starting to act weird again."

Sammy looked like she was about to bawl and I was getting even more creepy vibes.  After she went up the stairs I looked at Jace.  "This better not be about ... about ..."

"Relax.  It's all over you that some guy has been at you."

"That is none of your freaking business."

"No it's not so don't waste my time trying to use it to make me feel sorry for you.  I've got enough on my plate taking care of those two.  All I'm saying is that that's not what I'm after.  Come into the front of the store so I can shut the door or Sammy will be nosey."

I hunched my shoulders to resettle the pack that I still wore and allowed him to mush me along to where he wanted to go.  "Did you really live in St. Louis for a whole year?"

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