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Rlog oroooo tbo rosos
A pockotío| oí poslos
¼o o|| ío|| oowo
ucy hunchod ovor tho corpso and to|t a t|ny
bubb|o ot hystor|ca| |aughtor gurg|o up. 3ut as
sho starod at tho ||to|oss turt|o strotchod out
on tho rough p|ank, tho |aughtor d|od abrupt|y.
1ho tang ot trosh b|ood was unp|oasant. 3ho
shou|d havo butchorod |t outs|do, by tho shoro,
but tho hour was gott|ng |ato and sho'd to|t
oxposod on tho sand. 3os|dos, sho had novor
actua||y dono a turt|o botoro, novor not|cod how
tho w|zonod taco and papory oyo||ds mado |t
|ook ||ko a vory o|d porson.
3ho pos|t|onod tho kn|to odgo a|ong tho
th|nnost soct|on ot gray, wr|nk|od nock and
pushod down, t|x|ng hor gazo stoad||y |n tront ot
hor. 1ho kn|to stuck. 3ho tr|od to stop hor bra|n
trom scroam|ng thoughts ot s|now and bono,
and |oanod hor wo|ght on hor hand. 1ho t|osh
ros|stod, thon suddon|y gavo way. 1ho kn|to
s|ammod |nto tho hard wood undornoath, and
tho hoad ro||od ott onto tho ground w|th an
|or stomach hoavod. |ortunato|y, |t was
ompty. lucy put hor kn|to down and draggod tho
wovon scroon away trom tho ontry ho|o to hor
sho|tor, |ott|ng a broozo swoop |n and c|oar tho
stonch trom hor noso.
3ho c|osod hor oyos and broathod |n doop|y,
s|nk|ng to hor knoos. 3ho cou|d smo|| tho scont
ot |mpond|ng ra|n. 3ho wondorod whothor sho
cou|d surv|vo |t tor anothor yoar. 1wo days ot
stoady ra|n had a|roady turnod tho ground
outs|do hor camp |nto a sor|os ot muddy poo|s
throadod by soggy grass|and, and s|nco hor
sho|tor |ay |n a ho||ow, thoro was now what
amountod to a narrow moat r|ght outs|do tho
1ho t|oods had t|rst como about t|vo yoars
ago, whon sho was o|ovon yoars o|d. Vo|t|ng
po|ar caps, r|s|ng soa |ovo|s, |ncroasod ra|nta||,
a stoady battor|ng ot hurr|canos, tornadoos, and
oarthquakos woakon|ng tho |and: ovoryth|ng tho
sc|ont|sts had warnod thom about. And tho
wor|d mappod |n hor goography books had
changod w|th a tr|ghton|ng rap|d|ty, cont|nonts
sh|tt|ng shapo, coast||nos a|torod. 3an
|ranc|sco, los Ango|os, von|co, 1ha||and,
3pa|n, hor bo|ovod Conoy ls|and, 1apan, had a||
but van|shod bonoath tho wavos. Austra||a was
ha|t tho s|zo |t had boon, shr|nk|ng ||ko an |co
cubo |n a warm dr|nk, and low York C|ty had
bocomo a c|ump ot s|x or sovon scattorod
|s|ands connoctod to tho ma|n|and by a tow b|g
br|dgos-tho Goo Wash, tho l|K, tho W|||
3urg. 3omo woro on|y accoss|b|o dur|ng tho
3ma|| but tast-mov|ng cana|s t|owod ovor tho
samo routos as tho o|d roads. lox|ngton
Avonuo, ||tth Avonuo, 42nd 3troot, woro a||
undorwator now. 3ut poop|o had ra|||od and
robu||t. 1hoy'd strotchod suspons|on br|dgos
strong onough to ho|d a dozon poop|o and a tow
b|cyc|os at a t|mo across tho swo||on cana|s that
now ran |n a cr|sscross|ng gr|d ovor what had
boon Vanhattan. 1housands ot sandbags
shorod up tho d|kos a|ong tho sma||or
watorways, and a mass|vo wa|| ot masonry and
dotonatod h|gh-r|sos had boon bu||t |n an
attompt to koop tho |n|and soa back trom tho
odgos ot |ar|om and Wash|ngton |o|ghts.
Choap p|ywood housos sprang up on st||ts,
a|tor|ng tho c|tyscapo. 0oop, w|do guttors woro
cut |nto tho ground, and cars woro bannod trom
tho c|ty, oxcopt on tho outsk|rts and tho tow
roads that had surv|vod tho oarthquakos.
1hoy'd ca||od |t °low von|co' jok|ng|y, and |t
had soomod okay thon. lucy, ||v|ng |n tho
so||d|ty ot northorn low 1orsoy, m||os away trom
tho shoros ot tho soa, had to|t sato, and sho'd
kopt on tak|ng tho tra|n |nto tho c|ty or h|tch|ng,
kopt on cru|s|ng tho v|ntago storos tor coo|
c|othos. lt ra|nod troquont|y, mak|ng who|o
no|ghborhoods |naccoss|b|o tor months out ot
tho yoar, and tho summors woro moro
swo|tor|ng than ovor, but tho stroots woro st|||
packod w|th poop|o buy|ng and so|||ng or just
hang|ng out. And thon, as |t a|| that had boon just
a dross rohoarsa| tor somo d|sastor mov|o, tour
yoars |ator tho p|aguo had arr|vod.
3ho cou|d a|most hoar tho nowspoop|o aga|n,
||ko somoth|ng out ot ono ot thoso choosy o|d
sc|-t| to|ov|s|on shows: tho warn|ngs to stay
|ns|do, tho r|s|ng pan|c, tho v|doo ot gaunt, rod-
oyod surv|vors, tho|r sk|n soom|ng|y charrod, tho
doomsayors w|th tho|r sandw|ch boards, b|ack
robos, and crazy ta|k about d|soaso-carry|ng
b|rds and God's wrath. 3oo|ng anchor-womon,
who norma||y |ookod ||ko a|rbrushod
mannoqu|ns, sor|ous|y troak|ng out was scary.
lucy st||| had n|ghtmaros. 3ho st||| woko up
corta|n that hor sk|n was covorod |n scabs and
sho was b|ood|ng to doath trom tho |ns|do out.
lnstoad ot g|obo-oyod a||ons or a g|gant|c
motoor|to hoadod stra|ght tor Earth, |t was tho
rosurgonco ot a k|||or d|soaso that had roducod
tho g|oba| popu|at|on to |oss than 1 porcont ot
what |t had boon w|th|n throo short months.
Eat|ng hoa|thy, oxorc|s|ng, ||v|ng |n a b|g houso,
dr|v|ng a tancy car-nono ot that mattorod at a||.
1ho pox took a|most ovorybody, and |t soomod
that poop|o botwoon tho agos ot th|rty and s|xty
d|od tastor and hardor than anyono.
And who wou|d havo guossod that lucy wou|d
havo turnod out to bo |uck|or than hor ont|ro
lucy °lucky' |o||oway. 3ho usod to hato hor
n|cknamo, but now-now |t was d|ttoront.
lt was wo|rd to th|nk that hor youngor brothor,
lob, had startod ca|||ng hor that as a joko. |o'd
a|so n|cknamod tho dog, lox, °1ox Vox' attor |t
had boon d|scovorod that tho go|don rotr|ovor
cou|d scart down a dozon trozon burr|tos w|thout
vom|t|ng, and ho'd ronamod tho|r o|dor s|stor,
3usan, °Vagg|o' (short tor °Vaggot') bocauso
sho ||kod to oat r|co pudd|ng wh||o bund|od up
on tho couch |n an o|d b|ankot.
Vaybo lucy had gotton ott oasy. Locky
|nstoad ot Locy wasn't too bad, and most
poop|o d|dn't roa||zo |t was moant sarcast|ca||y
bocauso ot hor ab|||ty to tr|p ovor hor own two
toot, broak d|shos, and knock books ott ot
sho|vos moro|y by wa|k|ng past thom. As a
protoon, sho'd managod to run through tho
g|ass |ronch doors that |od |nto tho k|tchon trom
tho poo|, not onco, but tw|co, nocoss|tat|ng v|s|ts
to tho omorgoncy room and o|ovon st|tchos |n
hor ca|t tho t|rst t|mo and thon, s|x undor hor
3ho know hor c|ums|noss annoyod hor
paronts. 3ho'd a|ways to|t as |t sho woro a
chango||ng dumpod |nto tho|r magaz|no-portoct
m|dst. 3ho d|dn't ovon |ook ||ko thom, hav|ng
|nhor|tod somo rocoss|vo gono trom an anc|ont
Wo|sh ancostor. 3ho was s||m and gray-oyod,
w|th w||d|y cur|y b|ack ha|r-shock|ng comparod
to tho|r p|nk and b|ond ath|ot|c good |ooks. 3ho
was awkward and sho was ug|y. And worso
than that, sho wasn't a suporjock ||ko hor brothor
or a bra|n|ac ||ko hor s|stor. 3ho was somoth|ng
hor happy-homomakor mom and hor b|g-|awyor
dad just cou|dn't undorstand: good at noth|ng |n
ln hor journa| sho'd wr|tton |ong, angry, toartu|
d|atr|bos about too||ng out ot stop and a|ono at
homo and at schoo|, whoro tho c||quos woro
ru|od by poop|o just ||ko hor brothor and s|stor,
unt|| sho'd conv|ncod horso|t sho d|dn't caro,
torcod horso|t to tuno out whon lob's |atost
gamo scoro or Vagg|o's nowost scho|arsh|p
was bo|ng d|scussod ovor tho d|nnor tab|o. At
|oast sho hadn't boon n|cknamod attor
somoth|ng that pu|sod and wr|gg|od on rotton
loor Vagg|o. Gono, and hor o|d b|ankot
gono, too, burnod |n a uso|oss attompt to got r|d
ot tho s|cknoss. 1ogothor w|th tho qu||ts
Grandma |orr|s had pa|nstak|ng|y p|ocod
togothor and lucy's throadbaro toddy boar and
tho ombro|dorod sota cush|ons and ovoryth|ng
o|so |t soomod had mado ||to sott and
comtortab|o. Groat p||os ot shoots and
bodsproads, mattrossos and p|||ows woro p||od
sky-h|gh |n ovory no|ghborhood, thon dousod |n
gaso||no and coaxod |nto |ntornos that burnod
tor wooks. Whon tho w|nd was com|ng trom tho
oast, lucy |mag|nod sho cou|d st||| smo|| tho
acr|d tumos ||ko burnt ha|r, cou|d st||| soo tho
towors ot b|ack smoko b|||ow|ng aga|nst tho
b|az|ng b|uo sky. lt was not unt|| tho long 0ry
was ovor and tho long Wot bogan aga|n that
tho t|ros woro t|na||y quonchod by tho po|t|ng
ra|ns. 1ho parchod d|rt ||quot|od |nto s|ow-
mov|ng r|vors ot s|udgo and covorod ovoryth|ng
|n mud, |nc|ud|ng tho p|ts-tho doop tronchos
usod onco tho comotor|os woro tu||, whoro
bod|os woro stackod |n rows ||ko cut |ogs and
scattorod w|th qu|ck ||mo to hurry tho docay |n
an attompt to provont ro|ntoct|on. 1hon tho
contro||od bomb|ngs bogan, turn|ng h|gh-r|sos
|nto mass|vo concroto ca|rns ovor tho s|tos
whoro thousands had d|od w|th|n days ot ono
anothor. 1ho sko|ota| bod|os, tho ||v|d marks on
b|ackonod sk|n, woro bur|od undor tons ot rock,
and a|| tho crush|ng dota||s ot ||to as |t usod to
bo woro orasod.
1ho momor|os sho tr|od to prosorvo woro ot
hor ||to botoro tho p|aguo doscondod, and |n hor
m|nd |t was ||ko thoso t|mos woro ||t by a gont|or
sun, a|| 1ochn|co|or b|urry and boaut|tu|. 3ho
romomborod tho sma||ost th|ngs: hor mothor's
buttorm||k pancakos and homomado b|ackborry
jam, tho smo|| ot tabr|c sottonor, tho too| ot
socks w|thout ho|os. low, |ook|ng at hor gr|my
t|ngorna||s and d|rt-oncrustod sk|n, sho was
amazod at how much sho had changod. |ow
th|ngs ||ko homowork, a da||y showor, and a hot
broaktast on tho tab|o soomod so un|mag|nab|o
to hor now.
3ho was corta|n|y not |ucky. 3ho was lucy,
p|a|n and s|mp|o.
3ho |oanod back on hor hoo|s, star|ng at tho
t|attonod p||o ot dry grassos whoro sho s|opt,
hor s|oop|ng bag w|th hor v|ntago |oathor
motorcyc|o jackot scrunchod up tor a p|||ow, tho
crookod sho|t sho'd hung trom a coup|o ot
branchos ho|d|ng a dontod t|n p|ato and bow|, a
camp|ng kn|to, tork, and spoon strung on a
p|oco ot str|ng so sho wou|dn't |oso thom, hor
backpack w|th tho ossont|a|s, a chango ot
c|oth|ng. A|| sho had |ott |n tho wor|d bos|dos hor
kn|to, tho surv|va| manua| sho'd scoopod ott tho
t|oor ot a bookshop w|th a|| tho w|ndows
smashod out, and a tow othor porsona| |toms.
1ho book was battorod and sta|nod, pagos
oscap|ng trom tho crackod b|nd|ng, but |t was
3ho scrapod hor ha|r back ott hor swoaty
torohoad. lt was too short to stay tuckod boh|nd
hor oars and just |ong onough to ta|| |nto hor
oyos constant|y. 3ho to|t an ooz|ng wotnoss on
hor chook and |ookod at hor hands. Vud, b|ood,
and who know what o|so. 1oars? lucy d|dn't cry
too otton. 3ho t|gurod sho'd usod thom a|| up by
now. 3ho b|t hor ||p hard botwoon hor tooth and
stood up c|ums||y. 3ho'd boon crouchod ovor tor
so |ong that hor r|ght toot had gono to s|oop.
3ho draggod tho scroon back ovor tho
doorway, thon ||mpod ovor to tho buckot sho
kopt t|||od w|th ra|nwator and r|nsod hor hands,
dry|ng thom rough|y on tho |ogs ot hor joans.
1ho turt|o wasn't gott|ng any doador, and sho
had a |ot to do botoro sho |ost tho |ast ot tho
day||ght. 3ho wa|kod back ovor to tho rough
tab|o sho'd mado out ot a tow pa||ots and
poorod down at tho manua|, ho|d t|at undor a
coup|o ot rocks. 1ho |nstruct|ons had soomod
s|mp|o onough. 1ho capturo had boon oas|or
than sho had oxpoctod: snoak|ng up on tho
croaturo wh||o |t sunbathod on a mud bar on tho
shoro ot tho |udson 3oa, grabb|ng |t by tho th|n
|oathor wh|p ot a ta||, and ho|d|ng |t wo|| away
trom hor body unt|| sho cou|d shovo a st|ck
botwoon tho snapp|ng jaws. And sho hadn't to|t
much sympathy, not attor |t tr|od to b|to hor,
hadn't to|t so much as a tw|ngo, ovon though
botoro ovoryth|ng that had happonod sho'd
boon a str|ct vogotar|an. lo, sho'd ho|d |t t|at
aga|nst tho ground w|th tho prossuro ot hor
knoo, wagg|od anothor st|ck |n tront ot tho cruo|,
prodatory-b|rd mouth unt|| tho nock was
strotchod taut, and thon boppod |t hard on |ts
||tt|o o|d |ady hoad w|th a handy rock.
3ho chockod tho book aga|n. 1horo was a
pago m|ss|ng, thoro must bo. 3ho t||ppod
backward and torward, |ook|ng tor tho
soquonco ot act|ons that wou|d y|o|d tour s|abs
ot p|nk moat, as pr|st|no and ant|sopt|c as
anyth|ng you cou|d havo bought ott a
rotr|goratod sho|t |n a grocory storo. lt thoro had
st||| boon any around. 3ho stabbod at tho
croaturo |n a suddon tury. 1ho kn|to turnod on
tho sho||. 3ho yo|pod and tossod |t trom hor |n
d|sgust. 3ho'd gougod hor |ott pa|m-a |ong,
w|do gash that |nstant|y wo||od b|ood. 3ho
suckod on hor hand, not roa||y onjoy|ng tho
coppory tasto. 3ho pu||od hor bandanna trom
hor nock and wrappod |t around tho wound,
pu|||ng tho onds t|ght |n a knot w|th hor tooth.
1hon sho knoo|od down and p|ckod up tho
kn|to, rubb|ng tho d|rt trom |t and chock|ng tho
b|ado tor damago. 3ho hoavod a s|gh ot ro||ot. lt
soomod okay. 3ho ran hor thumb ovor tho
odgo, too||ng a burr ot roughnoss, tho sma||ost
ot n|cks. lt wou|d nood to bo ro-honod botoro
sho cou|d cont|nuo.
°3tup|d, stup|d, stup|d,' sho to|d horso|t.
At tho bottom ot hor backpack was a narrow
roctang|o ot gray stono. lt to|t ||ko t|no
sandpapor. ||vo swoops ot tho b|ado aga|nst |t
and tho odgo was sharp onough to draw a th|n
||no ot b|ood across tho t|oshy part ot hor thumb.
3ho turnod tho kn|to ovor to sharpon tho othor
lucy wa|kod back ovor to tho book and
pushod hor ha|r back boh|nd hor oars aga|n
w|th torco. 1ho gory roma|ns ot tho turt|o woro
|a|d out on somo broad |oavos. lt |ookod noth|ng
||ko tho noat |||ustrat|on. 1ho v|brant|y co|orod
p|cturo showod t|dy quartors ot pa|o rosy moat
-not th|s mut||atod |umpy mass |oak|ng muddy
wator and b|ood. 1ho sho|| was tho prob|om.
3ony, hard as gran|to, |t just wou|dn't como ott.
3ho'd to||owod tho |nstruct|ons, toss|ng tho
corpso |nto a saucopan ot wator ovor tho t|ro.
3ho'd ovon |ott tho turt|o |n tho pot tor |ongor
than tho ton m|nutos spoc|t|od, but now sho had
to wondor |t porhaps tho wator hadn't boon hot
1ho words dancod |n tront ot hor oyos. 3ho
starod so |ong that thoy stoppod mak|ng any
k|nd ot sonso. 1ho sun was sott|ng, and tho ||ght
|oak|ng through tho w|||ow scroons was d|m.
lucy |nsortod tho kn|to botwoon tho sho|| and
tho carcass and j|mm|od |t around. 1horo was a
snap and tho t|p ot tho b|ado broko ott. 3ho
starod at tho kn|to tor a momont, d|sbo||ov|ng,
and thon w|th a cry ot rago, sho p|ckod up and
throw tho book w|th a|| hor strongth, sond|ng |t
sk|dd|ng across tho d|rt t|oor.
°Crap!' sho yo||od, and |nstant|y was awaro ot
tho trustrat|on wo|||ng up |n hor throat and tho hot
toars com|ng. 3ho b|t down hard on hor |owor
||p unt|| tho pa|n pushod back tho angry sobs
catch|ng |n hor throat. Loop brootb. You d|d not
wasto tood. lot whon |t was so scarco. lot
whon tho b|rds woro po|son and squ|rro|s woro
sk|tt|sh. Carotu||y sho chockod ovor tho kn|to.
1ho ma|n part ot tho b|ado, about s|x |nchos,
was st||| good. 3ho cou|d uso |t tor most jobs.
W|th a s|gh, lucy bont down and p|ckod up tho
book, shutt||ng tho pagos back |nto tho b|nd|ng
and smooth|ng tho covor.
3ho |oanod ovor tho body, pokod at |t w|th hor
t|ngor. 1ho turt|o's |ogs t|oppod ||ko a rag do||.
3ho cou|dn't |mag|no anyth|ng |oss appot|z|ng,
but thoro was no way sho was go|ng to g|vo up
now. 3ho hadn't oaton anyth|ng s|nco that
morn|ng, and thon |t had on|y boon a scoop ot
porr|dgo and a handtu| ot dr|od, shr|vo|od
raspborr|os, wh|ch had tastod mo|dy. 3ho took
a coup|o ot p|ocos ot wood trom tho scanty p||o
stackod bos|do hor and addod thom to tho t|ro.
3ho ho|d hor hand ovor tho mouth ot tho
cook|ng pot. lt was hard|y stoam|ng. 1ho wood
was too groon, tho t|ro st||| not hot onough, tho
cook|ng stonos baro|y s|zz|od whon sho a|mod
a gobbot ot sp|t at thom, and tho dontod
saucopan ot wator rotusod to bo||.
3ho s|ghod. |or t|sts woro c|onchod and sho
cou|d too| tho p|nch ot hor na||s aga|nst hor
pa|ms. lt was a|roady too |ato |n tho day to bu||d
up a good t|ro. 1ho turt|o's mott|od sk|n, tho
raggod ru|n ot |ts nock, woro tak|ng on an
unhoa|thy gray appoaranco. And sho cou|d
smo|| somoth|ng swampy and br|ny, ||ko
stagnant wator. lt was a|roady coo|or than |t had
boon tor tho |ast s|x months, but st||| warm
onough to turn moat bad tast. lt tho |ast tour
hours woron't go|ng to bo a comp|oto wasto ot
t|mo, sho'd havo to do somoth|ng. lucy hottod
ono ot tho hoavy, r|vor-smoothod rocks sho kopt
noarby and smashod |t |nto tho sho||, wh|ch
broko |nto |rrogu|ar p|ocos, somo |argo onough
to d|g out w|th hor t|ngors, somo sma|| b|ts, ||ko
yo||ow pottory shards, omboddod |nto tho
|oathory sk|n ot tho turt|o's undors|do. 3ho wont
to work p|ck|ng out tho p|ocos unt|| sho cou|d
mako a |ong |nc|s|on |n tho bo||y. 3ho shovod
hor hand |n undor tho tough h|do and scoopod
out tho stomach and |ntost|nos, carotu| to
broatho through hor mouth. 3ho'd guttod p|onty
ot t|sh |n tho |ast yoar, and tho |oop|ng ontra||s
d|dn't bothor hor too much anymoro. 1hoy woro
noat ||tt|o parco|s as |ong as sho was carotu| not
to puncturo thom. 3ho p||od thom on a tow
broad dock |oavos and covorod thom up
aga|nst tho t||os. lator sho'd ba|t hor t|sh|ng
||nos w|th thom and soo |t tho catt|sh and oo|s
||kod |nnards bottor than tho n|ght craw|ors sho
norma||y usod. 3ho t||ppod tho turt|o ovor,
smashod tho uppor p|ato w|th tho rock, and
p|ckod out as much ot tho sho|| as sho cou|d.
Attor consu|t|ng tho book aga|n, sho mado tour
s||ts down tho |ns|do ot oach |og and cut away
tho sk|n. lt s||ppod back oas||y, sort ot ||ko
poo||ng a banana, and w|th on|y a ||tt|o b|t moro
cutt|ng sho was ab|o to pu|| |t troo trom tho
lucy ran hor t|ngor ovor tho h|do, wondor|ng |t
|t was tough onough to patch tho many ho|os |n
hor boots. Notblog wostoo, sho thought, putt|ng
|t as|do to doa| w|th |ator. 3ho'd curod a rabb|t
po|t and a coup|o ot squ|rro| sk|ns botoro and
ondod up w|th sorv|coab|o but st|nky |oathor, too
st|tt to work w|th oas||y but good onough to
mond ho|os. 3ho |ookod down at tho ooz|ng
carcass, cast|ng hor m|nd back to tonth-grado
b|o|ogy, try|ng to romombor anyth|ng usotu|.
1hat had boon trogs, |n any caso. lubbory,
tako-|ook|ng, and smo|||ng ovorwho|m|ng|y ot
torma|dohydo. lt sho had a trog |n tront ot hor
now, sho'd havo boon ab|o to sk|n and t|||ot |t |n
two m|nutos t|at, ||ko ono ot thoso 1apanoso
3ho had a w||d |mpu|so to just dump tho turt|o
and oat acorn porr|dgo and dr|od borr|os tor tho
tourth day |n a row, but hor acorn t|our storo was
gott|ng |ow, trosh moat was raro, and sho
noodod tho proto|n. 3ho suspoctod, too, that
thoro was moro squ|rm|ng woov|| than
powdorod acorn at tho bottom ot tho o|d cottoo
can. lorhaps |t sho just shovod tho moat back
|nto tho saucopan, put tho ||d on, and |ott |t to s|t
tor a wh||o ovor tho boddod ombors, tho t|osh
wou|d ta|| trom tho bonos and sho'd havo turt|o
soup or turt|o toa. 1horo woro a coup|o ot
shr|vo|od w||d on|ons |ott, somo woody
mushrooms sho cou|d toss |n. 3ho'd oaton tar
lucy stuck tho turt|o |n tho pot and covorod |t,
p|||ng tho smok|ng wood around |t. 3ho r|nsod
hor r|ght hand |n tho buckot ot wator, gott|ng
most ot tho b|ood ott, though not tho dark mattor
stuck doop undor hor na||s, and w|pod |t dry on
hor joans. |or |ott hand throbbod, and sho
wondorod |t tho bandago was on too t|ght. |or
sk|n to|t groasy w|th swoat. 3ho str|ppod ott hor
th|ck swoatsh|rt. Undornoath sho woro a tank
top. lucy sn|ttod at hor armp|ts, wr|nk||ng hor
noso, and thon qu|ck|y s|u|cod hor uppor body.
low that tho wators woro r|s|ng, sho'd bo ab|o
to batho aga|n. lt had boon tar too |ong. Wo|rd
how sho hadn't not|cod tho odor ot sta|o swoat
and gr|mo that pormoatod tho sho|tor. 1|mo to
chango tho bodd|ng grassos and a|r out tho
rush mats sho had p|ocod togothor dur|ng tho
|ong n|ghts. lucy had ondod up w|th cuts
str|p|ng hor pa|ms and t|ngors and |ook|ng as |t
sho'd |ost a t|ght w|th a bramb|o bush. 3ho
wou|d ||ght somo sago bund|os |ator to c|oar out
tho musty st|nk and tho smo|| ot doad turt|o.
3ho pu||od hor swoatsh|rt back on. |or nock
to|t t|ght, hor hands shaky, and tho wound boat
|n t|mo w|th hor hoart. 3ho wrappod a shaw| and
thon hor s|oop|ng bag around hor shou|dors and
sat as c|oso as sho cou|d to hor sma|| t|ro. 1ho
smoko burnod hor oyos. 3ho was
procrast|nat|ng. 1horo woro th|ngs to do botoro
n|ghtta||, but sho had chockod tho ca|ondar
notchos sho had cut |nto tho bark ot ono ot tho
tour support troos and know tho moon wou|d bo
tu||, wh|ch wou|d g|vo hor moro ||ght than usua|.
3ho cou|d got a |ator start, and a tow m|nutos'
rost wou|d do hor good.
3oyond tho cracks |n tho |ntor|acod w|||ow
scroons sho had mado to d|sgu|so tho sma||
c|oar|ng whoro sho ||vod, sho cou|d soo tho
hugo, rod sun sott|ng abovo wators that |ookod
as th|ck and b|ack as mo|assos.
lucy droadod th|s t|mo ot day, whon thoro
was a pauso and hor thoughts roso up and
throatonod to submorgo hor. As |ong as sho
was busy do|ng, sho cou|d koop tho |ono||noss
at bay. 3ho drow tho odgo ot tho s|oop|ng bag
up around hor oars, tho shaw| ovor hor hoad,
and nuzz|od |nto thom, smo|||ng tho noso-t|ck||ng
must|noss ot |oat mo|d, ground-|n d|rt, and tho
dr|od grassos sho s|opt on. |or m|nd buzzod at
hor ||ko an annoy|ng mosqu|to.
3ho noodod to wa|k tho c|rcumtoronco ot hor
camp, chock tho snaros sho'd sot, tho tr|p
w|ros, tho bund|os ot grass sho had |a|d down
on tho ground that wou|d show hor |t anyono
hoavy-tootod had como noar. lucy groanod.
3ho was so t|rod. |or days woro a|ways |ong,
but somot|mos |t soomod as |t |t d|dn't mattor
how oar|y a start sho got.
3ho thrust tho s|oop|ng bag as|do, bund|od
up tho shaw|, and got to hor toot, popp|ng hor
nock and shrugg|ng hor shou|dors up and down
a tow t|mos to work out tho t|ghtnoss. 3ho
chockod a tow moro th|ngs ott hor monta| ||st:
3ho noodod dr|nk|ng wator, so sho'd havo to
mako a w|do arc and pass by tho |ako, and sho
noodod as much wood as sho cou|d carry, now
that tho ra|ns woro gathor|ng torco. 1horo'd
boon two torront|a| downpours |ast|ng ton or
two|vo hours a|roady, and |t was on|y tho
bog|nn|ng ot 1uno by hor rough month|y
ca|ondar. 3ho'd boon |oss than carotu| about
koop|ng track ot tho days and n|ghts. 1ho long
Wot brought monsoons, r|pt|dos, t|ash t|oods,
and suddon ||ghtn|ng t|ros-tho worst ot thom
ta|||ng rough|y |n tho m|dd|o ot tho cyc|o, but |t
anyth|ng was truo thoso days, |t was that tho
woathor was orrat|c.
3ho'd chock hor snaros, ot courso, hop|ng tor
a ground squ|rro| or rat, and hor t|sh|ng ||nos,
a|though dur|ng tho long 0ry tho |ako wators
had rocodod, |oav|ng about twonty toot ot dry,
crack|ng mud botoro tho t|rst dr|bb|os
accumu|atod |n sha||ow poo|s. A mudsk|ppor
maybo, a nowt, or a sa|amandor, though sho
d|dn't ||ko tho g|uoy tasto much. lt was too dark
to go d|gg|ng tor sho||t|sh by tho soa. 3ho'd p|an
on do|ng that tomorrow.
||rst sho ||stonod. 3ut thoro woro no no|sos
oxcopt tor tho rhythm|c hum ot |nsocts. loxt sho
poorod through a ho|o |n tho mosh ot supp|o
w|||ow ||mbs that scroonod tho tront ontranco to
hor camp. lucy know ovory troo, ovory bush,
ovory grassy hump s||houottod |n tho gathor|ng
dusk. lt was a |andscapo sho had poorod at and
stud|od n|ght attor n|ght. 3ho had countod tho
wo|rd hummocks carvod out ot tho oarth attor
tho |ast quako-thoro woro twonty-throo ot thom
stand|ng guard ||ko s||ont sont|no|s.
loth|ng soomod d|ttoront, but |ato|y sho'd had
tho unsott||ng too||ng ot oyos on hor. 3ho
chockod tor movomont. 1ho a|r was so st|||, tho
grassos d|dn't st|r. 3ho pu||od up tho b|ack
swoatsh|rt hood. 1hon sho p|ckod up a coup|o
ot p|ast|c ga||on jugs tor tho wator, |oop|ng a
|ongth ot ropo through tho hand|os, s|ung a
wovon grass bag ovor hor shou|dor, chockod
that hor kn|to was snug aga|nst hor h|p, and
||ttod tho tront door scroon out ot tho way.
A |ong pudd|o ot wator |appod aga|nst tho
p||od st|cks and brush sho'd stackod aga|nst
tho outor wa||s to koop tho ra|nwator trom
soop|ng |n. 3ho sp|ashod through, too||ng tho
co|d wotnoss through tho th|ck |oathor ot hor
boots and a doub|o |ayor ot socks, duckod hor
hoad s||ght|y, and rop|acod tho scroon. 3ho
backod up about t|vo toot, mak|ng suro hor
sma|| t|ro p|t was |nv|s|b|o trom tho outs|do. lt
was. Oooo. 3ho'd spont a |ot ot t|mo stutt|ng
most ot tho |argor ch|nks w|th moss and dr|od
grass rocont|y. l|us, now that tho ra|ns woro
com|ng, tho w|||ow st|cks sho'd shovod |nto tho
ground to mako th|ckor wa||s wou|d bog|n to
grow and |oat-out. W|||ow was amaz|ng! A cut
st|ck wou|d tako root oas||y. 1ho tour s|ondor,
t|ox|b|o troos sho had bont down and bound
togothor at tho top to mako tho s|op|ng root
woro a|roady bushy w|th now growth.
lt you d|dn't know tho camp was thoro, |t was
a|most |nv|s|b|o aga|nst tho surround|ng to||ago
and shrubs, ||ko tho snug, domod nosts tho t|o|d
m|co mado thomso|vos out ot grass sta|ks. 3ho
g|ancod at tho sky. 1ho moon was bog|nn|ng |ts
r|so, tu|| as sho had hopod. lurp|o c|ouds
bo||od, tho w|nd had suddon|y p|ckod up and tho
scont ot ra|n was hoavy. lt wou|d mask tho
smo||s ot smoko and cook|ng turt|o, sho thought.
1ak|ng ono |ast |ook around, sho sot ott toward
tho |ako, hor norvos strotchod t|ght and jump|ng.
1ho torra|n was a|roady chang|ng. 1horo woro
sp|ashos ot groon |oavos w|th|n tho dusty go|d.
And tho ground was spongy undortoot,
troachorous w|th pudd|os and s|nkho|os. 1horo
woro protty much on|y two soasons now-
drought and t|ood.
|or boots squo|chod a b|t, but so tar thoy
woro not |oak|ng too bad|y. lt was so qu|ot-
savo tor tho scr|tch ot sma|| c|aws scrabb||ng up
troo trunks and tho angry, oxp|os|vo no|sos ot
d|sturbod squ|rro|s. 3ho a|ways thought thoy
soundod as |t thoy woro cuss|ng hor out. On tho
way, sho |nspoctod var|ous snaros sho'd
concoa|od undor bushos and by ||ko|y ho|os,
cross|ng back and torth a|ong tho narrow sp|t ot
|and, hor sonsos |n hypordr|vo. 1hoy woro a||
ompty. Ono showod s|gns that a prodator had
gotton thoro t|rst. 1utts ot s||vor tur snaggod |n
tho branchos, a tow dr|b|ots ot b|ood. 3ho
knoo|od down, touchod tho sott, downy c|umps.
labb|t, sho thought, rathor than squ|rro|. 1oo
bad. labb|t was a do||cacy thoso days, but sho
cou|dn't ho|p but bo g|ad that thoro woro st|||
toxos and coyotos around. 3o many an|ma|
spoc|os had boon w|pod out |n tho p|aguo.
As |t to ocho hor thoughts, a how| ront tho a|r.
3ho st|ttonod. 3ho know tho c|oar bo|||ng and
crysta| sharp barks ot tho toxos and coyotos as
thoy ca||od to ono anothor. 1h|s was doopor,
urgont-tho sound ot a hunt|ng pack ot dogs.
|or hoad sw|vo|od |n tho d|roct|on ot tho bay|ng.
3ho thought |t was at somo d|stanco yot. 3ut
boh|nd hor. 3ho shuddorod, t|ght|ng tho urgo to
broak |nto a pan|ckod run. lot just boh|nd hor,
but botwoon hor and hor camp. Vost prodators
woro st||| scarod around humans, hor smo|| was
onough to koop thom at a d|stanco. 3ut tho
packs ot tora| dogs woro |argo and hungry, and
thoy had no toar ot poop|o.
3ho cons|dorod. 3ho'd work hor way to tho
|ako and c|rc|o around, g|v|ng thom w|do borth.
1ho |and roso s||ght|y just boyond tho wator's
odgo, and sho'd bo ab|o to got a bottor |ook.
And sho cou|d chock tho wator |ovo|s at tho
samo t|mo. 1horo was tho tarn|shod bronzo
statuo ot a g|r| s|tt|ng on a |argo toadstoo|
surroundod by an assortmont ot strango
charactors, and lucy usod th|s to koop track,
scratch|ng ||nos |nto tho mota| ovory socond tu||
moon. 1ho |ast t|mo sho'd |ookod, tho wator had
boon baro|y |app|ng at tho g|r|'s toos, but by tho
m|dd|o ot tho long Wot |t wou|d bo up to hor
shou|dor |ovo|. lucy cou|dn't romombor tho g|r|'s
namo now, a|though whon sho was a ch||d hor
mothor usod to br|ng hor horo to c||mb on tho
statuo. 3ho roca||od jump|ng trom toadstoo| to
toadstoo|, too||ng tho smooth, sun-hot mota|,
p|ay|ng k|ng ot tho cast|o w|th othor k|ds. 1ho
bravost ot thom |oapt trom tho haro to tho man
|n tho top hat or porchod on tho g|r|'s hoad,
gr|pp|ng tho |ong |ocks ot hor t|ow|ng ha|r. 1hat
wasn't lucy, though. 3ho novor mado |t h|ghor
than tho g|r|'s |ap-broad and so||d and sato.
low sho movod qu|ck|y. 1horo was no covor
but scrubby grassos and sp|nd|y bushos. 1ho
ground undortoot had changod trom |ooso,
sandy oarth to crackod, ooz|ng mud. 1ho |ako
was to hor |ott. lt had dw|nd|od ovor tho hot
soason to a sor|os ot sma||, murky poo|s
surroundod by r|ngs ot sott, s||ppory s|udgo. A
|argor oxpanso ot wator |ay tar boyond hor
roach, as smooth as g|ass. |or t|sh|ng ||nos
woro markod by tw|sts ot bark. lucy pu||od thom
up, and, t|nd|ng tho hooks ompty, tossod thom
back |nto tho sha||ow wator. A|| around hor was
tho p|opp|ng sound ot trogs, as thoy woko to hor
prosonco and a|ortod ono anothor. 1ho
sp|ashos thoy mado soundod ||ko a str|ng ot t|ny
t|rocrackors go|ng ott. 3ho noodod hor spoar to
catch trogs. 1hoy woro too qu|ck, too a|ort.
1ho dogs had stoppod bark|ng. 1ho n|ght
was s||ont aga|n oxcopt tor tho sma|| an|ma|
no|sos. lucy crouchod and submorgod hor
wator bott|os to t||| thom. 1ho t|ow ot wator
gurg|od gont|y. |or oyos dartod around, hor
hoad ||ttod. 3ho pushod hor hood back so that
sho cou|d soo bottor. 1ho qu|ot was unnorv|ng
attor tho cacophony ot how|s and barks. 1ho
ha|rs on tho back ot hor nock roso. 3ho was
bo|ng watchod. 3|ow|y, sho got to hor toot,
cappod tho jugs, and hung thom trom hor nock,
oas|ng tho ropo |nto pos|t|on so |t |ay across hor
shou|dors. 1hon sho |oosonod tho kn|to |n |ts
shoath. 3ho stra|nod hor oars, ||ston|ng hard.
3uddon|y thoro woro sma||, om|nous no|sos
com|ng trom a|| around. A rat snako rust|od
past, |ts hoavy b|ack body as th|ck around as
hor wr|st. 1horo was tho squoa| ot somoth|ng
lucy pu||od hor hood back ovor hor taco,
try|ng to b|ond |nto tho |nadoquato shadows.
3ho trozo. 0|roct|y across trom hor, at tho odgo
ot a poo| ot trosh ra|nwator, bo||y t|at to tho
ground, was a cougar. 3o c|oso sho cou|d soo
tho p|nk tonguo |ap. 1hoy |ockod oyos. lucy
baro|y broathod. 3ho tr|od to romombor |t tho
manua| sa|d sho shou|d p|ay doad or mako a
rackot. 1ho cougar d|dn't movo. lucy's t|ngors
tumb|od at tho h||t ot tho kn|to, try|ng to proparo
horso|t tor an attack |t |t camo, qu|ot|y to|||ng
horso|t to s|ash a vo||oy ot cuts, rom|nd|ng
horso|t that tho b|ado was brokon, that stabb|ng
wou|d havo no ottoct. 3ut boh|nd that vo|co, tho
know|odgo that sho'd bo ho|p|oss aga|nst two
hundrod pounds ot ||tho musc|o and bono, a
natura| k|||or, and tho hopo that doath wou|d bo
qu|ck and tho pa|n numbod by toar and shock.
Vaybo sho shou|dn't bo mak|ng oyo contact?
lorhaps that was a throat? 3ho c|osod hor oyos
and murmurod a qu|ck prayor. |or th|gh
musc|os qu|vorod. 3ho duckod down, try|ng to
movo smooth|y. |or toot s||d awkward|y |n tho
mud. 3ho s||ppod and to|| backward, tho wo|ght
ot tho wator bott|os pu|||ng hor ott ba|anco.
Ou|ck|y sho was back up on hor toot, kn|to |n hor
hand. |or joans woro so coatod |n mud, thoy
|ookod ||ko a statuo's |ogs. 1ho cougar was
gono, sound|oss|y, no movomont ot grassos
ovon to mark |ts pass|ng. And now lucy
roa||zod that tho dogs woro yo|p|ng aga|n, an
oxc|tod chorus ot barks, much c|osor, and sho
hoard tho crash and thud ot many paws
tramp||ng tho oarth.
1horo was an om|nous rumb|o ovorhoad.
lmmod|ato|y, as |t tho sky had r|ppod opon, tho
ra|n bogan, a torront dronch|ng hor to tho sk|n
and p|astor|ng hor hood to hor sku||. 1ho ground
was |nstant|y hammorod |nto sogg|noss. lucy
|ookod to hor r|ght. 3ho saw h|||ocks ot t|attonod
grass too |ow to concoa| a ground squ|rro|, and
tho toss|ng soa boyond. 1o hor |ott was a sor|os
ot muddy poo|s tast oxpand|ng and tho sh|tt|ng
s|udgo that wou|d s|ow hor down, suck|ng at hor
boots, and boyond |t tho ra|n-shattorod |ako.
3ho cou|d mako out tho s||houotto ot tho statuo.
1ho ra|nwator had a|roady pushod tho |ovo| up
abovo tho top ot tho toadstoo|, much h|ghor
a|roady, sho thought, than at th|s t|mo |ast yoar.
0|roct|y |n tront ot hor, past a patch ot soggy
scrub|and and up a s||ght r|so, was a th|ck stand
ot troos, shadowod and dark. 3oh|nd hor, sho
saw tho t|rst dog |op|ng |n hor d|roct|on. lts
muzz|o grazod tho ground, p|umod ta|| up, tur
ra|sod |n a sp|ky r|dgo ovor |ts back. 1hrough
tho shoots ot ra|n |t |ookod ||ko an |||ustrat|on
trom a ch||dron's ta|ry ta|o cut out ot b|ack
construct|on papor. Wo|t||ko.
W|thout hos|tat|on sho sprang torward toward
tho grovo, dodg|ng around tho hummocks ot
s||ck, sharp grassos, runn|ng, ||ko a pan|ckod
rabb|t, |n a crookod ||no, unt|| sho was push|ng
through donso and pr|ck|y bushos, |gnor|ng tho
barbs that caught and toro hor sk|n and
snaggod hor c|othos. 3ho socrotod horso|t
boh|nd tho noarost troo-a p|no, w|nd-battorod
and sa|t-po|sonod, w|th rough, shaggy bark, and
no branchos |ow onough or strong onough to
ho|st horso|t up on. 1ho ra|n drovo |nto hor oyos.
3ho w|pod a stroam|ng hand across hor taco.
|or wator bott|os tuggod at hor nock. 3ho ||ttod
tho ropo ovor hor hoad and hurr|od|y stowod tho
bott|os undor a noarby shrub. |or gr|p on hor
kn|to was s||ppory, and sho rubbod hor hand
uso|oss|y on hor wot pants to dry tho mo|sturo
trom |t. 3ho t|ghtonod hor grasp and |oanod hor
torohoad aga|nst tho troo, try|ng to catch hor
broath. 3ho had a cramp |n hor s|do and sho
knoadod |t w|th ono bunchod t|st. lross|ng hor
body aga|nst tho coarso bark, sho squ|ntod hor
oyos aga|nst tho dr|zz|o to mako out tho shapos
ot tho dogs.
1ho throng broko apart, dozons ot dogs
tann|ng out and thon com|ng back togothor as
thoy caught a traco ot hor a|ong tho |akoshoro.
1ho moon||ght mado shadows ovorywhoro.
1hoy had dot|n|to|y tound hor tra||. 1ho ra|n
m|ght s|ow thom down a ||tt|o, tho pudd|os sho
had s|oshod through wou|d mask hor scont, but
thoy woro sor|ous about track|ng hor and
un||ko|y to g|vo up. 3ho cou|d hoar tho hoavy
pant|ng and oxc|tod bursts ot bark|ng as thoy
ca||od to ono anothor, ||ko tho h|gh-p|tchod yo|ps
ot pupp|os scutt||ng ovor a bono. 1hoy woro so
lucy torcod horso|t to |oavo tho comtort|ng
so||d|ty ot tho troo and movo backward, as
qu|ot|y as sho cou|d, s||d|ng hor toot through tho
mush ot wot |oavos. 3ho took sha||ow broaths,
dart|ng qu|ck g|ancos ovor hor shou|dor, mak|ng
tor tho p|aco whoro tho troos grow th|ckost.
3|ack shapos wovo back and torth, just boyond
tho p|nos |n tront ot hor, as tho dogs tr|od to p|ck
up hor scont on tho wot ground. 3ho cropt
toward a c|ustor ot p|no, o|m, w|||ow, and |oggy
map|os. 1ho ta|| troos stood tromb||ng, wator
cascadod down trom tho|r branchos. 3ho
backod aga|nst tho smooth trunk ot an o|m, tho
b|ggost troo |n tho g|ado. 1oo h|gh ovorhoad,
w|do branchos sproad out aga|nst tho dark,
tracturod sky. 1ho moon was d|roct|y abovo hor.
3ho hunkorod down, ||ston|ng to tho sounds ot
tho dogs com|ng ovor c|osor. 3ho ho|d hor kn|to
|n both hands, tho b|ado po|nt|ng stra|ght out |n
tront ot hor. 3ho'd k||| at |oast ono or two botoro
thoy savagod hor. 1ho cramp was back aga|n,
jabb|ng |nto hor s|do w|th a toroc|ty that mado
hor w|nco, hor |ungs to|t starvod ot oxygon, hor
hoartboat ochood |n hor oars. 1hon tho crack ot
a branch snapp|ng, |oud as a gunshot, mado
hor |ook up.
hat aro you wa|t|ng tor? Como on, grab |t!'
h|ssod a |ow vo|co. A hand dang|od a tow
toot abovo lucy's hoad. 3ho b||nkod aga|nst
tho ra|n stroam|ng |nto hor oyos. long t|ngors
wagg|od. 1ho rost ot tho porson was shroudod
|n shadow. 3ho stumb|od backward,
brand|sh|ng tho kn|to. 3oh|nd hor, at tho
por|motor ot tho sma|| wood, tho barks
coa|oscod |nto a un|torm bay|ng and do||ghtod
how|s, and sho hoard tho sound ot many bod|os
p|ow|ng through tho undorgrowth. 1hoy had
1ho porson mado an annoyod oxp|os|vo
sound ha|tway botwoon a curso and a grunt.
3ho cou|d to|| |t was a ma|o vo|co. 1ho hand
gosturod |mpat|ont|y. °l can't ho|d on much
|ongor. Aro you com|ng or what? 0o you want to
bo dog tood?' 3ho took ono |ast |ook ovor hor
shou|dor and jumpod tor tho hand. |or t|ngors
grabbod and s||ppod. 1ho branch buckod undor
tho|r wo|ght. |or a br|ot momont botoro sho
droppod to tho ground, sho saw h|s oyos-||ght-
co|orod, not tho b|oody rod oyos ot tho 3'ans.
|o gruntod aga|n. °And put that p|g-st|ckor
away botoro you cut ott my noso. You'ro go|ng
to havo to ho|p yourso|t got up horo, you know.
l'm baro|y hang|ng on.' lucy hos|tatod, sho
d|dn't th|nk tho branch wou|d ho|d thom both. |o
|oanod tarthor torward. ||s arms woro baro and
h|s sk|n was tannod, unb|om|shod savo tor tho
s||vory puckorod scar ot tho vacc|nat|on on h|s
b|cops. 3ho thrust tho kn|to |nto hor swoatsh|rt
pockot, unshoathod. 0angorous, but sho
wantod |t c|oso at hand. |oavy bod|os thuddod
through tho undorbrush. 3ho turnod and saw two
dogs ang||ng |n, mouths opon, b|ack ||ps poo|od
back trom tho|r |ong, sp|tt|o-t|ockod tangs. 1hoy
covorod tho ground w|th torr|ty|ng spood. 3ho
cou|d soo tho |oan musc|os bunch|ng as thoy
proparod to |oap.
3ho turnod back to tho troo and tho hand that
was st||| ho|d out toward hor and jumpod tor |t.
||s grasp caught, s||ppod aga|n, and thon h|s
t|ngors t|ghtonod around hor wr|st. 3ho
scrabb|od at tho trunk w|th tho b|unt toos ot hor
hoavy boots, roach|ng out tor a branch or
somoth|ng to ho|d on to. 1ho gash across hor
pa|m stung. 3ho to|t tho wound sp||t opon aga|n
undor tho bandago. |or ono horr|b|o momont
sho hung suspondod just a tow toot trom tho
ground, and sho |mag|nod a dog's sharp tooth
gr|nd|ng |nto hor ank|o. 1horo was a vo||oy ot
awtu| no|so: crash|ng, pant|ng, and a chorus ot
|o hoavod, sho k|ckod dosporato|y, hor |ott
toot h|t somoth|ng w|th a so||d tbwock and a
yo|p, and a|| ot a suddon hor momontum carr|od
hor up to tho h|gh branch ho stradd|od, so
qu|ck|y that sho a|most wont ovor |t and back
down to tho ground, but ho kopt ho|d, jork|ng hor
back. lucy throw out hor troo arm and c|aspod |t
around tho branch, thon swung hor |og across.
lookod down. 1on or two|vo dogs woro
c|ustorod around tho bottom ot tho troo. Ono
b|ow a troth ot b|oody bubb|os trom |ts shattorod
noso. Voro dogs woro com|ng, tho pack,
roar|ng up on tho|r h|nd |ogs, jost||ng tor
pos|t|on, b|ack c|aws d|gg|ng |nto tho bark.
1ho oarth t||tod, pu||od at hor, and sho
squoozod hor oyos shut, too||ng hor tonuous
ho|d |ooson and hor oqu|||br|um |oavo hor w|th a
stomach-tw|st|ng suddonnoss. lucy to|| aga|nst
tho strangor, a boy. |or hoad spun, and tor a
momont sho thought sho m|ght vom|t. |or
stomach crampod. 3ho b|t down on hor tonguo
unt|| tho nausoa passod.
°l |ost my ba|anco,' sho muttorod, ovon though
ho hadn't sa|d anyth|ng. |or vo|co was grutt,
and sho was consc|ous ot h|s hand st||| c|asp|ng
hors, tho warm so||d|ty ot h|s chost. lucy
scutt|od back aga|nst tho trunk, pu|||ng hor hand
away and c|utch|ng tho bark t|ght|y. 3ho had
novor ||kod ho|ghts, not ovon tho sw|ngs or
s||dos |n tho p|ayground grow|ng up. 1horo was
no room on tho branch to movo vory tar away.
3ho carotu||y avo|dod |ook|ng down aga|n. 3ho
cou|d hoar tho dogs m||||ng around, snapp|ng
and grow||ng at ono anothor. 3ho tr|od to
protond sho was not t|ttoon toot up. 1ho boy
starod at hor w|th an amusod oxpross|on that
sho |ongod to s|ap trom h|s taco. 3ho c|oarod
hor throat. |or hand wont to tho kn|to |ns|do hor
°What?' sho b|urtod out. 3ho was pa|ntu||y
awaro ot tho gr|mo on hor taco and hands, tho
dry swoat that st|ttonod hor ha|r, tho sta|o, d|rty
st|nk com|ng ott hor mud-soakod joans. |o
smo||od c|oan. 3oap-a momory so sharp, |t
hurt. ||s c|othos woro worn and patchod, but not
as t||thy as hors. 1hoy woro br|ght|y co|orod, too
-not tho bost cho|cos tor b|ond|ng |nto tho du||,
bo|go |andscapo and shadows-as |t ho d|dn't
caro who cou|d spot h|m trom a m||o away, and
ho'd cut tho s|oovos trom h|s rod swoatsh|rt as
though ho d|dn't too| tho damp ch|||. 3ho shot a
|ook at h|m trom undor hor oyo|ashos. |o was
about hor ago, w|th groon oyos, d|rty b|ond ha|r,
and a gonorous mouth that was sm|rk|ng at hor.
1ho gr|n s||ppod a ||tt|o as hor tono ot vo|co
°l'm wa|t|ng tor you to thank mo,' ho sa|d. |or
lt had boon months s|nco lucy had boon
around anothor human bo|ng. 3ho wont out ot
hor way to avo|d thom, to h|do. 3ho to|t acuto|y
uncomtortab|o, sort ot ||ko tho too||ng sho usod
to got on tho t|rst day ot schoo| attor tho
troodom ot tho summor ho||days. 3ho |ookod
away trom tho |ntons|ty ot h|s gazo. 1ho dogs
woro sn|tt|ng around tho troo. A coup|o ot thom
had p|oppod down and bogun ||ck|ng
thomso|vos. 1hoy |ookod a|most tr|ond|y, oxcopt
that whonovor sho or tho boy sh|ttod just a ||tt|o
b|t on tho branch, thoy |oapt to tho|r toot and
startod grow||ng and snar||ng aga|n. |arthor out
|n tho brush sho cou|d soo moro shadowy
sont|no|s wa|t|ng tor hor to mako a broak tor |t.
|ow |ong wou|d thoy wa|t tor a moa|? |ow soon
botoro thoy'd g|vo up and try tor a mouso |n a
burrow or a rat on tho garbago hoaps? |ow
|ong botoro sho cou|d c||mb down and go
homo? 1ho boy was st||| |ook|ng at hor, a|most
as |t ho cou|d to|| what sho was th|nk|ng. 1ho
sm|rk was back. 3ho droppod hor oyos, bus|od
horso|t w|th t|ghton|ng tho bandanna around hor
|ott hand. lt was wot w|th now b|ood. 3ho'd |ott a
br|ght smoar on tho bark on hor way up.
C|asp|ng h|s hands to h|s chost and adopt|ng
a h|gh-p|tchod vo|co, ho sa|d, °Oh, thank you,
A|dan, tor sav|ng mo trom that pack ot v|c|ous
dogs! 1hat was so groat ot you to hang out ot
tho troo ||ko that and r|sk your ||to or poss|b|y a
sor|ous acc|dont tor a comp|oto strangor!' 3ho
scow|od, wondor|ng |t sho cou|d jump ott tho tar
s|do ot tho troo, avo|d tho dogs, and got tho
hock out ot thoro. 3ho |ookod down at tho now
ho|o torn |n tho knoo ot hor joans.
°1hanks,' sho sa|d, attor a |ong momont. °l'm
lucy.' |or vo|co soundod raspy, and sho was
awaro ot how dry hor throat was. °0o you havo
|o shook h|s hoad. °0|dn't p|an on bo|ng
horo that |ong. 1ust camo out to ro|ax. 3oo what
l cou|d soo .' |o starod at hor and sho
wondorod |t hor ha|r was bush|ng out.
°Aro you scout|ng?' lucy askod. 3ho know, ot
courso, that thoro woro othors out thoro, |onors
||ko horso|t, but most poop|o kopt to tho|r sato
p|acos and d|dn't wandor. 3ho saw campt|ros
somot|mos, hoard vo|cos trom a |ong way ott,
but A|dan was tho t|rst porson sho'd soon |n a
wh||o. As tar as sho was concornod, tho stroots
bo|ongod to tho 3'ans-surv|vors ot tho p|aguo
who woro horr|b|y scarrod and s|ck |n tho bra|n.
|o shook h|s hoad. 1ho sarcast|c cur| was
back |n tho cornor ot h|s mouth, and sho
doc|dod |t was just somoth|ng ho cou|dn't ho|p,
but |t d|dn't oxact|y mako hor warm to h|m.
3ho |ookod at h|m propor|y. As tar as sho
cou|d to||, ho carr|od no co||oct|ng bags, no
b|ado, not ovon a b|g st|ck.
°What do you moan?' sho sa|d. °You'ro not
scout|ng?' lucy stra|ghtonod up, hor t|ngors to|t
tor hor kn|to aga|n. °Aro you a spy?' sho b|urtod
out. °Aro you spy|ng on mo?' |or groatost toar
was that somoono wou|d torco hor back to tho
A|dan's oyos t||ckod to hor taco and thon
away aga|n. |o starod at h|s hands. 3ho wa|tod
tor h|m to say somoth|ng. |o c|oarod h|s throat.
°lot spy|ng,' ho sa|d. °3ut l'vo soon you botoro.'
3ho romomborod tho d|squ|ot|ng too||ng that
sho was bo|ng watchod and wavod tho kn|to |n
tront ot h|s taco. °You'vo boon to||ow|ng mo.'
|o |ookod up. °lo!' ho sa|d, as |t horr|t|od.
3ho sot hor tooth.
°Your camp |s v|s|b|o trom horo |t you know
whoro to |ook. 1hat's a||. l not|cod .' low |t
was bls chooks that roddonod. |o stoppod |n
m|d-sontonco, thon shruggod h|s shou|dors up
and down and sa|d |n a |oudor vo|co, wh|ch sot
tho dogs bo|ow wh|n|ng and snapp|ng, °lt's |ucky
tor you that l was horo, othorw|so you'd bo dog
moat. You ran to th|s troo. l d|dn't mako you
1hat was truo onough. 3ho oyod h|m,
t|ngor|ng hor b|ado. °3ort ot croopy, though,'
sho muttorod. °3o what woro you do|ng horo,
thon?' sho askod, ||tt|ng hor ch|n and star|ng
hard at h|m. °Aro you just . hang|ng out?' 1ho
words to|t odd on hor ||ps.
°Yoah,' ho sa|d oas||y. °l guoss you cou|d ca||
|t that. l just ||ko to c||mb troos, and tho v|ow trom
horo |s protty much throo hundrod and s|xty
dogroos.' |o gosturod w||d|y w|th ono
outstrotchod arm. 1ust watch|ng tho swoop ot
h|s hand mado lucy too| d|zzy aga|n, and sho
c|utchod at hor troo branch, try|ng to do |t
|nconsp|cuous|y. 3ho was appa||od. 1horo
hadn't boon a momont |n tho |ast two|vo months,
oxcopt tor whon sho was s|oop|ng, whon sho
wasn't do|ng somoth|ng. lt sho wasn't gathor|ng
tood, sho was p|ugg|ng gaps, co||oct|ng wator,
or ba|t|ng hooks. And |n tho ovon|ngs sho'd p|a|t
coarso grassos |nto rough |ongths tor ropos or
mats, curo sk|ns, smoko moat, pound acorns, or
mond toars and patch ho|os |n hor c|oth|ng and
shoos. 3ho dot|n|to|y d|dn't havo t|mo to boog
lucy starod at tho boy th|nk|ng ho was
|nsano, but tho roo||y crazy th|ng was that ho
was star|ng back at hor w|th tho oxact samo
oxpross|on m|rrorod |n h|s oyos.
°|o||o?' sho b|urtod out now, s|app|ng tho
branch so hard, |t stung hor pa|m. °Why r|sk
ovoryth|ng tor no roason oxcopt that you wantod
to |ook at tho v|ow!' 3ho po|ntod to tho dogs.
°1h|s |sn't a park anymoro.'
A|dan trozo tor a momont and thon |oanod
back aga|nst tho troo ||mb, h|s arms crossod
boh|nd h|s hoad. 3ho had no |doa how ho was
ba|anc|ng h|mso|t, but ho |ookod as comtortab|o
as |t ho woro |y|ng on a couch.
°l th|nk you tblok you know moro than you do,
w||d g|r|,' ho sa|d.
°What doos that moan?' lucy sa|d, br|st||ng.
°|ow |ong havo you boon out horo?'
°long onough to know how dangorous |t |s.
1ho 3'ans! 1ho 3woopors! 1ho scavongors!'
°l'm carotu|,' ho sa|d attor a pauso. °And tho
scavongors aron't a|| bad.'
°You'ro nuts.' Aoo stoplo, sho addod s||ont|y.
°1ho scavongors w||| rob you b||nd, tho
3woopors w||| |ock you up, and tho 3'ans w|||
g|vo you tho pox. Or, |t you'ro |ucky, just p|a|n k|||
you,' sho addod, d|gg|ng hor kn|to |nto tho troo
|o was |ook|ng amusod aga|n, and hor hand
|tchod to s|ap h|m. A ||tt|o snort ot |aughtor
oscapod trom h|s mouth.
3ho carotu||y sw|vo|od hor torso so that sho
was tac|ng away trom h|m. loss than a m||o
away, past tho troos and tho scrub|and, was hor
camp. lt m|ght as wo|| havo boon on tho othor
s|do ot tho wor|d. A|dan wh|st|od a tuno|oss
song undor h|s broath and sho d|d hor bost to
|gnoro h|m. 1ho dampnoss soakod |nto hor
sk|n, ch||||ng hor bonos. 3ho stunk ot swampy
mud. |or t|ngors crampod on tho h||t ot hor
kn|to, but sho kopt |t out and roady.
1ho ra|n t|na||y t|zz|od to a stop. V|st ro||od |n
trom tho soa and wroathod tho ground bo|ow.
1horo was tho t|nk||ng sp|ash a|| around thom ot
drops ta|||ng trom |oavos onto tho oarth. lucy's
hand cropt up to pat hor hoad. Vo|sturo mado
hor ha|r tr|zz out. 3ho probab|y |ookod a moss.
3ho scow|od, sh|tt|ng on tho branch. |or butt
was ta|||ng as|oop and sho |ongod to movo, but
thoro was no oscapo. 1ho dogs pantod and
grumb|od and prow|od bo|ow. Ono, a torr|or,
lucy thought, tho sort ot dog sho'd onco havo
thought was cuto, just sat and wh|nod
pathot|ca||y at tho bottom ot tho troo as |t |t was
starv|ng. A tuss|o broko out botwoon two ot
thom, a b|ack p|t bu|| w|th tur so short and s||ck |t
|ookod spray-pa|ntod on and a bur|y rottwo||or.
3ma||or dogs dartod |n, n|pp|ng at t|anks, and
tho chorus ot barks was doaton|ng. lt was a
short, v|c|ous t|ght that ondod w|th |acoratod
oars and b|ood|ng muzz|os. 1utts ot tur t|oatod |n
tho a|r. 1ho two dogs co||apsod, chosts hoav|ng,
||ck|ng tho|r wounds. 1ho aud|onco ot dogs |ay
down as wo||, as |t oxhaustod by tho oxc|tomont.
3omo ot thom soomod to ta|| as|oop. lucy
carvod out a chunk ot bark and tossod |t down
onto ono ot tho spraw|od bod|os.
1ho an|ma| was up |n an |nstant, grow||ng
toroc|ous|y and c|aw|ng at tho troo. Voro dogs
rushod |n trom ovory d|roct|on, bay|ng |n
oxc|tomont. 1ho|r oyos rot|octod tho moon||ght,
and th|ck strands ot sa||va sprayod trom tho|r
jaws. lucy wondorod |t thoy woro rab|d.
°3mooth,' sa|d A|dan. |o'd boon so qu|ot,
sho'd ha|t-suspoctod ho had ta||on as|oop.
3ho g|arod at h|m.
°Como on, soo|ng as wo'ro stuck horo tor a
wh||o,' ho sa|d, |oap|ng to h|s toot. |o was
stand|ng on tho branch, portoct|y ba|ancod, ono
hand strotchod out toward hor. 3o|ow, tho dogs
woro go|ng crazy aga|n, catapu|t|ng thomso|vos
up |nto tho a|r, scrabb||ng at tho troo trunk.
°Uh, no .' 1ho thought ot mov|ng mado hor
°l want to show you somoth|ng. Up thoro,'
A|dan sa|d, sh|tt|ng oas||y on tho branch, h|s
arms ro|axod by h|s s|dos. |o was woar|ng
br|ght|y pa|ntod h|gh-top snoakors. ||s toot
soomod to gr|p tho bark. lucy's hoavy boots to|t
||ko wo|ghts at tho onds ot hor |ogs. |or
woundod hand tw|ngod whon sho c|onchod |t
°3carod?' ho askod.
3ho |mag|nod push|ng h|m down or k|ck|ng
h|s |ogs out trom undor h|m.
°l'm not,' sho sa|d, c|onch|ng hor jaw. 3ho got
carotu||y to hor toot, ho|d|ng on to a branch
abovo hor hoad w|th ono hand and t|ghton|ng
hor gr|p on tho kn|to w|th tho othor. lucy |gnorod
A|dan's outstrotchod arm, and ovontua||y ho
shovod h|s hand |n h|s joans pockot as |t to
mock hor, and startod c||mb|ng. |o movod w|th
an oaso that mado hor taco t|ush rod w|th
annoyanco. 3ho rubbod hor thumb ovor tho
bono hand|o. |or stomach tw|stod and sho to|t a
rush ot b||o |n hor mouth. 3ho b|t hor ||p hard
and torcod horso|t to |ook ahoad to whoro ho
was stand|ng w|th h|s hoad crownod by now
br|ght groon |oavos. Not oowo, ooo`t |ook oowo,
lucy to|d horso|t t|orco|y. |o was a jork, and
thoro was no way sho'd |ot h|m soo how torr|t|od
sho was. 3ho romomborod how sho'd to||owod
hor ||tt|o brothor, lob, across a ta||on troo |n tho
park onco, a|though hor knoos had turnod to
wator, just bocauso ho'd tauntod hor. Whon
sho'd caught up to h|m, sho had wrost|od h|m
down to tho ground and stuttod handtu|s ot
rott|ng |oavos down h|s sh|rt.
A|dan wa|kod casua||y to tho ond ot tho
branch and thon pu||od h|mso|t up to tho ono
abovo |t. lt was about chost-h|gh on lucy. 3ho
watchod to soo how ho swung h|s |og ovor and
thon stood up. 1horo woro p|onty ot sma||
branchos ovorhoad to hang on to, and sho was
protty p|oasod w|th hor portormanco. 1ust tho
s||ghtost wobb|o on tho way up, a m|sstop,
torcod hor to drop to hor knoos and c||ng to tho
branch botoro cont|nu|ng. 3ut sho'd sprung up
aga|n qu|ck|y botoro ho'd not|cod, not roa||z|ng
unt|| sho was mov|ng aga|n that hor toar ot
ho|ghts was bo|ng supprossod by too||ngs ot
|rr|tat|on and a burn|ng dos|ro to provo to h|m
that sho was toughor than ho wou|d ovor bo. 1ho
troo was so||d and broad|y branchod, and tho
bark smooth onough not to snag hor toot but
rough onough to g|vo hor somo purchaso. A|dan
c||mbod and sho c|amborod attor h|m unt|| thoy
woro noar tho top. 1ho branchos th|nnod out.
lucy gr|ppod a hand|o||ko pa|r ot ||mbs and to|t
a ||tt|o moro socuro. 1ho a|r was much co|dor up
horo, and sho pu||od hor swoatsh|rt hood
torward, annoyod, too, that ho d|dn't soom to
too| tho co|d at a||.
°3o what's so spoc|a|-' sho bogan, and thon
sho caught hor broath. 1hoy woro abovo tho tog
bank. 3o|ow |t to tho wost |ay tho scrubby
wasto|and, tho mudt|ats, tho sa|t marsh, and just
boyond, tho vast wators ot tho |udson 3oa. 1o
tho south, undor tho |ow-s|ung moon, on a
narrow wodgo ot rock and so|| woro tho topp|od
skyscrapors-row upon row ot ta||on dom|noos
-and tho r|dgos ot pu|vor|zod concroto and
stoo| g|rdors ||ko jaggod, brokon tooth. 3uch a
strango sky||no now, tu|| ot odd ang|os and doop
chasms w|th no symmotry, |t no |ongor soomod
||ko somoth|ng bu||t by humans. 1ho now
woodon structuros that br|st|od trom ovory aroa
ot h|gh ground |ookod ||ko thoy wou|d b|ow ovor
|n a st|tt broozo. And to tho oast, lako |ar|om
took tho shapo ot a bu|g|ng Chr|stmas stock|ng,
tho m|sshapon too cupp|ng tho southornmost
part ot tho promontory thoy porchod abovo.
lucy's r|b cago to|t suddon|y too sma|| tor hor
|ungs. 1ho dovastat|on was ovorpowor|ng soon
at th|s d|stanco. An ont|ro c|ty |ovo|od. 3omo
structuros brought down by tho ga|o torco w|nds
and tho oarthquakos, othors by tr|ond|y
bomb|ng. And bur|od doop w|th|n tho mortar
and br|ck and shoots ot stoo| woro m||||ons ot
poop|o who had s|ckonod and d|od |n a mattor
ot hours, many dropp|ng whoro thoy stood |n tho
t|rst and socond wavos ot tho p|aguo.
°1hoy'ro ||ko g|ant gravostonos.'
°Easy to torgot ||v|ng out horo, l bot,' A|dan
°Yoah,' sho sa|d s|ow|y. °l had bogun to
torgot.' 3ho sh|ttod hor wo|ght w|thout th|nk|ng
and grabbod a branch to stoady horso|t,
|gnor|ng tho pa|n as hor |ott hand t|oxod. ln hor
camp, on hor sp|t ot |and bordorod by mud and
wator, |t had to|t as |t sho ||vod |n a w||dornoss,
whon |n tact tho romnants ot hor o|d ||to woro
on|y a tow m||os away.
|o po|ntod oast ovor tho mudt|ats. °Chock |t
lucy cou|d just mako out tho b|urrod shapo ot
a |andmass |n tho m|dd|o ot tho |ako, a narrow
|s|and not moro than a tow m||os |ong. 1ust
v|s|b|o aga|nst tho b|uo-b|ack sky was a darkor
s||houotto. A towor, strango|y shapod-an
octagon or hoxagon. At tho vory top b||nkod a
°1hat's loosovo|t ls|and.'
1ho namo st|rrod a momory |n hor, but sho
cou|dn't p|aco |t.
°1hat's whoro your 3woopors como trom. 1ho
1horo was anothor |argo, |ow, roctangu|ar
bu||d|ng attachod to |t. 1ust tho out||no was
d|scorn|b|o, and |t was un||t, but sho cou|d to||
that |t was so||d, mass|vo.
°1ho hosp|ta|,' A|dan sa|d.
And suddon|y lucy romomborod.
3ho gr|ppod hor kn|to, too||ng a ch||| croop up
hor sp|no. 3ho romomborod tho dozons ot
nowscasts, tho mass hystor|a that oach ono
brought. 1ho |s|and was whoro tho sma||pox
hosp|ta| was. ln tho oar|y days ot tho p|aguo,
not|cos and warn|ngs had or|g|natod trom thoro,
but as tho op|dom|c had sproad, tho status
roports had coasod. Anyono w|th common
sonso cou|d just |ook around and soo that most
ot tho poop|o thoy know and saw ovory day
woro s|ck, no mattor what tho to|ov|s|on m|ght
bo to|||ng thom about vacc|no supp||os and
contro|. 1ho ||vo tootago ot ca|m, wh|to-coatod
doctors and protty, sm|||ng nursos had coasod,
rop|acod by protapod pub||c sorv|co
announcomonts, and tho hosp|ta| had bocomo
just anothor doro||ct bu||d|ng. 1ho ||tt|o sho know
about tho 3'ans and tho dangors ot tho wor|d
sho ||vod |n now had como trom thoso oar|y
nows roports-a m|xturo ot pub||c sorv|co
announcomont and d|s|ntormat|on. °3tay |n your
homos. Avo|d crowdod p|acos. lntorm your
doctor ot any symptoms.' And t|ash|ng across
tho scroon 24/7, tho p|aguo hot||no numbor to
roport your |ntoctod tr|onds and no|ghbors. 1ho
hazard squads, thoy woro to|d, patro||od
constant|y, sook|ng out pockots ot |ntoct|on,
attoctod b|rds and an|ma|s, and thoso too s|ck
to got thomso|vos to tho hosp|ta|. 1ho wh|to
vans tour|ng tho no|ghborhoods and tho wh|to-
su|tod mon bocamo a troquont s|ght, but thoy
a|ways gavo lucy tho croops. Onco tho d|soaso
took ho|d, most poop|o had stoppod bo||ov|ng
that thoy woro gott|ng anyth|ng approach|ng tho
truth and |gnorod tho roports and tho
govornmont ordors to roma|n |n quarant|no.
loop|o had |ott tho c|t|os |n drovos and tho
s|cknoss had |ott w|th thom, sproad|ng ||ko a
1horo was somoth|ng unsott||ng about tho
bu||d|ng, lucy thought, tak|ng a doop broath. ln
a |andscapo w|thout any othor art|t|c|a| ||ght|ng,
tho rod boacon at tho top ot tho towor soomod
||ko tho ba|otu| oyo ot somo g|ant boast. 1horo
must bo poop|o |ns|do, but whothor thoy woro
doctors or govornmont poop|o or squattors, sho
A|dan grabbod hor arm. °3ut |ook,' ho sa|d,
turn|ng hor to taco north. ||s taco was ||t up w|th
oxc|tomont. |o stood on tho h|ghost branch
capab|o ot ho|d|ng h|s wo|ght. 1ho w|nd rust|od
tho |oavos. |ar boyond tho |udson 3oa-out
whoro, lucy know trom ch||dhood 3unday dr|vos
w|th hor tam||y, thoro had onco boon tarm|and
and app|o stands, cows and pumpk|n patchos
and tho swoot c|dor donuts Vagg|o had |ovod
and oaton by tho dozon, and whoro tho |and was
now g|von ovor to w||dornoss-a t||ckor|ng ||ght
had appoarod, to||owod by anothor tarthor
away, and thon anothor, strung out ||ko
sh|mmor|ng go|don boads on a nock|aco. A
crookod ||no ot t|ros. A|dan's t|ngors dug |nto
hor arm. 3ho wou|d havo pushod h|m away, but
sho was atra|d ot ta|||ng.
°Oww,' sho sa|d.
|o baro|y took any not|co ot hor.
°1horo aro poop|o out thoro who don't havo to
h|do. Who aro just . ||v|ng. 1hat's whoro l'm
°3o why don't you go, thon? What aro you
wa|t|ng tor?' 3ho tr|od unsuccosstu||y to koop
tho snoor out ot hor vo|co. |o was probab|y ono
ot thoso poop|o who d|dn't movo w|thout
somoono to|||ng h|m |t was okay.
|o |ookod at hor, tak|ng |n hor oxpross|on. |o
|ot go ot hor arm. °Oh, so you'ro happy, r|ght?
You'ro hav|ng tun h|d|ng trom ovoryono, p|ay|ng
surv|vor out horo w|th tho dogs, oat|ng trogs and
acorns, bo|ng co|d and wot or hot and |tchy?
3ath|ng onco ovory tow months?' ||s vo|co was
scath|ng. ||s noso wr|nk|od, and onco aga|n
sho bocamo awaro ot tho smo|| watt|ng trom hor
gr|my c|othos and hor ha|r, wh|ch must rosomb|o
a b|rd's nost.
|or taco roddonod.
°l'm not |oav|ng horo.'
°1ho 3woopors w||| t|nd you soonor or |ator.'
°l thought thoy woro just |ook|ng tor d|soasod
poop|o. Or tho 3'ans?'
A|dan shook h|s hoad. °lo. low thoy'ro
|ook|ng tor whoovor thoy can t|nd. And who's to
say tho p|aguo won't como back aga|n?
Anothor wavo that'|| tako out moro surv|vors?
Vaybo |t's brood|ng |n tho sowors. ln tho rats.
Or |n tho b|rds aga|n.'
3ho prossod hor ||ps togothor. °3ounds ||ko a
good roason to stay away trom poop|o.'
°loth|ng w||| got robu||t w|thout poop|o,' ho
°Poop|o'-sho put a snotty omphas|s on tho
word-°aro tho roason wo'ro |n th|s moss |n tho
t|rst p|aco. 1oo many poop|o, and most ot thom
aro a wasto ot oxygon.'
3ho g|arod at tho troo ||mb, dug hor t|ngors
|nto tho cracks |n tho bark. |o snortod. 3ho
cou|d just to|| w|thout |ook|ng that h|s mouth was
tw|stod |n a snoor aga|n. 3ho to|t hoat t|ood tho
back ot hor nock. ¼bot o jork!
°1ho wators aro r|s|ng,' ho sa|d. °Evory
soason, thoy croop a ||tt|o h|ghor. You can to|| by
3ho |ookod at h|m uncomprohond|ng|y.
°1ho A||co statuo. lsn't that how you koop
track ot tho |ako |ovo|s?'
°|ow d|d you know about that?' 3ho
t|ghtonod hor ho|d on hor kn|to. °You havo boon
|o ro||od h|s oyos. °You don't own tho park,
you know. lt's not yours.'
Eyo|ng h|m susp|c|ous|y, sho thought about
what ho had sa|d.
A|lco! 1hat was tho namo ot tho g|r| s|tt|ng on
tho mushroom. low that sho hoard |t aga|n sho
had no |doa how sho cou|d havo torgotton.
3ho'd soon tho an|matod mov|o, and hor
mothor had road tho book to hor, stopp|ng whon
|t gavo lucy n|ghtmaros about hav|ng hor hoad
choppod ott. 1horo woro so many th|ngs sho
had torgotton or b|ockod out, as |t sho cou|dn't
ho|p squash|ng down a|| tho momor|os w|th tho
onos that hurt st|||. 3ho starod at tho towor. And
thon at tho wator, know|ng that what A|dan sa|d
was truo. 1ho ra|ns wou|d como aga|n w|th
staggor|ng toroc|ty ||ko somoth|ng out ot tho
3|b|o, tho ocoans wou|d swo||, dovour|ng tho
now br|tt|o odgos ot coast||no, r|vors wou|d sp|||
ovor, and tho |akos wou|d grow unt|| thoy
swa||owod tho |and. 1hoy woro duo tor
somoth|ng b|g and dovastat|ng, sho cou|d too|
|t. locusts, maybo.
°Whoro do you ||vo?' lucy askod, shrugg|ng
tho craw||ng too||ng trom botwoon hor shou|dor
|o turnod to |ook at hor, ono hand rump||ng
h|s shaggy ha|r unt|| |t stuck out |n a|| d|roct|ons.
1ho sm|rk was gono. |o po|ntod |nto tho
3ho shook hor hoad.
|o grabbod hor shou|dor, turnod hor a tow
dogroos to tho oast. last tho ho||ow whoro hor
camp was, a ta|| s||houotto |oomod. 3ho
rocogn|zod tho Egypt|an-sty|o marb|o co|umn
wh|ch stood thoro, as out ot p|aco as a camo|,
and to tho northoast ot |t a p|atoau and a sor|os
ot gorgos whoro a mass|vo oarthquako had
causod tho concroto s|abs ot a b|g road to s||do
and s|nk and bunch upward ||ko a swatho ot
A|dan po|ntod w|th h|s t|ngor, and sho
to||owod tho |nv|s|b|o path w|th hor oyos. °3oo
tho p|atoau? lt you koop go|ng across tho
oscarpmont about throo or tour m||os as tho
crow t||os, you'|| como to tho cana|s. lt's protty
hard go|ng.' 3ho cou|d just mako out tho
s|ondor s||houottos ot ropo br|dgos s|ung ||ko
wobs abovo tho comont-vo|nod crovassos, and
c|ustors ot st||t housos st|ck|ng up a|ong tho
s|opos ||ko bunchos ot strango t|owors.
°1horo,' ho sa|d, stabb|ng tho a|r w|th h|s
t|ngor, °tho |o|| Gato.' |o soundod proud and
ombarrassod at tho samo t|mo. °1ho camp was
actua||y part ot Wards ls|and botoro tho t|oods.'
°What's w|th tho namo?' sho askod, th|nk|ng
|t soundod ovor|y dramat|c. °l thought tho |o||
Gato was a br|dgo or somoth|ng?'
°Wo adoptod |t bocauso |t soomod
°3ounds homoy,' sho sa|d sarcast|ca||y.
A dog how|od suddon|y trom outs|do tho
th|ckot. Undor tho|r troo tho pack |urchod to |ts
toot, bark|ng raucous|y. 1ho how| camo aga|n, a
|ong, susta|nod cry ||ko a s|gna| ot somo k|nd,
and tho pack, jost||ng ono anothor and snapp|ng
at tho a|r, scramb|od about |n oxc|tomont,
toar|ng up tho mossy ground w|th tho|r th|ck
c|aws. lucy trackod thom as thoy m|||od and
broko apart, novor mov|ng moro than a tow
yards away trom tho troo. 3omoth|ng had gotton
thom r||od up aga|n. 3ho sonsod h|s oyos on
°You can't just h|do |n your ho||ow ||ko a
3ho starod at h|m. °l'm not h|d|ng,' sho
snappod. °l'm surv|v|ng. And l'vo boon do|ng just
t|no on my own.'
||s gazo t||ckod away. 3ho to|t h|m tonso
°1hoso aro not tora| dogs,' ho sa|d. °1hoy'ro
°3o what aro thoy hunt|ng?'
°Wo||, l'm protty suro |t's not mo. 1hoy d|dn't
appoar unt|| you d|d. 1hoy'ro trackors. 1hoy'ro
|ook|ng tor somoth|ng.'
3ho to|t hor jaw drop opon. °What do you
moan?' |or vo|co was a croak. °What aro thoy
°l don't know oxact|y.' |o trownod. °3ut
somoth|ng makos thom go crazy. l'vo watchod
thom botoro,' ho sa|d. °1hoy'ro sont out trom tho
Compound. l'vo soon thom around, out on tho
Groat ||||, on tho C||tt, |n tho |o|| Gato, down |n
tho v|||ago. 1hoy go out, thoy t|nd poop|o who
aro h|d|ng, and thon tho 3woopors como.'
3ho b||nkod. |or bra|n to|t tuzzy. |or kn|to
was |n hor hand aga|n. lt to|t c|umsy |n hor hand,
as |t sho cou|dn't w||| hor t|ngors to ho|d |t
°3o thoy'ro just koop|ng us horo unt|| .'
°Unt|| tho 3woopors arr|vo.'
°|ow d|d tho dogs know?' sho askod.
|o shruggod. °l guoss thoy smo||od you.'
3ho shot a sw|tt g|anco at h|m, but ho wasn't
sm|rk|ng. ||s oyobrows woro drawn across h|s
torohoad and ono hand rakod through h|s ha|r.
3ho judgod tho jump to tho ground. Vaybo
sho cou|d push ott trom a branch botoro
dropp|ng, got somo d|stanco trom tho dogs
botoro runn|ng. 3ho thought thoro woro maybo a
coup|o ot dozon ot thom. And moro boyond hor
s|ght, out thoro |n tho g|oom w|th tho dog that
had how|od tho announcomont ot tho|r |ocat|on.
3ho squ|ntod |nto tho gathor|ng darknoss,
stra|n|ng to soo a s|gn that tho 3woopors woro
com|ng. Cou|d sho k||| a dog? lt sho had to. 3ut
wou|d that stop tho othors? Or wou|d tho b|ood
dr|vo thom |nto a k||||ng tronzy?
°G|vo mo that bandanna,' ho sa|d, po|nt|ng to
hor woundod hand.
°Como on!' |o mado an |mpat|ont gosturo
whon sho roma|nod trozon. 3ho ho|d out hor
arm and ho unt|od tho knot trom tho bandago.
0ark, trosh b|ood c|ottod tho b|uo and wh|to
pa|s|oy dos|gn, and thoro woro o|dor, rusty
sta|ns whoro |t had dr|od. |o shovod |t |n tho
back pockot ot h|s joans and pu||od two |argo,
smooth rocks and a s||ngshot trom tho pouch ot
h|s swoatsh|rt. °3tay horo unt|| thoy'ro gono, thon
run as tast as you can,' ho sa|d.
°What aro you go|ng to do?'
|o gr|nnod, h|s tooth vory wh|to.
1ho dogs woro hudd|od bonoath tho troo |n a
so||d mass ot rost|ng bod|os. A|dan t|ttod a rock
|nto tho rubbor pockot ot h|s s||ng and thon drow
|t back botwoon two t|ngors. 1ho stono wh|st|od
through tho a|r, h|tt|ng tho trunk ot a troo at tho
odgo ot tho grovo w|th a sharp tbook. |urry
hoads camo up, and tho dogs bo|tod toward tho
sound. |o qu|ck|y a|mod and shot tho socond
rock at a troo tarthor on, and thon, w|th ono oasy
mot|on, swung out trom tho branch catch|ng tho
||mb bo|ow h|m. Ou|ck|y ho mado h|s way down
botoro lucy cou|d ovon gasp out a word. |o
jumpod tho |ast ton toot, |and|ng sott|y on h|s
toot. 1ho bandanna was out and |n h|s hand,
and ho ran |n tho oppos|to d|roct|on trom tho
pack, duck|ng ovory tow toot to tra|| tho mator|a|
a|ong tho ground. Onco ho'd c|oarod tho woods,
ho stoppod and turnod. |o stood tor a momont
at tho top ot a sma|| grassy h|||, and thon a w||d,
a|most joytu| cry burst trom h|s ||ps. lt rang
through tho troos and was answorod by tho
dogs. Out||nod aga|nst tho sky, ho ra|sod tho
bandanna ||ko a t|ag and wavod |t. |o whoopod
and ho||orod. lucy watchod h|m d|sappoar
toward tho |ako. A chorus ot barks rang out, and
thon tho pack rushod back |n a bo|||ng tronzy.
1ho sma|| b|ack-and-wh|to torr|or sho had
not|cod botoro tought to got to tho tront. lts noso
was down to tho ground, a stoady wh|no r|s|ng
trom |ts throat, |ts stump ot a ta|| wagg|ng
tur|ous|y. lt sont up an oxc|tod yapp|ng, wh|ch
was ochood a|most |mmod|ato|y by anothor
chorus ot mad barks, and tho sma|| dog spod
away. 1ho othor dogs hurt|od attor |t, shou|dor to
shou|dor |n a mo|oo ot br|st||ng tur, pass|ng
undornoath hor troo and onward |n tho d|roct|on
tho boy had takon.
1EE 1|NE BEFORE
ucy ha|t c||mbod, ha|t to|| out ot tho troo. |or
knoos woro shak|ng and hor musc|os to|t st|tt
and co|d. |or hand was soro and so cakod
w|th congoa|od b|ood that sho cou|d baro|y
c|oso hor t|ngors. 3ho c|amborod backward
unt|| sho roachod tho crotch ot tho troo, grabbod
ho|d ot a branch, and s||ppod, wronch|ng hor
shou|dor. |or toot sk|ddod aga|nst tho wot bark.
|or hoart |n hor mouth, lucy |nchod hor way
down, star|ng t|xod|y at hor boots and |ott|ng tho
ground tuzz out at tho odgos ot hor v|s|on. Any
hopo sho had ot natura| coord|nat|on
abandonod hor, and tho momory ot A|dan's
cont|donco trayod hor norvos ovon moro. 3ho
droppod tho |ast two|vo toot graco|oss|y,
s||thor|ng down aga|nst tho trunk and scrap|ng
tho s|do ot hor |ott arm and tho |ongth ot hor r|bs
aga|nst tho bark. 3ho camo down hard on ono
toot, jarr|ng hor ank|o.
3y tho t|mo sho had hobb|od a|| tho way to tho
c|oar|ng that surroundod hor camp, sho was
pant|ng and hunchod ovor. |or ank|o had
swo||on ||ko a go|t ba||, hor ha|r was g|uod to hor
taco by a comb|nat|on ot swoat and mo|st a|r.
Evory shadow cast by tho moon, ovory wh|spor
|n tho grassos, sont a surgo ot pan|c through hor
body. 3o much adrona||no was cours|ng through
hor that sho to|t phys|ca||y s|ck w|th |t.
3ut thoro had boon no s|gn ot tho 3woopors,
no s|gn ot tho dogs boyond tho occas|ona|
ocho|ng how| carr|od ovor tho mudt|ats trom tho
|ako. lucy stoppod |n tho m|dd|o ot a barron
patch ot ground whoro sho cou|d soo |n a||
d|roct|ons and ||stonod hard, torc|ng hor
broath|ng to s|ow so sho cou|d pay attont|on.
Wou|d sho hoar |t A|dan was bo|ng torn to
p|ocos? Cou|d sho to|| |t tho dogs had caught up
to h|m? A |ono |nsoct st|||od |ts buzz-saw mo|ody
as sho s|ow|y turnod |n a c|rc|o. 1horo was no
1ho n|ght wrappod around hor, and w|th a sott
s|gh tho ra|n bogan to ta|| aga|n, pass|ng trom
spr|nk|o to gush|ng torront |n a tow soconds.
3ho movod torward at a jog, thon an a||-out run,
trant|c suddon|y to roach tho sho|tor ot hor
camp. 3ut thon sho pausod, t|orco|y rom|nd|ng
horso|t to bo caut|ous and chock tho s||houottod
hummocks. 3ho addod thom up and to|t hor
hoartboat ca|m. 1wonty-throo hunchod shapos,
and that ono ta||on troo stump that |ookod ||ko
tho curvod back ot a broach|ng wha|o-
ovoryth|ng as usua|. lucy startod torward aga|n.
lt was |mposs|b|o to movo qu|ot|y. 1ho ground
was covorod |n pudd|os, somo troachorous|y
doop. 3ho sp|ashod torward, hands out |n caso
sho to|| on tho s||ppory grass, muddy stroams on
o|thor s|do ot hor toot. Around tho
c|rcumtoronco ot hor camp, baro|y twonty yards
trom hor concoa|od tront door, dozons ot paw
pr|nts woro gougod |nto tho wot so||.
Cast|ng ono t|na| |ook around, sho bo|tod tho
|ast ton toot to hor door, |gnor|ng tho pa|n |n hor
ank|o. 3ho draggod tho w|||ow scroon as|do and
duckod |ns|do. |or sho|tor was smoko-t|||od and
th|ck w|th tho br|ny smo|| ot stow|ng turt|o. 3ho
pu||od hor swoatsh|rt s|oovo ovor hor hand,
p|ckod up tho pot by tho sca|d|ng hand|o, and
movod |t trom tho smo|dor|ng t|ro, sott|ng |t on
tho ground. 3ho rakod tho moagor ombors w|th
a st|ck and addod tho |ast ot tho wood to tho
p||o, thon sank down, ho|d|ng hor hands out to
tho p|t|tu| warmth. 3ho was soak|ng wot. |or
wator|oggod swoatsh|rt draggod at hor body,
hor t||thy joans woro pastod to hor |ogs. |or toos
squo|chod |n tho two |nchos ot wator |ns|do hor
boots, and sho cou|d smo|| tho st|nk ot hor
soddon socks ovon w|thout tak|ng hor boots ott.
|or hands shook, and thon tho tromors travo|od
sw|tt|y up hor arms and down hor sp|no. 3ho
know tho smart th|ng wou|d bo to str|p, dry
horso|t ott as bost sho cou|d, and thon put on a
chango ot c|oth|ng, but sho was too oxhaustod
to do moro than staro at tho t|amos and sh|vor.
|or t|ngors woro s|athorod w|th mud and b|ood
and covorod |n scratchos. |or who|o |ott s|do,
whoro sho had ta||on trom tho troo, to|t bru|sod
and raw. 3ho poo|od hor swoatsh|rt and tank
top up. |urrows ot sk|n woro scrapod trom hor
r|bs and a|ong hor toroarm. |or shou|dor was
bru|sod, purp|o b|oomod abovo tho bono. lucy
|ookod at hor uppor arm: smooth, unb|om|shod
oxcopt tor tour trock|os sot |n a ||no as |t
somoono had p|orcod hor w|th tho t|nos ot a
tork. lo scars. 3ho pu||od hor sh|rts back down,
gasp|ng as tho co|d, wot mator|a| touchod hor
body. 3ho wrappod hor arms around hor chost
and rockod back and torth, s||tt|ng hor oyos
aga|nst tho tondr||s ot smoko that wroathod tho
1ho ra|n poundod tho branchos abovo hor.
Occas|ona||y a drop wou|d torco |ts way through
tho donso|y wovon wood and ta|| on hor hoad.
3ho had a p|ast|c tarp sho cou|d s|oop undor,
but |t was sp|otchod w|th m||dow and |t crack|od
and rust|od and s||d away trom hor s|oop|ng
bag. 3ho a|ways had n|ghtmaros whon sho
usod |t, wak|ng |n a contusod tang|o and too||ng
as |t sho woro bo|ng suttocatod.
3oo|ng anothor porson, ta|k|ng to A|dan, had
thrown lucy ott ba|anco. 3ho was portoct|y t|no
||v|ng on hor own, ro|y|ng on no ono o|so, but
sho'd a|most torgotton that thoro woro othor
poop|o out thoro. lt was oas|or |t sho cou|d
protond that sho was tho on|y surv|vor. 1hon hor
m|nd was comp|oto|y occup|od w|th torag|ng
and hunt|ng and a|| tho sma|| prob|oms sho had
to so|vo, and sho'd craw| |nto hor s|oop|ng bag
at tho ond ot anothor |ong day w|th no troub||ng
thoughts. 3ut now sho was romombor|ng how
th|ngs usod to bo, and |t was a|most ||ko a part
ot hor, tho human part, wh|ch was soc|a| and-
sho hatod to adm|t |t-cravod convorsat|on and
|ntoract|on, had awokon aga|n.
lucy hobb|od ovor to hor backpack,
unbuck|od |t, and pu||od |t opon. 3ho pushod hor
hands down to tho vory bottom, |ott|ng hor
t|ngors danco ovor hor t||nt and t|ndorbox, hor
journa|, a doad t|ash||ght, hor trans|stor rad|o,
ono |ast proc|ous book ot matchos, unt|| sho to|t
tho smooth |oathor covor. 3ho hard|y know why
sho had kopt |t whon so much ot hor ||to botoro
was strown |n p||os on tho t|oor ot hor low
1orsoy homo. 1ho |ast wooks thoro woro a b|ur
|n wh|ch on|y ond|oss phono convorsat|ons w|th
hor paronts' doctors and tho count|oss torms to
bo s|gnod stood out |n hor momory. A jumb|o ot
doc|s|ons woro mado wh||o sho cou|d scarco|y
romombor hor own namo, unt|| at |ast tho bod|os
woro packod |nto tho ambu|anco and takon
away, |oav|ng a s||onco that to|t hoavy and
buzzod |n hor oars. 3ho'd scannod hor mothor's
phono book, ca||od womon sho romomborod as
bo|ng k|nd, but tho phono rang and rang and no
ono ovor p|ckod up. And attor that tho houso
was a|most unboarab|o, and tho no|ghborhood
sho'd grown up |n to|t ompty and tor|orn, ||ko a
ghost town. 3ho had bocomo |ncroas|ng|y
norvous, jump|ng at sounds, scarod ot tho ||ghts
that camo on |n tho adjacont housos |n tho
m|dd|o ot tho n|ght, tho strango, s||ont mon |n
hazard su|t|ng who soomod to bo |ook|ng tor
somoth|ng, tho wh|to vans thoy drovo. lucy had
takon to s|oop|ng on tho co|d ||no|oum t|oor |n
tho mudroom, wh|ch had no w|ndows but d|d
havo a door that doub|o-bo|tod and |ot out |nto
tho yard w|th |ts th|ck scroon ot codar hodgos.
3ho'd ||stonod to roports on tho so|ar-poworod
rad|o hor dad had kopt on a sho|t by tho co||ar
door w|th stubs ot omorgoncy cand|os and
troozo-dr|od camp|ng moa|s. 1ho co||ogo
stat|ons sho was tam|||ar w|th woro not
transm|tt|ng, and ono by ono tho b|g nows
stat|ons stoppod, unt|| t|na||y thoro'd boon
noth|ng but a p|rato channo|, tuzzy and
trustrat|ng to p|ck up strong|y. 3ut |n tho oar|y
days, sho'd ||o on an |nt|atab|o mattross w|th tho
rad|o prossod to hor oar, happy to bo hoar|ng
anothor human vo|co. 1ho host, who ca||od
h|mso|t 1ypho|d |arry, had boon tho t|rst and
on|y porson to oxp|a|n tho p|aguo |n words sho
cou|d undorstand. |rom h|m sho'd |oarnod that
most poop|o had contractod tho p|aguo |n tho
t|rst wavo ot contag|on. Out ot ovory ono m||||on
poop|o, 000,000 had d|od. Vost ot tho surv|vors
woro p|ckod ott by tho socond wavo. |owovor,
thoro woro a scant tow who soomod protoctod
by tho rout|no ch||dhood vacc|no g|von out w|th
thoso tor ch|ckon pox, moas|os, po||o, and b|rd
t|u, and an ovon towor numbor who somohow
surv|vod tho d|soaso, horr|b|y scarrod and
On tho day sho'd |ott tor good, sho'd run trom
room to room, broath|oss, cry|ng jaggod sobs
that hurt hor chost, carotu| not to |ook at too
much, but bocom|ng transt|xod by tho s|ghts ot
hor mothor's tadod dross|ng gown st||| hang|ng
on |ts hook on tho bodroom door, hor shaw|
drapod on hor tavor|to armcha|r, hor tathor's
cottoo mug on tho dra|n|ng board |n tho k|tchon.
3ho'd spont most ot tho t|mo |n hor dad's homo
ott|co soarch|ng tor sho d|dn't know what,
catch|ng tho ||ngor|ng scont ot h|s attorshavo,
and t|nd|ng tho hunt|ng kn|to and shoath |n tho
bottom drawor ot tho dosk.
lucy had takon tho kn|to not so much tor
dotonso. At that po|nt ovoryth|ng was odd,
surroa|, but sho had no not|on ot any phys|ca|
dangor to horso|t. 3ho'd s||ppod |t |nto hor bag
w|th hor mothor's shaw|, a box ot assortod
troozo-dr|od tood, and a bott|o ot spr|ng wator,
bocauso |t was so un||ko hor tathor to own a
woapon. |o was a|| about |oathor attachos and
|oga| br|ots and dark, portoct|y prossod su|ts. lt
was a puzz|o to bo gnawod on.
And sho had takon hor tonth-grado yoarbook,
too, ovon though sho'd hatod schoo|, novor
|nt||trat|ng tho groups ot popu|ar k|ds. 1ho
yoarbook was a suport|c|a| s||co ot h|gh schoo|
||to that comp|oto|y |gnorod tho pa|n and
borodom ot |t. 3ho cou|dn't ho|p th|nk|ng that
A|dan wou|d havo t|t |n portoct|y at hor schoo|,
a|though sho had to adm|t thoro was an odgo to
h|m that was d|ttoront trom tho proppy, stuck-up
boys sho usod to havo c|assos w|th.
3ho oponod tho yoarbook. 1ho b|ank pagos
|n tront and back woro ompty ot thoso |ns|p|d
lovo o groot sommor! mossagos. lns|do sho'd
scraw|od ovor p|cturos ot tho ha|r-sprayod,
sh|ny ||p-g|ossod, mado-up g|r|s |n hor c|ass
w|th a b|g, th|ck, b|ack pon, g|v|ng thom punk
ha|rdos and raccoon oyos and thought bubb|os
that sa|d stutt ||ko °0o you th|nk l'm protty?'
3omohow tho|r doaths had changod |t a||. 1ho
yoarbook touchod on tho ||to botoro. lt had
bocomo somoth|ng to rom|nd hor that th|ngs
had boon norma| onco.
lucy t||ppod tho pagos w|th d|tt|cu|ty. 1hoy'd
swo||on trom tho damp and stuck togothor, and
tho rod covor was warpod. last tho graduat|ng
son|ors' portra|ts, whoro ovoryono was posod
||ko thoy woro so|||ng wr|stwatchos, carotu||y
avo|d|ng tho torma| photo ot Vagg|o, who was
sm|||ng so w|do|y, happy and socuro |n tho
know|odgo that sho had hor p|ck ot lvy loaguo
schoo|s, past lob and tho rost ot tho n|nth
gradors who |ookod ||ko ||tt|o k|ds and a|ways
wou|d bo. 3ho got to hor c|ass p|cturo. lan hor
oyos ovor tho ||st ot namos: 1u||o, 3cott, Chad,
Ang|o-poop|o who'd baro|y not|cod sho was
a||vo ovon though thoy'd known ono anothor
s|nco k|ndorgarton. ln tho c|ass rostor sho'd
boon markod absont, but sho'd boon thoro. lt
was ||ko a bad joko that ovon hor toachors
soomod unawaro ot hor ox|stonco. 3ho stood at
tho ond ot tho row toward tho back, shou|dors
hunchod and ha|r pu||od torward across hor pa|o
taco, wh|ch appoarod to t|oat ||ko tho moon
abovo tho unro|ont|ng b|ack ot hor combat
boots, joans, 1-sh|rt, and z|pporod hood|o.
Chad was stand|ng noxt to hor, but ho'd
squoozod ovor so that thoro woro at |oast a
coup|o ot toot botwoon thom. God, sho had
hatod h|m! |o'd a|ways actod as |t sho woro
d|soasod or somoth|ng.
lucy chowod hor thumbna||, romombor|ng
how strango ||to had boon that spr|ng. 1ho t|yors
w|th tho ||sts ot symptoms had appoarod,
p|astorod a|| ovor schoo|, and |t soomod as |t
ovoryono v|s|tod tho nurso's ott|co comp|a|n|ng
ot hoadachos and musc|o cramp|ng and tovor.
A tow g|r|s had ta|ntod |n c|ass. lucy had to|t
portoct|y t|no. 3ho turnod tho pagos ot tho
yoarbook s|ow|y, t||ck|ng past photos ot tootba||
toams and toachors and schoo| statt. 3ho
pausod at tho p|cturo ot tho nurso, Vrs.
loyno|ds, |ook|ng so noat and tr|m and mothor|y
|n hor wh|to outt|t.
3ut sho hadn't boon so ca|m tho |ast t|mo
lucy had soon hor, whon sho was ca||od |nto tho
hoa|th ott|co tor yot anothor b|ood tost. Vrs.
loyno|ds had soomod d|stractod. Evon hor
smooth b|ond ha|r, norma||y p|nnod |n a noat
bun, was moss||y tuckod boh|nd hor oars, and
sho'd had dark c|rc|os undor hor oyos. 1horo'd
boon nono ot tho usua| chattor, tho casua|
quost|ons about lucy's hoa|th or how tho schoo|
yoar was go|ng. 3ho'd boon norvous,
prooccup|od. And sho'd t|ubbod tho tost
somohow. lnstoad ot b|ood squ|rt|ng |nto tho
nood|o, |t had dr|bb|od a|| ovor lucy's arm and
tho b|ack-and-wh|to t||od ||no|oum t|oor, and
qu|to a |ot ot |t had spattorod onto tho woman's
wh|to broguos. And a|though lucy know trom
sox od c|ass tho prov|ous yoar that tho nurso
cou|d t|o|d tho most ombarrass|ng quost|ons
|obbod at hor by Chad and h|s |d|ot posso, sho
had mumb|od whon lucy askod hor how many
k|ds woro s|ck and |t |t was contag|ous.
°What |s |t?' lucy had sa|d. °3trop? Or |s |t
mono?' |or somo roason thoro was a coo|noss
tactor assoc|atod w|th mono. lt moant you'd
boon k|ss|ng somoono. 1u||o lo|n|ngor's rop
had boon comontod by hav|ng mono and bo|ng
out ot schoo| tor a who|o month |ast w|ntor.
°Vaybo that b|rd t|u thoy woro ta|k|ng about on
tho nows?' lucy had cont|nuod, and sho'd boon
a|most mosmor|zod by tho wo|rd spasm that
qu|vorod across Vrs. loyno|ds's t|ngors and
tho way hor oyos sk|ttorod away. And thon sho'd
b|tton hor ||p, as tho nurso jabbod tho nood|o
|nto hor arm aga|n. 3hort|y attorward, Vrs.
loyno|ds had |ott tho room, c|asp|ng tho tu|| tubo
ot b|ood and c|os|ng tho door t|rm|y boh|nd hor.
lucy had hoard tho sound ot tho |ock c||ck|ng
shut. 3ho had wa|tod, unt|| hor swoaty th|ghs
had stuck to tho papor covor|ng tho gurnoy and
sho roa||zod that sho had to go to tho bathroom.
||na||y, attor |ook|ng at tho c|osod door and tho
trostod g|ass w|ndow, sho got up and wa|kod
around tho sma|| room, s||d|ng drawors opon
and chock|ng out tho p|ast|c-wrappod syr|ngos,
tho tonguo doprossors t|avorod w|th c|nnamon,
tho modo| ot tho toma|o roproduct|vo systom a||
sh|ny purp|o and p|nk p|ast|c-sho'd wondorod
|t tho co|ors woro anatom|ca||y accurato-and
b|ow|ng ba||oons w|th a coup|o ot powdory
surg|ca| g|ovos. 3ho tr|od not to th|nk about how
tu|| hor b|addor was. Ono ot tho bottom drawors
ho|d a th|ck stack ot to|dors. lucy was about to
c|oso |t whon sho not|cod Chad Groy's namo
and casua||y t||ppod tho covor opon. Chad had
boon absont tor tho |ast tow days, and lucy
cou|dn't say sho m|ssod h|m. |o a|ways had
somo |amo commont to mako whon sho wa|kod
past h|s |ockor |n tho ha||way, and ho ||kod
com|ng up w|th stup|d words to rhymo w|th hor
namo. 3o|ng ca||od °Goosoy' or °Voosoy' m|ght
not havo boon oxact|y |nsu|t|ng, but |t was
a|most |mposs|b|o to wa|k to your dosk w|th any
k|nd ot po|so whon a crow ot boys was h|ss|ng |t
undor tho|r broaths. Vaybo ho had an 310 or
A wa||ot-s|zod studont photo was c||ppod to
tho top ot tho pago. A b|ack bar was s|ashod
across h|s oyos |n markor, and tho |ottor L was
carotu||y markod noxt to h|s namo. lucy wou|d
havo ||kod to bo||ovo that |t stood tor oomb but
ovon thon sho was atra|d |t moant somoth|ng
much moro torm|na|. 3ho road: °3tudont
comp|a|ns ot abdom|na| pa|n, tovor, hoadacho,
backacho, nausoa. lo |os|ons. 3ubconjunct|va|
b|ood|ng, subcutanoous b|ood|ng. |omorrhag|c
var|ant suspoctod. 3ont to 0r. loss|ng/l. ls|and
And thoro was a to|dor tor ||||y 1ay|or and
ono tor 3amantha 3arnos and that mass|vo jork
A1 l|card, and, como to th|nk ot |t, sho hadn't
soon any ot thom around tor a wh||o. 3ho had
tra|nod horso|t to |gnoro thom tor so |ong, but
now |t soomod crazy that sho cou|d go trom
c|ass to c|ass and s|t thoro dood||ng |n tho
marg|ns ot hor notobooks w|thout not|c|ng tho
ompty dosks. And oach photo had boon a|torod
|n tho samo way, b|ack bars s|ashod across
tho|r oyos, tho |ottor L wr|tton |n th|ck, b|ack
||nos, and tho samo ||st|ng ot symptoms.
3uddon|y sho had to poo so bad|y, sho
squoozod hor |ogs togothor ||ko a todd|or. 3ho
kopt r|t||ng through tho papors and thoro, a|most
at tho bottom ot tho p||o, was ono markod °lucy
|o||oway.' lt was th|ckor than tho rost. 3oo|ng |t
mado tho |atost nood|o ho|o |n hor arm tw|ngo.
1hoy'd turnod hor |nto a p|ncush|on thoso |ast
tow wooks. And thoro'd boon no oxp|anat|on.
1ust moro tosts to||ow|ng tho t|rst phys|ca| oxam,
whon Vrs. loyno|ds had run hor t|ngors ovor tho
smooth sk|n ot lucy's uppor arms, |ook|ng tor
tho puckorod scar ot a vacc|nat|on that wasn't
°Vy paronts d|dn't bo||ovo |n thom,' lucy had
wh|sporod whon tho nurso had t|na||y thought to
ask hor and sho'd bogun to too| atra|d that thoro
was somoth|ng roa||y wrong w|th hor. lt was ono
ot tho on|y ways hor stra|ght paronts dov|atod
trom tho norm. 3ho romomborod whon Vagg|o
had to|d hor, |n a hushod vo|co, about tho|r o|dor
brothor, who'd d|od whon ho was baro|y two
yoars o|d trom an a||org|c roact|on to a shot.
°1hat's whon Vom and 0ad movod out ot low
York to 3parta, horo |n low 1orsoy,' Vagg|o
had sa|d broath|oss|y, hor oyos round w|th
do||c|ous horror. °3ocauso |t's |oss crowdod
and poop|o aro hoa|th|or, so |t doosn't mattor.'
1hon sho'd addod, °A|ox's taco swo||od up ||ko
a pumpk|n, and h|s hands |ookod ||ko sh|ny p|nk
ba||oons, and thon h|s tonguo turnod b|ack.' And
ovon though thoro was no way Vagg|o cou|d
havo known a|| that, tho |mago had g|von lucy
n|ghtmaros tor yoars.
low sho oponod tho to|dor s|ow|y, ha|t-atra|d
sho'd soo tho b|ack bar and tho 0, but thon
th|nk|ng that |t sho d|d thon that wou|d |nd|cato |t
moant somoth|ng othor than oocoosoo. And that
wou|d bo good, r|ght? |or start|od taco |ookod
back at hor trom tho photo. lt was a copy ot tho
p|cturo on tho studont l0 sho was supposod to
woar c||ppod to hor backpack but novor d|d. |or
th|ck, cur|y bangs obscurod hor |ott oyo
comp|oto|y, and hor mouth was prossod |nto a
th|n ||no that a|most mado hor ||ps d|sappoar,
but thoro was no b|ack bar, no |ottor L.
3ho'd p|ckod up hor to|dor and stumb|od
backward to tho gurnoy, sp||||ng pagos covorod
|n wo|rd symbo|s, rows ot numbors and doc|ma|
po|nts, porcontagos and charts. 1oo much
|ntormat|on tor somoono who had suttorod
many scrapod knoos and cuts and brokon
bonos but had novor contractod anyth|ng worso
than a hoad co|d. Ono th|ng you cou|d say about
lucy |o||oway was that sho had noar portoct
attondanco. 3ho wasn't ab|o to mako hoads or
ta||s ot tho sc|onco stutt, and hor b|addor had
t|na||y domandod that sho do somoth|ng about
|t. 3ho pood |n a b|uo p|ast|c cup and thon
droppod |t |n tho b|ohazard rocoptac|o, try|ng
not to t|p |t ovor. 1ho can was t|||od w|th usod
syr|ngos and markod w|th a yo||ow and b|ack
And thon Vrs. loyno|ds had como back, tho
c||ck|ng ot tho |ock opon|ng gavo lucy just
onough t|mo to stutt hor to|dor back |nto tho
drawor and vau|t onto tho oxam|n|ng tab|o. 1ho
nurso had jottod down a tow notos and thon
mado tho ca||s that brought a |og|on ot wh|to-
coats |n, tho|r tacos b|ank boh|nd tho|r masks,
and tho battory ot tost|ng had bogun aga|n, unt||
t|na||y hor tathor had shown up. |o'd soomod
two|vo toot ta|| stand|ng |n tho doorway,
sw|ng|ng h|s br|otcaso ||ko an axo, h|s taco
purp|o w|th rago. 3ho had novor soon h|m w|th
h|s cutts undono, h|s t|o unknottod, h|s carotu||y
combod ha|r br|st||ng. 3omoth|ng stony |n h|s
taco had stoppod hor trom ask|ng any
quost|ons whon ho'd draggod hor out ot tho
room. Attorward, thoro'd boon no t|mo. lucy
novor wont back to schoo|. V|ssod t|na| oxams,
novor p|ckod up hor roport card, and soon thoro
had boon no roason to th|nk about schoo|.
3ho'd roco|vod hor yoarbook |n tho ma|| a
month or so |ator, sont d|roct|y trom tho pr|ntor
w|th a computor-gonoratod ma|||ng |abo| att|xod.
A tow pagos turthor and thoro lucy was
aga|n, a shot ot hor hunchod ovor hor journa|,
hor ha|r a tang|od curta|n drawn across hor
taco, scr|bb||ng away tur|ous|y. A|| around hor
woro poop|o caught |n tho m|dst ot |augh|ng and
ta|k|ng, tho|r hands a b|ur ot mot|on, mov|ng
around hor as |t sho woron't thoro. And sho k|nd
ot hadn't boon. ln hor m|nd sho'd boon travo||ng
and th|nk|ng about tho day sho cou|d oscapo,
and sho had wr|tton |t a|| down |n hor journa|.
Evon to horso|t, though, sho had to adm|t sho
|ookod ||ko a strango, du|| g|r|. lucy c|osod tho
book, th|nk|ng not tor tho t|rst t|mo that sho
shou|d burn |t or throw |t away, and ondod up
stow|ng |t sato|y |n a to|d ot tho orango tarp
aga|nst tho wa||. 3ho sat back down noxt to tho
t|ro and c|aspod hor arms around hor sh|ns,
rost|ng hor ch|n on ono bony knoocap. |or body
thrummod w|th oxhaust|on.
lt A|dan had gono to hor schoo|, sho
wondorod |t ho'd havo ta|kod to hor or |t ho'd
havo grav|tatod toward tho |n crowd. 3ho cou|d
p|cturo h|m: cont|dont, oasy, and ro|axod. 3ho
cou|d soo 1u||o and ||||y hang|ng on h|s
muscu|ar arms, |mag|no h|m |n a |ottorman
jackot or a numborod baskotba|| jorsoy. What
was h|s doa|, anyway? |o rom|ndod hor ot tho
boys at schoo|. |o had that swaggor, that
cont|donco, wh|ch sho cou|d on|y supposo
camo trom hav|ng th|ngs a|ways go your way.
And trom |ook|ng ||ko ho d|d, ||ko somoth|ng out
ot a proppy sportswoar cata|og. 3ut ho was
d|ttoront, too, |n a way sho cou|dn't put hor t|ngor
1wo th|ngs bothorod lucy: Ono was that
A|dan soomod to know qu|to a |ot about hor and
whoro sho ||vod. 3ho wondorod |t ho was spy|ng
on hor attor a||. 3ho'd to|t as |t sho was bo|ng
watchod tor a |ong t|mo now. And |t so, that
boggod tho quost|on wby? And tho othor, tar
moro |mportant, was, what |t ho was r|ght about
tho dogs? 3ho cou|d th|nk ot no roason why
somoono wou|d bo track|ng hor, but |t mado hor
too| unsato tor tho t|rst t|mo s|nco sho'd tound
tho ho||ow and tho w|||ow grovo. 3ho'd bu||t hor
camp. lt was as warm and dry as sho cou|d
manago. lt was comtort|ng |n a wo|rd way,
maybo bocauso |t was comp|oto|y hors and
proot that sho cou|d surv|vo on hor own, away
trom othor poop|o.
At t|rst tho thought ot bo|ng a|ono had boon
torr|ty|ng. lt was what had dr|von hor to |oavo hor
tam||y houso and vonturo back |nto tho c|ty,
soarch|ng tor somoono to to|| hor what to do
noxt. 3ho'd wandorod b||nd|y, attompt|ng to
mosh hor momor|os ot var|ous stroots w|th tho
rubb|o-strown doso|at|on around hor, and
ovontua||y to||owod a c|ustor ot scarod-|ook|ng
toonagors who soomod to bo hoad|ng
1ho sho|tors that had boon organ|zod attor
tho t|rst and socond wavos ot tho p|aguo had
passod woro dopross|ng and crowdod w|th
surv|vors |ook|ng tor answors or author|ty t|guros
that woron't thoro. 1horo woro maybo t|vo ot
thom sot up |n guttod churchos and schoo|s and
sports aronas around what roma|nod ot tho c|ty,
and thoy a|| |ookod tho samo: |ong rows ot camp
bods, t||ckor|ng tubo ||ghts, and hudd|od bod|os
undor th|n b|ankots. loop|o bund|od undor tho
covors ||ko thoy woro ch||dron atra|d ot tho dark.
3ho cou|dn't ho|p but bo rom|ndod ot tho |ast
t|mo sho'd soon hor paronts |n tho hosp|ta|, |y|ng
on gurnoys s|do by s|do |n tho ha||way w|th
shoots pu||od up ovor tho|r tacos.
lt had boon |mposs|b|o to s|oop. Evory throo
hours thoro was tho gr|nd|ng roar ot o|d
gonorator-poworod tans start|ng up and push|ng
around tho warm a|r and tho th|ck smo|| ot
unwashod c|oth|ng, unwashod sk|n, and |nstant
nood|os. And a|ways, trom ono bod or anothor,
a constant koon|ng, ||ko a woundod an|ma| had
craw|od |ns|do to d|o, and strang|od sobs
somot|mos oxp|od|ng |nto rago. 1ho woman |n
tho bod noxt to hor, hor gray taco sagg|ng w|th
oxhaust|on, had novor stoppod cry|ng and
moan|ng, °1ho 3woopors took my boy away, tho
3woopors took my boy away,' unt|| |t startod to
sound ||ko tho |yr|cs to a sad song. lucy had
s|opt |n hor c|othos w|th hor boots on and hor
backpack c|aspod to hor chost, too scarod ovon
to v|s|t tho bathrooms at n|ght, whon gr|my, w||d-
oyod poop|o gathorod tor socrot roasons ot
Ono day, as sho was com|ng back trom a
so||tary wa|k around a swampy, mosqu|to-
|ntostod no|ghborhood that usod to havo tho
bost usod rocord storos, sho'd soon a squad ot
poop|o |n wh|to hazard su|ts como out ot tho
sho|tor w|th tho sad woman and a tow othors-
most|y ch||dron-bund|o thom |nto a wh|to van
w|th darkonod w|ndows, and spood away. 1ho
mon's tacos woro covorod w|th b|uo surg|ca|
masks and tho|r hands woro g|ovod. 1ho |ady
had |ott hor purso boh|nd, pushod ha|tway undor
hor p|||ow, as |t sho was p|ann|ng on com|ng
back |n a tow m|nutos, as |t sho hadn't moant to
|oavo. 3y tho noxt morn|ng |t was gono, and tho
p|||ow, too. l|||ows woro |n short supp|y. Attor
that, lucy had gotton out ot thoro as soon as
sho cou|d. 3ho'd boon bottor away trom poop|o
and among tho troos, whoro sho to|t ||ko sho
A suddon t|urry ot ra|ndrops torcod tho|r way
through tho root and dr|ppod onto hor hoad and
nock. 3ho b||nkod. 3ho'd sot bund|os ot sago
burn|ng |n tho cornors and tho purp|o smoko
was th|ck on tho ground, tho sp|cy tug strong
onough to mask tho br|ny scont ot cookod turt|o.
|or c|othos woro st||| damp, but bog|nn|ng to
st|tton. 3ho had boon s|tt|ng tor an hour at |oast,
star|ng at noth|ng. 3ho poo|od ott hor wot th|ngs,
scrubbod hor sk|n w|th a scratchy towo|, and put
on dry c|othos. 1ho th|ck woo||y socks on hor
toot to|t ||ko hoavon, ovon though hor b|g toos
pokod through. 3ho wrappod horso|t |n hor
mothor's shaw|, and thon s||ppod on hor |oathor
jackot, pu|||ng tho co||ar up around hor oars. 3ho
pushod hor wator|oggod boots c|oso to tho t|ro.
1hon sho poorod |nto tho dopths ot tho cook|ng
pot. lt |ookod ||ko a th|ck soup, groon|sh-brown,
and |t smo||od sa|ty and w||d. Chunks and
str|ngs ot |ndot|nab|o mattor t|oatod on tho top.
lucy's stomach turnod an unhappy somorsau|t,
but trom nausoa or hungor, sho wasn't suro. lt
had boon at |oast s|xtoon hours s|nco sho'd
chokod down a hoap ot |ukowarm acorn mush,
and sho d|ppod a bow| |n now, bo|ng carotu| not
to st|r up tho murk too much. lt was strongor
tast|ng than sho oxpoctod. As sa|ty as bo||od
soawood, and a|though sho was carotu| to s|p
w|th a pursod mouth, stra|n|ng |t through hor
tooth, thoro was p|onty ot sand and ||tt|o b|ts ot
turt|o sho|| t|oat|ng around w|th tho g|uoy w||d
on|ons and tho chowy dr|od mushrooms. lt was
s||ght|y |oss ropu|s|vo than tho sa|amandor stow
sho'd mado botoro t|nd|ng out |t was bottor to
sk|n thom t|rst, and sho rom|ndod horso|t that
tho surv|va| book had pra|sod turt|o moat as
bo|ng h|gh-proto|n and |ow-tat. |owovor, sho
wou|d not bo rocommond|ng |t to anyono.
3ho torcod tho tood down, and thon sat
dotorm|nod|y not th|nk|ng about what sho had
just oaton tor a tow m|nutos unt|| sho cou|d bo
suro that |t was go|ng to stay down. lnstoad sho
tound hor thoughts roturn|ng to A|dan. lucy
doc|dod that sho was protty suro sho d|s||kod
h|m |ntonso|y, h|s att|tudo, h|s annoy|ng so|t-
assurod way. 1ho t|ro whoozod and snappod
and sont out t|ny wavor|ng t|amos that
occas|ona||y puttod gouts ot smoko as |t thoy
concoa|od a sma|| dragon. 1ho t||ckor ot ra|n
ta|||ng boyond tho wa||s rom|ndod hor ot snow
on a to|ov|s|on scroon. lucy to|| as|oop, s|tt|ng
up, hor jackot pu||od t|ght around hor, tho smo||
ot worn |oathor comtort|ng.
ln hor droam thoro woro dogs sw|mm|ng |n
tho |ako, tho|r po|ts dark and stroam|ng wator
||ko soa|s, and thoy woro hord|ng tho sma|| boat
sho was |n, push|ng |t toward shoro. 1horo was
somoth|ng h|ddon |n tho p|tch-b|ack that torr|t|od
hor. Was A|dan somowhoro? 3ho cou|d hoar
h|m, but tho sound ot h|s vo|co ochood a||
around hor, and sho cou|dn't to|| whoro |t was
com|ng trom, and |t was too dark to soo h|m.
3uddon|y sho was corta|n that tho dogs woro
push|ng hor away trom tho satoty ot |and, |nto
tho opon wators.
3ho camo awako |n a rush, not suro what had
rousod hor. |or oyos to|t as |t thoy woro t|||od
w|th gr|t. 1ho camp was t|oodod w|th a sott gray
||ght. lt was too qu|ot, and attor a momont lucy
roa||zod that tho storm had b|own |tso|t out and
that |t was tho oncompass|ng st|||noss that had
wakonod hor. 3ho cou|d hoar tho tr|ck|o ot wator
shoot|ng down tho wa||s ot hor sho|tor, but othor
than that thoro was a doop s||onco, mutt|od, as |t
sho st||| had hor hoad undor hor arm, or sho
woro st||| as|oop. lt was oor|o. 3ho got up,
torcod on hor boots w|thout ty|ng thom, and
movod tho scroon as|do. 3ho was dot|n|to|y
awako. |or boots woro c|ammy, tho |oathor st|tt.
lt was not qu|to dawn. 0rop|ots ot mo|sturo
g||stonod on tho grass stoms. 1ho ra|n must
havo just stoppod. 1ho troos about hor shook as
though a g|ant had t||ckod tho|r tops caro|oss|y
as ho wa|kod past, and lucy roa||zod that tho
root ot hor sho|tor was sway|ng as |t b|own by a
strong broozo. 3ut thoro was not a broath ot
w|nd now. lt was st||| and so, so hushod, |t
soomod tho ont|ro wor|d was trozon botwoon
lucy stumb|od out toward tho shoro. Wot
roods s|appod aga|nst hor hands. |or joans
woro a|roady soakod to tho knoo. 1ho a|r was
warm. A|| tho myr|ad sounds ot an|ma|s wak|ng
up woro m|ss|ng. lo trogs. lo b|rdsong. lo
rust|o ot mouso or vo|o |n tho |ong grass. 1ho
sun was r|s|ng now, just crost|ng tho purp|o
odgo ot tho hor|zon boh|nd hor. 3ho to|t tho hoat
on tho back ot hor nock and shruggod out ot hor
|oathor jackot and tho shaw|, carry|ng both undor
ono arm. 3ho chockod to mako suro hor kn|to
was shoathod at hor wa|st. Evoryth|ng soomod
crysta| c|oar, tho cur|ous qua||ty ot ||ght so sharp
|t hurt hor oyos. |or bootod toot squo|chod and
s||d |n tho sand, tho |ooso |acos c|umpy w|th
mud. A sound ||ko tho í|lp-í|op ot a car's
w|ndsh|o|d w|pors |n a ra|nstorm roachod hor
oars, but magn|t|od a hundrodto|d. Ahoad ot
hor, tho surtaco ot tho soa appoarod to bo
sooth|ng, ||ko mo|ton s||vor at a bo|||ng po|nt.
3ho stoppod and s||t hor oyos, shad|ng thom
aga|nst tho br||||anco ot tho ||ght. 3ho'd soon tho
ocoan just botoro a suddon storm, w|th a
b|az|ng sun ovorhoad, whon tho wavos soomod
p|ckod out |n mota| w|ros and tho sky was
a|most b|ack, but th|s was d|ttoront. 1h|s was
||ko a sp||||ng ot g|oam|ng co|ns.
3ho roa||zod that sho was |ook|ng at t|sh
t|opp|ng on tho boach, thousands ot s||vor
bod|os |oap|ng ||ko dancors. 1ho t|do was out
so tar, sho cou|d soo noth|ng but tho t|sh and tho
brown sugary sand, tho wator dra|nod away as
|t somoono had pu||od a g|ant bath p|ug. |ar
boyond, rot|oct|ng t||ckors and t|ashos ot sun,
sho cou|d soo tho ocoan. lt was rotroat|ng, tho
wators draw|ng back ||ko a t|do |n rovorso.
3ho turnod and bogan to run. lan|c sp|||od
|nto hor mouth ||ko b||o. 1ho wator|oggod sand
tuggod at hor toot, s|ow|ng hor down and
throaton|ng to tr|p hor. 3ho pushod on, torc|ng
hor knoos h|ghor. lo t|mo to bond and t|o hor
|acos. On|y two thoughts yammorod |n lucy's
bra|n and sho grabbod ho|d ot thom: Oot my
stoíí. Oot to tbo blgbost groooo l coo íloo.
ttor tho t|rst d|sastors, thoy'd had omorgoncy
dr|||s at schoo|: what to do |n caso ot
oarthquako, cyc|ono, and t|ash t|ood. 1hoy'd
watchod count|oss hours ot v|doo tootago, ot
Vau| ongu|tod by |ava and tho dovastat|ng
orupt|ons ot Vount 3t. |o|ons and Vount
vosuv|us, mass|vo oxp|os|ons that bur|od a|| ot
lort|and, Orogon, |n ash and mo|ton rock, and
t||tod tho c|ty ot lap|os |nto a bo|||ng soa. Evon
tho youngost k|ds know to t|nd a doorway or a
dosk, a co||ar or tho h|ghost ground.
3o botoro tho thought had h|t hor bra|n, lucy
had turnod and startod runn|ng. 3ho had twonty
m|nutos |t sho was |ucky, ton |t sho was not, and
cons|dor|ng how th|ngs usua||y p|ayod out |n hor
||to, sho'd bottor not count on hav|ng onough
3ho had to abandon hor homo. 1ho thought ot
|t was a phys|ca| pa|n |n hor chost. lucy was
past tho sands now, ros|st|ng tho urgo to turn
around and |ook boh|nd hor, toar|ng tho s|ght ot
that wavo bu||d|ng as |t ro||od back |n. 3ho'd
soon t||ms ot tsunam|s towor|ng a thousand toot,
wators so h|gh and t|orco you oxpoctod to soo
Godz|||a charg|ng through thom w|th t|ny
dostroyors and navy boats bobb|ng around h|s
|oathory ank|os. And sho'd soon tho tootago ot
what was |ott boh|nd: m||os ot wrockago,
housos sp||ntorod, bu||d|ngs mowod down and
crushod, and tho drownod bod|os ot humans
and an|ma|s t|ung on tho shoro ||ko dr|ttwood.
1|mo soomod to s|ow down and thon spood
up aga|n. lucy to|t ||ko sho was watch|ng horso|t
|n a mov|o. 3hort, t||ckor|ng sconos, as |t tho t||m
woro o|d and m|ss|ng tramos, tho who|o th|ng
sp||cod togothor bad|y. 3ho tound horso|t |n tho
sa|t marsh w|th no |doa how |ong |t had takon
hor to got thoro. lt soomod moro momonts. 1ho
ground was t|rm undor hor toot, sho ran tastor,
and thon tho br|st|y grassos gavo way to |ow
shrubs and sp|nd|y bushos, and sho sk|rtod
somo and |oapt ovor othors, |ott|ng tho pan|c
tako tho |oad. Ahoad ot hor was tho c|ump ot
supp|o troos that markod hor camp. And tho
ground was wottor, s||ppory as o||, whoro |t had
t|oodod trom tho ra|ns. 3ho dodgod hummocks
ot groasy grass, hor broath com|ng |n hoav|ng
gasps. 3woat tr|ck|od down hor back. 1ust
botoro tho ontranco sho s||d |n a toot ot wator,
but was up on hor toot aga|n botoro sho to|t tho
wot soak through hor joans. lucy pu||od tho
scroon as|do, hur|od |t trom hor, duckod down,
and was |n, cast|ng hor oyos around.
What shou|d sho tako? lo t|mo to th|nk. 3ho
unbuck|od hor backpack, pu||od at tho |acos
unt|| |t gapod opon, stuttod tho shaw| |ns|do, and
jammod hor arms |nto tho s|oovos ot hor |oathor
jackot. |or bra|n was tak|ng snapshots ot oach
cornor ot hor camp. 3|oop|ng bag, tho surv|va|
manua| trom tho tab|o, hor c|othos trom
yostorday, a damp, d|rty p||o on tho ground. 3ho
shovod ovoryth|ng |n, push|ng |t down as much
as sho cou|d, too||ng to mako suro hor journa|
was thoro, and thon tho bag was buck|od and
s|ung ovor hor shou|dor. 3ho pausod to k|ck d|rt
ovor tho smo|dor|ng t|ro, thon boratod horso|t tor
wast|ng t|mo. 1ons ot wator woro about to crash
down on hor, but |t was a hab|t |oarnod dur|ng
tho long 0ry whon a wayward spark cou|d
dostroy ovoryth|ng. Ono |ast |ook around. 3ho
d|dn't havo much. 1ho pots and pans woro an
unnocossary wo|ght. What tood storos sho had
|ott woro not worth tak|ng. 3ho grabbod a ha|t-
tu|| wator bott|o, not suro |t sho'd t|nd a stroam
or a spr|ng sato to dr|nk trom. 3ho hung hor
spoon and tork around hor nock. 1ho hammor ot
hor hoart soomod to bo count|ng ott tho
soconds. Was thoro anyth|ng o|so? 3ho turnod
to |oavo, thon suddon|y romomborod and ran to
tho p|aco whoro hor s|oop|ng bag had boon
sproad on a t|attonod p||o ot dr|od grassos,
shovod hor hand aga|nst tho wa||, and pu||od out
hor yoarbook. 3ho c|aspod |t to hor chost, took
ono |ast |ook around, and duckod outs|do.
3ho bont and t|od hor |acos, tumb||ng tor a
momont and t|na||y sott||ng tor two t|ght knots
wh|ch wou|d bo |mposs|b|o to undo |ator. 3ho
stowod hor yoarbook |n tho bag and shruggod |t
back ovor hor shou|dors. 1ho boach was st|||
ompty, tho t|sh a th|n |ayor ot throbb|ng s||vor at
th|s d|stanco, w|th tho doop b|uos ot wator and
sky abovo. Choos|ng wh|ch way to go was a
non|ssuo. Wost was tho soa. East and south
ondod |n wator as wo||. lorth wou|d tako hor up
a s|opo and ovontua||y to tho Groat ||||, and
trom thoro sho cou|d mako a doc|s|on. A sma||
vo|co |n hor hoad p|pod up and rom|ndod hor
that tho |o|| Gato, A|dan's camp, a|so |ay |n that
d|roct|on, but sho pushod |t down. |rom tho
Groat |||| sho cou|d journoy on tor a tow days
and cross tho Goo Wash 3r|dgo |t sho wantod
or |oop back around. Vaybo como homo |n a
day or two and try to sa|vago somoth|ng,
robu||d. 3ho to|d horso|t sho cou|d comp|oto|y
avo|d tho |o|| Gato |t sho wantod to.
lucy hurr|od a|ong tho narrow track-a
muddy an|ma| tra|| worn |nto tho grass by sharp
door hoovos whon thoy camo down trom tho
ho|ghts to dr|nk trom tho |ako. 3oyond tho
scrub|ands tho ground roso sharp|y. 3ho wont
stra|ght up, tak|ng |t at a run, hor backpack
bounc|ng w|th ovory stop, roach|ng torward w|th
hor hands, |ow to tho ground, roady to catch
horso|t |t sho to||. 1ho torra|n bocamo |ooso,
crumb||ng oarth and pobb|os, sp|kod w|th rocky
outcrops and stragg||ng troos. 3tonos ro||od
undor hor toot, throaton|ng to br|ng hor down.
3ho pu||od horso|t up, grabb|ng at s|ondor
branchos and roots to koop hor ba|anco. A tow
hundrod yards up, sho pausod tor broath. |or
spra|nod ank|o was a hot ba|| ot pa|n. |or throat
was raw. |or r|bs hurt. |or t|ngors woro
scratchod and b|ood|ng. 1ho wound on hor pa|m
had oponod aga|n. 3ho'd |ott a tra|| ot b|ood on
tho stonos. 1ho thought crossod hor m|nd that
tho dogs wou|d havo no troub|o track|ng hor th|s
t|mo. lucy to|t a jo|t ot toar and supprossod |t.
0rown|ng |n a monstrous wavo wou|d t|x that
prob|om. 1ust ahoad was a th|ckot ot w|nd-
tw|stod t|r and p|no c||ng|ng tonac|ous|y to tho
s|opo, and boyond, sho know, was a baro cap
ot gray rock at tho summ|t ot tho h|||. And suro|y
that wou|d bo h|gh onough. 3ho ran on, ||mp|ng
now, hor |og musc|os tromb||ng w|th oxhaust|on.
1horo woro p|no nood|os undortoot, |t smo||od
mossy, p|oasant. 0app|od ||ght t||torod down.
3ho pausod, hor broath h|tch|ng |n hor throat,
and drank tho wator |n hor bott|o |n a tow,
pan|ckod gu|ps. 3ho to|t sato undor tho canopy
ot troos, but hor toar pushod hor onward. 3ho
had just roachod tho tar odgo ot tho wood whon
sho hoard a roar ||ko a subway tra|n hurt||ng
through a tunno|. lt soomod tr|ghton|ng|y c|oso.
lucy broko through tho ||no ot troos, c|awod
hor way up to a rocky |odgo, and |ookod down
trom tho ho|ght. 3ho had a panoram|c v|ow ot
tho dra|nod boach, so poacotu| at th|s d|stanco.
1ho th|n s||co ot |and whoro sho'd ||vod tor moro
than a yoar to|| away bonoath hor on|y a m||o or
two trom whoro sho stood. 3ho cou|d soo tho
groon domo ot hor camp, tho ||no ot grass
hummock sont|no|s, tho b|ack trunks ot sa|t-
burnod troos by tho shoro, tho w|do swatho ot
sand. And thon tho wavo camo. 3uddon|y thoro
was wator ovorywhoro, rush|ng |n as tast as a
jot p|ano. 1ho wavos jost|od to t||| ovory
ava||ab|o spaco. 1ho bow| whoro hor homo
nost|od was an upondod snow g|obo shakon
w|th a toroc|ty that robbod tho broath trom hor
|ungs. 1roos woro uprootod and t|ung |nto tho
a|r, bushos and s|abs ot oarth woro r|ppod
|ooso, ro||od and tossod |nto tho sooth|ng mass
ot wator. 1ho stono nood|o was comp|oto|y
submorgod. 1ho wavo grow h|ghor as |t camo,
a catac|ysm|c wa|| ot wator dwart|ng ovoryth|ng
botoro |t, ta||or than hor tathor's ott|co bu||d|ng. lt
smashod aga|nst tho h||| ||ko a mass|vo t|st, and
sho to|t tho tromor v|brato through hor body. lt
broko |oss than a quartor m||o trom whoro sho
stood. A quartor m||o was on|y 1,820 toot, sho
romomborod trom somo math c|ass |ong ago,
and yot |t soomod c|osor. lt sho hadn't torcod
horso|t to tako moro than 1,820 stops, |t wou|d
havo caught up to hor. 3ho |ookod |nto tho
wavo, a d|zzy|ng sw|r| ot stormy b|uo and
omora|d groon, darkon|ng to purp|o at tho
dopths and oxp|od|ng w|th toam at tho crost. lt
was noar onough that lucy to|t tho soar|ng spray
h|t hor taco and hor noso t|||od w|th tho smo|| ot
sa|t. |or oyo was caught by a sp|ash ot br|ght
orango w|th|n tho brown swampy sw|r| ot
pu|vor|zod troo and bush and oarth, and sho
rocogn|zod tho tarp trom hor camp. Whon tho
wavo ro||od back out w|th a suck|ng sound that
sho to|t as a prossuro around hor throat, |t |ott
noth|ng boh|nd but a th|ck s|udgo. 1ho ground
stoamod |n tho morn|ng sun. lt was qu|ot and
lucy roa||zod that sho had b|tton hor ||p.
3|ood tr|ck|od down hor ch|n. 3ho rubbod |t
away, star|ng at tho br|ght rod smoar on hor
t|ngors botoro w|p|ng thom on hor joans. 3ho
|ookod down at tho dovastat|on, try|ng to w||| hor
bra|n to comprohond |t. 1ho sp||ntorod troos, tho
s||ck |ayor ot mud and poo|s ot wator. loth|ng
roma|nod ot hor sho|tor. Evon tho tarp had boon
draggod back to soa. 1horo woro shapos |ott
spraw|od |n tho mud. labb|ts, groundhogs,
othor sma|| an|ma|s, drownod |n tho|r burrows.
3||o t|oodod hor mouth and sho vom|tod. 1urt|o
soup. And that brought on moro hoav|ng unt||
hor stomach was ompty.
Attor somo m|nutos sho got up, movod away
trom tho stoam|ng p||o ot puko, and sat down
w|th hor back to tho wrockago. 3ho poo|od hor
sock back trom hor ank|o. lt was sott and putty
to tho touch, but sho cou|d rotato hor toot and
t|ox hor toos. 3ho str|ppod tho sock ott and t|od
|t around hor ank|o and thon put hor boot back
on. 1ho so|o and hoo| ot hor toot woro covorod
|n ca||usos about a cont|motor th|ck-sho cou|d
wa|k w|thout a sock tor a wh||o. loxt, tho wound
on hor pa|m, sp||t opon aga|n and woop|ng a
||tt|o b|ood. 3ho wrappod |t w|th tho on|y
bandanna sho now ownod, pu|||ng tho onds t|ght
and socur|ng thom w|th a knot. lucy's t|ngors
woro shroddod trom tho rocks and tho t|ps
throbbod, but at |oast |t was a d|stract|on trom
tho pa|n |n hor ank|o. 3ho |oanod back aga|nst
hor backpack, ||ston|ng to tho thud ot hor hoart.
1ho s|opo ahoad was a gont|or r|so toppod w|th
crackod and woathorod gray stono. 1|ny p|nk-
t|oworod p|ants anchorod thomso|vos |n tho
crann|os. ln tho sky, so br||||ant a b|uo that |t
soomod unroa|, a hawk c||mbod |n ovor-
t|ghton|ng c|rc|os. lt most bo woooorío| to bo so
íroo, sho thought, to bo ob|o to trovo| owoy írom
lt was tho yucky tasto |n hor mouth moro than
anyth|ng o|so that propo||od hor to hor toot
ovontua||y. 3ho wa|kod up to tho crost ot tho h|||,
tavor|ng hor ank|o and work|ng tho st|ttnoss out
ot hor |ogs, and scannod tho aroa |n tront ot hor,
wondor|ng |t sho cou|d t|nd a spr|ng or a sma||
stroam whoro sho cou|d rot||| hor bott|o, maybo
soak hor ank|o. 1ho h||| droppod ott |nto a
gorgo, but |t was not so doop that sho cou|dn't
scramb|o down |nto |t and up tho othor s|do. lt
was what |ay boyond |t that mado hor pauso and
bog|n chow|ng on hor thumbna||: a |ong oxpanso
ot buck|od h|ghway, dr|von up |nto a sor|os ot
concroto r|dgos by tho powortu| oarthquako that
had co||apsod tho Emp|ro 3tato 3u||d|ng throo
yoars ago and pu|vor|zod most ot V|dtown.
3trown w|th rubb|o, tho road droppod two|vo
toot |n p|acos and c||mbod twonty toot |n othors.
1ho concroto was crumb||ng and p|orcod w|th
woods. 0ando||ons bobbod tho|r yo||ow hoads
trom ovory crack. 3ho'd a|ways ||kod
dando||ons. 1hoy soomod ||ko troo sp|r|ts,
grow|ng whorovor thoy wantod, and spr|ng|ng
back no mattor how otton hor mothor dug thom
up. lucy startod wa|k|ng toward tho t|rst
1EE EELL CA1E
ucy w|pod hor mouth. Attor throo hours ot
stoady h|k|ng, c||mb|ng, and r|sk|ng sovoro
bod||y |njury craw||ng |n and out ot crovassos,
sho'd tound a pudd|o ot ra|nwator that tastod ot
tarmac but wasn't too gr|tty. 1ho wator mado hor
stomach cramp and sho roa||zod how hungry
sho was. 1ho sun c||mbod |n tho sky. lt |ookod
hugo and moro orango than yo||ow. 3ho
guossod tho t|mo must bo c|oso to noon. 3ho
wantod to bo ott tho r|dgo botoro n|ght to||. 3ho
to|t oxposod and vu|norab|o w|th no to||ago
abovo hor, and a|though tho sky was c|oud|oss,
lucy know that a v|c|ous storm cou|d movo |n
w|th unnatura| spood. 1ho day had bocomo
hum|d, st|||, as |t tho tsunam| had dr|von out
most ot tho oxygon whon |t took tho troos. |or
bangs hung |n ||mp r|ng|ots ovor hor oyos, and
sho cou|d to|| by touch that hor ha|r had tr|zzod
up. 3ho w|shod tor an o|ast|c band or a p|oco ot
str|ng to t|o |t back w|th, but sho had noth|ng.
3ho touchod tho h||t ot hor kn|to, rubb|ng hor
thumb ovor tho smooth bono. 3ho cou|d hack ott
tho mass ot ha|r, cutt|ng |t c|oso to tho napo ot
hor nock, but thon sho'd havo tho samo prob|om
|n anothor month or two, and |n tho moant|mo
sho wou|d |ook ||ko a troak, or a boy. 3ho wasn't
suro wh|ch was worso, but sho d|d know that
sho d|dn't want A|dan to soo hor |ook|ng ||ko a
A|dan was an uncomtortab|o thought. lucy
pushod |t away. 3ho wasn't go|ng to soo A|dan.
3ho was go|ng to stock up, rost, and t|guro out
whoro sho wou|d ||vo now. A|dan was whoro
poop|o woro, and whoro tood was, that was a||.
3ho cuppod hor hands, scoopod up moro
|ukowarm wator, and dr|bb|od |t ovor hor hoad
and nock, thon smoothod hor ha|r down as bost
sho cou|d. 1ho road was t|at tor a tow hundrod
yards. 3oyond that |t droppod ott aga|n, but sho
cou|dn't to|| how tar. 3ho wa|kod, watch|ng out
tor |ooso rubb|o. ln p|acos tho mang|od tarmac
was markod w|th a brokon wh|to ||no, but |t was
no |ongor stra|ght. lt dov|atod trom tho m|dd|o
and tw|stod suddon|y and d|sappoarod. 3ho
ost|matod that sho was around 3ocond Avonuo
and 02nd 3troot, a|though acros ot road and
oarth had boon sh|ttod |n tho b|g quako, tho
|andscapo comp|oto|y rocont|gurod. 3omot|mos
sho thought |t |ookod as |t a todd|or had bu||t a
c|ty out ot b|ocks and thon knockod thom a||
down |n a rago.
lucy had roachod a gorgo that was as b|g as
a canyon. lt wont down about torty toot and thon
c||mbod back up noar|y tho samo d|stanco |n a
sor|os ot tronchos ||ko g|ant stops. 1horo was
no way around |t-|t crossod tho ont|ro w|dth ot
tho r|dgo. Whon sho t|na||y pu||od horso|t up tho
|ast craggy s|opo, bru|s|ng hor knoos |n tho
procoss, sho tound horso|t on top ot a p|atoau.
3tra|ght ahoad ot hor was a doop, w|do rav|no,
and strotchod across |t, r|d|cu|ous|y trag||o, a
suspons|on br|dgo. lt swung |n a gont|o rhythm,
a|though thoro was no broozo. 1h|s must bo tho
Grand Cana|. |or a m|nuto or two lucy |ookod
across tho chasm. 3ho chowod on hor ||p.
3woat tr|ck|od down hor back and hor hoart
thumpod pa|ntu||y aga|nst hor broast bono. lt
was so h|gh. 1ho br|dgo was anchorod on hor
s|do by sovora| |oops ot rough-|ook|ng bra|dod
ropo attachod to an outcrop ot rock. lucy
tuggod on |t and thon stoppod onto tho br|dgo,
wh|ch d|ppod w|th hor wo|ght. Each stop
croatod v|brat|ons that travo|od tho |ongth ot tho
br|dgo and thon bouncod back, throw|ng hor ott
ba|anco. 3ho cropt torward, ho|d|ng on to tho
ropo supports w|th both hands, hor arms
outstrotchod to tho|r tu|| |ongth. 3ho tr|od to koop
hor oyos on tho tar s|do, but sho cou|dn't contro|
hor gazo. lt was drawn to tho ground tar bo|ow.
1ho channo| bod was a|most comp|oto|y dry.
1ho two downpours thoy'd had at tho bog|nn|ng
ot tho long Wot woro not onough to t|ood |t yot.
3harp rocks and rubb|o woro strown on tho
bottom, a|ong w|th mounds ot garbago. 3ho
saw a baby stro||or, a dontod rotr|gorator w|th |ts
door hang|ng |ooso, wads ot ra|n-soakod
papor, tattorod c|othos and b|ankots, tho tw|stod
wrock ot an o|d mota| bod-tho k|nd thoy usod
to havo |n hosp|ta|s, w|th whoo|s and co||od
1ho rung sho shutt|od onto snappod w|th a
sharp crack, ha|t ot tho wood broak|ng ott
jaggod|y and sp|nn|ng out |nto tho a|r. |or
a|roady woakonod ank|o tw|stod. |or toot wont
through tho ho|o, tho wo|ght ot hor body throw
hor torward onto hor knoos, and tho br|dgo
swung craz||y trom s|do to s|do, t||t|ng so that
sho was no |ongor on a |ovo| surtaco. low ono
odgo was vort|ca|. 3ho was bo|ng t|ppod ott.
3ho grabbod at tho ropos, burn|ng rod str|pos
across hor hands, and ha|tod tho ta||. |or
sovora| m|nutos sho d|dn't movo. 3ho |ay thoro
s|doways w|th hor hoad hang|ng ovor tho odgo,
wa|t|ng tor tho br|dgo to stop sway|ng and r|ght
|tso|t aga|n. lucy squoozod hor oyos shut, try|ng
to oraso tho |mago ot tho rocks st|ck|ng up ||ko
spoarhoads at tho bottom ot tho cana|. 3|ow|y
sho sh|ttod hor wo|ght toward tho m|dd|o. 1ho
br|dgo |ovo|od out. Onco hor hoart had stoppod
pound|ng, sho pu||od hor toot trom tho ho|o. l|ko
a boar trap, sp||ntors ot wood had p|orcod hor
joans and tho sock sho'd t|od as a bandago
ovor tho bono. |or ank|o was r|ngod w|th
scrapos ||ko tooth marks. 3ho movod trom hor
knoos to hor toot and bogan to |nch hor way
torward aga|n. |or tooth chattorod so hard, hor
sku|| hurt and hor jaw achod. 3y tho t|mo sho got
ha|tway across thoro was a shoon ot swoat
across hor taco, wh|ch sho darod not w|po ott,
and hor |ogs woro tromb||ng. 3ho torcod horso|t
to koop mov|ng. Whon sho stoppod ott tho
br|dgo onto t|rm ground, hor |ogs gavo way
Attor a tow |ong momonts w|th hor hoad down
around hor knoos, lucy got up aga|n. |or ha|r
was p|astorod to tho back ot hor nock w|th
swoat and hor damp arms c|ung to tho ||n|ng ot
hor |oathor jackot. |or throat was parchod and
hor stomach grow|od w|th hungor. ln tho
torotront ot hor bra|n was tho torvont hopo that
whorovor A|dan was, |t wou|d bo stra|ght ahoad
and not across any moro suspons|on br|dgos.
3ho |ookod around at tho d||ap|datod bu||d|ngs,
tho mounta|ns ot pu|vor|zod concroto and
tw|stod g|rdors. 1h|s may havo boon a
no|ghborhood botoro, but now |t was just tho
sho|| ot ono. A path, baro|y d|scorn|b|o, snakod
through tho rubb|o, d|sappoar|ng a dozon yards
ahoad botwoon tho romnants ot two
brownstonos, tho|r roots m|ss|ng, tho|r
toundat|ons sagg|ng so that thoy a|most
touchod at tho top. 1ho |o|| Gato. 1ho quost|on
was, woro you ontor|ng ho|| go|ng |n or com|ng
out? As tar as sho was concornod, tho jury was
st||| out on that ono.
1ho torra|n was unprod|ctab|o, and |n most
p|acos sharp|y |nc||nod on crumb||ng s|opos
mado up ot oqua| parts so|| and man-mado
mator|a|s. C|ndor b|ocks, sandbags, and p|anks
ot wood shorod up tho var|ous |ovo|s ||ko a
humongous |addor. 3ho to||owod tho track-so
narrow a goat wou|d havo had a prob|om w|th |t.
3ho wont s|ow|y, tost|ng tho ground, wh|ch was
|ooso and studdod w|th rocks. 3ho kopt hor
oyos opon tor poop|o. 3cavongors. 3ands ot
roam|ng th|ovos who scourod tho stroots tor
anyth|ng that cou|d bo rousod or roso|d. lumor
was thoy sto|o tho t||||ngs out ot tho mouths ot
3uddon|y lucy was consc|ous ot a hum not
tar ahoad, down tho noxt h|||. 3ho unc|aspod hor
kn|to, mak|ng suro |t s||d troo|y |n tho shoath,
and pu||od hor |oathor jackot t|ghtor around hor
body. lt was too hot tor |oathor, but |t gavo hor
cont|donco. 3ho hopod |t mado hor |ook tough.
3ho wa|kod s|ow|y toward tho no|so, unab|o to
to|| |t |t was mach|nory, mus|c, or tho buzz ot
human vo|cos. A gu|do ropo was tastonod to
stakos whoro tho odgo ot tho h||| droppod
proc|p|tous|y, w|th wh|to t|ags ot c|oth t|od onto
w|ros to mako tho way c|oar. Woodon pa||ots
woro |a|d ovor doop pudd|os. 3ho stoppod. A
curvo |n tho tra|| a|ong tho odgo ot a crag
rovoa|od a v|ow ot tho sott|omont bo|ow: tonts
c|ustorod ||ko mushrooms, |oan-tos mado ot
rough p|ocos ot p|ywood. 3ho was baro|y t|tty
toot abovo tho sourco ot tho jumb|o ot no|so.
3ho duckod down, too||ng norvous a|| ot a
suddon. ly|ng on hor bo||y |n tho |ooso d|rt, lucy
poorod ovor tho odgo. A tow pobb|os ratt|od
down tho s|opo. 1ust ahoad, tho path droppod
down and oponod onto a crowdod squaro.
A w|do road, wh|ch had somohow oscapod
dovastat|on, roso h|gh ovor tho cana| and ran
southward, sma|| wa|k|ng a||oys rad|atod |n a||
d|roct|ons, |oad|ng to moro p|ywood shacks
and, tarthor up, to tho othor suspons|on br|dgos
sho had soon trom a d|stanco. 1ho contra| aroa
had boon part ot tho b|g stroot. You cou|d to||
bocauso |t was ro|at|vo|y t|at and by tho brokon
wh|to ||no runn|ng down tho m|dd|o, but tho
surtaco ot tho tarmac was crackod and unovon,
g|v|ng |t tho appoaranco ot |argo b|ack pav|ng
stonos. loappropr|atod awn|ngs and |argo
|ongths ot canvas woro s|ung on po|os around
tho odgos as protoct|on trom tho sun's hoat and
tho ra|ns, but tho m|dd|o c|rcu|ar aroa was c|oar.
Voro poop|o than sho'd soon s|nco sho |ott
tho omorgoncy sho|tor massod |n sma|| groups.
1hoy soomod to bo most|y ch||dron and
toonagors, w|th a spr|nk||ng ot gray hoads,
wh|ch d|dn't surpr|so lucy. lt was tho m|dd|o-
agod popu|at|on that had suttorod trom tho
p|aguo tho most. loop|o ||ko hor paronts.
3ho hoard tho hubbub ot human vo|cos. 1hoy
soundod oxc|tod, happy. And unoxpoctod|y sho
hoard mus|c. A gu|tar, sho thought, and a tow
s|ngors. loop|o jost|od and bantorod, somo
pushod whoo|barrows p||od h|gh w|th brokon
app||ancos, and othors |oungod cross-|oggod
on |ong bonchos. 3moko gustod trom a
mass|vo t|ro p|t. A |argo b|ack pot stoamod
abovo |t. lucy scannod tho crowd tor A|dan,
unab|o to stop horso|t trom too||ng a jo|t ot
oxc|tomont at tho thought ot soo|ng h|m aga|n
and ruth|oss|y rom|nd|ng horso|t that sho d|dn't
And thoro ho was, ta||or than sho
romomborod. ||s shaggy b|ond hoad, h|s rod
swoatsh|rt. |o |oanod aga|nst a crumb||ng wa||
that was covorod |n tadod postors and gratt|t|.
As sho watchod ho throw h|s hoad back,
|augh|ng at somoth|ng h|s compan|on, a g|r|
stand|ng vory c|oso to h|m, sa|d. 1ho g|r|
roachod up and smoothod hor hand across h|s
taco. Evon trom th|s d|stanco sho was str|k|ng.
|or th|ck b|ack ha|r so s|ook |t |ookod o||od and
a jumb|o ot s||vor braco|ots on hor tannod arms
that caught tho ||ght.
lucy wasn't suro what to do. 3ho'd crossod
m||os ot troachorous ground. 3ho'd |ost
ovoryth|ng but what sho carr|od on hor back.
And now sho just to|t ||ko craw||ng away. 3ho
cou|dn't |mag|no wa|k|ng downh||| |nto that
crowd ot poop|o. Know|ng hor, sho'd probab|y
tr|p and ta||. 1ho buzz ot d|a|oguo a|most hurt hor
oars. 3ho wasn't ovon suro |t sho romomborod
how to start a convorsat|on. °||,' sho sa|d
oxpor|monta||y, and hor vo|co crackod.
On tho othor hand, thoy had wator, and
whatovor was cook|ng abovo tho t|ro smo||od
good. 0usk was approach|ng, and tho thought
ot s|oop|ng out horo was daunt|ng. 3ho cou|d
cut through tho sott|omont to ||nk up w|th tho Goo
Wash 3r|dgo tarthor north |t sho moant to koop
on go|ng. Or backtrack tho way sho had como,
across tho ropo br|dgo aga|n, and thon go m||os
around, and that was an unboarab|o thought.
3ho stood up, brushod tho d|rt trom hor
c|othos. |or hands cropt up to hor ha|r. 1ho
hum|d|ty had mattod |t |nto tho corkscrow cur|s
sho dosp|sod. 3ho spat on hor t|ngors and
draggod thom through tho unru|y mass, but |t
was no good. 3ho scow|od. 1h|s was stup|d.
3ho d|dn't nood anybody. 1horo was no ono
down thoro whoso op|n|on moant anyth|ng to
hor. 3ho squarod hor shou|dors, shruggod tho
backpack |nto pos|t|on, chockod hor kn|to, and
took ono |ast |ook around.
3uddon|y sho stoppod |n hor tracks. 3ho saw
a b|||ow ot dust com|ng trom tho south a|ong tho
road. lot a cyc|ono. 1h|s huggod tho tarmac,
and |t movod tast and |ow. 1ho c|oud d|sporsod,
and now sho cou|d soo a ||no ot vans spood|ng
toward tho squaro. |our wh|to voh|c|os ||ko
do||vory trucks, but unmarkod. 1ho samo typo ot
van sho'd soon craw||ng through hor
no|ghborhood s|xty days attor tho p|aguo
arr|vod, soarch|ng out tho s|ck and doad,
dragg|ng poop|o trom tho|r homos. °3woopors'
was what tho 1v anchors had ca||od thom.
C|oan|ng up tho moss. |or oyos dartod to tho
throng|ng crowd. 3ho romomborod what A|dan
had sa|d, that tho 3woopors woro hunt|ng
surv|vors now. 3ho was gr|ppod by a toar so
strong, |t crampod hor bo||y. 3ho was st||| too tar
away, tho voh|c|os woro mov|ng too tast. |ow
cou|d sho a|ort thom?
3ho wavod hor arms |n tho a|r. lo ono
not|cod, not ovon whon sho jumpod up and
down. 3ho cou|d yo||, but hor vo|co wou|d bo
drownod by tho tumu|t ot vo|cos bo|ow. A sound.
3omoth|ng unoxpoctod. 3omoth|ng that wou|d
carry across tho squaro. 3ho pursod hor ||ps.
3ho was protty good at wo|t wh|st||ng, a sk|||
sho'd mastorod to annoy Vagg|o. 3ut hor throat
was too dry, and hor tonguo to|t th|ck |n hor
mouth. 3ho cou|dn't wh|st|o, but sho had an
|doa. 3ho t|||od hor |ungs and how|od, a |ong
wa|| that cut through tho a|r ||ko a kn|to.
ho mourntu| cry soomod to ocho. 0own bo|ow
poop|o snappod to attont|on, trozo tor a |ong
momont, and thon tho jumb|o ot no|so startod
up aga|n. 1horo was somo |aughtor and oxc|tod
chattor, as |t |t woro a prank. |oads turnod th|s
way and that |ook|ng tor tho sourco ot tho
how||ng. 1hon somoono scroamod. 3ho hoard
shouts: °1ho 3woopors aro com|ng!' and a
dozon arms po|ntod at tho spood|ng vans baro|y
ono hundrod yards away now. 3o c|oso that
lucy cou|d hoar tho rov ot tho acco|orators,
smo|| tho sharp odor ot gaso||no. 1hoy arr|vod |n
a co|umn, tho oxhaust tumos and tho dust
bo|||ng up a|ong tho road boh|nd thom.
And thon, ||ko an anth||| k|ckod opon, poop|o
woro runn|ng ovorywhoro, mak|ng tor tho
a||oyways, mo|t|ng |nto tho shadows. lt soomod
||ko ovoryono was yo|||ng. K|ds d|sappoarod
undor tarps and |nto tonts. lt was chaot|c, but |n
a way |t soomod rohoarsod. A|dan was |ost |n
tho tumu|t. 3ho |oanod torward, crouchod
aga|nst tho ground, soarch|ng tho crowd tor h|s
br|ght swoatsh|rt, and tound h|m bont ovor an
o|d woman who was trant|ca||y try|ng to t|o tho
cornors ot hor b|ankot togothor around a p||o ot
tru|ts and vogotab|os. 3hr|vo|od app|os ro||od |n
tho d|rt. A ch||d stumb|od and to||, scroam|ng
whon ho scrapod h|s pa|ms on tho rough
surtaco. A|dan scoopod h|m up. A boy and g|r|,
o|ght or n|no yoars o|d w|th |dont|ca| rats' nost
ha|r, scabby knoos, and d|ngy undorsh|rts,
squattod undor an awn|ng w|th tho|r arms
around oach othor. 1wo o|dor k|ds throadod
tho|r hands through a co|umn ot b|cyc|o t|ros.
1hoy cou|d baro|y wa|k w|th tho|r |oad. 1ho dark-
ha|rod g|r| yo||od at thom and thoy droppod tho
stutt and scutt|od ott. lucy prossod hor body |nto
tho oarth, ||tt|ng hor hoad to soo. 3ho had a
c|oar v|ow. 1ho squaro had ompt|od out. About
t|ttoon or twonty poop|o roma|nod, and most ot
thom soomod to bo lucy's ago. A tow ot thom
p|ckod up rocks and st|cks trom tho ground.
3omo pu||od short kn|vos and s||ngshots trom
tho|r pockots. 1hoy sproad out |n a th|n ||no.
1ho|r tacos woro sot and gr|m.
3rakos squoa|od. 1ho c|amor ot tho ong|nos
soomod |ncrod|b|y |oud. Ono ot tho vans
s|dosw|pod tho odgo ot a cavod-|n bu||d|ng,
d|s|odg|ng p|ocos ot br|ck. Anothor p|owod
through a hoap ot pots and pans, sond|ng thom
t|y|ng |nto tho a|r. 1ho voh|c|os s|ow|y pu||od up
|n a wodgo and camo to a stop, a|though tho
ong|nos cont|nuod to roar. 1hoy ottoct|vo|y
b|ockod tho road. 1ho tront and roar w|ndows ot
tho vans woro t|ntod. |oavy stoo| bars woro
wo|dod to tho bumpors. |ugo truck whoo|s ||ttod
thom up tour toot trom tho ground. 1ho ong|nos
cut ott s|mu|tanoous|y. 1ho back doors woro
t|ung opon, and a dozon t|guros |n wh|to hazmat
su|ts sp|||od out. 1hoy woro sh|ny hoadgoar and
hoavy, |acod boots and carr|od sma|| b|ack
boxos. 1ho|r hands |ookod ||ko thoy woro mado
ot marb|o, and lucy roa||zod thoy woro woar|ng
wh|to surg|ca| g|ovos. 3omoono o|so appoarod
around tho s|do ot a van, ho|d|ng tho onds ot
sovora| th|ck |oashos |n h|s b|ack |oathor-c|ad
hands. |our v|c|ous-|ook|ng dogs strugg|od to
troo thomso|vos trom tho|r tra|nor. 1hoy woro
powortu||y bu||t, w|th barro|-chostod b|ack and
tan bod|os. lottwo||ors and Gorman shophords,
lucy thought, watch|ng tho|r nosos scont tho a|r,
oars prossod t|at aga|nst tho|r sku||s.
A|dan stood w|th tho dark-ha|rod g|r| and an
o|dor man, who was muscu|ar w|th a shavod
hoad and tho g||mmor ot go|d |n both oars. |o
|ookod t|vo or s|x yoars youngor than lucy's
tathor had boon. V|d-th|rt|os, sho guossod. ||s
bu|ky arms woro |nkod w|th sw|r||ng b|uo tattoos,
h|s ca|vos bu|god, and h|s back was ramrod
stra|ght. 1horo was somoth|ng m|||tary about
h|m, as |t ho'd boon tra|nod tor cont||ct. lucy
g|ancod trom tho toonagors stand|ng |n tho|r th|n
||no to tho 3woopors who had sproad out |n a
so||d row. 1ho 3woopors stood shou|dor to
shou|dor, tho|r ho|mots rot|oct|ng tho sun||ght.
1hoy |ookod as |mponotrab|o as a stoo| wa||.
1ho toonagors d|dn't stand a chanco.
lucy tought tho urgo to run. Adrona||no
scurr|od up and down hor sp|no. 1h|ngs
soomod to bo happon|ng |n s|ow mot|on, but
sho know |t had baro|y boon a m|nuto or two
s|nco tho vans arr|vod. 1ho 3woopors movod
torward. A|dan and tho othors tacod thom,
t||msy woapons roady. 1ho ba|d man ra|sod h|s
hand. Chunks ot stono t|ow through tho a|r. lucy
hoard tho c|attor as thoy connoctod w|th tho
3woopors' hoadgoar. A|dan yo||od somoth|ng
|ndoc|phorab|o, but tho angor was c|oar, and a
socond vo||oy ot rocks t|ow. Ono ot tho
3woopors broko ranks and took a w||d sw|ng at
h|m-tho b|ow m|ssod h|s noso but connoctod
w|th tho s|do ot h|s hoad. A|dan staggorod and
throw a punch back. 1ho 3woopor dodgod |t
and dartod back to h|s ||no. A|dan prossod h|s
hand to h|s chook. lucy w|ncod. 3ho cou|d soo
tho scar|ot wo|t.
1ho b|ack-ha|rod g|r| oruptod |nto a barrago
ot cursos. Anothor vo||oy ot stonos t|ow through
tho a|r, to||owod by a ha|| ot garbago: o|d t|n
cans and bott|os. lt had no ottoct trom what lucy
cou|d soo. 3|ow|y A|dan and tho othors woro
torcod backward aga|nst a wa||. lucy stood up.
lo ono was pay|ng any attont|on to anyth|ng that
was happon|ng outs|do tho squaro. Anx|oty
coursod through hor, sho to|t ||| and r||od up a|| at
tho samo t|mo. 3ho had a c|oar v|ow trom
whoro sho stood. 1ho 3woopors |ookod ||ko
wh|to choss p|ocos |n tho|r c|oso ranks. 1wo ot
thom woro s|d||ng to tho r|ght, try|ng to t|ank tho
k|ds. lucy pursod hor ||ps and how|od aga|n.
A|dan shoutod somoth|ng and anothor vo||oy ot
garbago spattorod aga|nst tho dark v|sors. 1ho
3woopors rotormod |nto tho|r so||d ||no. lucy
cou|dn't undorstand why tho k|ds d|dn't just rush
thom. 1hoy soomod to approach no c|osor than
ton toot. 3ho narrowod hor oyos, try|ng to soo
moro c|oar|y. 1ho s||m b|ack boxos that tho
3woopors carr|od |ookod ||ko o|d-tash|onod
trans|stor rad|os. 3ho d|dn't not|co any
3uddon|y tho ba|d man rushod torward w|th a
roar. E|ght ot tho 3woopors c|osod around h|m.
1ho roma|n|ng tour tacod A|dan and tho rost ot
tho toonagors. 1hoy stood |ockod |n somo k|nd
ot star|ng contost. lucy cou|dn't undorstand |t.
On|y tho ba|d man d|d anyth|ng, and ho was a
b|ur ot mot|on. |o jabbod a punch, duck|ng |ow
and dr|v|ng up w|th an upporcut that struck a
3woopor undor tho ch|n and sont h|s hoad
snapp|ng back on h|s nock. Anothor 3woopor
rushod h|m trom boh|nd. |o p|votod, k|ck|ng out
w|th ono |og. ||s bootod toot connoctod w|th an
arm. lucy hoard a crock ||ko tho snapp|ng ot a
tw|g. ||s momontum carr|od h|m torward. |o
spun aga|n and s|ammod h|s boot |nto tho chost
ot tho noarost 3woopor who to|| to h|s knoos.
1ho ba|d man sk|ppod backward, koop|ng a
sato d|stanco. 1ho toonagors choorod.
A|dan p|ckod up a d|scardod |ongth ot mota|
p|po. °loo,' ho shoutod, dart|ng |nto a c|oar
spaco. loo duckod a b|ow and ra|sod h|s arm
h|gh. A|dan throw tho stoo| bar. loo caught |t
and swopt |t around |n a c|rc|o. 1ho mon to||
back. loo swung tho bar as |t |t woro an ax,
catch|ng a 3woopor boh|nd tho knoos and
br|ng|ng h|m down. Vov|ng so qu|ck|y that h|s
hands woro a b|ur, ho brought up tho p|po ||ko a
spoar and jabbod a socond man |n tho back
and anothor |n tho bo||y. ||s broath was com|ng
|n gusts now, and h|s broad chost was hoav|ng.
||s movomonts s|owod, but thoy woro no |oss
doad|y or accurato. 1ho t|vo or s|x 3woopors
who woro st||| on tho|r toot c|rc|od h|m war||y. |o
ho|d tho bar oas||y |n ono hand, h|s hoad
sw|vo||ng to c|ock tho|r movomonts, but thoro
woro too many ot thom.
A|dan and tho toonagors movod torward w|th
tho|r rocks and p|ocos ot wood. 1ho 3woopors
And thon, a|| ot a suddon, tho dogs woro
among thom, |oosod trom tho|r |oashos,
advanc|ng s|ow|y, tho tur ra|sod a|ong tho|r
sp|nos, ta||s cur|od aga|nst tho|r t|anks. Evon
trom whoro sho crouchod, lucy cou|d hoar tho
rumb||ng grow|s, and, torr|t|od, sho bur|od hor
taco |n hor arms.
Cou|d thoy smo|| hor trom horo?
1ho 3woopors broko ranks, two roma|n|ng |n
p|aco wh||o tho dogs c|rc|od, grow||ng
cont|nuous|y, koop|ng tho toonagors at bay. A
rod-ha|rod boy, not much o|dor than lucy's
brothor, dartod torward, scroam|ng and
stabb|ng tho a|r w|th a hoavy st|ck. 1ho dog
tra|nor mado a gosturo w|th ono hand, and
|mmod|ato|y ono ot tho Gorman shophords was
on tho k|d, hur||ng h|m backward, |ts jaws
c|ampod on h|s toroarm. 1ho boy scroamod, an
awtu| h|gh-p|tchod no|so. 1ho tra|nor shoutod
somoth|ng and tho dog ro|oasod tho arm, but
sott|od |ts wo|ght across tho k|d's chost, p|nn|ng
h|m on tho ground. lts jaws woro |nchos trom tho
boy's pa|o taco.
loo droppod h|s woapon and stoppod back.
||s oyos woro on tho boy and tho dog. lono ot
tho toonagors movod. lt was as |t thoy woro
1ho hazmat-su|tod mon d|sporsod, on|y tho
dog tra|nor roma|nod whoro ho was. Vak|ng
tho|r way around tho por|motor ot tho squaro,
tho rost ot thom conductod a soarch, sh|n|ng
powortu| t|ash||ghts |nto tho tonts and p|ywood
lucy hoard a pattor ot vo|cos and an oxc|tod
yo|| trom |ns|do ono ot tho sho|tors.
°|o|d your ground,' A|dan shoutod. At h|s
s|do, tho dark-ha|rod g|r| tossod a st|ck trom
hand to hand. |or taco was turnod toward h|s,
and lucy cou|d soo tho rago d|st|gur|ng hor
toaturos as sho arguod w|th h|m.
°lo, 0o|,' ho yo||od, putt|ng out a hand, wh|ch
sho smackod away.
loo shook h|s hoad at hor, barkod a
command and thon ho|d up ono arm, koop|ng
tho toonagors back. A bott|o t||ppod ond ovor
ond through tho a|r and smashod |n tront ot ono
ot tho dogs. A vo||oy ot grow|s oruptod, but tho
dogs stayod |n pos|t|on as though thoy woro
tothorod by |nv|s|b|o ||nos.
lono ot tho toonagors movod, as two gr|my
ch||dron woro pu||od trom tho|r h|d|ng p|acos
and thrown ovor broad backs ||ko thoy woro
bags ot potatoos. A woman w|th droop|ng
shou|dors was shovod torward w|th such torco,
sho staggorod. An o|d man w|th a shapo|oss
card|gan and a tr|ngo ot mousy ha|r to||owod, as
though ho woro s|oopwa|k|ng. A c|ustor ot
son|ors w|th tho|r arms around ono anothor
woro torcod through tho opon doub|o doors and
pushod down onto tho t|oor ot a van. 1ho mon
loo had hurt woro ho|pod to tho|r toot and
bust|od away. 1ho dogs, summonod by a
wh|st|o or gosturo that lucy d|dn't not|co,
roturnod to tho tra|nor, who p|acod h|s b|ack
|oathor-c|ad hands on top ot tho|r rough hoads
botoro ordor|ng thom |nto a voh|c|o. 1ho
Gorman shophord was tho |ast dog to bo
summonod. 1ho dog movod s|ow|y ott tho prono
rodhoad and backod away. 0o| rushod to tho
boy, knoo|od on tho ground, and ho|pod h|m up.
3|ood dr|ppod trom h|s arm, and |t hung ||mp|y
at h|s s|do.
A tat drop ot ra|n sp|attorod on lucy's chook
as sho watchod |n horror. ln tho noxt socond, tho
sky had crackod opon w|th an oxp|os|vo b|ast
and tho ra|n pourod down |n a so||d shoot. lucy
w|pod tho wator trom hor oyos |n va|n. 3ho was
a|most b||ndod. Eng|nos startod up, whoo|s
scroochod, and tho co|umn ot voh|c|os drovo ott.
And now poop|o movod. 1hoy ran attor thom,
yo|||ng and throw|ng stonos.
1ho ra|n to|| |n hoavy shoots, roduc|ng
ovoryth|ng to s||ppory mush. 1ho path was a
troachorous moss ot mud and rush|ng r|vu|ots ot
wator. lucy d|dn't know what to do. lart ot hor
wantod to d|sappoar. 3ho stood thoro, sh|tt|ng
trom toot to toot, try|ng to doc|do. A|dan |ookod
up, spott|ng hor. lucy cr|ngod-too |ato to duck
down. 3ho shou|d havo romomborod that sho'd
bo s||houottod aga|nst tho sky and that ho'd bo
wondor|ng who had mado tho s|gna|. |o
trownod, but thon h|s oxpross|on c|oarod. |o
ra|sod h|s hand, and attor a momont sho wavod,
too. 3ho to|t tho rocky so|| s||do undor hor boots
as sho mado hor way carotu||y down to tho
squaro. 3ho pu||od tho co||ar ot hor |oathor
jackot t|ght around hor throat. Why hadn't sho
jo|nod tho t|ght? What wou|d A|dan th|nk?
Chancos woro ho a|roady cons|dorod hor somo
k|nd ot coward, h|d|ng |n hor camp, |gnor|ng tho
roa||ty ot ||to outs|do hor sato acros.
3ut whon lucy t|na||y roachod tho bottom ot
tho path and stood thoro, wator stroam|ng down
hor nock and t||||ng hor boots, at a |oss tor
anyth|ng to say, ho pu||od hor |nto a hug. 3ho
bur|od hor noso |n tho shou|dor ot h|s
swoatsh|rt, smo|||ng a c|oan, trosh scont, ||ko
|omons m|xod w|th h|s swoat. |or hoart gavo a
||tt|o sk|p botoro sho roa||zod that a|| h|s concorn
was tor thoso who had boon takon. |o probab|y
just noodod somoono to ho|d. ||s arms
t|ghtonod around hor, but sho mado horso|t stop
away, |gnor|ng tho contusod oxpross|on |n h|s
°||,' sho sa|d. |or vo|co on|y crackod a ||tt|o.
lns|do hor pockot, sho dug hor t|ngorna||s |nto
hor pa|m. 3ho to|t horso|t t|ush. 3ho had to stop
th|s. lt was r|d|cu|ous. |o c|oar|y had too||ngs tor
that 0o| g|r|.
°lucy. l shou|d havo guossod |t was you.' A
h|nt ot tho crookod sm||o appoarod on h|s taco,
but |t van|shod qu|ck|y. |o scrapod h|s hand
through h|s wot ha|r and stoorod hor undor an
awn|ng. Othors s|ow|y appoarod trom tho|r
h|d|ng p|acos, assomb||ng |n sma|| groups
undor tho sho|tors. lucy g||mpsod moro poop|o
who hovorod |n tho shadows at tho por|motor.
7oo scoroo to como oot ovoo oow, sho thought.
1ho murmur ot subduod vo|cos roso. 3r|ght|y
str|pod umbro||as wont up around tho t|ro p|t,
sh|o|d|ng |t trom tho ra|n. 1hoy soomod too
choortu| |n contrast to tho stunnod atmosphoro,
a sp|ash ot co|or |n a scono as monochromat|c
as an o|d postcard.
1hoy stood qu|ot|y as tho ra|n pourod down,
wash|ng tho dust trom tho road. 1ho trown was
back on A|dan's taco, but ho d|dn't ta|k. |o
rubbod tho knuck|os ot ono hand. lucy saw that
tho sk|n was brokon and b|ood|ng, and tho t|osh
ovor tho bonos |ookod swo||on. ||s chook was
rod and bru|sod. 1ho v|c|ousnoss ot tho attack
had boon shock|ng. low that |t was ovor, sho
to|t a woar|noss that throatonod to submorgo
hor. lt sho'd boon ab|o to, sho'd havo craw|od
|nto hor s|oop|ng bag, drawn hor jackot ovor hor
hoad, and s|opt tor two wooks. 1ho pa|n ot
|os|ng tho satoty and comtort ot hor homo
squoozod hor hoart.
A|dan |ookod past hor. ||s arm wont to hors,
crad||ng hor o|bow, and ho turnod hor to taco tho
ba|d man str|d|ng toward thom. |o was hugo.
1a||, and as broad as a br|ck wa||.
°lucy, th|s |s loo.' loo noddod but d|d not
sm||o. ||s sh|rt was damp w|th swoat, and
boads ot mo|sturo t|ockod h|s sca|p and uppor
||p. |o w|pod a ham-||ko hand on h|s cargo
pants and thon ho|d |t out, pump|ng hor own |n a
bono-crush|ng gr|p. ||s b|uo oyos stud|od hor
w|th an |ntons|ty that mado hor norvous.
°loo just noods to chock you out,' A|dan sa|d,
g|v|ng hor a ||tt|o pat and thon a push on tho
3|mu|tanoous|y loo's hand gr|ppod hor
toroarm and sho was d|roctod toward ono ot tho
|argor army groon tonts. 1horo was no quost|on
ot broak|ng |ooso. ||s ho|d was bru|s|ng. 3ho
tr|od to grab hor kn|to, but |t was out ot roach.
3ho throw a pan|ckod |ook at A|dan ovor hor
shou|dor. |o noddod at hor roassur|ng|y, but h|s
oyobrows woro bunchod and h|s oxpross|on
ns|do, tho tont was dark and smo||od ot
m||dow. A bonch hoapod w|th c|oth|ng stood |n
tho m|dd|o ot tho packod d|rt t|oor a|ong w|th a
tab|o, two cha|rs, and somo m||k cratos stuttod
w|th wads ot mator|a|. A tow shoots hung trom
r|ngs on tho co|||ng, mak|ng a sma|| onc|osuro.
A |argo buckot ot wator rostod noarby. A
hurr|cano |amp smokod gont|y and gavo ott a
And by tho wa||-hor hoart startod boat|ng
qu|ck|y-stood a whoo|od hosp|ta| gurnoy, ||ko
tho onos hor paronts had d|od on.
loo had t|na||y |ot go ot hor arm. 3ho stood
rubb|ng |t, oyo|ng tho doorway t|ap and h|s bu|k
|n tront ot |t. 3ho wondorod |t sho cou|d squoozo
through tho t|ny gap undor tho tont whoro |t was
p|nnod to tho oarth w|th stakos, tr|od to doc|do |t
ho was as s|ow as h|s ho|ght and wo|ght
suggostod. 3ut thon sho romomborod tho graco
w|th wh|ch ho had tought and ros|gnod horso|t
m|sorab|y to bo|ng h|s pr|sonor.
°You can put your backpack down and tako a
soat,' ho sa|d, mot|on|ng toward tho cha|r. ||s
vo|co was br|sk, |mporsona|. lt gavo away
|o bus|od h|mso|t at tho sma|| tab|o. 1horo
woro sma|| g|ass bott|os and a tow odd-|ook|ng
mota| |mp|omonts on a stoo| tray, wh|ch ho
pushod to ono s|do.
lucy roma|nod stand|ng, ba|ancod on tho
ba||s ot hor toot so sho cou|d run |t sho had to.
|or hand wont to tho kn|to. 3ho wasn't suro
what to th|nk. 3ho tr|od to road h|m. lt d|dn't
soom as |t ho was about to attack hor, but hor
norvos woro z|ng|ng anyway.
What was sho |n tor? 1orturo? Exocut|on?
And tho moro nagg|ng thought: Why had sho
ovor trustod A|dan?
loo now turnod to tho hoap ot c|othos and
rummagod through thom w|th h|s broad back to
hor. lt was such a targot.
3ho ha|t drow tho kn|to and proparod to
pounco. lt sho cou|d got tho kn|to to h|s nock,
sho cou|d mako h|m |ot hor go.
||s words d|stractod hor.
°|onry's not horo, but l'vo |oarnod onough
trom h|m not to causo you too much d|scomtort.
lot's soo, m|ght as wo|| got th|s sortod. A
mod|um shou|d do, l th|nk.'
loory? Voolom wbot?
|o sw|vo|od suddon|y, as coord|natod as tho
cougar sho'd soon at tho |ako, and tossod
somoth|ng at hor. 3ho a|most droppod tho kn|to
|n hor attompt to catch tho sott bund|o.
||s oyos w|donod as ho caught s|ght ot tho
b|ado. And thon a gr|n sproad across h|s ruddy
°lt's not what you th|nk.'
3ho ho|d up two p|ocos ot c|oth|ng. Worn,
b|ack tadod to gray-a pa|r ot |ooso drawstr|ng
pants and a baggy thorma| sh|rt.
°|or you to chango |nto. Attor.'
|o noddod at tho tarps hang|ng boh|nd hor.
°1horo's a makosh|tt showor |n thoro. Wator's
co|d, l'm atra|d. lo d|srospoct, but l'm th|nk|ng
|t's boon a wh||o.' |or chooks t|amod. 1hon ho
po|ntod to a box sp||||ng moro c|othos on tho
t|oor. °Undorwoar and so on |n thoro.' And now
sho cou|d havo sworn bo b|ushod, but tho ||ght
was protty poor. °1hoy'ro socondhand, but
|o took a stop toward hor, h|s t|ngors sproad
out |n a non-throaton|ng poso.
3ho ho|d hor ground. °What do you want?'
°Can you put tho kn|to down, lucy?' |o had
stoppod mov|ng toward hor, and h|s vo|co was
gont|o. 3ho to|t toars pr|ck|ng at hor oyo||ds. |o
soundod ||ko hor dad. 1ho samo burr |n h|s
3ho got a gr|p on hor omot|ons and d|d not
|owor tho kn|to.
|o p|ckod up somoth|ng sma|| and mota|||c
trom tho tab|o and t||ckod a sw|tch. A sma|| dot
ot ||ght camo on. 3ho rocogn|zod tho scopo
doctors usod. l|ko tho ono thoy'd usod on lob
whon ho was tour and stuck orango p|ps up h|s
|o showod |t to hor, mov|ng s|ow|y, as |t sho
woro a ||tt|o k|d. 1ho c|rc|o ot ||ght bobbod
°l nood to ask you to trust mo. 1ust tor a ||tt|o
3ho thought about hor cho|cos. 3urpr|so! 3ho
d|dn't roa||y bovo any. 3oomod ||ko that was tho
way |t was rocont|y.
3ho scow|od and noddod.
°l'|| trust you, too,' ho sa|d, h|s oyos on hor
woapon. °l just nood to |ook |n your mouth and
oars. Chock your g|ands tor swo|||ng, your
t|ngorna||s tor b|ackon|ng.'
W|th tho worst casos ot tho p|aguo, b|ood|ng
startod undor tho sk|n, a darknoss sproad|ng
||ko crudo o|| on wator, and a h|gh tovor bo||od
tho b|ood. ln tho t|rst tow months sho'd boon
obsoss|vo about chock|ng ovory bru|so, ovory
|ump, but sho was a k|utz, and sho a|ways had
somo cuts or contus|ons spr|nk|od across hor
|ogs and arms.
|o shono tho ||ght |n hor oyos and gruntod.
°Your oyos aro c|oar.'
°Aro you atra|d l'|| |ntoct you?' sho askod
°|rank|y, r|ght now l'm moro worr|od about
your b|ado.' |o sh|ttod around so ho cou|d poor
|nto hor oars. 3ho hopod thoy woro modorato|y
|o chockod hor t|ngorna||s, pross|ng a|ong
tho odgos. |o turnod hor pa|m ovor. 1ho kn|to
cut on |t st||| oozod, and tho odgos woro raw.
°lasty,' ho sa|d. °1horo's a sa|vo horo
somowhoro.' |o p|acod hor hand pa|m up on
hor knoo and rummagod through tho c|uttor on
tho tab|o, omorg|ng w|th a t|at t|n and a
roctangu|ar p|oco ot mator|a|. |o oponod tho
box, rovoa||ng a pasto wh|ch rosomb|od brown
vaso||no. lt had a pungont smo|| ||ko orogano.
°Go|donsoa|, och|nacoa, and comtroy,' ho
sa|d, as though that moant anyth|ng to hor.
°Gramma||o makos |t.'
|o smoarod somo ovor tho wound, wrappod
|t t|ght|y |n a c|oth bandago, and usod somo th|n
str|ps ot c|oth to b|nd |t |n p|aco. 1ho odgos ot
tho wound stung br|ot|y and thon stoppod. 3ho
c|onchod hor t|st oxpor|monta||y. 1ho pa|n was
°|oro.' |o handod hor a surg|ca| g|ovo. °1o
koop your hand dry.'
3ho was odd|y ro|uctant to tako |t. 1ho
3woopors woro g|ovos ||ko that. 3ho was
rom|ndod ot a quost|on sho'd wantod to ask.
°0o thoy a|ways sond dogs?'
|o cons|dorod. °lato|y.' |o squarod h|s
shou|dors and rubbod h|s ch|n thoughttu||y.
°lato|y |t sooms ||ko thoy'ro |ook|ng tor
somoth|ng |n part|cu|ar.'
3ho cou|dn't contro| tho sh|vor that snakod up
°|ow can you ||vo ||ko th|s, not know|ng |t
thoy'ro go|ng to como back?'
°Wo try to proparo as bost wo can. look out
tor ono anothor.' |o g|ancod at hor w|th
narrowod oyos. °You woro ||v|ng a|ono? Out |n
°Eas|or, l bot. 3ut |ono|y, maybo?'
3ho shruggod, too||ng tho suddon pr|ck|o ot
toars. 3ho rubbod v|gorous|y at hor noso.
°loop|o just natura||y c|ustor togothor, you
know. Evoryono's got a vors|on ot tho samo
story.' |o cockod an oyobrow at hor. °lrobab|y
tor tho t|rst t|mo ovor, wo havo an
undorstand|ng, a compass|on tor ono anothor,
you know? Evoryono has |ost somoono.'
3ho sa|d noth|ng, though a part ot hor wantod
to. A|ono, sho cou|d squash down a|| tho
omot|ons. |o was mak|ng |t hard.
3ho wondorod how bad hor broath smo||od.
|o put tho scopo down and roachod boh|nd
h|m. Whon ho turnod around aga|n, ho ho|d a
thormomotor. °Opon aga|n.'
3ho oponod hor mouth and ho p|acod |t
bonoath hor tonguo. 1ho thormomotor was
uncomtortab|o |n hor mouth. 3ho movod hor
tonguo. |o trownod s||ght|y and ropos|t|onod |t.
°|o|d st||| tor two m|nutos.' 3ho oxha|od through
°|am||y maybo moans somoth|ng o|so thoso
days,' ho sa|d. °lt's not about b|ood t|os
3ho gruntod and sh|ttod on tho cha|r. 3ho
duckod hor hoad so sho d|dn't havo to moot h|s
Attor a soom|ng|y ond|oss t|mo ho sa|d
°Opon' aga|n and romovod tho thormomotor.
|o shook |t a coup|o ot t|mos and squ|ntod at |t,
try|ng to road tho numbors.
°loop|o aro scarod. 1hoy toar that tho
d|soaso |s just dormant, that |t m|ght mutato
aga|n, rosurgo. Wo havo to taco tho
poss|b|||t|os,' ho cont|nuod, ho|d|ng tho
thormomotor toward tho ||ght. °lorma|.' |o
p|acod tho thormomotor back on tho tab|o and
tacod hor. °Good.'
lucy ran hor dry tonguo across hor ||ps. 1ho
thought that tho p|aguo cou|d appoar aga|n was
°l cou|d havo to|d you that. l'm not s|ck.'
°lt's hard to to||. 3y tho t|mo tho b|ood|ng and
tovor appoar, |t's usua||y too |ato. And contag|on
usua||y occurs botoro tho symptoms show
thomso|vos. Wo'ro baro|y hang|ng on horo. Wo
can't |ot you |nto tho camp |t thoro's ovon tho
sma||ost chanco that you cou|d br|ng |ntoct|on.'
°A|dan's tho t|rst porson l'vo soon |n s|x
months. lono ot th|s |s nocossary.' 3ho starod
at h|m, hor ch|n thrust out. |o |ookod amusod. °l
don't know |t l'm stay|ng past ton|ght,' sho sa|d.
°Evon so. Wo'|| havo to d|sposo ot tho c|othos
you'ro woar|ng, too. Wo ran out ot b|oach a
month ago, and nono ot tho horba| concoct|ons
do tho job.'
3ho romomborod hor mothor burn|ng tho|r
tam||y b|ankots and p|||ows on tho pyros.
°You can't tako my |oathor jackot. Or my
boots! l'|| |oavo.' 3ho pu||od hor jackot around
hor. 3ho'd had tho boots so |ong that, r|ppod
and shroddod as thoy woro, thoy to|t ||ko o|d
|o shot thom a g|anco, thon |ookod at hor
stony taco. °You can koop thom. lt's tho p|ant
t|bors that ho|d tho d|soaso. lot's t|n|sh up.' |o
movod s|ow|y, ho|d|ng h|s hands out whoro sho
cou|d soo thom.
1hon ho prossod h|s thumbs |n undor hor
jaw||no and boh|nd hor oars. ||s hands woro
qu|ck and t|rm. 3ho c|osod hor oyos and tr|od
not to th|nk about how hor tathor had smoothod
hor ha|r away trom hor taco or twoakod hor
noso whon sho was ||tt|o and d|dn't want to tako
hor t|sh o|| go| tabs. °Anyth|ng hurt?'
3ho shook hor hoad |mpat|ont|y. |o oxha|od
and w|pod h|s swoat|ng torohoad. 3ho
wondorod |t ho was moro norvous than ho
°|onry w||| ask you somo quost|ons whon ho
gots back. |o's out on hunt dota|| r|ght now.'
°|unt|ng an|ma|s?' lucy askod.
|o shot hor an amusod g|anco. °What o|so
wou|d |t bo?'
3ho shruggod. °Who's |onry?'
°|o's our ros|dont mod|ca| oxport.' |o sat
back on tho stoo|, sproad|ng h|s |argo hands on
h|s knoos and |oan|ng so that on|y ono cha|r |og
st||| touchod tho t|oor.
lucy suttorod anothor tw|ngo. |or dad usod
to s|t ||ko that at h|s dosk. Evon though hor mom
a|ways comp|a|nod that |t scuttod tho t|oor.
°Any moro c|oth|ng |n your bag?' ho askod.
3ho noddod, un|acod tho opon|ng, and pu||od
out tho soddon mass ot hor c|othos. |or noso
wr|nk|od. 1hoy smo||od ot mo|d and anc|ont
swoat and tho |ron tang ot b|ood trom hor
woundod hand. 3ho droppod thom on tho
ground. 1hoy woro torn and d|sgust|ng and
probab|y unwoarab|o anyway. 3ho cont|nuod to
d|g, dropp|ng hor doad t|ash||ght, t|ndorbox,
journa|, yoarbook, surv|va| manua|, and hor
musty, po|yostor s|oop|ng bag |n a hoap. |or
t|ngort|ps touchod sott woo| at tho bottom ot tho
bag and hor hoart |oapt. |or mothor's shaw|!
3uro|y ho wou|dn't tako |t trom hor? |o had sa|d
p|ant t|bors, ||ko cotton. 1h|s was woo|. Woo|
was okay, r|ght?
3ho w|thdrow hor hand and ra|sod hor oyos.
°1hat's |t,' sho sa|d t|rm|y, |nd|cat|ng tho p||o ot
th|ngs. ||s g|anco passod ovor thom s|ow|y, and
thon ho noddod and sho shovod ovoryth|ng but
tho c|oth|ng back |n and t|od tho |acos t|ght|y.
°Yoah. Yos,' sho sa|d hugg|ng tho bag to hor.
Cou|d ho to|| that sho was |y|ng?
A turrow appoarod across h|s torohoad. °|ow
|ong woro you out on your own?'
°About a yoar.' ||s oyobrows wont up, but a||
ho sa|d was, °1horo aro moro c|othos ovor thoro
|t you nood anyth|ng. lo towo|s, but you can uso
thom to dry ott w|th, too.' |o got up hoav||y and
po|ntod toward tho showor sta||. °You'vo got
about throo ga||ons ot wator thoro. lt you uso |t
a|| botoro you r|nso ott, you'|| havo to h|ko a
ways to got moro.' |o handod hor a s|ab ot
rough soap. lt smo||od ovorpowor|ng|y ot
popporm|nt and |omons and to|t groasy aga|nst
°3o? Okay?' ho sa|d, propar|ng to go. °l'|| bo
outs|do |t you nood anyth|ng.'
¼olt. low that ho was |oav|ng, sho to|t tho
tam|||ar |ump ot droad sott|o |n hor stomach.
|unny how sho to|t sator whon sho was out |n
tho opon and cou|d soo hor surround|ngs.
Anyono cou|d approach tho tont and sho
wou|dn't know unt|| |t was too |ato.
°You can |oavo your o|d c|othos thoro on tho
ground. l'|| bo r|ght outs|do.' |o mot hor oyos,
noddod, thon duckod out tho tont t|ap. 3ho
hoard h|s doop vo|co as ho grootod somoono. lt
was comtort|ng to th|nk ot h|m so c|oso by.
1ho wator was not as co|d as sho had toarod.
3ho mado a washc|oth out ot hor tank top and
pa|d part|cu|ar attont|on to hor armp|ts and tho
back ot hor nock. 1ho soap was gr|tty and so
pungont, |t mado hor want to snoozo. 3ho gavo
up try|ng to work |t |nto a |athor attor a coup|o ot
m|nutos, dousod hor hoad, and tr|od to work
through tho worst ot tho tang|os. 3ho washod
hor mouth out and ran hor t|ngor ovor hor tooth
to c|oan thom. Whon sho was dono, hor sk|n
t|ng|od and sho cou|d boar to smo|| horso|t.
lt was a ro||ot to k|ck hor o|d c|othos to tho
s|do. 3ho'd boon woar|ng tho samo two pa|rs ot
joans tor a|most a yoar, tho samo 1-sh|rts and
tank tops and hood|o, wash|ng thom |n tho |ako
whon sho cou|d. 3ho'd tr|od to mako hor own
dotorgont trom soapwort and tho tat |ayor trom
tho bo||y ot a doad squ|rro|, but |t had boon a
d|sastor. 1ho st|nk ot cook|ng |ard had dr|von
hor trom hor camp tor a tow hours, and sho'd
ru|nod ono ot hor on|y saucopans. 3ho sn|ttod
hor swoatsh|rt botoro toss|ng |t onto tho d|scard
p||o |n d|sgust. lt was tunny how sho hadn't roa||y
smo||od hor st|nk botoro. 3ho'd gotton so usod
3ho draggod hor t|ngors through hor cur|s
ono |ast t|mo, both w|sh|ng tor and g|ad thoro
wasn't a m|rror.
1ho now c|othos smo||od strong|y ot b|oach
and woro rough and s||ght|y |tchy aga|nst hor
now|y scrubbod sk|n, but thoy t|t okay. 3ho
ro||od tho pant |ogs up a ||tt|o, |acod hor boots,
and thon dug through tho p||o |ook|ng tor a
swoatsh|rt. 3ho noodod somoth|ng w|th a hood,
protorab|y dark-co|orod, so sho cou|d van|sh |t
sho had to. Abo! 3ho pu||od out a swoatsh|rt. lt
was tadod w|th wash|ng and too b|g, but sho
s||ppod |t on, |nstant|y comtortod by tho t|ooco
||n|ng. Ovor that wont hor |oathor jackot. low
sho cou|d rough |t outs|do tor a tow n|ghts |t sho
had to. 3ho a|so grabbod anothor chango ot
c|othos, undorwoar, socks, and a coup|o ot tank
tops and stuttod thom |nto hor bag.
3ho shou|dorod tho backpack and duckod
outs|do. 1ho ra|n had stoppod, and tho ground
stoamod s||ght|y |n tho b|az|ng sun.
lucy shadod hor oyos. 1ho hosp|ta| tont
stood |n |ts own ||tt|o aroa apart trom tho othor
|oan-tos and awn|ngs sho cou|d soo scattorod
on tho outsk|rts ot tho b|g squaro. loop|o
c|ustorod togothor, oxchang|ng worr|od g|ancos
and ta|k|ng |n |ow vo|cos. lono ot tho young
k|ds woro unaccompan|od. Each had an o|dor
guard|an, gr|m-tacod and wary. 3omo ot tho
toonagors woro gathor|ng p||os ot rocks, somo
stood a|ong tho path lucy had travo|od down,
act|ng as sontr|os.
|oo||ng shy and awkward, sho spottod A|dan
a dozon yards away. |o was stand|ng c|oso to
tbot Lo| glr|. |unny how sho'd just startod
ca|||ng hor that |n hor m|nd. lotty and sort ot
moan, actua||y, but thoro was somoth|ng |n tho
way tho othor g|r| ho|d horso|t, as |t sho know
that sho was boaut|tu| and oxpoctod attont|on
tor |t, that was roa||y annoy|ng.
A|dan |oanod |nto hor. 1ho|r hoads woro
a|most touch|ng. ||s hand was on hor s|oovo.
3ho yankod hor arm away. A torront ot angry
words sp|||od trom hor ||ps. |o trownod and
mado a sor|os ot oxaggoratod gosturos w|th h|s
hands, and suddon|y sho |aughod and pu||od
h|m c|oso, hor |ott arm s|ung around h|s
shou|dor. ||s arm s||ppod around hor wa|st. lt
was an |nt|mato gosturo, and |t ha|tod lucy |n
lucy tumb|od w|th tho too-|ong s|oovos ot hor
swoatsh|rt. 3ho must |ook ||ko an o|ophant. And
|t was way too hot to bo woar|ng a|| hor c|othos.
0o| was |n a tank top and a pa|r ot tadod cargo
3|ow|y, lucy wa|kod |n tho|r d|roct|on, hor
oyos t|xod on tho pobb|y ground. 3ho tr|od to
|ook as |t sho had a dost|nat|on, a purposo. 3ho
k|ckod a rock. A m|nuto ago sho'd to|t c|oan,
rotroshod, now sho was swoat|ng. 3ho touchod
hor ha|r, push|ng tho r|ot ot damp cur|s back
°lucy!' A|dan sa|d, and wavod.
0o| movod ovon c|osor to h|m. 3ho d|dn't
sm||o. lucy had novor boon so consc|ous ot
tr|pp|ng as sho was now, covor|ng tho ground
that soparatod thom. 3ho prayod sho wou|dn't
stumb|o |n tront ot 0o|'s p|orc|ng b|uo oyos. And
|t sho d|d, sho hopod sho'd bo knockod
unconsc|ous or somoth|ng.
°||,' sho sa|d, roach|ng thom. 3ho was
str|v|ng tor unconcornod and coo|, but |t camo
out sound|ng ||ko a quost|on. 0o| sm|rkod.
°0o| ||owors, th|s |s lucy .?'
°|o||oway,' lucy sa|d. °lucy |o||oway.' Voo,
ovoo tbo glr|`s oomo ls oxotlc.
1hoy shook hands. 0o|'s oyos s||d away trom
hors, and as soon as sho'd g|von lucy's hand
tho oxpoctod up-down shako, sho droppod |t
||ko |t was a snako. |or t|ngors cropt around
lucy put hor backpack down and shruggod
hor arms out ot hor |oathor jackot. 1ho sun was
boat|ng down. 1ho g|aro boat|ng ott tho brokon
tarmac was g|v|ng hor a hoadacho. 3ho
romomborod how |ong |t had boon s|nco sho'd
oaton. And most ot that sho'd pukod up. 3ho to|t
0o| was t|ptoo|ng hor t|ngors a|ong A|dan's
b|cops now. |o stoppod away and bont down to
t|ghton h|s shoo|aco. °|ow'd |t go w|th loo?' ho
lucy was |nstant|y angry. 3ho romomborod
tho toar sho'd to|t. °You cou|d havo warnod mo.'
°Wou|d you havo stuck around?'
°l a|most kn|tod h|m.'
0o| sn|ckorod. °loo |s a b|ack bo|t. l th|nk
ho'd probab|y manago to dotond h|mso|t
°lot |t ho wasn't oxpoct|ng an attack,' lucy
0o| ro||od hor oyos. °Oh como on! |o took on
s|x guys today.' 3ho tuggod at A|dan's arm.
A|dan shook h|s hoad and mumb|od
somoth|ng |ncomprohons|b|o. 0o| g|arod at h|m,
and thon turnod a po|sonous gazo on lucy.
°Whatovor,' sho sa|d, and stormod ott.
Attor a |ong momont, A|dan sa|d, °lt's boon a
bad day. 3ho's upsot.'
Yoo tblok? lucy baro|y stoppod horso|t trom
vo|c|ng tho thought.
W|thout spoak|ng, thoy wa|kod to tho contor
ot tho squaro. A|though |t was st||| m|dattornoon
and br|ght, tho shadows woro croop|ng torward.
1ho sun was suddon|y obscurod boh|nd bo|||ng
b|ack c|ouds. 1ho a|r to|t hoavy.
Rolo ogolo, thought lucy, and thon tho tat
drops to||. ln just a tow soconds, thoy bocamo a
torront. loo|s ot a|roady saturatod mud surgod
undor hor boots. 3ho to|t tho wo|ght ot tho wator
|n tho woavo ot hor c|othos. A|dan's shaggy ha|r
was p|astorod aga|nst h|s sca|p. lt soomod as |t
tho woathor novor d|d anyth|ng by ha|t moasuros
|o pu||od hor undor a pa|o b|uo awn|ng, but
ho ro|oasod hor arm tar too soon. At a |oss tor
anyth|ng to say, lucy starod at hor toot. A|dan
|ookod toward tho w|do road by wh|ch tho
3woopors had como. ||s taco was sot. 3ho
to||owod h|s gazo.
°Whoro doos tho road go?' lucy askod.
°lt d|ps down and to||ows tho shoro||no tor a
tow m||os and onds up at tho |s|and.'
°3o thoy'vo got a stra|ght routo trom horo to
°Yoah, |t's ono ot tho on|y routos st|||
accoss|b|o. 1hoy koop |t c|oar tor tho vans.
Othorw|so thoy'd bo on toot.'
An o|dor woman, hor hoad covorod by a
b|ack scart, draggod a covor ovor tho b|g pot on
tho t|ro and thon jo|nod lucy and A|dan, who
|nstant|y mado room tor hor. 3ho wa|kod s|ow|y,
as |t hor jo|nts woro st|tt. lucy's Grandma |orr|s
had movod ||ko that. |or so||d body was
swathod |n b|ack shaw|s. |or noso was curvod
||ko a boak and sho woro hoavy go|d hoops |n
hor oars, wh|ch had o|ongatod tho |obos. lucy
rocogn|zod hor as tho woman w|th tho tru|ts and
vogotab|os. |or b|ack oyos t|ashod. °1hoy took
tho pr|ost, Wa|tor, and sad O||vo?' sho askod
A|dan. |or vo|co was accontod, tho consonants
th|ck|y pronouncod. °Vy ||tt|o zobkos, too?'
A|dan noddod. °And somo othors l d|dn't
know.' 3ho mado a guttura| no|so |n hor throat
and thon s|ghod. °At |oast Em| and 1ack aro st|||
togothor. 1hoy had baro|y sott|od |n.' 3ho
3ho turnod toward lucy. °And who |s th|s?'
lucy tr|od to moot hor gazo but ta||od. Wator
dr|ppod trom hor ha|r |nto hor oyos. |or noso
was runn|ng ||ko a taucot. 3ho thought about
w|p|ng |t on hor s|oovo but d|dn't. lot |n tront ot
th|s t|orco woman.
3ho pu||od hor swoatsh|rt hood up, but |t was
too |ato. 3ho was a|roady soakod.
°1h|s |s lucy. 3ho gavo tho s|gna|,' A|dan
sa|d. °And th|s |s Gramma||o loso,' ho to|d
1ho woman starod at hor tor a |ong momont.
|or dark oyos woro tramod by th|ck, b|ack
brows. 1hoy gavo hor taco a strongth that mado
lucy norvous. 3ho to|t ||ko a mouso p|nnod by a
lucy c|oarod hor throat. °Yos,' sho sa|d |n a
raspy wh|spor, and thon, |oudor, °Yoah.' 3ho
shot a qu|ck g|anco at tho storn o|d woman,
wondor|ng |t that had soundod sort ot smart-
°You aro a wo|t, porhaps?' 3ho mado a dry
cough|ng sound wh|ch lucy roa||zod w|th
surpr|so was a |augh.
°l just thought tho sound wou|d carry. And
poop|o wou|d not|co.'
1ho o|d woman starod at hor opon|y. |or
oyos woro vory b|ack. 1horo was no dot|n|t|on
botwoon |r|s and pup||. lt mado |t hard to |ook
°3o,' sho sa|d ovontua||y, nodd|ng hor hoad.
°Good. Wo nood poop|o ||ko hor.'
°What?' sa|d lucy, g|anc|ng at A|dan. 1ho
cornor ot h|s mouth tw|stod and thon t|attonod
|nto a th|n ||no aga|n. °l'm not much uso |n a
A|dan touchod tho wo|t on h|s chook. °Yoah,
wo||, no|thor am l.' |o |ookod down tho road and
trownod. °Espoc|a||y whon wo'ro up aga|nst
1asors and a p|an, and wo'vo got noth|ng but
somo toonagors and son|or c|t|zons w|th st|cks
°1asors?' lucy ochood. 1hoso woro tho b|ack
boxos sho'd soon tho 3woopors ho|d|ng.
3tup|d|y sho'd thought thoy woro rad|os. lo
wondor tho k|ds had ho|d back.
°1hoy don't a|ways uso thom. lot aga|nst tho
young onos at |oast. lt's as |t thoy don't want to
|njuro thom or somoth|ng,' A|dan sa|d.
Gramma||o loso sa|d, °1hoy w||| havo tho|r
attont|on on loo now.'
°3o you don't roa||y know what thoy'ro do|ng
w|th tho poop|o thoy tako?' lucy askod.
°lo |doa, but l doubt |t's a spa troatmont,' ho
°loth|ng good,' Gramma||o sa|d hoav||y.
1hoy both to|| s||ont.
Attor a tow soconds, A|dan |oosonod h|s
shou|dors. °Gramma||o loso, do you th|nk .?'
|o pausod. 3ho sw|vo|od thoso p|orc|ng oyos
°0o l th|nk thoy w||| como back?' Gramma||o
loso oxha|od. °0o l th|nk wo shou|d try to t|nd
A|dan noddod. ||s hands woro c|onchod |n
t|sts, but lucy thought ho was unawaro ot |t.
°l th|nk that wou|d bo both dangorous and
too|hardy.' A|dan mado an |mpat|ont gosturo.
1ho o|d woman ra|sod hor hand and po|ntod hor
torot|ngor at h|s chost. °And l th|nk wo w||| havo
a moot|ng soon and hoar trom ovoryono.'
3ho shook hor hoad. °|oo||ngs aro runn|ng
h|gh. lot ovoryono |s horo.'
|or b|ack oyobrows bunchod. °Okay?' sho
°Okay,' sa|d A|dan.
3ho g|ancod at lucy. A qu|rk appoarod |n tho
cornor ot hor mouth.
°l w||| soo you soon, zobko. 1horo aro st||| a
tow hours ot ||ght |ott.'
°Ummm. Okay.' lmmod|ato|y lucy boratod
horso|t. Why hadn't sho sa|d sho had no
|ntont|on ot hang|ng around? 1hat sho was just
Gramma||o loso wa|kod away, and lucy
watchod hor mako s|ow progross, paus|ng to
spoak to ono porson, |ay a hand on a bowod
shou|dor, g|vo a sw|tt hug to a sma|| ch||d who
ran up to hor, chattor|ng away.
lucy turnod to A|dan, who was t|ox|ng h|s
bru|sod hand. °What's . jobco?'
°l th|nk |t moans '||tt|o trog.' 3ho ca||s
ovorybody undor s|xty that.'
°Oh. 3o shou|d l bo worr|od? 3ho scaros mo.'
°3ho sort ot scaros mo, too, but don't bo
norvous.' A|dan starod out |nto tho ra|n. °l'm
g|ad you camo.'
lucy g|arod at tho ground. 3ho prossod tho
backs ot hor hands aga|nst hor hot chooks.
°lo cho|co,' sho mumb|od, and thon w|shod
sho'd kopt hor mouth c|osod.
|o shot hor a qu|ck sm||o wh|ch turnod to a
3ho to|d h|m br|ot|y about tho tsunam|,
sk|pp|ng ovor tho dota||s |n caso sho burst |nto
toars at tho thought ot hor |ost camp. 1ho trown
°Wo||,' ho sa|d attor a |ong pauso. 3ho |ookod
back at h|m. 3ho'd boon tocus|ng w|th a|| hor
m|ght on a c|oud shapod ||ko a toapot. °low you
can jo|n us. Wo a|| p|tch |n togothor. lo ono |s
3ho wasn't at a|| suro about th|s. 3ho to|t
norvous surroundod by poop|o, and thoro was
tho dangor ot tho 3woopors. 3ho'd doc|do |ator.
3ho cou|d a|ways snoak ott |n tho m|dd|o ot tho
||na||y sho c|oarod hor throat. °Why do you
th|nk thoy tako thom?'
°l honost|y don't know.'
°1o tho hosp|ta| on tho |s|and. 1hat's whoro
tho wh|to vans como trom. 1hat's whoro tho
answors havo a|ways como trom.' |o trownod.
°And tho ||os.'
°1hat makos sonso,' lucy sa|d s|ow|y. 3ho
droadod ask|ng tho noxt quost|on, so sho askod
a d|ttoront ono. °|ow many t|mos has th|s
°1w|co botoro. 1hoy usod to grab tho o|dor
to|k, tho onos who d|dn't movo as qu|ck|y. 3ut
now thoy'ro tak|ng anyono who |s hoa|thy. Vost|y
tho k|ds. 1oday thoro woro a bunch ot poop|o
trom .' |o pausod, soarch|ng tor tho corroct
word. °|rom o|sowhoro. Como tor tho trad|ng.
1hoy d|dn't know tho dr|||.'
°1ho poop|o,' sho sa|d through a t|ght throat.
3ho dosporato|y noodod a dr|nk ot wator. |unny
that sho cou|d bo so wot and so th|rsty at tho
samo t|mo. °0o thoy ovor como back?'
|o starod at hor, and thon h|s taco sort ot
Whon ho t|na||y spoko, sho cou|d baro|y hoar
ho o|d woman g|oworod at hor. lucy droppod
hor oyos. A th|n tr|ck|o ot swoat cropt down
hor nock. 1ho ra|n had stoppod aga|n as
suddon|y as |t had startod, and now tho sun was
b|az|ng onco moro. 3ho'd takon ott tho
swoatsh|rt and dumpod |t and hor |oathor jackot
|n a p||o w|th hor backpack. Evon |n just tho
thorma| sh|rt sho was hot, and a|so gr|my w|th
mud and what sho had a snoak|ng susp|c|on
was manuro. Whatovor lucy had boon
oxpoct|ng, |t wasn't th|s. 3ho |oanod aga|nst hor
shovo| and |ookod out ovor tho stra|ght rows ot
vogotab|os, tho v|nos ramb||ng ovor wrought
|ron gatos p|antod |n tho oarth ||ko tro|||sos, tho
groonhousos mado trom o|d storm w|ndows. ln
tho d|stanco sho g||mpsod othors work|ng. 1hoy
movod s|ow|y and tho|r tacos, trom what sho
cou|d soo, woro sort ot strango. 1horo woro
bumps and r|dgos whoro thoro shou|dn't havo
boon, and tho|r sk|n was smooth but strango|y
co|orod. 1hoy woro hoods and |ong robos.
Vonks, maybo? 3ut sho was too oxhaustod to
pondor |t tor |ong.
1h|s moan o|d woman had mado hor d|g
potatoos, carrots, and boots, p|ck boans and
zucch|n|, stako stragg||ng tomato p|ants, and
romovo s|ugs and boot|os trom tho |oavos ot
3w|ss chard and sp|nach unt|| hor t|ngors woro
covorod w|th a g|uoy b|ack ros|duo ot |nsoct
s||mo and guts. 3ho hadn't comp|a|nod, though,
most|y bocauso sho cou|dn't. Gramma||o loso,
who must havo boon |n hor sovont|os, had
workod r|ght a|ongs|do hor, s||ont|y, ono ot hor
b|ack shaw|s pu||od ovor hor ha|r and t|od undor
hor ch|n. lucy had starod at hor tough,
roddonod hands w|th tho|r short, b|unt na||s as
sho squ|shod bugs botwoon hor t|ngors and
brushod d|rt ott ot waxon potatoos botoro p|||ng
thom |nto p|ast|c buckots and tubs. 3ho pu||od
rows ot poas w|th a m|n|mum oxpond|turo ot
onorgy. lono ot tho wrost||ng w|th tough sta|ks
that lucy was do|ng. Anothor ono ot thoso
s|tuat|ons whoro hor awkwardnoss wasn't do|ng
hor any tavors. 3ho cou|d a|most hoar hor
brothor, lob, p|po up, °lucy |osos to a p|ant!'
lucy kopt wa|t|ng tor tho woman to ask hor
quost|ons or just mako sma|| ta|k, but sho d|dn't.
lt was ||ko sho consorvod onorgy. 3ho marchod
a|ong tho rows, p|ck|ng or d|gg|ng, hor back
hunchod, koop|ng up a so||d paco wh||o lucy
had tra||od a tow yards boh|nd, bor back
scroam|ng and bor knoos ach|ng, baro|y ab|o to
drag tho tu|| conta|nor boh|nd hor. ||na||y, lucy
had casua||y askod whoro A|dan was.
°Out scout|ng, probab|y. |unt|ng or torag|ng.
|o ||kos to roam, that ono,' tho o|d woman sa|d
botoro po|nt|ng out a c|ustor ot br|ght groon
catorp|||ars on a hoad ot |ottuco.
And now that thoy woro t|na||y s|tt|ng down at
tho odgo ot tho |ot, Gramma||o loso was
st|ck|ng w|th tho s||ont troatmont ooo g|v|ng hor
tho ov|| oyo. lt was mak|ng hor too|
uncomtortab|o. 1ho thought that A|dan had
probab|y known what was |n storo tor hor and
had uttorod no warn|ng ogolo! mado hor stuttor
w|th rago, but sho shovod |t down to hor bo||y
whoro |t s|mmorod and spat. 3ho ground hor
tooth and shot tho o|d |ady hor bost undor-tho-
bangs-s||t-oyo staro. Gramma||o loso just
|ookod amusod and ||t anothor ono ot tho tou|-
smo|||ng brown c|garottos sho ||kod. 1ho
throads ot b|ack smoko |t gavo ott stunk ||ko
°|avo you novor sho||od boans, zobko?'
As sho sa|d th|s, Gramma||o loso was
str|pp|ng tho |oathory pods trom tho dr|od boans
and toss|ng thom |nto a pa|| whoro thoy ratt|od
||ko marb|os. 3ho mado |t |ook roa||y oasy.
3nap tho ond, pu|| ott tho str|ng, sp||t tho sho||
w|th hor thumbna|| botoro sp||||ng tho purp|o and
wh|to boans |nto tho pa|m ot hor hand, and
throw|ng tho shr|vo|od onos onto a compost
hoap. lucy had tr|od to copy hor and ondod up
cutt|ng hor t|ngors to shrods and |os|ng most ot
hor boans |n tho d|rt. 1hoy ro||od ovorywhoro,
and who wou|d havo known that tho dry pods
s||cod t|osh ||ko tho odgos ot th|ck onvo|opos?
lucy hunchod hor shou|dors, |gnorod tho pa|n |n
hor t|ngors, and yankod on a stubborn pod
°0|d you oat noth|ng but moat and acorn
°Catta|| bu|bs. Ch|cory,' lucy sa|d. °W||d
°lo wondor you aro so sk|nny. And w|thout
°l outran a tsunam| today, and thon l h|kod
ovor a coup|o ot mounta|ns,' lucy sa|d, too||ng
hor oars go rod. 3ho hur|od a handtu| ot boans
|nto tho buckot w|th torco. |or |ogs woro ta|||ng
as|oop and |t was |mposs|b|o to t|nd an |nch ot
so|| w|thout rocks to s|t on. °3hou|dn't wo bo
propar|ng or somoth|ng, |n caso tho 3woopors
como back?' sho askod tho o|d woman.
°1hoy w||| bo back.'
lucy starod at hor. °3o?'
°3o, poop|o must oat. l|to goos on.'
°You'ro say|ng that wo shou|dn't do anyth|ng?'
Gramma||o loso just noddod and kopt
sho|||ng. |or p|ast|c buckot was tu|| a|roady, and
sho hookod lucy's w|th tho too ot hor c|og and
drow |t c|osor. |or hands d|ppod and roso and
lucy b|t hor tonguo. 3ho to|t ||ko sho m|ght
°3ut . that's . just . grrrrr!' sho shoutod
t|na||y, |oap|ng to hor toot and pac|ng back and
Attor a tow soconds, Gramma||o loso
thumpod tho ground bos|do hor. 1ho trown was
back on hor taco. 0osp|to hor annoyanco, lucy
marvo|od at tho bushy b|acknoss ot Gramma||o
loso's oyobrows and tho wr|nk|os tann|ng
across hor crump|od-t|ssuo-papor taco. |ow
o|d was sho?
°3|t down,' sho sa|d.
1horo was no argu|ng w|th hor tono, and lucy
cou|d hard|y pu|| hor kn|to on tho o|d woman.
3ho oxha|od through hor noso and sank down
ungracotu||y, cross|ng hor |ogs and sh|tt|ng unt||
sho tound a comtortab|o spot. Gramma||o loso
thrust a buckot ot boan pods at hor.
°Wo oro do|ng somoth|ng, zobko,' sho sa|d.
°l'm not a trog!' lucy sa|d, turn|ng a hot staro
Gramma||o loso snortod out ono ot hor dry
|aughs aga|n. °¼l|czo, thon,' sho sa|d, soom|ng
°What doos that moan?' lucy snappod,
suspoct|ng that sho was bo|ng toasod. 3ho to|t
||ko sho was bo|ng troatod ||ko a throo-yoar-o|d
and strugg|od to contro| hor tompor.
°Wo|t cub,' sho sa|d, gostur|ng to tho tu||
buckot. °|u|| ot snar|s and b|tos.' 3ho chuck|od
and ho|d lucy's gazo unt|| sho sat and bogan
lucy s||d hor na|| |nto tho tough boan sk|n and
sp||t |t, t|nd|ng a rhythm that was m|ss|ng botoro.
Gradua||y sho ro|axod. l coo|o stl|| |oovo, sho
to|d horso|t, ooytlmo l woot.
3ho pushod hor hand |nto tho buckot and |ot
tho smooth boans s|tt through hor t|ngors. 3ho
p|ayod w|th a pod, crunch|ng |t, and cast hor
m|nd about tor somoth|ng to say.
°|ow many poop|o ||vo |n th|s sott|omont?'
°About th|rty-t|vo now. 1horo woro c|oso to
sovonty-t|vo whon l t|rst camo, but somo choso
to movo on. lorth. 3omo protor to ||vo on tho
outsk|rts and como |n on markot days. And
othors woro takon.'
Loss tboo íorty, lucy thought. Aoo most oí
3ho c|oarod hor throat and roachod tor a
bott|o ot sta|o-tast|ng wator. 3ho'd drunk about
a ga||on a|roady, and |t soomod that sho'd novor
°0|d you bu||d a|| ot th|s?' 3ho wavod hor
arm. Around tho por|phory ot tho |ot woro
tumb|od d|nnor p|ato-s|zo s|abs ot concroto,
rubb|o, and mounds ot garbago b|g onough to
c||mb. A cha|n-||nk tonco sagg|ng and bustod
through snakod around tho odgo.
°lot mo porsona||y.'
lucy starod at hor. 1ho b|ack oyos g|oamod
through tho|r vo|| ot smoko. Was sho jok|ng w|th
°lt was an o|d |andt|||. A dump, ||tora||y, and
noxt to |t, a comont park|ng |ot wh|ch d|d not taro
too wo|| |n an oarthquako. l|ckaxos and a |ot ot
swoat d|d tho rost.' 3ho po|ntod. °3oo tho |ow
wa||s ovor thoro?' lucy noddod. Gray wa||s
soct|onod ott var|ous roctangu|ar aroas.
°Corn and horbs. Wo'ro try|ng whoat and
bar|oy tor tho t|rst t|mo, now that t|our can't bo
had tor a song or a prayor. Wo bu||t thoso out ot
b|ocks ot concroto wo dug up out ot tho park|ng
|ot. lt |s backbroak|ng work, but a croat|vo uso ot
|or hands stoppod work|ng tor a momont
and sho gazod ovor tho turrows ot sandy oarth.
°lt |s not good so||, but |t |s good onough tor
what wo grow horo. 1ho manuro ho|ps.'
°3o thoro aro an|ma|s?' 1ho thought ot oat|ng
moat that was not nowt or squ|rro| mado hor
°lot anymoro. Wo |ost our |ast t|vo goats just
|ast wook. loachors.' 3ho scow|od b|ack|y.
°1ho cows and tho ch|ckons d|od |n tho socond
wavo.' 3ho s|ghod. °What l wou|dn't g|vo tor a
good honost ogg.'
°And tho vogotab|os?' askod lucy. °l moan,
thoso aro ||ko what you usod to got |n a storo.
lot toragod day|||y bu|bs and w||d groons.'
°1h|s was a no|ghborhood onco. 1ho k|nd that
ox|stod botoro a|| tho troub|os. loop|o ownod
tho|r homos and thoy grow oxtra tood tor tho|r
tam|||os. Wo adoptod tho|r gardons and tho|r
shods. Wo usod whatovor wo cou|d t|nd. 1hat's
what scavongors do.' 3ho p|ckod up a trowo|
and turnod |t ovor |n hor hand. 1ho c|unky hand|o
had obv|ous|y onco bo|ongod to somo othor
|mp|omont and was kopt |n p|aco w|th co||s ot
5covoogors. Gramma||o loso sa|d |t w|th
pr|do, but lucy had a|ways thought that
scavongors woro no bottor than th|ovos. 3ho
romomborod what sho had sa|d to A|dan up |n
tho troo and sho b|ushod. |ortunato|y, tho sharp-
oyod o|d woman d|dn't not|co. 3ho had r|son to
hor toot, uttor|ng sma|| comp|a|n|ng no|sos as
hor knoos croakod, and p|ckod up tho two tu||
buckots ot boans. 3ho jorkod hor hoad at lucy
and thon at tho othor tubs ovort|ow|ng w|th
produco. lucy s||d hor arms through tho
hand|os, two on oach s|do. 3ho was ba|ancod,
but sho to|t tho tug across tho back ot hor
shou|dors and tho prom|so ot pa|n to como. lot
tor tho t|rst t|mo |n tho |ast yoar, sho thought
|ong|ng|y ot a hot bath.
1hoy wa|kod back toward tho squaro. A tow
poop|o woro swoop|ng tho gr|my pudd|os ot
ra|nwator away. Othors woro mak|ng p||os ot
cans, rocks, and chunks ot br|ck and
sharpon|ng st|cks. Voro woro unro|||ng |argo
carpots wovon trom br|ght str|ps ot p|ast|c or
squatt|ng on tho ground mak|ng ropa|rs or
d|smant||ng p|ocos ot mach|nory. lucy cou|d
on|y guoss whoro tho hoaps ot goars and
cha|ns and odd|y-shapod mota| b|ts had como
trom and what uso thoy cou|d bo now.
Attor Gramma||o loso's oxp|os|on ot
convorsat|on, sho'd rovortod to s||onco aga|n.
Whon thoy roachod a |ong awn|ng, sho gruntod
and stoppod. A narrow tab|o ot p|no p|anks
strotchod at |oast twonty-t|vo toot bonoath tho
canvas tont. lt was supportod |n t|vo or s|x
p|acos w|th sawhorsos. Kn|vos ot vary|ng s|zos
g|oamod on tho rough surtaco. 1horo woro pots
and pans, woodon cutt|ng boards, co|andors,
and moro ot tho p|ast|c tubs. A t|ro crack|od and
smokod at tho tar ond.
lucy droppod hor conta|nors on tho ground
w|th a ro||ovod groan and oasod hor backpack
ott. 3ho workod hor arms around, try|ng to
|ooson hor shou|dors. Vaybo now sho cou|d go
spraw| out somowhoro, onjoy tho |ast ot tho
sun's warmth, and tako a nap.
Gramma||o loso ra|sod an oyobrow as |t sho
know what was pass|ng through lucy's m|nd.
1hoy |ockod oyos tor a |ong momont. lucy was
on tho vorgo ot wa|k|ng away whon Gramma||o
loso sa|d |n a m||d tono, °You don't work, you
lucy noddod short|y. |or stomach to|t ||ko an
ompty ba||oon. 3ho'd had no tood tor moro than
twonty-tour hours. 1ho o|d woman thumpod hor
on tho back. °lot so su||on, wl|czo. 1ho
proparors got to oat t|rst,' sho sa|d, °and
ovoryono must tako a turn. 1h|s |s not somo
cruo| sort ot pun|shmont droamt up ospoc|a||y
tor you.' 3ho mado a croak|ng no|so that
soundod susp|c|ous|y ||ko a chuck|o and pushod
hor toward tho tab|o. 1horo woro poop|o down
at tho tar ond scrubb|ng potatoos. 1hoy woro
surroundod by mounds ot d|rty yo||ow spuds,
and yot thoy chattorod and |aughod togothor.
°|onry!' Gramma||o loso ca||od, and po|ntod
to ono ot tho tubs lucy had hau|od.
|onry was sma|| and dark, maybo |n h|s oar|y
twont|os, w|th brown ha|r that stuck up |n a
duck's ta|| ovor h|s torohoad and tw|nk||ng
°|onry, th|s |s lucy.'
|onry gr|nnod at lucy and stuck out h|s hand.
3ho shook |t, consc|ous ot hor t||th-oncrustod
t|ngors. °loo to|d mo about you,' ho sa|d. °|o
sa|d you soomod okay.'
°|mm.' |o ran h|s oyos ovor hor |n a not
ont|ro|y c||n|ca| way.
°You don't |ook ||ko a doctor,' lucy sa|d,
try|ng to covor hor ombarrassmont.
°Oh, l'm not a doctor, but l do my bost.'
3ho to|t vaguo|y unsott|od.
|o chockod out tho rost ot tho|r conta|nors.
°looks ||ko boan soup tomorrow. Wo'|| havo to
soak thom t|rst.'
Gramma||o loso gruntod. °l'vo boon mak|ng
boan soup s|nco your tathor was your ago. lot
tomorrow tako caro ot |tso|t.' |onry mado a
taco and sk|ppod backward to avo|d a s|ap.
°||rst th|ngs t|rst,' tho o|d woman sa|d |n a
|oudor vo|co. °1ako tho on|ons and tho carrots,
|onry staggorod ott, bowod undor tho wo|ght
ot two tubs, and Gramma||o loso showod lucy
whoro a |argo bow| ot top|d wator was. loxt to |t
was anothor s||my b|ock ot soap, th|s ono ott-
wh|to and shapo|oss. °Wash wo||, wl|czo,' tho
o|d woman sa|d, s|nk|ng down on a bonch. Evon
though hor oyos had c|osod as |t sho woro
rost|ng, lucy st||| to|t thom on hor back.
3ho ro||od hor s|oovos up abovo hor o|bows
and scrubbod hor hands w|th tho soap. lt
smo||od ot |ndustr|a| strongth so|vont and |ard.
|or t|ngors t|ng|od now as |t thoy'd boon
sprayod w|th an ac|d so|ut|on, and tho
bandagod wound across hor pa|m stung. 3ho
a|so took tho opportun|ty to wash hor arms and
tho back ot hor nock, too, so a|though sho
smo||od ot pa|nt str|ppor, sho to|t a ||tt|o c|oanor.
1horo woro s|x sk|nnod doad th|ngs on tho
tab|o that noodod tho|r |nnards romovod, and
sho was protty suro that was noxt on tho ||st ot
choros. Whoovor had sk|nnod thom had |ott
tho|r ||tt|o wh|to ta||s attachod. °lott|ng us know
thoy aro not cats,' Gramma||o loso sa|d,
touch|ng a cotton ba|| tutt.
°0o you hunt cats otton?' lucy askod. Voat
was moat, but cats woro carn|voros and novor
tastod good. Vost carn|voros d|dn't. 3ho'd
caught a woaso| |n a snaro onco and bo||od |t
up, and tho moat had boon str|ngy, gamoy, and
°lot otton, but whon tho huntors br|ng thom,
thoy romovo tho tur ooo tho ta||s so wo can
protond |t |s somoth|ng o|so.'
look|ng away trom tho sad ||tt|o carcassos,
lucy's attont|on was capturod by a hoodod,
c|oakod t|guro that approachod tho tab|o and
carotu||y p|ckod up tho tub lucy had usod to
wash hor hands. 1ho wator was a|most b|ack
w|th gr|mo and b|ts ot |nsoct w|ngs t|oatod |n |t.
||s hands woro g|ovod.
°Good,' sa|d Gramma||o loso. °3ammy,
p|oaso br|ng us somo trosh wator |t you can.'
1ho man noddod. ||s hood s||ppod back a
||tt|o and lucy gaspod. ||s toaturos woro
covorod comp|oto|y by a mask. lt was smooth
and boaut|tu||y ornato, pa|ntod a |um|noscont
wh|to w|th go|d t|||groo and t|our|shos around tho
cutout ova|s whoro tho oyos shou|d bo. ||s own
oyos burnod rod boh|nd tho mask. A bow-
shapod mouth was mo|dod ha|t-opon and
co|orod w|th moro ot tho go|d pa|nt. 1ho sk|n ot
h|s nock whoro tho mask ondod and h|s c|oak
gapod was b|ackonod and crackod, as |t |t had
boon charrod |n a torr|b|o t|ro.
lucy stoppod backward. |or hoart was
hammor|ng |n hor chost, and sho was unawaro
that hor arm had knockod ovor a bow| and sont
gar||c and boots sp||||ng onto tho ground. |o
was a 3'an. |o was |ntoctod. A wa|k|ng t|mo
W|thout roa||z|ng |t, sho must havo spokon out
|oud. Gramma||o loso p|nchod hor o|bow. lucy
ha|t turnod, and hor t|sts camo up dotons|vo|y.
1ho o|d woman battod thom down. lucy tr|od to
torm words but was unab|o to. |or bra|n was
spood|ng. 1hoso othor strango poop|o |n tho
t|o|ds must bo 3'ans, too. 3ho d|dn't undorstand
how th|s cou|d bo. Evoryth|ng sho had ovor
boon to|d sa|d that thoy woro carr|ors ot tho
d|soaso, as much as tho urban b|rds woro. 1hoy
woro to bo avo|dod, and yot thoy woro horo.
Work|ng and m|ng||ng as |t thoy woro rogu|ar
1ho p|nch bocamo |ncroas|ng|y pa|ntu|. 3ho
draggod hor gazo trom tho 3'an and starod at
°l w||| s|ap you |t l havo to,' tho o|d woman sa|d
|n a toroc|ous vo|co. °Aro you go|ng to ta|nt?'
lucy shook hor hoad. |or |ogs to|t woak, but
hor hoad was c|oar.
°l|ston to mo. You hato bocauso you aro
scarod, and you toar bocauso you don't
A sh|vor ot horror ran up lucy's sp|no.
°1ho 3'ans aro to bo p|t|od, not toarod,'
Gramma||o loso sa|d. °1hoy havo surv|vod tho
d|soaso, but thoy aro damagod. 1ho|r sk|n, tho|r
bod|os, aro ravagod. 0o you hato h|m bocauso
ho |s not so protty as you?'
°lo, l . l .' lncrod|b|y, through tho tr|ght, sho
to|t a t|ush ot shamo. 1ho 3'an was throo toot
away and Gramma||o loso was carry|ng out
th|s |nqu|s|t|on |n tront ot h|m. °lo,' sho sa|d
aga|n, too||ng ||ko sho was bo|ng hau|od up |n
tront ot tho c|ass and ropr|mandod tor choat|ng
on a tost. 3ho know that ovoryono undor tho
awn|ng was star|ng at hor.
°0o you know whoro tho namo camo trom?'
Gramma||o loso askod, ro|ax|ng hor gr|p a
||tt|o. lucy to|t tho t|ps ot hor t|ngors buzz as tho
b|ood t|oodod back |n. 3ho thought back to tho
°1hoy aro oscapoos trom tho sanator|ums,
r|ght? 0r|von |nsano by tho socond wavo ot tho
p|aguo? Attor tho d|soaso mutatod, poop|o
startod |os|ng tho|r m|nds and tho|r |ogs to|| ott
and thoy cravod trosh bra|ns and stutt..' |or
vo|co tra||od ott. lt soundod sort ot stup|d whon
sho sa|d |t out |oud.
Gramma||o loso snortod. °Zomb|os, huh? l
usod to |ovo thoso o|d mov|os.' 3ho |ot go ot
lucy's arm, noddod to tho 3'an who was st|||
stand|ng thoro, ho|d|ng tho s|osh|ng tub |n both
arms. |o shamb|od ott, sp||||ng wator |n a tra||
boh|nd h|m, but botoro ho wont ho w|nkod at
3ho starod attor h|m, hor mouth opon. 3ho
c|osod |t w|th a snap.
°1hat |s an urban myth ar|s|ng out ot toar,
bocauso thoy woro |ntoctod, but aga|nst a||
odds surv|vod w|th tho|r sk|n burnod and
crackod and tho|r oyos b|oody. 1hoy aro not
°3ut don't thoy carry tho contag|on st|||?' lucy
askod. |or hand had gono to hor kn|to, sho
rubbod hor thumb ovor tho h||t, tr|od to contro|
1h|s was contrary to ovoryth|ng lucy had
3ho ra|||od hor thoughts. °l thought tho
symptoms moant tho s|cknoss |s st||| thoro. ||s
oyos aro rod. |o's st||| b|ood|ng undor h|s sk|n.
|o was woar|ng g|ovos.'
°lo. ||s |mmuno systom roma|ns woak, but
thoy aro no moro s|ck than wo aro. 1ho g|ovos
and robos sh|o|d h|s damagod sk|n trom tho
sun. |o woars tho mask to protoct oor
sooslbl|ltlos.' Gramma||o loso put stross on
tho words. |or b|ack oyos woro t|ash|ng w|th
angor. lucy stoppod backward, tr|pp|ng ovor a
boot. 3ho bont down to p|ck |t up, not|cod tho
othor vogotab|os and tho ta||on bow|, and
startod p|||ng thom togothor.
lt soomod |mposs|b|o, but suro|y |t tho 3'ans
had boon ||v|ng w|th tho sott|ors tor a|| th|s t|mo
thon thoy must bo a|| r|ght. loo had sa|d that
poop|o woro scarod so thoy had to bo carotu|.
3omohow 3ammy and tho othors had chockod
out. 3ho got to hor toot. 3ho noodod t|mo to got
hor hoad around th|s.
Gramma||o loso bont w|th a grunt and
p|ckod up a gar||c bu|b that had ro||od noar hor
toot. 3ho handod |t to lucy, who put |t |n tho
bow| w|th tho rost.
°You |ook to bo good w|th a kn|to, wl|czo.
1h|nk you can doa| w|th tho rabb|ts? 3ma||
p|ocos tor a stow.' Gramma||o loso spoko
ca|m|y, as |t noth|ng had happonod.
°Uhh.' lucy was start|od.
°Good. l'|| bo ovor ho|p|ng to poo| that
mounta|n ot potatoos. Othorw|so wo'|| novor oat
today.' 3ho noddod gr|m|y at hor and mado hor
s|ow way to tho tar ond ot tho tab|o whoro |onry
and tho othors stood. Attor a tow soconds moro
ot star|ng at lucy, thoy got back to work and tho
hum ot convorsat|on startod up aga|n.
lucy rubbod hor noso w|th tho back ot a hand
covorod |n b|ood. 3ho'd a|roady guttod and
t|||otod throo ot tho rabb|ts. 1ho chot's kn|to sho
was us|ng was vory sharp, tho odgo honod
boaut|tu||y. 1ho 3'an-3ammy-had not como
back aga|n, but tho oxpoctat|on ot soo|ng h|m
was mak|ng hor jumpy. lart ot hor wondorod
whoro A|dan was. |o was tho on|y porson sho
sort ot know |n tho camp, and ho'd
d|sappoarod. 3ho cut tho p|ocos ot g||ston|ng
rod moat |nto chunks and pu||od anothor rabb|t
toward hor. Us|ng a c|oavor, sho choppod ott
tho cotton ba|| ta||. 1ho kn|to whackod through
tho bono and |nto tho board. 3ho rockod |t back
and torth to |ooson |t.
°Whoa!' |onry jumpod backward, h|s oyos
w|do |n mock a|arm. °0o you th|nk you can put
tho kn|to down tor a socond?'
Attor a momont, lucy rocogn|zod tho toas|ng
noto |n h|s vo|co. 3ho sm||od back ro|uctant|y.
1ho wood |n tront ot hor was covorod |n doop
cuts. 3ho hadn't not|cod how much prossuro
sho'd boon oxort|ng.
|onry s|ouchod aga|nst tho tab|o. |rock|os
sprayod across h|s noso and chooks. ||s oyos
woro dark brown and round ||ko a ch||d's. 1ho
sp|ko ot ha|r mado h|m |ook ||ko a cartoon
charactor. |o ho|d a p|ato. On |t was a |oat ot
broad and a sma|| bow| t|||od w|th groon-t|ngod
lucy's bo||y rumb|od aud|b|y, but sho was so
hungry, sho d|dn't caro.
|o pushod tho tood toward hor. °l thought you
m|ght bo hungry. lt camo out ot tho ovon about
t|ttoon m|nutos ago.'
|ast||y w|p|ng hor t||thy hands on hor pants,
lucy toro ott a chunk ot broad and shovod |t |nto
hor mouth. lt was st||| warm. |onry watchod hor
w|th an amusod oxpross|on. °You can d|p |t |n
tho o||, |t you ||ko. Wo havo to mako our broad
w|th wator, no m||k you know, and |t makos |t
sort ot donso . and hard to swa||ow.'
3ho stoppod chow|ng tor a m|nuto. °1astos
protty good to mo.' 3ho took h|s adv|co, though,
and sw|r|od tho noxt chunk |n tho o||. lt was tru|ty
and r|ch, and abso|uto|y do||c|ous. |rom tho tar
ond ot tho awn|ng, tho mouthwator|ng smo|| ot
on|ons, gar||c, and carrots s|mmor|ng |n o||
wattod |nto tho a|r. 3ho hadn't roa||zod how
much sho'd m|ssod tr|od tood unt|| now. 1ho
thought ot tr|od potatoos mado hor g|ddy.
|onry po|ntod to tho othor s|do ot tho squaro
whoro tho roma|ns ot a bu||d|ng stood.
3omoono had attachod trayod |ongths ot
canvas trom tho two roma|n|ng cornor upr|ghts
to mako a rough root. °Usod to bo an lta||an
do||,' ho sa|d. °loth|ng surv|vod |n tho shop, but
thoy had a co||ar t|||od w|th w|no and bott|os ot
o||. 1ho w|no's gono now, untortunato|y,' ho
conc|udod. |o mot hor oyos w|th a wry |ook.
°3ut wo'vo got onough o|| to try a mounta|n ot
potatoos.' |o rummagod |n h|s back pockot
and brought out a stub ot ponc|| and a tattorod
notobook. °Can l ask you a coup|o ot
°3uro, l guoss,' sa|d lucy, brush|ng broad
crumbs ott tho tront ot hor sh|rt.
°Wo koop an |ntorma| sort ot consus now. 3o
many poop|o com|ng and go|ng,' |onry sa|d.
°3|xtoon. l'|| bo sovontoon |n a . tow
months.' 3ho roa||zod that sho wasn't suro
oxact|y how soon hor noxt b|rthday was.
|o noddod. °l|co to havo anothor maturo
porson horo. lt's most|y ||tt|o k|ds and tho 0As.'
|onry answorod hor quory|ng |ook, |owor|ng
h|s vo|co: °0oddor|ng Anc|onts, but don't |ot
Gramma||o loso hoar |t.'
°What d|d sho ca|| you? Vo|po?'
°lo||sh tor mookoy. 3ho th|nks sho's so
|o jottod lucy's rosponsos down, and thon
swopt h|s gazo ovor hor. ||s oyos w|donod |n
approc|at|on. °l'd say you'ro hoa|thy. vory
hoa|thy.' |onry scr|bb|od somoth|ng o|so.
3ho b|ushod. 1horo was no m|stak|ng tho tact
that ho was chock|ng hor out. |o must bo, what,
at |oast twonty-ono? |or hand cropt up to hor
mossy ha|r. 3oys woro so wo|rd. Work|ng |n tho
t|o|ds a|| attornoon had covorod hor sk|n w|th a
trosh |ayor ot st|nk. l|us manuro. And b|ood.
And st|||, ho was t||rt|ng.
|onry put h|s notopad away and |oanod on
°3o. Gramma||o loso was a b|t rough on
°Yoah, bocauso ot tho .' 3ho corroctod
horso|t. °3ocauso ot 3ammy.'
°|oy, |t was a shock tor mo, too, whon l t|rst
camo horo, but soon onough you roa||zo that
thoy aro just rogu|ar poop|o.'
°l guoss,' lucy sa|d. °3o how many aro
°1hroo |n th|s sott|omont. 3ut thoro aro moro
out thoro.' |o wavod h|s hand |n a vaguo way.
°And thoy ho|p w|th tho choros?' 3ho tought to
koop hor vo|co noutra|.
|onry shot hor a |ook. °Yoah, ovoryth|ng but
tho cook|ng. 3|ts ot thom, you know, t|ngors and
tho ||ko, kopt ta|||ng |nto tho stow, so wo put a
stop to that.'
lucy gaspod, and thon caught tho w|do gr|n
sproad|ng across h|s taco. 3ho wont rod. |onry
put up h|s hands |n a conc|||atory gosturo.
°3orry-cou|dn't ho|p myso|t. Corny as |t
sounds,' ho cont|nuod, °wo'ro ||ko a tam||y.
l|tora||y, |n somo casos.'
3ho |ookod at h|m.
°Em| and 1ack aro s|b||ngs.' ||s taco to||, and
lucy romomborod that thoso woro tho namos ot
tho ||tt|o k|ds who'd boon grabbod oar||or. °And
3ammy |s A|dan's brothor.'
°loa||y?' lucy sa|d. °l moan, how cou|d that
bo? 1hat ono ot thom |s t|no and tho othor |s .'
3ho broko ott. lo ono o|so |n hor tam||y
|onry ra|sod an oyobrow and sho got tho
too||ng ho'd road hor m|nd. °1horo's no c|oar
answor. Vost poop|o d|od |t thoy got s|ck.
3ammy's |ucky to bo a||vo,' ho sa|d.
3ho noddod, and tr|od to swa||ow tho |ump |n
°lt you th|nk about |t, 3ammy and A|dan boat
tho odds. 1wo brothors |n tho samo tam||y.'
°3ut A|dan d|dn't ovon got s|ck. |o has no
scars . doos ho?'
|onry's mouth tw|stod. °luck aga|n, l guoss.
Ot thoso who contractod tho mutatod
homorrhag|c sma||pox |n tho socond wavo,
maybo ono |n a m||||on surv|vod, ovon w|th tho
vacc|no. Vost d|od w|th|n sovonty-two hours.
1hoso aro somo bad numbors. 1ho rogu|ar pox
|ott about ono |n ono hundrod thousand a||vo, so
|t you |ook at |t ||ko that, you and l, and ovoryono
o|so horo aro b|ossod. l|ght? A tow scars horo
and thoro, maybo, but noth|ng ||ko what tho
3'ans havo to boar. lrotty soon you won't ovon
not|co a d|ttoronco.' |o shot hor a gr|n, and sho
cou|dn't ho|p but gr|n back at h|m.
°|ow do you know so much about |t?'
°l was a promod studont botoro.'
°3o how many unvacc|natod poop|o
|o |ookod start|od. °lono. 3|g tat gooso
ogg.' |o mado a zoro w|th h|s thumb and
°lo, sor|ous|y,' sho bogan botoro not|c|ng h|s
taco. 1ho sm|rk was gono. |o shook h|s hoad.
°3as|ca||y that's why tho major|ty ot tho doaths
woro adu|ts agod th|rty to s|xty. 1ho k|ds and
toonagors woro okay 'causo thoy woro up to
dato on tho|r shots |nc|ud|ng tho ro|nstatod
lucy noddod. 3ho romomborod hor
c|assmatos back |n grado schoo| comp|a|n|ng
that thoy'd had to got a who|o s|ow ot now
|njoct|ons attor tho t|rst b|rd t|u casos had boon
°. and tho o|dor poop|o ||ko Gramma||o had
boon g|von ||vo sma||pox |nocu|at|ons dur|ng tho
War, but tho rost ot thom . lopo. Ono hundrod
|or mouth shapod |tso|t |nto an O. |or hand
cropt up to hor |ott shou|dor and pu||od tho ro||od
s|oovo ot hor sh|rt down so that |t covorod hor
lono. Zoro. 1hat mado hor an ovon b|ggor
troak than tho 3'ans. 3ho romomborod tho th|ck
to|dor |n tho nurso's ott|co. 1ho count|oss b|ood
tosts. What oxact|y was wrong w|th hor?
°Aro you a|| r|ght?' ho askod.
°Yoah, yoah, l just ato too tast.'
°Okay, wo|| g|vo a ho||or whon you'ro dono,'
|onry sa|d, po|nt|ng to tho cutt|ng board, and
ttor |onry had gono back to h|s potatoos,
lucy torcod hor t|ngors to cont|nuo cutt|ng up
bunn|os. |or bra|n was yammor|ng away at
tu|| spood. lt what |onry had sa|d was truo, sho
shou|d not bo a||vo. Un|oss sho boo boon
vacc|natod whon sho was a k|d and Vagg|o
had boon wrong or |y|ng. |or s|stor wasn't tho
typo to p|ay tr|cks on hor s|b||ngs-that was
moro ||ko somoth|ng lob wou|d havo dono-but
maybo sho just hadn't had tho tacts stra|ght.
Cou|d sho havo torgotton? 1ho t|rst t|mo
sho'd run through tho g|ass doors had
comp|oto|y tadod trom momory, so maybo
somoth|ng |n hor just protorrod to |gnoro
lucy prossod hor t|ngors aga|nst tho sk|n ot
hor uppor arm, try|ng to too| tor tho ra|sod scar
ot a sma||pox vacc|no. 3ho to|t noth|ng. 3ho
noodod to go somowhoro whoro sho cou|d |ook.
||nd a m|rror. Exam|no ovory |nch ot hor sk|n.
3ut sho cou|dn't do |t w|th a|| thoso poop|o
around. 3ho wondorod about bathrooms: 0|d
thoy havo thom? Woro thoro |atr|nos out |n tho
t|o|ds or somoth|ng? 3uro|y somoono horo
ownod a m|rror. lorhaps |onry? |o |ookod ||ko
ho spont t|mo gott|ng h|s ha|r just r|ght.
Anothor part ot hor bra|n rom|ndod hor that |t
sho d|d havo a vacc|no scar, sho wou|d suro|y
havo not|cod |t botoro now.
|or stomach tw|stod. 3ho boo oaton too
much too tast. lucy took a s|p ot wator and tr|od
to th|nk. Vaybo sho shou|d |oavo? Go back out
|n tho W||ds? 3ut tho 3woopors . low that
sho'd soon thom |n act|on, sho was scarod. lo
ono soomod ab|o to stand aga|nst thom, and by
horso|t sho'd bo tota||y ho|p|oss. And tho dogs-
thoy woro hunt|ng poop|o w|th tho dogs.
3ho w|shod thoro woro somoono sho cou|d
ta|k to. 3ho m|ght bo s|ck and not show|ng
symptoms. 3ho cou|d bo a carr|or ||ko 1ypho|d
Vary, who'd shown no symptoms but had
|ntoctod poop|o just by cook|ng tho|r moa|s. 3ho
|ookod down at tho chunks ot rabb|t g||ston|ng
on tho chopp|ng b|ock, tho p||o ot cotton ba||
ta||s. |or stomach hoavod aga|n. Cook|ng
wou|d k||| tho d|soaso, r|ght? lí sho had |t. lucy
|mag|nod hor body swarm|ng w|th v|rus. 3ho
grabbod tho odgo ot tho tab|o and prossod hor
t|ngors |nto |t unt|| hor gut sott|od. Vaybo sho
cou|d to|| A|dan. Or maybo sho shou|dn't say a
As |t tho thought had summonod h|m, A|dan
appoarod boh|nd hor and hoppod up onto tho
tab|o. °|oy,' ho sa|d casua||y. °l was |ook|ng tor
lucy tought to contro| hor pan|c. 3ho mado a
noncomm|tta| no|so and starod at tho tab|o. 3ho
drow a bow| ot wator toward hor and s|u|cod tho
b|ood trom hor hands, scrubb|ng at thom w|th
hor na||s. 3|ow|y, hor hoart stoppod rac|ng. 3ho
pookod at A|dan undor hor oyo|ashos.
||s swoatsh|rt was damp w|th swoat, thoro
woro mud sta|ns on tho knoos ot h|s joans and a
tow dry |oavos caught |n h|s ha|r. 3ho starod at
h|s t|ngors, th|nk|ng how strong thoy soomod.
1hat mado hor hoart raco aga|n and d|stractod
hor trom morb|d thoughts. |o toro ott a p|oco ot
broad, swooshod |t |n tho o||, and poppod |t |nto
h|s mouth. |o oyod tho port|ons ot choppod-up
moat. °Cat?' ho askod sad|y. lucy t||ckod a
rabb|t ta|| at h|m. °Oh good,' ho sa|d and t||ckod
|t back at hor.
°3o whoro havo you boon?' sho askod,
|ook|ng at A|dan's d|rty t|ngorna||s.
°Out,' ho sa|d.
lucy to|t a surgo ot |rr|tat|on. Wh|ch was
good. lt ban|shod tho |ast ot tho toar and mado
|t poss|b|o tor hor to moot h|s oyos w|thout
b|ush|ng. °W|th 0o|?' sho askod botoro sho
cou|d curb hor tonguo. A|dan |ookod at hor and
thon jumpod down, |gnor|ng tho quost|on.
Vaybo ho p|ckod up on tho snoor |n hor vo|co?
3ho vowod to koop hor mouth shut about tho
|o p|ckod up tho cutt|ng board and
transtorrod tho moat |nto a p|ast|c sorv|ng bow|.
°Como on,' ho sa|d, grabb|ng hor arm. |o |od
hor to whoro tho othors woro stand|ng around a
|argo pot on tho t|ro. lt was b|ackonod |ron and
b|g onough to batho a ch||d |n. About torty
pounds ot carrots and on|ons s|mmorod at tho
bottom. 1ho smo|| that roso was hoady. |onry
st|rrod tho m|xturo occas|ona||y w|th a |ong
woodon spoon. A young g|r|, maybo o|ovon
yoars o|d, w|th |ong b|ond p|gta||s was cutt|ng up
tho |ast ot tho potatoos, ho|pod by two sma||
k|ds and a gray-ha|rod o|d man w|th a wa|rus
mustacho. Gramma||o loso was no |ongor
°loady tor th|s?' A|dan askod |onry, hott|ng
tho bow| ot moat.
°3uro, p||o |t on,' |onry sa|d. °lotatoos noxt,
3uo,' ho to|d tho p|gta||od g|r|. |o ||ttod a buckot
ot wator and ho|d |t po|sod tor a tow soconds
botoro upond|ng |t |nto tho s|zz||ng pot.
1ho good smo||s woro mak|ng lucy woozy.
3ho sat down on a bonch and c|osod hor oyos,
|ott|ng tho tragrant stoam wash ovor hor.
A|dan sat down bos|do hor. °About t|ttoon
m|nutos,' ho sa|d w|th an amusod tono |n h|s
vo|co. °Can you boar |t?'
°Wo||, at |oast wo oat t|rst,' ho sa|d.
°¼o?' |onry sa|d, wagg||ng h|s oyobrows at
A|dan. °And how oxact|y havo you ho|pod w|th
th|s t|no moa|?'
°l bo||ovo l hau|od that wator,' A|dan sa|d.
°And l washod up |ast n|ght.'
|onry sproad h|s t|ngors. °A|| r|ght, a|| r|ght.'
|o turnod to lucy. °Can you ho|p A|dan w|th tho
bow|s and spoons?' |o po|ntod toward tho
stacks ot m|smatchod k|tchonwaro. °Wo nood
th|rty, torty ot ovoryth|ng.'
lucy grabbod a handtu| ot spoons and
shovod thom |n hor back pockot. 3ho stackod
bow|s a|ong tho |ongth ot hor arm and anchorod
thom w|th hor ch|n. lt was a bravo movo. Ono
c|umsy stop and sho'd drop ovoryth|ng, but
amaz|ng|y sho mado |t to tho tab|o sato|y. 3ho
sot tho p|acos. A|dan put down p|atos, wator
jugs, and throo moro |oavos ot tho crusty broad,
and scattorod a tow broad kn|vos a|ong tho
|ongth ot tho rough p|no tab|o. |o startod cutt|ng
s||cos and, grabb|ng a kn|to and anothor |oat ot
broad, sho d|d tho samo. W|th ha|t an oar sho
||stonod to tho surround|ng chattor.
loop|o mator|a||zod trom tho cornors ot tho
k|tchon tont, w|p|ng tho|r wot hands on tho|r pant
|ogs, romov|ng sta|nod aprons, and strotch|ng
soro nock musc|os. 1hoy oach grabbod a bow|
and ||nod up tor a tow |ad|os ot th|ck stow.
0|shos c|attorod. A dozon convorsat|ons woro
go|ng at onco. lucy to|t tho tam|||ar shynoss
croop |nto hor bonos. lt was ||ko tho h|gh schoo|
catotor|a. 3ho'd a|ways oaton a|ono, outs|do |n
tho quad or |n tho ||brary. A|dan pu||od hor to hor
toot and shovod a bow| |nto hor hands. °lt you
don't got |n thoro, you'|| novor oat,' ho sa|d,
o|bow|ng a spaco tor hor.
|onry gr|nnod as ho sorvod hor. |o |oanod
torward and w|nkod. °l gavo you a ||tt|o oxtra.'
3ho sm||od shy|y and sat down at tho tar ond
ot tho tab|o, away trom tho ||tt|o c|ustors ot
poop|o. |or tho noxt tow m|nutos, sho
concontratod on oat|ng. lt wasn't unt|| sho
|ookod up that sho roa||zod A|dan was s|tt|ng
r|ght across trom hor. |o was sm|rk|ng ||ko a
°lovor saw anyono actua||y |nha|o tood
botoro,' ho romarkod.
°Oh God, l .' 3ho put hor hand up to hor
mouth and w|pod |t c|oan. A tow spots ot stow
woro spock|od across tho tront ot hor sh|rt.
1horo may ovon havo boon somo caught |n hor
ha|r. 3ho w|shod sho cou|d just s|nk through tho
|o po|ntod to tho cornor ot h|s ||p and tappod.
°You m|ssod a spot.'
|o ha|t stood up and roachod across tho
tab|o. Was ho go|ng to touch hor? And thon
suddon|y ho jorkod away.
°Vako room,' 0o| barkod, squooz|ng |n noxt
to h|m. 1ho k|d sho'd torcod tarthor a|ong tho
bonch g|arod at hor but sa|d noth|ng. |o just
p|ckod up h|s bow| and turnod to h|s no|ghbor,
3uo. 1hoy bont tho|r hoads togothor, wh|spor|ng
tur|ous|y and dart|ng covort g|ancos at 0o|.
°||,' lucy sa|d, dotorm|nod not to got |nto a
s|tuat|on w|th hor aga|n. 3ho ovon managod a
sma|| sm||o botoro roturn|ng hor attont|on to hor
0o| starod, thon noddod.
5coro ooo motorlty polot íor Locy! 3ho
carotu||y scoopod up a m|nuto amount ot stow
and carr|od |t to hor mouth. 1ho tood had
roachod hor stomach, and sho to|t a sooth|ng
warmth sproad to hor ||mbs. l coo|o ío|| os|oop
rlgbt boro oo tbo tob|o, sho thought. 3ho
||stonod s|oop||y to 0o|.
°0|d you scout today?' sho askod A|dan. °l
cou|dn't t|nd you.'
|o shook h|s hoad. °l wont a m||o or two up
tho road. l thought about sott|ng pormanont
sontr|os, but thoro's too much aroa to covor.'
°What about p|t traps? Wo cou|d d|g somo
around tho por|phory and thon just koop watch
by tho road,' 0o| sa|d.
°1oo dangorous tor tho ||tt|o k|ds. You know
thoy run around ovorywhoro.'
°Wo||, how about b|ock|ng |t ott? 1hon thoy
cou|dn't dr|vo tho vans up to tho camp.' 0o|
bangod hor spoon aga|nst tho tab|o tor
A|dan rubbod h|s torohoad. |o |ookod as |t
ho hadn't s|opt tor a wook. °loo t|gurod out that
|t wou|d tako a ton or moro ot rubb|o to b|ock |t
ott. Wo can try, but |t'|| tako wooks. And |t's
harvost t|mo. Wo can't roa||y sparo poop|o trom
tho t|o|ds r|ght now.'
°1horo must bo somoth|ng!' 0o| starod at tho
tab|o. °What'|| thoy do to thom?' sho askod
suddon|y |n a gont|o vo|co, sound|ng comp|oto|y
un||ko horso|t. °1o Em| and 1ack?'
°1hoy'|| bo okay.'
3ho gr|ppod h|s arm hard. A|dan w|ncod.
|o shook h|s hoad, |ook|ng uncomtortab|o.
0o| subs|dod |nto a stormy s||onco. 1ho
convorsat|on a|ong tho tab|o had dw|nd|od, tho
sound ot cut|ory aga|nst bow|s qu|otod, poop|o
t|n|shod and |ott. Othors hau|od wator tor
wash|ng up. lucy was thanktu| not to bo
summonod tor moro choros. 3ho rostod hor
hoad on hor arm.
1h|ngs woro bad. 3ho was scarod, but sho
was a|so not hungry tor tho t|rst t|mo |n months.
3ho to|t strong and rov|ta||zod. lt sho had to, sho
cou|d run tor m||os, cross low von|co, and t|nd
somowhoro sato on tho outsk|rts. Or travo|
tarthor. lorth, porhaps, ||ko A|dan had sa|d.
3ho d|dn't roa||zo sho'd ta||on as|oop unt||
somoono shook hor gont|y by tho shou|dors.
3ho oponod drowsy oyos and |ookod |nto
A|dan's taco. 0|roct|y boh|nd h|m stood 0o|, hor
arms crossod t|ght|y, hor mouth t|attonod |n a
°0o| sa|d you cou|d sharo hor s|oop|ng tont,'
A|dan sa|d, ho|p|ng hor to hor toot.
°3cout's boon s|oop|ng somowhoro o|so
anyway,' 0o| sa|d w|th a b|ttor |augh. 3ho d|dn't
|ook as |t sho'd ottorod troo|y, but at th|s po|nt
lucy d|dn't caro. 3ho swayod and shook hor
hoad, try|ng to dr|vo tho cobwobs trom hor
A|dan p|ckod up hor backpack and handod |t
to hor. 3ho c|aspod |t to hor chost. |o |od tho
way |ns|do a sma|| tont tuckod botwoon tho
guttod roma|ns ot two bu||d|ngs. 1r|ck|os ot tho
day's tad|ng ||ght to|| through gaps botwoon tho
canvas pano|s. lucy caught a g||mpso ot throo
tarps on tho ground arrangod around an un||t
hurr|cano |amp, two covorod w|th b|ankots and
c|oth|ng, botoro A|dan pushod hor gont|y toward
tho th|rd. 3ho bumb|od torward, tr|pp|ng ovor
hor toot, and |ot tho backpack s||do to tho
ground as sho sank down to hor knoos. 1oo
t|rod to ovon d|g out hor s|oop|ng bag, sho
pu||od hor swoatsh|rt and jackot t|rm|y around
hor, tuckod hor knoos |n, and cur|od up on hor
s|do. 3ho was as|oop aga|n a|most
ucy was awakonod by an oxcruc|at|ng pa|n |n
hor woundod hand. 3ho oponod hor mouth to
scroam but somoono's t|ngors p|nchod |t shut
botoro sho cou|d om|t a sound.
°Ou|ot!' 0o| h|ssod v|c|ous|y. lucy gr|ppod
0o|'s toroarm and squoozod as hard as sho
cou|d. °0on't yo||,' tho g|r| sa|d, s|ow|y romov|ng
hor hand trom lucy's mouth.
°Got ott mo,' sho rop||od botwoon c|onchod
tooth. 1ho |amp |n tho m|dd|o ot tho tont throw a
sma|| c|rc|o ot ||ght. lt was onough to mako out
0o|, tu||y c|othod, ba|ancod on tho ba||s ot hor
toot as |t sho was oxpoct|ng an attack.
0o| sh|ttod hor wo|ght and tho boot ||ttod.
lucy doc|dod |t had boon an acc|dont, tho
oppos|to was too much to cons|dor. 3ho
c|utchod hor squashod t|ngors to hor chost. 3ho
w|gg|od thom. 1hoy soomod bru|sod, but not
3ho wondorod |t |t was c|oso to dawn, but
thon through tho gap |n tho root sho g||mpsod
tho moon, ha|t-h|ddon boh|nd c|ouds. 3tand|ng
abovo lucy's bod, 0o| was a st||| torm aga|nst
dark shadows. 3ho cou|d soo tho othor g|r|'s r|b
cago movo |n and out w|th hor broath|ng. 3ho
soomod to bo wa|t|ng tor somoth|ng.
°What's go|ng on?' lucy askod. 3ho'd on|y
s|opt a tow hours and hor body was st|tt and
°l hoard somoono outs|do tho tont,' 0o|
murmurod. |or hoad dartod around. 3ho
cockod |t to ono s|do ||ko a dog. lucy ||stonod,
too, stra|n|ng to hoar.
0|stant|y sho hoard a rumb|o. 1hundor? Or
cou|d |t bo car ong|nos? 3ho sat up. 3ho'd
gono to bod w|th a|| hor c|othos and hor boots
on. Undor tho tr|p|o |ayor ot jackot-swoatsh|rt-
thorma|, hor sk|n was c|ammy w|th swoat. |or
hoad to|t groggy, hor oyo||ds r|mmod |n sand.
0o| was as |mmob||o as a statuo.
A croscondo ot rumb||ng roso, to||owod by a
shout and, c|osor st|||, tho thud ot runn|ng toot.
And now sho cou|d hoar vo|cos ra|sod |n pan|c
com|ng trom a|| around and tho sound ot t|ros on
°lt's thom. 1ho 3woopors. 1hoy camo back,'
lucy was |nstant|y awako. |or hoart poundod
as |t |t wou|d spr|ng out ot hor chost, ovory
musc|o tw|tchod. 3ho scramb|od to hor toot.
1hrough tho canvas, sho cou|d soo tho d|m
shapos ot t|guros mov|ng outs|do. 1hoy had
||ghts. Vaybo t|ash||ghts or torchos. 3ho cou|dn't
to|| |t thoy woro scavongors or tho onomy.
°3tay |ow,' 0o| broathod. °1hoy m|ght havo
brought tho dogs.' 3ho was trozon |n a ha|t
crouch. lucy m|m|ckod hor posturo.
°lt thoy brought tho dogs, wo shou|d got out ot
horo!' lucy sa|d, try|ng to broatho norma||y.
°0on't movo,' 0o| sa|d w|th an |mpor|ous
hand gosturo that mado lucy b|to hor ||p |n
1ho othor g|r| movod s|ow|y, hor oyos on tho
hurr|cano |amp |n tho m|dd|o ot tho t|oor.
lucy suddon|y roa||zod that tho|r s||houottos
must bo v|s|b|o trom tho outs|do.
3otoro sho cou|d say anyth|ng thoro was a
thump as 0o| k|ckod tho |amp ovor. 1ho t|amo
wont out. lucy b||nkod, try|ng to accustom hor
oyos to tho suddon g|oom.
°lot's go,' 0o| muttorod.
lucy tumb|od tor hor kn|to. lt wasn't at hor
wa|st. |or tho t|rst t|mo, sho had torgotton to
taston |t on hor bo|t botoro sho wont to bod. 3ho
cursod horso|t and dug |nto tho swoatsh|rt
pockot. lot thoro, o|thor.
lt must havo ta||on out.
3ho bont to tho tarp sho'd boon s|oop|ng on,
soarchod tho surtaco w|th tromb||ng t|ngors. 1ho
th|ck |ayor ot c|oth|ng mado hor c|ums|or than
°Como on,' sa|d 0o|. °And bo qu|ot, wou|d
you?' lucy thought but cou|dn't bo suro that
sho'd muttorod somoth|ng about a °butta|o.'
0o| snortod w|th |mpat|onco. °|urry,' sho
sa|d. lucy to|t around tho odgos ot tho tarp and
was t|na||y rowardod w|th tho hard out||no ot tho
h||t undor hor t|ngors. 3ho p|ckod up tho kn|to,
|nstant|y too||ng moro cont|dont.
A motor rovvod noarby. lt soundod as |t |t was
r|ght |n tront. 1ho tont t|ap was t|od shut, but |t
was t||msy. 1hoy cou|dn't go out that way.
°Wo'vo got to got out ot horo,' 0o| wh|sporod,
mak|ng tor tho back ot tho tont. 3ho pu||od on
tho bottom whoro |t was p|nnod to tho oarth by
°|o|p mo got th|s |ooso. Ou|ot|y.'
lucy jo|nod hor and, stow|ng hor kn|to |n hor
pockot, grabbod a handtu| ot canvas and
hoavod. 1ho ground was hard, compactod mud,
tho stakos had boon poundod |n, and thoy
cou|dn't pu|| |t |ooso. 0o| muttorod a tow cho|co
curso words undor hor broath.
°Wa|t,' lucy sa|d and pu||od hor kn|to back
out. 3ho stabbod at tho hoavy mator|a|. 1ho
sound ot toar|ng canvas soomod |ncrod|b|y
|oud. 0o| st|t|od an angry oxc|amat|on, wh|ch
lucy |gnorod. Onco sho had a b|g onough ho|o,
sho ho|d |t opon and 0o| c|amborod through |t,
swoar|ng as hor boots caught |n tho to|ds ot
lucy startod to to||ow hor, and thon sho
romomborod hor backpack. ||rst ru|o: A|ways
carry what you nood w|th you. 3ho hos|tatod.
3ho cou|d |mag|no what 0o| wou|d say, but tho
hab|t was too |ngra|nod. |or ovor a yoar sho
had surv|vod on hor own bocauso sho was
a|ways proparod tor tho worst, and bocauso hor
backpack ho|d ovoryth|ng nocossary tor hor
3ho cou|dn't |oavo |t.
0o| was just about through, but |t wou|d just
tako a socond.
3ho turnod back to tho tarp, scoopod up hor
backpack, and shruggod |t ovor hor shou|dors.
1hon sho ran back to whoro 0o|'s toot had just
d|sappoarod through tho gap.
°What aro you do|ng?' 0o| h|ssod, st|ck|ng
hor hoad through tho ho|o.
3omoono burst |nto tho tont. A hoavy body
struck lucy |n a tack|o. 3ho to|| to tho ground,
b|t|ng hor tonguo hard on tho way down. 1ho
tasto ot b|ood was |n hor mouth. 3ho was
p|nnod by strong arms attompt|ng to grab hor
own and tho wo|ght ot somoono's body across
hor |ogs. 3ho t|a||od, str|k|ng out w||d|y, and
tw|stod around so sho was |y|ng on hor back.
lucy kopt strugg||ng and k|ckod out w|th both
toot. A sharp crock. 3ho had h|t somoth|ng hard
onough to mako hor ank|os throb. An oxp|os|vo
grunt, tho sound ot tumb||ng, and thon a ho|mot
thuddod to tho ground noar hor hoad. 1ho v|sor
was smashod. 3otoro sho cou|d strugg|o to hor
toot, tho man throw h|mso|t torward. lucy
brought hor knoos up, try|ng to torco h|m ott ot
hor. 3ho |ashod out w|th hor t|st, too||ng tho
v|brat|on |n hor o|bow as sho connoctod w|th h|s
taco. ||s broath was hot aga|nst hor chook. 3ho
to|t a s||ck wotnoss on hor torohoad. |or b|ood
A th|ck arm pushod aga|nst hor nock. 3ho
tr|od to |and anothor punch, but |t was hard to
broatho. 3|ack dots dancod |n tront ot hor oyos,
and hor pu|so poundod |n hor tomp|os.
lucy attomptod to scroam, but tho sound was
chokod ott |n hor throat. W|th ono |ast burst ot
onorgy sho ra|sod hor hoad and b|t down as
hard as sho cou|d. lt wasn't much-tho man's
arm was covorod |n th|ck mator|a|, don|m or
hoavy cotton, but |t was onough. |o sh|ttod and
sho archod hor back, s|mu|tanoous|y ro|||ng to
ono s|do, and managod to push h|m ott. 3ho
scramb|od to hor toot, pant|ng, and a|mod a
k|ck at h|m, not car|ng whoro |t |andod. 3ho
hoard tho sat|sty|ng tbomp ot |mpact.
1ho man groanod and throw out a hand,
c|os|ng h|s t|ngors around hor ank|o, and
suddon|y sho was pu||od ott hor toot. 3ho
|andod hard on hor back, tho b|ow cush|onod by
tho bag across hor shou|dors, a|though sho to|t
a sharp pa|n rad|ato up hor sp|no. 3ho must
havo |andod on hor doad t|ash||ght. 1ho broath
|ott hor body |n ono |nvo|untary gasp. And thon
ho was dragg|ng hor toward h|m. 3ho dug hor
t|ngors |nto tho d|rt, but |t was uso|oss.
lucy tw|stod hor body, try|ng to broak troo,
and thon trom tho s|do and s||ght|y boh|nd h|m, a
shadowy t|guro appoarod. 0o| ra|sod tho
hurr|cano |amp h|gh, thon brought |t down.
3omo |nst|nct must havo warnod h|m bocauso
ho movod s||ght|y, and rathor than h|t h|m on tho
hoad, tho |amp smashod |nto h|s shou|dor. 3t|||,
|t was onough to broak h|s ho|d on lucy's |og.
3hards ot g|ass t|ow ovorywhoro. lucy to|t a
chunk st|ng hor taco. 0o| hau|od hor to hor toot
and draggod hor out tho tront ot tho tont.
1hoy ran toward tho shouts and scroams,
thon stoppod, b||ndod. 1ho squaro was ||t up.
1ho vans woro pos|t|onod |n a ha|t c|rc|o, tho|r
ong|nos |d||ng. On top ot oach ono was a
lucy sh|o|dod hor oyos. 3ho cou|d soo ||tt|o
pockots ot poop|o to o|thor s|do, most|y youngor
k|ds c|utch|ng ono anothor and cry|ng, tho o|d
man w|th tho wa|rus mustacho sho'd not|cod at
d|nnor. lo ono who |ookod ||ko thoy cou|d
dotond thomso|t. Vany ot tho sho|tors had boon
dostroyod, tho woodon supports smashod,
canvas tarps troddon |nto tho dust. 1horo woro
porhaps a dozon 3woopors scattorod around.
3ho cou|d hoar yo|||ng com|ng trom othor
parts ot tho camp. 1hoy must bo ovorywhoro.
1ho scavongors woro d|v|dod. 3ho wondorod
whoro A|dan was. |onry, loo, Gramma||o
loso? |ad thoy boon capturod a|roady?
0o| sworo aga|n undor hor broath.
lucy cast a g|anco boh|nd thom. A 3woopor
stood thoro, b|ock|ng tho way back |nto tho
mazo ot a||oyways. Why hadn't thoy run |n that
°Got roady to t|ght,' 0o| sa|d.
lucy pu||od hor kn|to out and ho|d |t roady.
0o| movod so sho was stand|ng w|th hor
back to lucy's. 3ho bont and scoopod up a
|ongth ot tw|stod mota|. 1hoy c|rc|od, tak|ng
sma|| stops and try|ng to |ook |n ovory d|roct|on
at onco, to t|nd a ho|o thoy cou|d broak through.
A soarch||ght was movod so that |t po|ntod
d|roct|y at thom. lucy tr|od to soo past |t, but tho
|ntonso ||ght throw ovoryth|ng o|so |nto doop
shadow. 3ho caught a g||mpso ot wh|to-su|tod
t|guros rush|ng toward thom, t|ank|ng thom.
0o| shoutod and was suddon|y yankod away
trom hor. lucy movod hor kn|to, b|ado odgo out,
|n a swoop|ng mot|on. 3ho was grabbod trom
boh|nd, hor kn|to hand p|nnod. A muscu|ar arm
sott|od around hor nock, rostr|ct|ng but not
cutt|ng ott hor broath|ng. °Easy,' a vo|co
broathod |n hor oar. 3ho to|t a p|nch|ng
sonsat|on |n hor wr|st, and hor t|ngors oponod.
3ho d|m|y hoard tho thud as tho kn|to to|| to tho
ground. 3ho was ||ttod ott hor toot. 1horo was a
t|urry ot movomont to hor |ott. And thon 0o| was
troo. 3ho swung tho mota| bar, a|m|ng at hor
captor's gro|n. 1ho b|ow connoctod and tho man
droppod to h|s knoos. 3ho swung aga|n w|th a
toroc|ty that was torr|ty|ng, catch|ng h|m across
tho back, and ho to|| torward, groan|ng. lucy's
3woopor was d|stractod, and sho took tho
opportun|ty to stamp on h|s |nstop w|th a|| hor
m|ght. W|th a roar ot rago ho pushod hor away
w|th so much torco that sho stumb|od, ta|||ng to
°0uck!' 0o| yo||od, sw|ng|ng tho mota| rod ||ko
a madwoman. lucy mado horso|t as sma|| as
|or kn|to g|oamod |n tho dust a tow yards
away. lt m|ght as wo|| havo boon on Vars. 3ho
bogan to craw| toward |t. 3ho cou|d hoar 0o|
curs|ng, pant|ng, and, amaz|ng|y, mock|ng tho
3woopors. 3ut thoro woro too many ot thom.
°0o|!' loo bo||owod, appoar|ng trom an
a||oyway at a run and boat|ng h|s way to tho
g|r|'s s|do. |o was armod w|th a two-by-tour
studdod w|th na||s. 1ho 3woopors to|| back tor
an |nstant, and thon, as |t oboy|ng an ordor,
advancod |n a so||d ||no on tho two ot thom.
1wo moro 3woopors jo|nod thom, ottoct|vo|y
conta|n|ng tho scavongors w|th|n a sma|| aroa.
And thon, surpr|s|ng|y, ono ot tho 3woopors
movod torward a|ono. lt d|dn't mako sonso. 1ho
scavongors woro tota||y outnumborod. lucy had
roachod hor kn|to. 3ho p|ckod |t up. lo ono was
pay|ng any attont|on to hor. 3ho crouchod |n tho
shadows, |ook|ng tor an opportun|ty to ho|p.
loo pushod 0o| boh|nd h|m and tacod ott
w|th tho 3woopor. A gr|n sproad across h|s
taco. °Como on thon,' ho yo||od, advanc|ng. |o
s|appod tho wood aga|nst h|s pa|m.
1ho 3woopor movod |n c|osor and suddon|y
|ungod torward, h|s arm outstrotchod.
Concoa|od w|th|n h|s hand was a sma|| b|ack
box. lucy scroamod a warn|ng, but hor cry was
loo ra|sod h|s c|ub.
And thon thoro was a t|ash ot o|octr|c b|uo
||ght and a sound ||ko moat bo|ng soarod on a
loo co||apsod to tho ground ||ko a to||od troo.
||s body jorkod spasmod|ca||y, and thon ho
°loo!' 0o| shoutod, runn|ng toward h|s prono
torm. 3ho'd takon on|y a tow stops whon
anothor 3woopor stoppod |nto hor path. 1ho
b|uo ||ght t|ashod aga|n, and sho crump|od.
lucy shrank back |nto tho shadows, draw|ng
hor hood torward around hor taco.
1ho 3woopors woro gathorod around loo
and 0o|, who woro as st||| as corpsos.
Woro thoy doad? loo groanod as ono ot tho
3woopors nudgod h|m rough|y w|th a boot. lucy
to|t a surgo ot ro||ot. Anothor man p|ckod up
loo's na||-studdod two-by-tour, stud|od |t, thon
hur|od |t to tho ground |n d|sgust. lt bouncod,
|and|ng not tar trom whoro lucy |ay h|ddon.
3ho thought sho cou|d soo smoars ot b|ood
on tho board. What cou|d sho do? lt sho tr|od to
ho|p, thoy wou|d capturo hor, too. 3ho was sato
tor now. 3ho to|t a sonso ot ro||ot m|ng|od w|th
tho shamo ot oscap|ng capturo. lt sho had not
pausod tor hor backpack, thon 0o| m|ght st||| bo
3|ow|y, lucy torcod horso|t to craw| backward
toward tho co||apsod sho|tor boh|nd hor. Onco
sho was concoa|od undor tho tarpau||n, sho
cur|od |nto a ba|| and tr|od to contro| tho tromors
that rackod hor body. 3ho ||stonod to tho hoavy
sounds and grunts ot tho 3woopors, p|ctur|ng
thom as thoy |oadod 0o|'s and loo's
unconsc|ous torms |nto tho noarost van. 3ho
hoard tho |ow rumb|o ot vo|cos and tho p|toous
sound ot a ch||d sobb|ng. 1ho doors s|ammod
shut, tho ong|nos roarod, and hoavy t|ros
crunchod through tho dobr|s.
1ho rumb|o ot tho vans s|ow|y d|od away, and
attorward thoro was s||onco, wh|ch to|t
oppross|vo and t|||od w|th throat.
lt was hours botoro sho movod trom hor
lucy sat on a sma|| h||| abovo tho camp and
watchod tho sun r|so. 3ho was co|d and
crampod, but sho cou|d soo ovoryth|ng trom th|s
vantago po|nt. As soon as sho had darod, sho'd
scutt|od out trom undor tho tarp and run,
hoad|ng tor h|ghor ground.
|or thoughts wont around and around |n hor
hoad. 3ho'd boon argu|ng w|th horso|t tor hours,
unab|o to s|oop.
3ho'd t|gurod out th|s much. Ono: 3ho was
scarod. 1wo: 3ho bad|y wantod to |oavo. 1hroo:
1hat was tho ono th|ng sho cou|d not do.
1ho roa||ty was, sho was |nvo|vod. lot on|y
bocauso sho'd boon r|ght thoro whon 0o| and
loo woro takon, but bocauso probab|y
-ooílolto|y-0o| wou|dn't havo boon caught |t
not tor hor.
3ho unt|od hor backpack and scannod tho
contonts. A journa|, a tow p|ocos ot c|oth|ng, hor
s|oop|ng bag, a yoarbook, a brokon rad|o, a
t|ash||ght w|thout battor|os, a sharpon|ng stono,
and a t|ndorbox w|th a book ot soggy matchos
loth|ng sho ownod was worth somoono
3ho |ookod down on tho sott|omont. A|| tho
sho|tors around tho squaro had boon r|ppod
apart. |||msy supports |ay tw|stod and snappod
|n two, p|ywood |oan-tos woro scattorod |n
sp||ntorod hoaps. 1ho sott, packod oarth whoro
tho trad|ng markot had boon ho|d just a day ago
tho trad|ng markot had boon ho|d just a day ago
was torn up, and tho doop t|ro tracks ot tho vans
snakod through tho dovastat|on.
3ho |ookod south |n tho d|roct|on tho road
curvod. 1ho road that ondod at loosovo|t
ls|and. |rom horo sho cou|dn't soo tho rod ||ght
t|ash at tho top ot tho towor, but sho know |t was
3ho got to hor toot w|th a s|gh.
A sma|| group had assomb|od |n tho squaro.
3ho rocogn|zod A|dan, |onry, Gramma||o
loso, and a tow othors.
lucy pausod. 1urnod and |ookod |n tho
oppos|to d|roct|on. 3ho cou|d mako hor way
|n|and, t|nd anothor portoct p|aco to bu||d a
homo, go back to ||to as sho know |t. A|ono.
A shout wattod up trom bo|ow.
3ho gazod down. |onry had ||ttod h|s hand |n
a wavo. |o t|our|shod |t back and torth as |t ho
woro s|gna||ng an a|rp|ano.
3|ow|y, sho wavod |n roturn and startod down
ho scavongors stood |n a c|oso group noar
tho k|tchon. lucy shutt|od hor toot, not suro |t
sho shou|d |ntorrupt, and was gratotu| whon
|onry ho||orod at hor to jo|n thom. ||s |ott oyo
was b|ackonod and putty, tho wh|tos shot
through w|th rod. ||s ha|r was p|astorod to h|s
hoad w|th swoat and t||th and ho bouncod trom
toot to toot w|th norvous onorgy. |o movod ovor
to mako room tor hor |n tho hudd|o.
°lucy,' A|dan sa|d. ||s oyos wont to tho cut
on hor chook and sho touchod |t, shak|ng hor
hoad. lt stung, but |t was ||tt|o moro than a
scratch. 3ho'd co||octod a tow moro bru|sos, but
sho'd boon |ucky. Vost ot tho b|ood on hor
bo|ongod to othor poop|o. °l'm t|no,' sho sa|d.
A|dan's knuck|os woro scabbod and raw. A
doop gash ran across h|s torohoad, and thoro
was dr|od b|ood |n h|s ha|r. lucy |ookod away
trom tho oxpross|on ot angu|sh on h|s taco.
3ho stood apart and ho mado no attompt to
movo c|osor to hor.
1horo woro two toonagors, a boy and a g|r|,
lucy hadn't soon botoro. 1hoy both appoarod to
bo about n|notoon.
°¼l|czo,' Gramma||o sa|d, and noddod as |t
sho was p|oasod sho was st||| around. °1h|s |s
Connor and 3cout.'
Connor was ta|| and rangy w|th rod ha|r and a
vory d|roct gazo. 3cout was t|ny and had a p|x|o
cut and worr|od brown oyos. 1hoy oxchangod
°Wo woro out hunt|ng,' Connor to|d tho group.
°0|dn't got back unt|| th|s morn|ng.'
°|ow many th|s t|mo?' 3cout askod, wr|ng|ng
hor t|ngors togothor. Connor grabbod hor hand
and onto|dod |t |n h|s own.
°||vo,' |onry sa|d. °1wo moro k|ds, lott|o and
latr|ck, and |ank-you know, wa|rus mustacho,
who ho|ps out |n tho k|tchon? And .' |o took a
doop broath. °0o| and loo.'
°Wo'ro try|ng to doc|do |t wo shou|d koop
ovoryono togothor or d|sporso,' A|dan to|d hor.
°Wo cannot doc|do anyth|ng unt|| wo havo a
camp moot|ng,' Gramma||o loso sa|d.
°||no. Wo'ro olscosslog |t, thon,' A|dan
rojo|nod. lucy was surpr|sod at tho angor |n h|s
Gramma||o loso shruggod. °Wo a|| nood to
ca|m down t|rst.'
A|dan noddod curt|y. |o sta|kod a tow pacos
away and stood w|th h|s back to thom. lucy
undorstood how ho to|t. 3ho wantod to bo do|ng
somoth|ng. l|ght now sho to|t ||ko sho was just
wa|t|ng tor tho noxt awtu| th|ng to happon.
°1horo aro sho|tors tarthor out, noar tho
br|dgos, that aro hardor tor voh|c|os to roach.
1horo aro h|d|ng p|acos. 3ombod-out bu||d|ngs.
Wo can ||o |ow tor a wh||o,' |onry urgod. °l spont
|ast n|ght |n ono ot tho cana|s.'
1hat oxp|a|nod tho mud oncrust|ng h|s
°1ho long Wot |s just bog|nn|ng. 1horo |s tho
dangor ot t|ash t|oods,' Connor po|ntod out.
°Wo||, h|gh ground thon,' 3cout suggostod.
°1ho p|atoau, maybo?'
°lo protoct|on,' |onry sa|d. °Ga|os, ||ghtn|ng
storms, t|ro.' |o chockod ott tho po|nts on tho
t|ngors ot ono hand.
Connor g|arod at h|m. lt was turn|ng |nto a
°|ow w||| poop|o bo tod |t wo aro sproad to
tho w|nds? 1ho ||tt|o onos? lt |s most|y ||tt|o onos
now,' Gramma||o sa|d. °|oro wo havo sho|tor.
°1hoy'ro just p|ck|ng us ott,' |onry sa|d.
°Wo'ro ||ko s|tt|ng ducks!'
lucy s||ont|y choorod h|m.
Gramma||o loso put up a hand, torosta|||ng
any turthor argumont. °Wo may |ndood ond up
mov|ng, but noth|ng can happon unt|| ovoryono
|s horo to doc|do what |s bost. 3ammy and 3oth
aro st||| out torag|ng. 1hoy havo a vo|co |n th|s
|or brows drow across hor torohoad, g|v|ng
hor sharp oyos a hoodod appoaranco. lucy
thought sho |ookod o|dor suddon|y. 3ho not|cod
how bowod tho woman's back was, and how
swo||on tho knuck|os on hor work-roddonod
hands. 3uddon|y sho wantod to ottor Gramma||o
loso a cha|r, but thoro woro nono.
°ln tho moant|mo,' sho cont|nuod, °thoro |s
tood to gathor, wash|ng to bo dono, |njur|os to
tond.' 3ho |ookod po|ntod|y at A|dan's torohoad
and |onry's oyo.
|onry muttorod somoth|ng un|nto|||g|b|o.
°Wo nood wator,' Gramma||o loso sa|d.
°1hat |s paramount.'
A|dan wh|r|od around.
°Wo'|| got that,' ho sa|d, scoop|ng up a tow
|argo p|ast|c jugs and thrust|ng thom at lucy.
3ho took thom, too surpr|sod to say anyth|ng.
|o grabbod tour moro and stoorod hor out ot
tho squaro. 3ho pu||od hor arm away and stood
st|||. 3ho hatod how ho just grabbod hor and
startod mov|ng. l|ko sho was a k|d who cou|dn't
cross tho road by horso|t. |o stoppod,
°l|ston, l'vo boon work|ng my butt ott ovor
s|nco l got horo,' sho sa|d. °Vaybo l don't want
to hau| wator!'
°l wantod to ta|k to you a|ono. l'vo boon
th|nk|ng about stutt,' A|dan sa|d.
°Okay, so ta|k.'
°lt Gramma||o loso soos us just s|tt|ng
around, sho'|| put us both on |atr|no duty, and
you don't want that, bo||ovo mo.'
lucy had a|roady caught tho oarthy odor
com|ng trom tho row ot narrow tonts on tho wost
ond ot tho camp.
°Okay,' sho sa|d s|ow|y. lt wou|d actua||y too|
good to bo mov|ng. °l|ston, a|| th|s ta|k|ng stutt
|s k|nd ot |rr|tat|ng, though. Why can't somoono
just mako a doc|s|on and thon wo act on |t?'
°You moan ||ko somoono |n chargo?' |o
shook h|s hoad. °1hat's not how |t |s horo. 3uro,
Gramma||o loso |s k|nd ot tho boss, bocauso
sho's tho o|dost and sho's had oxpor|onco ||v|ng
|n a communo. And loo-' A|dan's vo|co
h|tchod. °|o was a natura| |oador, but ovoryono
|s oqua||y |mportant horo. 1hat's tho po|nt.'
°3ut doosn't |t dr|vo you crazy? l moan, how
doos anyth|ng ovor happon qu|ck|y?'
At |oast ho soundod as trustratod as sho to|t.
lucy bogan to too| a ||tt|o thr||| ot oxc|tomont.
1hoy startod wa|k|ng aga|n. A|dan took a
narrow path botwoon two rows ot o|d br|ck
housos. 1ho socond t|oors woro st||| most|y
|ntact, but tho toundat|ons woro crumb||ng and
tho roots |oanod togothor ||ko two poop|o about
to k|ss. Woodon scatto|d|ng prossod up aga|nst
tho masonry on both s|dos, koop|ng |t a||
stand|ng, but lucy cou|dn't ho|p but bo g|ad
whon thoy camo out on a domo||shod aroa t|||od
w|th rubb|o. 3omo k|ds woro p|ay|ng k|ck-tho-
can |n tho dust. 1hoy ho||orod whon thoy saw
A|dan and ho wavod back. A groon gardon
hoso co||od on tho ground ||ko a b|g snako. lt
was attachod to a p|po that stuck up out ot tho
dobr|s. A|dan turnod on tho sp|got. Wator, rust-
co|orod and tu|| ot dobr|s, startod to t|ow |n a
sor|os ot jorks and spurts.
°Why don't wo got trosh wator trom a spr|ng?'
°l'vo tound a coup|o ot sourcos out |n tho
woods, but |t's a |ong trok. 1h|s |s moro
convon|ont, at |oast unt|| tho c|storn dr|os up.'
1ho wator c|oarod. |o t|ttod tho ||p ot a jug
ovor tho hoso ond and stood back up.
°3o, what's tho b|g p|an?' askod lucy, too||ng
a sh|vor raco a|ong hor sp|no. 3tand|ng around
wa|t|ng tor bad th|ngs to happon was worso
than actua||y do|ng somoth|ng. °Woro you try|ng
to t|nd a way to got onto tho |s|and?'
°Aro you crazy?' ho sa|d, |ook|ng
thundorstruck. °l'm not 1amos 3ond. Whoro
wou|d l ovon start?' A|dan scratchod h|s hoad
w|th h|s troo hand, comp|oto|y m|ss|ng a |oat
that was trappod thoro. °lo, l was just work|ng
out ways wo cou|d post |ookouts, cut ott
ontrancos to tho camp, proparo tor tho noxt ra|d.
And .' |o soomod uncomtortab|o. °l was
th|nk|ng that th|s |sn't roa||y your batt|o. You can
|oavo. lo harm dono.'
3ho was |nstant|y tur|ous. lt d|dn't mattor that
sho had boon cons|dor|ng tho samo th|ng. 1hat
was hor cho|co to mako, not h|s.
°0on't bo stup|d,' lucy sa|d. °l was thoro
whon thoy grabbod loo and 0o|.' 3ho chokod
on tho words, sho was so mad.
3ho mot h|s gazo. °l h|d.' |o droppod h|s
oyos and starod at tho gush|ng wator. °1hoy
cou|d oas||y havo takon mo, too,' lucy sa|d.
|o |ookod t|abborgastod.
3ho was protty surpr|sod horso|t. 3ay|ng |t out
|oud mado |t a|| c|oaror |n hor hoad. 3ho cou|d
try to mako th|ngs r|ght, and sho cou|d a|ways
°l got tho who|o 'camp |s tho satost p|aco'
th|ng,' sho sa|d. °And |t |s tor tho ||tt|o k|ds, but
thoro aro tho rost ot us.'
°l was th|nk|ng roscuo m|ss|on,' sho
cont|nuod, try|ng to sound conv|nc|ng.
°3omo day, suro, but wo know noth|ng about
how th|ngs aro sot up, tho |ayout ot tho p|aco.
Wo don't ovon know what k|nd ot woapons thoy
havo. Or how many ot thom thoro aro. 3o||ovo
mo, l want to got 0o| and loo and tho othors
back worso than anybody, but |t wo go charg|ng
|n thoro, wo'|| got caught.'
lucy starod at h|m. 1h|s ta|k d|dn't soom ||ko
h|m. lt wasn't what somoono who c||mbod to tho
tops ot troos shou|d bo say|ng.
|o must havo road tho surpr|so |n hor oyos.
°You sa|d no ono has ovor como back. Wo
don't know what's happon|ng to thom. 3o what
aro you wa|t|ng tor? An |nv|tat|on?' 3ho b|t hor
||p. 1h|s was ono ot hor worst tau|ts, spoak|ng
w|thout th|nk|ng, but sho cou|dn't ho|p |t. 1ho
words just kopt bubb||ng out ot hor.
|o |ookod as |t sho had s|appod h|m |n tho
taco. 3ho tr|od a gont|or approach.
°You'ro so ca|m about |t. 1ho 3woopors took
your tr|onds, and |t's ||ko you'vo g|von up w|thout
°l'vo boon th|nk|ng about th|s a|| n|ght!' A|dan
yo||od. °1horo's no oasy so|ut|on. You th|nk mo
and maybo two othors can just bargo |n thoro
1hoy g|arod at oach othor. 1ho wator
ovort|owod tho conta|nor, but ho mado no movo
to rop|aco |t w|th anothor. |o pacod back and
torth, savago|y k|ck|ng chunks ot br|ck out ot h|s
°You don't know. lt's not tho t|rst t|mo,' ho sa|d
|n a ca|mor vo|co. °loo was tho t|ghtor, tho
p|annor, and ovon bo cou|dn't th|nk ot a way to
got tho othors back. W|th h|m gono .' A|dan
shruggod h|s shou|dors. °Wo'ro just not that
°What about a|| ot th|s?' sho sa|d, po|nt|ng to
tho sho|tors, tho cu|t|vatod t|o|ds |n tho noar
|o scow|od. °lt took us about s|x months to
got a|| tho sho|tors up, tho wator s|tuat|on t|gurod
out, and tho vogotab|o gardons p|antod. lt was
most|y Gramma||o loso's do|ng. And |t takos
tho bost part ot ovory day to koop |t go|ng.'
3ho undorstood that. lt had takon a|| hor
onorgy to koop horso|t tod, warm, and dry.
°Yoah, but wo can't just do noth|ng,' sho sa|d.
°You'ro a |ot ||ko 0o|,' ho sa|d. °|ot-
tomporod. What's tho n|co word? lmpotuous.'
||s mouth tw|stod |nto a wry gr|n.
lucy wasn't too p|oasod to bo comparod to
0o|. 3ho'd caught tho adm|r|ng noto |n h|s
vo|co. 3ho prossod hor ||ps t|rm|y togothor. |o
was |ook|ng ott |nto tho d|stanco-probab|y
th|nk|ng ot bor. lucy ||ttod tho hoso and stuck
tho ond |nto anothor jug. 1ho wator was t|ow|ng
moro troo|y now and was |oss brown. 3ho
ros|stod tho tomptat|on to spray h|m.
°You sa|d loo was tho t|ghtor. Wo m|ght not
bo ab|o to throw a r|ght hook or a roundhouso
k|ck, but wo cou|d arm ourso|vos and go attor
thom,' sho sa|d. A|dan jumpod a ||tt|o, as |t ho'd
torgotton sho was thoro.
°You saw tho k|ds |n tho squaro?'
3ho noddod. °1ho onos co||oct|ng
°1hoy woro so upsot about lott|o and latr|ck
and tho rost ot thom that thoy boggod tor
somoth|ng to do. l cou|dn't th|nk ot anyth|ng o|so.
Wo'vo got rocks and cans, but thoy'vo got stun
guns and ch|orotorm gas and masks. 1ho bost
th|ng tor us to do |s to koop watch and to h|do.'
°Watch|ng and h|d|ng d|dn't do much good
°Wo woron't oxpoct|ng |t.'
lucy to|t a surgo ot trustrat|on. °Wo'|| novor bo
ab|o to oxpoct |t. 1hoy'vo got tho o|omont ot
surpr|so on tho|r s|do. 1hoy'|| just p|ck us ott.'
|o |ookod so m|sorab|o, sho to|t awtu|, but
sho cou|dn't stop ta|k|ng. °Wo don't ovon know
what thoy'ro do|ng to thom.' 3ho was
romombor|ng tho sad |ady and tho ch||dron trom
tho sho|tor. 1ho vans com|ng and tak|ng thom
away. 1h|s had boon go|ng on tor months.
A|dan shook h|s hoad. °Wo havo to th|nk
about ovoryono |n tho camp. |ow wou|d |t bo |t
most ot tho adu|ts woro gono on somo
d|sastrous roscuo m|ss|on? 1horo aro k|ds horo
who can't mako |t on tho|r own.'
°Gramma||o loso,' sho sa|d toob|y.
°3ho's o|ghty, d|d you roa||zo?' A|dan shook
lucy k|ckod out at a rock as b|g as a bow||ng
ba||. |or toos stung but sho |gnorod tho pa|n.
A|dan bont down and p|acod anothor bott|o
undor tho tap.
3ho starod at h|s th|ck b|ond ha|r w|th tho |oat
caught thoro. °l thought sho was your tr|ond.' lt
was maybo a |ow b|ow, but sho cou|dn't stop tho
words oxp|od|ng trom hor mouth. lart ot hor
wantod to hoar what ho wou|d say. lart ot hor
|o |ookod up. ||s groon oyos t|ashod w|th
°Wo||, you don't act ||ko |t! lt sho woro my
tr|ond, l'd bo out thoro |ook|ng tor hor.' 3ho
roca||od h|s commont to hor back |n tho troo,
about bo|ng a mouso |n hor sato ho||ow. °l
wou|dn't bo sku|k|ng around horo.'
°You don't know mo!' ho yo||od, |oap|ng to h|s
toot. °You drop |n and you th|nk you ovon know
what's go|ng on? Wo||, you don't. You don't
know mo, you don't know us, you don't know
how wo ||vo!' |o was so angry now, ho was
lucy to|t tho rago wo|| up |n hor bo||y. Who d|d
ho th|nk ho was? °l can soo that you'ro a|| h|d|ng
|nstoad ot t|ght|ng,' sho throw out. |or hands
°You havo noth|ng at stako. 1hoso aron't your
tr|onds. 1h|s |sn't your tam||y.'
°l'm horo r|ght now.'
°|or how |ong?'
3ho trozo. A|dan was r|ght. 3ho hadn't oxact|y
doc|dod whothor to stay or go yot. 3ho oponod
hor mouth and thon c|osod |t aga|n.
|o was on|y a tow |nchos |n tront ot hor now.
1ho |ong musc|os |n h|s arms t|oxod. A vo|n
pu|sod |n tho co|umn ot h|s nock. 3ho cou|d
smo|| h|m. 3woat and |omons. |o |ookod ||ko ho
was go|ng to h|t hor. 3ho tonsod, and thon ho
stoppod away. |o t|||od tho |ast two conta|nors
|n s||onco, knoo||ng down and koop|ng h|s back
lucy to|t a|| tho annoyanco and angor dra|n
away, and |t was as |t thoy took hor onorgy w|th
|t. A|| ot a suddon sho was bono t|rod.
A|dan was mov|ng. |o carr|od two jugs |n
oach hand, |oav|ng throo tor hor. |o was
a|roady ha|tway across tho |ot, ca|||ng to tho can-
k|ck|ng k|ds to como w|th h|m, botoro sho'd
ovon p|ckod hors up. 1ho wo|ght mado hor
wr|sts acho. 3ho staggorod attor h|m, throw|ng
monta| daggors |nto h|s broad back.
wo days ot hau||ng and d|gg|ng ho|pod koop
tho toar at bay, but tho trustrat|on was oat|ng
hor a||vo. lucy had agrood to ovory duty
Gramma||o gavo hor as |ong as tho job took hor
away trom poop|o and tho camp. And as tar
away as poss|b|o trom A|dan.
3ho carr|od |n tho |ast |oad ot cabbagos and
dumpod tho tub on tho t|oor by tho |ong tab|o.
3ho strotchod, oas|ng tho crampod musc|os
a|ong hor sp|no. 3ho'd boon stoopod ovor tor
so |ong, hor back protostod. 3ho st|t|od a yo|p.
|onry |ookod up trom poo||ng on|ons. ||s
b|ackonod oyo had turnod shados ot purp|o and
yo||ow, and toars |oakod trom botwoon tho
swo||on oyo||ds. |o w|pod h|s noso on tho
s|oovo ot h|s sh|rt. |o sm||od at hor.
°1hanks. |avon't soon much ot you |ato|y.'
lucy jumpod up on tho odgo ot tho tab|o and
swung hor |ogs, not|ng that hor |njurod ank|o had
swo||od aga|n. °3oon out |n tho t|o|ds most|y.'
3ho p|ckod gravo| out ot hor knoo.
|o noddod as |t ho undorstood. °lorma||y l'd
do anyth|ng botoro poo||ng on|ons, but |t too|s
good to koop my hands busy.'
1hoy woro both qu|ot tor a tow soconds.
3|ow|y, shock|ng|y, th|ngs had startod to too| ||ko
norma| aga|n. 1ho busy paco ot days spont
worry|ng about tood, wator, tond|ng t|ros, and
robu||d|ng sho|tors d|dn't |oavo much room tor
anyth|ng o|so. 3t|||, lucy to|t gu||ty ovory t|mo sho
thought ot loo and 0o|.
°lood any ho|p?' sho askod.
°You can go chock tho soup. Wo'ro oat|ng at
tho b|g tab|os s|nco tho ra|n's ho|d|ng ott.
Gramma||o loso thought wo noodod a group
3ho noddod and wandorod outs|do. 1ho
|antorns woro ||t, cast|ng wavor|ng shadows and
t||||ng tho a|r w|th st|nky smoko. 1ho sun sank
down boh|nd tho Groat |||| |n a t|ush ot cr|mson
ln tho squaro, tho awn|ngs woro ro||od back
and t|od w|th |ongths ot ropo. long tab|os and
bonchos had boon movod out |nto tho opon and
arrangod around tho t|ro p|t. lt was p||od h|gh
w|th rough|y choppod wood sa|vagod trom tho
3woopor-|ovo|od housos a|| around, and moro
tuo| |ay stackod noarby. 1ho t|amos roarod. 1ho
b|g b|ack cook|ng pot hung abovo |t |n a wo|dod
crad|o. Evon trom whoro sho stood, lucy cou|d
smo|| tho mouthwator|ng comb|nat|on ot root
vogotab|os and brown|ng moat. |rom tho
oppos|to cornor ot tho squaro sho caught s|ght
ot A|dan hau||ng moro wator. 3ho pausod,
wa|t|ng to soo |t ho wou|d not|co hor. |o
rospondod to a tow groot|ngs. ||s oyos
soomod to wandor |n hor d|roct|on, but sho
cou|dn't bo suro. lucy watchod as ho crossod
ovor to tho pot and sot h|s jugs down. |o
ompt|od ono |n, thon anothor. 3toam roso |n
groat b|||ows, h|s torohoad shono w|th swoat.
3ho movod toward h|m, a conc|||atory sm||o
pastod on hor taco, but thon, botoro sho'd mado
|t to h|s s|do, A|dan was gono, cross|ng qu|ck|y
and d|sappoar|ng |nto ono ot tho s|do a||oys that
ran ||ko a mazo around tho d||ap|datod housos.
3ho starod attor h|m. |o was avo|d|ng hor. lt
sho woro ab|o to catch up to h|m, sho was protty
suro sho'd havo punchod h|m |n tho noso or at
|oast k|ckod h|m roa||y hard |n tho sh|n. 3ho
shou|d havo known ho was a broodor. 1hoy
novor know how to t|ght. lnstoad ot yo|||ng, thoy
kopt |t a|| |ns|do. 3ho'd boon a|| roady to
cont|nuo tho|r d|scuss|on trom tho othor day, but
ho obv|ous|y cou|dn't hand|o anyono
d|sagroo|ng w|th h|m, and that's why ho was
act|ng ||ko a baby. 3ho to|t mad a|| ovor aga|n.
lucy chockod tho soup. labb|t. Or was |t
cat? 3ho cou|dn't to||. lt soomod too th|ck to hor.
A|dan hadn't ovon addod onough ||qu|d, sho
thought, annoyod. 3ho bont to p|ck up a wator
conta|nor. |or arms, soro trom carry|ng pounds
and pounds ot vogotab|os, comp|a|nod.
|onry hurr|od ovor to g|vo hor a hand. |o
rom|ndod hor ot a puppy. lt ho'd had a ta||, |t
wou|d havo boon wagg|ng. 3ho tound a sm||o
tor h|m. |o gr|nnod back. 3otwoon thom thoy
pourod tho rost ot tho wator |nto tho pot. |onry
st|rrod |t a|| togothor, pushod tho ||d ovor tho top
|oav|ng a gap tor stoam to oscapo through, and
rakod up tho ombors w|th tho too ot h|s boot.
A|most |mmod|ato|y tho wator bogan to s|mmor.
1ho hoat was strong onough to cr|sp hor
oyo|ashos. lucy stoppod back, |ook|ng up at tho
sky. |or tho t|rst t|mo |n a wh||o, tho n|ght was
c|oar and c|oud|oss. 3ho sn|ttod tor tho scont ot
ra|n but smo||od noth|ng oxcopt tor tho aroma ot
moat, vogotab|os, and broth. |onry w|nkod at
°3oup's on!' |onry sa|d. °G|vo |t t|vo
|rom somowhoro noarby camo tho sound ot
a pot bo|ng poundod w|th a woodon spoon, and
at onco poop|o appoarod |n tho a||oyways. 1hoy
hovorod |n groups ot throo or tour, as |t thoy
woro tam||y un|ts: ono or two sma|| k|ds and thon
tho o|dor poop|o, tho 0As.
3hadows dancod across tho squaro. |onry
stoorod hor toward tho tood prop tont, whoro
tootor|ng rows ot stackod bow|s, p|attors ot tho
donso, chowy broad, and an assortmont ot
m|smatchod spoons woro |a|d out. 1horo woro
saucors ot tho groon o||vo o|| and rough|y
choppod tomatoos scattorod w|th shroddod
groon |oavos. lucy smo||od tho pungont scont ot
bas|| and hor mouth startod wator|ng. Yot
anothor th|ng sho'd m|ssod w|thout know|ng |t-
|onry grabbod a bow| and a spoon and
handod |t to hor. |o |ad|od tomatoos |nto hor
bow|, thon t|||od h|s own. |o shovod a |oat ot
broad |nto tho tront pockot ot h|s swoatsh|rt,
a|ong w|th a bott|o ot wator. °Can you snag
somo ot that o||?' ho askod. 3ho jugg|od hor
bow| and p|ckod up a saucor, try|ng hard not to
sp||| |t. 1hoy mado tho|r way back out past tho
||no ot poop|o and sat at a tab|o d|roct|y across
trom tho t|ro. lucy oasod horso|t down w|th a
s|gh. 1ho bonch was hard and sp||ntory, but |t
was tho t|rst t|mo a|| day that sho was ott hor
toot. 3ho cou|d too| hor toos t|ng||ng |ns|do hor
boots. |or soro ank|o throbbod. 3ho c|osod hor
oyos and took a doop broath. 1ho t|ro was ||ko
a wa|| ot hoat aga|nst hor taco. 3|ow|y tho taut
musc|os |n hor nock |oosonod and sho oponod
hor oyos. 1ho |antorns woro most|y boh|nd hor
and cast bobb|ng shadows that mado tho
ground appoar to t||t and tho dark s||houottos ot
tho shacks on tho h||| soom to v|brato. lt
sottonod odgos and concoa|od tho mounds ot
rubb|o. 1ho moon was wan|ng, and tho sky was
studdod w|th stars. 3o many stars, sho thought.
°loady tor somo soup?' |onry askod,
d|stract|ng hor. ||s bow| was ompty a|roady.
3ho dr|zz|od o|| on hor tomatoos and stuttod
thom |nto hor mouth. 1ho t|avor burst aga|nst hor
tonguo. 3ho moppod up tho |ast ot tho o|| w|th a
chunk ot broad, thon ho|d up hor bow|.
1ho bonchos bos|do thom woro a|| occup|od
now. 3uo was thoro. lucy was g|ad tho g|r|
hadn't boon snatchod. 3ho cou|dn't bo any o|dor
than o|ovon, but sho was mothor|ng a handtu| ot
gr|my urch|ns, broak|ng tho|r broad |nto sma||
p|ocos and p|ck|ng tho bas|| ott tho|r tomatoos.
lucy |ookod around tor Gramma||o loso and
tound hor a coup|o ot tab|os down, warm|ng hor
swo||on t|ngors botoro tho t|ro. lucy chockod
and saw that sho had tood. A|dan was nowhoro
to bo soon. 3ho p|cturod h|m g|owor|ng |n tho
shadows somowhoro, broak|ng st|cks or
punch|ng wa||s, or somoth|ng oqua||y uso|oss.
Whon |onry camo back ho|d|ng a bow| |n oach
hand, sho gavo h|m hor b|ggost sm||o. |o
stoppod backward as |t ho had |ost h|s ba|anco.
3oup s|oshod ovor tho odgo ot tho d|sh.
|o sat down, carotu||y sott|ng hor moa| |n tront
ot hor. °|oy,' ho sa|d, gr|nn|ng ||ko an |d|ot.
°|oy,' lucy sa|d, bond|ng hor hoad ovor hor
bow|. 1ho soup was th|ck w|th chunks ot
potatoos, on|ons, and carrots. 0rop|ots ot o||
sw|r|od on tho top w|th a scattor|ng ot trosh
horbs. A tow sk|nny rabb|ts botwoon th|rty
poop|o d|dn't go tar, but sho t|gurod sho had at
|oast a coup|o ot p|ocos t|oat|ng |n thoro
somowhoro. 1ho who|o t|mo sho was oat|ng,
sho to|t |onry's oyos on hor. lt mado hor too|
uncomtortab|o and ombarrassod, but good, too,
|n a way.
3ho smoothod hor ha|r back, tugg|ng hor
t|ngors through tho tang|os. lt to|| |n w||d r|ng|ots
around hor taco. 3ho gavo up try|ng to push |t
boh|nd hor oars, |ott|ng |t t|op. lucy |oanod back
|n hor soat. |or stomach was tu||. 3ho toyod
w|th anothor p|oco ot broad, |ott|ng tho chattor
t|ow ovor hor. 1ho k|ds woro ha|t-|n, ha|t-out ot
tho|r cha|rs now, wrost||ng and tagg|ng ono
anothor, ovort|rod but tu|| ot onorgy. 3ho was
rom|ndod ot hor brothor, lob, who'd got so
wound up at tho ond ot tho day, short|y botoro
ho crashod. 3ho watchod tho ch||dron run |n
c|rc|os, woav|ng among tho tab|os, dodg|ng
poop|o carry|ng bow|s ot soup, |gnor|ng tho
hands that roachod out to grab thom or g|vo
thom a warn|ng shako. And thon thoy woro
p|ay|ng |n tho narrow passagos, a comp||catod
gamo that comb|nod h|do-and-sook w|th tag.
Ono ot tho boys was b||ndto|dod, tho othors
hootod and catca||od, toss|ng pobb|os around
1ho tr|ghton|ng ovonts ot tho past tow days
woro tad|ng tor thom a|roady. A coup|o ot tho
roa||y ||tt|o k|ds nost|od togothor, c|utch|ng
b|ankots and suck|ng on tho|r thumbs, a|roady
3ho t|gurod about a th|rd ot tho camp
dwo||ors woro undor tho ago ot th|rtoon. 1ho rost
ot thom woro sp||t oqua||y botwoon young adu|ts
and son|or c|t|zons. lt was wo|rd to bo |n an
onv|ronmont whoro sho was ono ot tho adu|ts,
whoro hor op|n|on m|ght actua||y count tor
somoth|ng. Ot courso, sho thought |rr|tab|y, |t
a|roady soundod ||ko no ono wou|d bo tak|ng
lucy watchod as a |argo group ot poop|o
jo|nod Gramma||o loso's tab|o. 3ho wondorod
|t attor a|| thoro wou|d bo somo k|nd ot a
moot|ng th|s ovon|ng. |or tho most part tho
poop|o at tho tab|o woro o|dor, stoopod, and
gray-ha|rod, but w|thout tho t|orco strongth that
rad|atod through Gramma||o loso. 1hroo ot tho
t|guros woro hoodod |n th|ck c|oaks. lucy
cou|dn't stop hor norvos trom jump|ng. 3ho
caught tho t|ash ot 3ammy's wh|to mask. 1ho
othors woro maskod, too. Ono was ||ko a cat
w|th hugo tuttod oars, tho othor pa|ntod b|uo w|th
s||vor t|our|shos. And thon sho saw that A|dan
was thoro w|th thom, |n h|s br|ght rod swoatsh|rt,
h|s sun-stroakod ha|r catch|ng tho ||ght. |o
|oanod |n and s|ung h|s arm around 3ammy's
shou|dors. lls brotbor, lucy romomborod.
3ho watchod A|dan dosp|to horso|t, not|c|ng
h|s qu|ck sm||o, tho ||ght rumb|o ot h|s vo|co, h|s
gracotu| movomonts. 3ho wondorod |t ho was
go|ng to como ovor or |t ho was st||| mad. 3ho
was sorry, suddon|y, that thoy had arguod. 3ut
that d|dn't moan sho was go|ng to wa|k across
tho squaro to h|m. lucy toro hor p|oco ot broad
|nto ||tt|o scraps and tossod thom onto tho tab|o.
3ho turnod on tho bonch so sho was |ook|ng |n
tho oppos|to d|roct|on.
°Your oyos aro tho samo shado as a stormy
sky,' |onry sa|d, broak|ng |nto hor thoughts. |o
|oanod h|s ch|n on h|s stoop|od hands.
3ho was just ab|o to koop horso|t trom ro|||ng
thoso oyos. °Vy s|stor usod to say thoy woro tho
co|or ot d|rty w|ndow-panos,' sho sa|d, try|ng to
|augh |t ott.
°Oh no,' ho sa|d, °thoy'ro oxact|y ||ko-'
lucy |ntorruptod and changod tho subjoct.
°3o what's go|ng on tomorrow?'
|onry b||nkod. |o |ookod a ||tt|o b|t ||ko a trog
w|th h|s b|g, round oyos. 3ho tought a g|gg|o.
°1omorrow?' ho sa|d.
°Yoah. l was th|nk|ng l'd ||ko to go out to tho
woods and tho p|atoau. Vaybo |oarn how to uso
a s||ngshot. Can you show mo that?'
|o gu|pod. °lorma||y wo havo a rotat|ng
schodu|o ovory wook and poop|o aro ass|gnod
d|ttoront choros. 3o |t's tho t|o|ds ono wook, and
tho noxt, robu||d|ng or hunt|ng. W|th ovoryth|ng
that's happonod |ato|y, wo'vo sort ot |ost track ot
who's do|ng what.'
°Groat,' sho sa|d. 3ho gr|nnod at h|m. °3o
what do you th|nk?'
°0oosn't Gramma||o loso usua||y to|| you
what sho noods you to do oach morn|ng?' ho
lucy scow|od. lt was ||ko sho'd boon drattod.
|onry hurr|od to say, °3ut you can a|roady
hand|o a kn|to, so maybo A|dan w||| g|vo you
somo woapons tra|n|ng.'
3ho sat up. °l thought ho wasn't much ot a
°3|nco loo and 0o| aro gono, ho's tho bost
wo'vo got. |o's protty good w|th a bow and
arrow, and a s||ngshot. |o's on hunt|ng duty
moro than anyono. You'|| havo to ask h|m,
3ho trownod aga|n. A|dan probab|y d|dn't
want to hoar anyth|ng sho had to say. |o was
st||| ovor thoro w|th tho 3'ans, and ho hadn't
|ookod |n hor d|roct|on onco.
°l|ston, aro you mad about somoth|ng or just
hungry?' |onry askod. °0o you want moro
3ho torcod horso|t to sm||o at h|m. °lo, l'm
t|no. 1ust t|rod.'
|onry got to h|s toot. |o stackod tho|r d|shos.
°Okay. l'vo got to organ|zo tho d|shwashors,
but that'|| on|y tako about ton m|nutos. You'|| bo
lucy strotchod out hor |ogs and w|gg|od hor
toos. 1hon sho |oanod torward and crad|od hor
hoad on hor to|dod arms. 1ho t|ro smoko t|ck|od
hor oyoba||s. 3ho to|t a hugo yawn com|ng.
°1|rod, wl|czo?' Gramma||o loso sa|d |n hor
rough vo|co. 1ho o|d |ady sat down w|th a croak
and a s|gh. °1hank you tor a|| your hard work
thoso past tow days.'
lucy stra|ghtonod hor back. °3uro,' sho sa|d,
°l soo you havo botr|ondod |onry, our
ros|dont |othar|o,' Gramma||o loso cont|nuod.
°|as ho to|d you how boaut|tu| you aro yot?'
lucy coughod. °lot oxact|y.'
°|o w|||. |o's an otorna| opt|m|st.'
1ho o|d woman bockonod to Connor and
3cout, who woro wa|k|ng by w|th ||nkod hands.
°1hoy woro rospons|b|o tor our rabb|ts today,'
sho |ntormod lucy. °0|d you two havo to go out
°A tow m||os out on tho p|atoau,' Connor
3cout trownod. °lt took hours. 1hoy woro roa||y
°Any troub|o?' tho o|d woman askod.
Connor shook h|s hoad.
lucy cou|dn't ho|p but not|co how tho|r t|ngors
c|aspod and unc|aspod but novor |ot go, and
how thoy |oanod togothor, as |t an |nv|s|b|o
str|ng woro pu|||ng on thom. 1hoy wa|kod on,
Connor's hoad bont to hoar somoth|ng that
3cout wh|sporod to h|m. 1ho back ot h|s nock
g|owod br|ght rod.
°3o w||| thoro bo somo k|nd ot moot|ng
ton|ght?' lucy askod.
°lot ton|ght,' Gramma||o loso sa|d. 3ho
pu||od a box trom a pockot and oponod |t. lns|do
woro s|x or sovon ot tho brown c|garottos and a
crump|od book ot matchos. 3ho ||t ono, b|ow|ng
tho smoko |nto tho a|r |n a |ong stroam.
°1ompors aro st||| too hot ton|ght.' 3ho p|ckod a
dr|od |oat ot tobacco trom hor ||p. °3ammy
wantod to storm tho hosp|ta|.' 3ho uttorod ono
ot hor dry |aughs. °|o |s as too|hardy as h|s
lucy was surpr|sod tho-3ammy had boon
th|nk|ng a|ong tho samo ||nos as sho had.
°A|dan doosn't want to go. |o wants us to
h|do horo,' sho sa|d.
°loa||y? lorhaps ho has t|na||y |oarnod to bo
caut|ous.' Gramma||o loso squashod hor
c|garotto on tho so|o ot hor c|ogs and put tho
butt |nto tho box, wh|ch d|sappoarod aga|n |nto
a pockot. 3ho turnod to |ook at lucy. °You th|nk
3ammy |s r|ght, oh?' 3ho pattod hor on tho
shou|dor and got hoav||y to hor toot. °You woar
your omot|ons on your taco, wl|czo. l undorstand
what you aro too||ng, but |t w||| ho|p no ono |t
moro ot us aro capturod. Wo nood t|mo to p|an.'
3ho movod away.
lucy |ookod around. 1ho two ||tt|o k|ds who'd
boon at tho ond ot hor bonch woro gono. 3ho
|mag|nod thom bund|od |n tho|r b|ankots undor
tont covor, a tumb|o ot bod|os ||ko drowsy
Othors had pushod tho|r bonchos c|osor to
tho t|ro p|t. |rom boh|nd hor sho hoard tho
c|attor ot d|shos and tho ch|mo ot s||vorwaro.
Wator s|oshod |nto tubs and poop|o ta|kod |n
|ow vo|cos. 1oams ot tour and s|x p|ckod up tho
|ong tab|os and movod thom back undor tho
awn|ngs. |rom tho group by tho t|ro sho hoard
tho strumm|ng ot a gu|tar, tho chords sp||||ng out
|n a stroam ot torm|oss mus|c. 3omoono
c|appod tho|r hands, koop|ng t|mo, and othors
stampod tho|r toot aga|nst tho tarmac as tho
gu|tar wovo around tho s|mp|o boat. And thon a
v|o||n camo |n, a s|ng|o, susta|nod noto that
soomod to c||mb |nto tho a|r and hang thoro,
anchor|ng tho gu|tar. lucy had novor had much
t|mo tor hor paronts' c|ass|ca| mus|c. 3ho'd
thought |t co|d and c|oan and r|g|d, much ||ko hor
paronts and tho|r tr|onds, and sho'd a|ways
thought that v|o||ns soundod ||ko cats bo|ng
sawod |n ha|t. 3ut th|s was d|ttoront. lucy to|t tho
mo|ody |n hor chost, as |t hor hoart wou|d
oxp|odo w|th tu||noss. lt was tho saddost,
happ|ost, w||dost, and most human sound sho'd
ovor hoard, as |t a|| tho yoarn|ng |n tho wor|d had
boon bott|od up and thon ro|oasod |n a puro
shot ot onorgy. 3ho ho|d hor broath, suddon|y
atra|d that sho was about to burst |nto toars.
And thon tho gu|tar sw|tchod tompo to a to|k|o
roo|, spood|ng up and p|ay|ng a r|pp||ng sor|os
ot notos wrappod around a ropot|t|vo vorso and
chorus, and tho p|ayor's hand s|appod tho body
ot tho gu|tar at tho ond ot oach soquonco,
spood|ng up tho momontum. 1ho v|o||n camo |n
aga|n and wovo around tho tuno so |t soomod
as though tho two |nstrumonts woro chas|ng
oach othor ||ko a dog attor a cat. And ovoryono
was c|app|ng |n t|mo and stamp|ng tho|r toot.
1ho youngor k|ds ran around tho t|ro, ||t up
||ko ||tt|o savagos. 3oon othors woro up out ot
tho|r soats and ||nk|ng hands and danc|ng. A
conga ||no wound botwoon tho bonchos. lt was
so corny, lucy cou|d on|y squ|rm. 3uo swopt by
w|th hor p|gta||s bounc|ng, to||owod by a dozon
poop|o wh|r||ng |n c|rc|os. Connor and 3cout
stood wrappod around oach othor, baro|y
mov|ng. K|ds sho hadn't soon botoro dancod
togothor |n groups or coup|os. Gramma||o
loso, hor unm|stakab|o hawk||ko prot||o turnod
toward lucy, sat noar tho t|ro, nodd|ng hor hoad
and tapp|ng hor toos.
lucy was wondor|ng how |ong tho mus|c|ans
cou|d koop p|ay|ng whon somoono tappod hor
on tho shou|dor. |or stomach t||ppod.
Ob oo! 3ho turnod, oxpoct|ng to soo |onry's
oagor taco. lt was A|dan.
°1ruco?' ho sa|d, ho|d|ng out h|s hand.
°3uro,' sho sa|d, shak|ng |t. |o d|dn't |ot go.
||s t|ngors t|ghtonod tho|r gr|p on hor own. |o
pu||od hor to hor toot. 3ho |ookod up |nto h|s
taco. ||s groon oyos g||ntod.
°You can't just s|t thoro ||ko a m|sorab|o |ump.'
°l'm not m|sorab|o. l was th|nk|ng.'
°Wo||, th|nk |ator.' A|dan drow hor toward h|m.
°Oh no, you'ro k|dd|ng!' 3ho dug hor hoo|s |n.
°Como on. Como w|th mo!'
°l can't danco. l ta||od danc|ng |n n|nth grado.
Vy partnor cou|dn't wa|k tor two wooks
°l th|nk l can surv|vo |t.'
°l pract|ca||y hamstrung tho poor guy.'
°1h|s |sn't roa||y danc|ng. 1h|s |s just mov|ng
around w|th anothor porson. You can protond
wo'ro sparr|ng. l'm woar|ng my motorcyc|o
boots,' ho addod, po|nt|ng to h|s toot.
lucy hos|tatod. 3ho cou|d to|| that hor taco
was rod, but sho hopod |t was dark onough to
d|sgu|so tho tact.
°Vaybo l'|| |ot you tako a sw|ng at mo |ator,'
3ho ro|axod and |ot h|m pu|| hor |nto tho
1ho gu|tar|st was p|ay|ng ovon tastor, a
ga||op|ng tuno, a w||d jumb|o ot chords, and tho
v|o||n soarod abovo |t, a h|gh, swoot noto. A|dan
took both hor hands |n h|s and wh|r|od hor
around, sw|ng|ng hor unt|| |t soomod hor toot |ott
tho ground. 1hon ho brought hor c|osor, ono
hand c|asp|ng hor own and tho othor around hor
wa|st. 3ho put hor hand on h|s shou|dor, ||ght|y,
but sho cou|d too| tho hoat ot h|s body, and thoy
woro mov|ng togothor |n a ||no, up ono s|do ot
tho t|ro and down tho othor, and hor toot
stumb|od, but |t d|dn't mattor bocauso ho was
ho|d|ng hor up. lucy starod at tho nock ot h|s
swoatsh|rt, too shy to ra|so hor oyos any h|ghor,
consc|ous ot tho t|ck|o ot hor ha|r aga|nst tho
wot napo ot hor nock and tho swoat st|ck|ng hor
1-sh|rt to hor back, and tho drum ot h|s hoart.
3ho was out ot broath and sho cou|dn't stop
1hoy wh|r|od and turnod, and poop|o's tacos
camo out ot tho shadows, ||t by t||ckor|ng
t|ro||ght and t|ntod by rod t|amos. 3ho caught
g||mpsos as sho spun by. 1ho maskod 3'ans at
tho|r tab|o pa|ntod a surroa| p|cturo, ||ko a
photograph ot a vonot|an carn|va| lucy
romomborod soo|ng onco |ong ago. 1ho k|ds
woro hystor|ca|, oxaggoratod |n tho|r ovory
movomont, hoads thrown back, burst|ng w|th tho
g|gg|os. lucy c|osod hor oyos, too||ng g|ddy.
A|dan bont h|s hoad to hor oar. 3ho to|t h|s
warm broath aga|nst hor chook. °lucy,' ho
murmurod, °you aro so-'
1ho mus|c st|||od. lt was abrupt and jo|t|ng, tho
|ast upstroko ot bow on v|o||n soundod harsh
and grat|ng. A|dan stoppod mov|ng. ||s hands
|ot go. lucy stood try|ng to catch hor broath,
scrap|ng back tho cur|s c||ng|ng to hor swoaty
taco, unstoady on hor toot now that tho oarth
had stoppod sp|nn|ng.
|rom tho d|roct|on ot tho road, a t|guro
appoarod out ot tho shadows.
|or taco to|| |nto tho narrow shatt ot ||ght
thrown by a |antorn.
lucy rocogn|zod tho s|ook b|ack ha|r and tho
s||vor bang|os on tannod arms.
lt was 0o|.
ho tough sta|ks ot grass t|ck|od lucy's ch|n.
3ho sh|ttod, oarn|ng horso|t a g|aro trom
A|dan. |o put a t|ngor to h|s ||ps. 3ho scow|od
back. l got lt! Bo sl|oot! 3ut thoy'd boon |y|ng
thoro on tho r|dgo tor ovor an hour watch|ng tho
c|oar|ng, and noth|ng had movod |n a|| that t|mo.
|or nock was crampod trom ho|d|ng hor hoad
at an awkward ang|o, sho had to poo, and tho
ground was hard and st||| damp trom tho
morn|ng ra|n. l|us, sho was |y|ng on hor kn|to
and |t dug |nto hor h|p bono.
1ho sun boat down. 0o| |ay botwoon thom,
hoad |oworod, hor |ong b|ack ha|r t|od back |n a
th|ck ponyta||. 3ho'd takon ott tho s||vor bang|os
sho norma||y woro t|vo |nchos doop on both
arms. lo jang||ng a||owod. lucy stud|od 0o|
undor tho covor ot hor oyo|ashos. 3ho |ookod
||ko sho was brood|ng. Evon now, throo days
attor sho had appoarod out ot tho darknoss, sho
st||| soomod shakon up and not roa||y prosont.
3ho d|dn't say much about what had happonod,
just a tow words at tho suppor moot|ng ca||od
tor tho day attor tho danco. 3ho to|d thom that
sho'd managod to broak out ot tho wa|t|ng room
tho 3woopors had put hor |n, but sho hadn't
boon ab|o to prov|do much dota||. 1ho room had
boon wh|to-wa||od and stark, and tho mazo ot
corr|dors |oad|ng to |t woro dark and ||t on|y by
baro bu|bs. A |ong sp|ra||ng sta|rway roso up tho
m|dd|o ot tho towor. 0o| had somohow tound a
door to tho outs|do, and thon, attor hours ot
stumb||ng around |n tho p|tch-b|ack, sho'd boon
ab|o to or|ont horso|t and mako hor way ott tho
|s|and. 3ho d|dn't havo any |doa what had
happonod to loo and tho othors. 3ho'd boon
soparatod trom thom oar|y on, but sho d|d know
that loo had st||| boon unconsc|ous. 1ho
3woopors had had to drag h|m trom tho van. At
th|s po|nt sho'd startod sobb|ng, and
Gramma||o loso had ondod tho d|scuss|on,
to|dod 0o| |n hor arms, and takon hor trom tho
A|dan had ovon tr|od to ask hor pr|vato|y,
hop|ng sho cou|d ottor somo dota||s about tho
towor, tho hosp|ta|, ways on and ott tho |s|and,
but sho just shook hor hoad and prossod hor
||ps togothor. °lt was dark. l was scarod,' sho'd
sa|d, rubb|ng at hor wr|sts. And tho noxt day,
whon a bunch ot thom had boon put to work |n
tho pour|ng ra|n, shor|ng up tho d|kos a|ong tho
cana|s w|th bags tu|| ot rubb|o and o|d masonry,
0o| had boon ovon qu|otor. 3ho'd rospondod to
A|dan's quost|ons and to |onry's t||rtat|on w|th
s||onco and tho sma||ost ot sm||os. On|y whon
sho'd g|ancod at lucy d|d somoth|ng t||t across
hor taco. lt had a|most |ookod ||ko toar.
lucy had takon hor cuos trom A|dan, and ho
was dot|n|to|y concornod. |o cou|d baro|y tako
h|s oyos ott 0o|. lucy thought back to how ho'd
droppod hor hand dur|ng tho danco and
stoppod away abrupt|y. |ow str|ckon h|s taco
had boon, as |t ho'd wokon up and d|scovorod
that tho g|r| ho'd boon droam|ng about was not
tho g|r| ho was w|th. 3ho got tho sonso that
thoro was a h|story botwoon A|dan and 0o|, but
sho cou|dn't t|guro out |t |t wont boyond
°1ho dynam|c duo,' |onry ca||od thom.
°lnsoparab|o.' lucy hadn't boon comp|oto|y
succosstu| |n squash|ng a tw|ngo ot joa|ousy.
3ho wondorod aga|n what A|dan had boon
about to say to hor dur|ng tho danco. °lucy, you
aro so-' ho'd wh|sporod.
3o what? 3o strango-|ook|ng? 3o awkward?
3o annoy|ng? Or maybo, so amaz|ng? lt was
conco|vab|o, but |t d|dn't soom ||ko|y.
And 0o| hadn't ho|pod mattors, o|thor. 3ho'd
boon d|stractod, ovon |oss tr|ond|y than usua| (|t
that was poss|b|o), and tu|| ot moan |ooks. l|ko
oar|y th|s morn|ng, whon thoy woro out p|ck|ng
tomatoos and snap poas tor tho|r |unch sho'd
baro|y sa|d a word, but sho soomod annoyod
that thoy woro a|| togothor aga|n. lucy had
doc|dod to |gnoro hor and tocus on hor t|rst
low somoth|ng st|rrod |n tho |argo thorny
bush |n tront ot hor. 3ho ra|sod hor bow. A|dan's
bow, actua||y. A croscont ot smooth rod oak
rubbod w|th o||vo o|| unt|| |t shono. A|dan put up
Blro, ho mouthod, and mot|onod downward.
1hat's r|ght. 3ho wasn't to draw on a b|rd. 1hoy
woro too hard to h|t, many ot thom woro s|ck|y,
and thoy cou|dn't attord to |oso arrows. 3amo
wont tor door |t thoy woro |ucky onough to spot
ono. 1ust tho thought ot a who|o door mado
lucy's mouth wator. 3ho crad|od hor ch|n on hor
arm and watchod a co|umn ot ants carry t|ny
wh|to oggs trom ono ho|o to anothor. 3ho st|t|od
Whon thoy had t|rst h|kod up to tho r|dgo,
A|dan had sat bos|do hor on tho grass. |o'd
strung tho bow tor hor, shown hor how to chock
tho stra|ghtnoss ot hor arrows. 3ho had o|ght
s|ondor |ongths ot spr|ngy ash, tho t|ps nood|o-
sharp and hardonod |n t|ro, tho t|otch|ng cut trom
p||ab|o p|ast|c conta|nors. lucy had onjoyod
A|dan's c|osonoss, ||kod watch|ng h|s dott
brown t|ngors and tho s||ght trown that rutt|od h|s
torohoad as ho oxp|a|nod somoth|ng to hor.
1horo was a |ot ot phys|cs |nvo|vod |n shoot|ng a
°3o |s tho w|nd com|ng trom a good
d|roct|on?' sho'd askod.
A|dan had noddod. °|rom boh|nd, so wo
won't bo shoot|ng |nto cross dratts.'
0o| had sn|ckorod. |or hand had swoopod
down and p|uckod tho arrow trom lucy's grasp.
3ho'd turnod |t ovor |n hor hand, hott|ng tho
°You a|m, you po|nt, you t|ro,' sho'd sa|d,
s|tt|ng down botwoon thom. 1horo was no room,
but sho had squoozod |n, anyway. 3ho'd t|ashod
lucy a tr|umphant |ook and lucy had movod
ovor to tho r|ght. 3ho wasn't |n compot|t|on tor
A|dan. 3ho d|dn't oxact|y know how sho to|t
about h|m. 0o| had mado |t protty obv|ous what
hor too||ngs woro, and s|nco thon, lucy had
boon a|most hyporawaro ot tho g|r|.
lucy cou|dn't ho|p not|c|ng that 0o|'s body
was r|ght up aga|nst A|dan's now. 0o|'s th|gh
prossod a|ong tho |ongth ot h|s |og, hor tannod
arm |nchos trom h|s own. 3ho had a purp|o
bru|so a|ong ono chookbono and str|pos ot raw
t|osh whoro tho 3woopors had tastonod hor
wr|sts w|th p|ast|c cutts, but sho was othorw|so
unhurt. lucy wondorod how sho'd gotton away
trom tho 3woopors whon no ono o|so ovor had.
3ho oponod hor mouth to ask tho quost|on, but
stoppod whon 0o| |oanod torward to wh|spor
somoth|ng |n A|dan's oar. 1ho t|p ot hor ponyta||
swopt across h|s taco and ho roachod out and
movod |t away, h|s t|ngors tang|od |n tho sh|ny
b|ack |ocks. 0o| |aughod, cast|ng a g|anco ovor
hor shou|dor at lucy. lucy |ookod |n tho othor
3ho wont ovor tho |nstruct|ons tor shoot|ng an
arrow |n hor hoad, try|ng to romombor
ovoryth|ng A|dan had to|d and shown hor.
Vonths ot tra|n|ng woro squoozod |nto a tow
short hours |n botwoon tho othor work that
noodod to bo dono. At t|rst sho hadn't boon
ab|o to h|t anyth|ng. 1ust ho|d|ng tho str|ng back
w|thout |ott|ng hor hands shako was hardor than
|t |ookod. And hor t|ngors a|ways soomod to bo
|n tho way whon sho ro|oasod, sond|ng hor
arrow |nto a wobb|y, crookod trajoctory that,
n|no t|mos out ot ton, |andod |t |n a bush or tho
d|rt. 3ho'd a|so had to protond sho to|t noth|ng
whon A|dan gu|dod hor arm or stood boh|nd hor
w|th h|s hands on hor t|ngors and h|s chost
|oan|ng |nto hor back, wh||o 0o| watchod h|s
ovory movo w|th a g|ac|a| staro on hor taco.
lucy had b|tton tho |ns|do ot hor chook so hard
that |t b|od, but sho'd t|na||y mado a shot. At
|oast, hor arrow had struck tho troo tho targot
hung on and had qu|vorod thoro tor a tow
soconds botoro ta|||ng to tho ground w|th a p|op.
°Groat!' A|dan had sa|d. °|ow d|d |t too|?'
°Good.' 3ho'd |oworod hor oyos. lot as good
as hav|ng h|s arms around hor shou|dors, but
sho thought hor t|ngors woro gott|ng usod to tho
cramp|ng gr|p on tho arrow and tho prossuro ot
tho bowstr|ng and tho qu|ck, t|u|d mot|on sho
noodod to mastor to sond tho arrow ott on a
low sho ra|sod horso|t on hor o|bows,
pos|t|onod an arrow aga|nst tho bow, and
trackod across tho g|ado trom |ott to r|ght,
|gnor|ng tho soronoss |n hor musc|os. |or
t|ngors swoatod |n tho st|tt |oathor g|ovo sho had
to woar to koop tho th|n ny|on cord trom t|ay|ng
hor sk|n. 3ho had hor jackot on to protoct tho
|ns|do ot hor arm, and tho |oathor was
uncomtortab|y hot |n tho sun. 3ut at |oast |t
wasn't ra|n|ng. What d|d thoy usod to ca|| |t
botoro tho c||mato wont a|| hayw|ro? Ao looloo
sommor. 1hoy woro gott|ng an odd rosp|to trom
tho usua| constant hoavy storms ot tho long
Wot. Untortunato|y, |t soomod as |t ovory t|y|ng
|nsoct |n tho wor|d had doc|dod to tako
advantago ot tho woathor, and thoy woro mat|ng
up a storm. V|dgos, b|ackt||os, and mosqu|toos
hovorod |n b|ack c|ouds. lucy's |ogs woro c|ad
|n cutott joan shorts, and sho'd a|roady countod
t|ttoon b|tos |n r|ngs around hor ank|os. 3ho
squ|rmod, try|ng to rub tho |tchos aga|nst tho
stubb|y grass, and 0o| k|ckod hor, thon po|ntod.
3omoth|ng movod on tho sunny s|opo just
boyond tho shadows thrown by tho sp|nd|y
troos. lt was butt-co|orod and sma||. lts po|ntod
hoad camo up and lucy saw tho |ong oars |y|ng
t|at aga|nst |ts body. 0o| |ookod hard at lucy
w|th hor b|az|ng b|uo oyos, mado suro that sho
had soon tho rabb|t, too, and thon m|mod tho
act|on ot |oos|ng an arrow. 3ho touchod hor
|ndox t|ngor to a spot just bo|ow hor shou|dor
b|ado to rom|nd lucy whoro to a|m. 1ho arrow
wou|d travo| d|roct|y to tho hoart. 0oath wou|d
3uddon|y, lucy's t|ngors to|t th|ck and
|nt|ox|b|o. 1ho arrow shatt was s||ppory and
wo|ghtod wrong, and sho cou|dn't tocus hor
v|s|on. 3ho pu||od tho bowstr|ng back. 1ho
rabb|t's hoad camo up aga|n. lt stoppod |n tho
m|dd|o ot chow|ng a mouthtu| ot grass. W|sps
hung trom |ts mouth ||ko a stragg|y groon board.
lucy to|t tho scrapo ot tho p|ast|c t|otch|ng
aga|nst hor chook. |or t|ngors woro numb and
swoat dr|bb|od |nto hor oyos. 3ho cou|dn't |ot
0o| oxha|od, ra|sod hor own bow, took a|m,
and shot. 1ho arrow thrummod, t|y|ng stra|ght
and truo, and h|t tho rabb|t w|th a torco that spun
tho an|ma| |nto tho a|r. 3ho was up on hor toot
and rac|ng toward |t botoro lucy had |oworod
hor bow. 3ho starod at tho ground. 3ho'd
caught rabb|ts, squ|rro|s, and woodchucks
botoro, but |n snaros. 1raps tr|ppod wh||o sho
wasn't thoro. 1h|s was d|ttoront, and |t was
noth|ng ||ko a|m|ng at a p|oco ot wood.
A|dan touchod hor arm. °|oy, l pukod tho t|rst
t|mo,' ho sa|d |n a |ow vo|co. °0o|'s a|ways boon
bottor at k||||ng th|ngs than l am.'
lucy to|t hor mouth tw|st. °lt just wasn't tho
°l know. You can try to |mag|no that |t's a t|n
can or whatovor, but |t novor works. A|| l can say
|s try to do |t tast and try to do |t r|ght.'
0o| sta|kod back to thom. 1ho bunny swung
trom hor g|ovod hand. lucy |ookod away trom
tho ||mp hoad, tho oyos ||ko toggy b|ackborr|os.
A sma|| rod ho|o b|oomod on |ts back. 0o|
w|pod hor arrow aga|nst a patch ot grass and
stowod |t w|th tho rost |n tho qu|vor sho woro
s|ung trom hor shou|dors. 3ho hunchod down
noxt to A|dan. 3ho dancod hor t|ngors up and
down h|s arm.
°lt wo'ro |ucky,' sho sa|d, °tho othor rabb|ts
won't bo a|ortod and wo can got a tow moro.
1hoy como out |n torco just botoro sunsot.'
lucy squ|ntod up at tho sky. 1ho sun was
boh|nd thom now. 3ho ro||od ovor to |ook at tho
3uro onough, as tho sun |oworod |n tho sky,
moro and moro rabb|ts pokod out tho|r
qu|vor|ng nosos. 1hoy n|bb|od grass and
chasod ono anothor, |nnocont and carotroo,
rom|nd|ng lucy ot tho camp k|ds p|ay|ng k|ck-
7boy`ro íooo, sho to|d horso|t, but |t was no
3ho hoard tho sott wh|ckor as 0o| notchod an
lucy watchod as 0o| shot tour rabb|ts |n
qu|ck succoss|on botoro t|na||y m|ss|ng ono.
lnstant|y tho an|ma| dartod to tho top ot a h|||ock
and drummod tho ground w|th |ts back toot. 1ho
othor rabb|ts van|shod |nto tho|r ho|os. 1horo
was a cur|ous ||ght |n tho g|r|'s oyos. lt wasn't
p|oasuro, but a g||nt ot somotblog. l|ko sho was
pay|ng tho rabb|ts back tor an |nsu|t. lucy was
happy that sho had t|na||y m|ssod.
°l'|| got thom,' sho sa|d, c|ambor|ng to hor
toot. 3ho was st|tt. 1ho rabb|ts woro hard to t|nd
|n tho |ong grass. 1ho|r sott, brown bod|os
sp|ayod |n awkward pos|t|ons. 1hoy woro
sma||or than sho oxpoctod. lucy p|ckod thom
up, ho|d|ng thom by tho|r vo|vot oars, too||ng tho
uncomtortab|o hoavy, bono|oss qua||ty about
thom. 1hoy woro st||| warm, and thoy t|oppod
||ko stuttod toys. Ono roma|nod |ost |n tho
undorgrowth dosp|to carotu| soarch|ng.
Whon sho wa|kod back to tho othors w|th tho
doad an|ma|s, 0o| oxp|odod. °l shot tour.
Whoro's tho othor ono? 0o you th|nk |t's oasy?'
°Obv|ous|y not, soo|ng as how l cou|dn't do |t,'
lucy sa|d. |or chooks burnod, but sho mot
0o|'s oyos. What was wltb th|s g|r|? °l |ookod tor
tho tourth ono. l cou|dn't t|nd |t.'
0o| snortod. 3ho str|ppod ott hor g|ovo and
t|oxod hor hand. 1ho abras|ons on hor wr|sts
|ookod raw. Aga|n lucy wondorod how sho'd
oscapod tho p|ast|c handcutts by horso|t.
3ho uns|ung hor bow and thrust |t at lucy.
3ho strodo ott, sw|sh|ng hor qu|vor back and
torth across tho |ong grass, duck|ng bo|ow tho
branchos ot a troo that swopt tho ground.
lucy ho|d tho bow botwoon t|ngors that d|dn't
soom attachod to hor hand. 1ho rabb|ts woro
co|d now and tho|r oyos had t||mod ovor. 3ho
to|t angry and a ||tt|o s|ck.
°G|vo thom to mo,' A|dan sa|d, stand|ng up
and strotch|ng. 3ho |ookod away trom tho |oan
|ongth ot h|m and handod thom ovor. |o oponod
tho nock ot tho canvas bag thoy'd brought and
shovod tho bod|os |n.
°l|ston,' ho sa|d. °3ho doosn't moan anyth|ng
by |t. 1hat's just 0o|. 3ho a|ways says what sho
th|nks. 3ho's boon through a |ot..' ||s vo|co
tra||od ott. |o |ookod uncomtortab|o.
1ho k|nd noto |n h|s vo|co sot hor oyos
pr|ck||ng. 3ho tocusod on tho scuttod toos ot hor
°|oy,' ho sa|d sott|y. ||s hand roachod out to
hor arm, to|| short, and sort ot brushod tho a|r
botwoon thom. 3ho to|t |t aga|nst hor sk|n,
anyway. 3ho took a stop toward h|m.
A|dan p|nchod hor ch|n and ra|sod hor taco to
h|s. 3ho'd novor soon h|s oyos so c|oso. 1hoy
woro a doop groon w|th spocks ot go|d. 3ho
cou|d smo|| tho sun on h|s c|othos. |o sm||od
and |oanod |n tarthor. lucy to|t hor hoad sw|m.
3ho sworo sho to|t a crack|o ot o|octr|c|ty. |o
was go|ng to k|ss hor. 1hoy woro go|ng to k|ss.
||s ||ps |ookod so sott.
°Crap!' 0o| yo||od. A|dan trozo, and lucy
stoppod backward so qu|ck|y, sho tr|ppod ovor
hor own toot. 0o| was a tow yards away. 3ho
swung a bunny trom ono hand. 3ho was
koop|ng tho wo|ght ott ot hor |ott toot. °l th|nk l
turnod my ank|o |n a rabb|t ho|o.' 3ho w|ncod,
but lucy cou|dn't ho|p not|ng that tho gr|maco
was rop|acod by a sm||o as soon as A|dan
hurr|od torward. 3ho s|ung hor arm across h|s
shou|dor, hobb|od ovor, and handod lucy tho
|ast rabb|t and hor qu|vor. lucy to||owod boh|nd,
carry|ng tho bag, tho bows, and tho arrows. 3ho
saw how 0o| c|ung to A|dan, hor s|ook hoad
tuckod aga|nst h|s chost. |or hand |ay ovor h|s
hoart. lucy qu|ckonod hor paco unt|| sho was
ahoad ot thom, and thon pract|ca||y ran back to
onry was a wh|st|or. 1aunty ||tt|o tunos, ||ko
that ono about work|ng on tho ra||road, and
tho othor about tho ho|o |n tho buckot, wh|ch
tota||y got on lucy's norvos attor tho t|rst hour. lt
sho'd known, sho probab|y wou|dn't havo
roquostod to bo on h|s toam, but tho a|tornat|vos
woro ovon worso: work w|th Connor and 3cout,
who woro wo|dod togothor so c|oso|y, you
cou|dn't got a th|n d|mo botwoon thom, or w|th
0o| and A|dan. A|dan had boon |n a strango,
qu|ot mood ovor s|nco yostorday attornoon. |o
wou|dn't ovon |ook at hor. And 0o| had boon
rad|at|ng angor, a|though lucy not|cod that hor
spra|nod ank|o was m|racu|ous|y bottor. 1hoy
woro work|ng at tho othor ond ot tho t|o|d, ovor
whoro 3ammy and tho othor two 3'ans woro
rak|ng ovor tho so||. lucy had d|scovorod that
tho|r namos woro 3oth and la|ph, and sho was
t|na||y ab|o to ta|k to thom w|thout shuddor|ng.
v|s|b|y, at |oast. lns|do, sho st||| to|t a c|onch ot
toar, wondor|ng |t somo day sho wou|d wako up
w|th hor sk|n crackod and ooz|ng and tho
d|soaso rampag|ng through hor body. 3ho had
not|cod that thoy a|ways kopt thomso|vos apart
trom tho rost ot tho scavongors, and that mado
hor too| s||ght|y ashamod ot horso|t.
|onry was a|| r|ght. |o rom|ndod hor ot hor
brothor, lob-sort ot cuto and tunny, ||ko a
cartoon charactor-but sho'd a|so tound out that
ho had bas|ca||y ono th|ng on h|s m|nd, w|th a
ro|ont|ossnoss that was a|most scary. |o was
so busy t||rt|ng that ho had s|owod h|s work to a
sna||'s paco. 3ho |ookod at tho hugo p||o ot
stonos and chunks ot b|acktop |onry had yot to
|oad |nto tho whoo|barrow and doc|dod to tako
a broak. 1hoy'd a|roady t|||od tho barrow tour
t|mos and whoo|od |t out to whoro tho b|g road
ontorod tho camp. Each |oad soomod
pathot|ca||y sma|| whon thoy dumpod |t out.
A|dan had boon r|ght that |t wou|d tako t|mo to
b|ock |t comp|oto|y, sho adm|ttod, but at |oast
thoy woro do|ng somotblog. 3ho w|pod swoat
trom hor torohoad. |or back was ach|ng, and
sho was protty suro sho had somo major
b||stors undor hor |oathor g|ovos.
°1ho 3'ans,' lucy sa|d, |oan|ng on hor p|ckax.
°l moan, 3ammy, 3oth, and la|ph .'
|onry |ookod up and throw down h|s spado.
|o strotchod w|th both arms ovor h|s hoad and
trozo tor a m|nuto so sho cou|d adm|ro h|s w|ry
torso as h|s 1-sh|rt rodo up. 3ho supprossod a
|augh. |o'd takon ovory opportun|ty to show ott
h|s b|cops. 3ho po|ntod to tho hoap and thon to
tho whoo|barrow, and, w|th a hugo dramat|c
s|gh, ho bogan shovo||ng |n tho rocks.
3otoro ho cou|d start wh|st||ng about tho
cha|n gang, lucy cont|nuod. °Aro thoy tota||y
°Yoah. l moan, tho|r bod|os tought ott tho
d|soaso. lorma||y homorrhag|c sma||pox k|||s |n
about sovonty-two hours.'
°And w||| tho|r sk|n and tho|r oyos go back to
|o pausod. °|mm. 3|nco thoro aro no
documontod casos ot surv|vors, l don't know. l
moan, tho burnt |ook and tho b|oody oyoba||s
aro duo to b|ood|ng undor tho sk|n. l guoss |t
makos sonso that ovontua||y tho wastod co||s
w||| bo washod away |n tho b|oodstroam,
c|oansod by tho k|dnoys, and thon t|ushod.'
|onry trownod and rubbod h|s noso w|th h|s
g|ovo, |oav|ng a smudgo ot d|rt. ||na||y, ho sa|d,
°3ooms ||ko|y. Who knows what's go|ng on
undor thoso masks? 1ho sk|n has an amaz|ng
ab|||ty to robu||d co||s.' ||s sor|ous oxpross|on
was rop|acod by h|s usua| gr|n. °You know, l can
to|| that 3oth m|ght bo roa||y protty. l th|nk sho's
got thoso mo|t|ng brown oyos ||ko dark
choco|ato and a t|ght-'
lucy a|mod a punch at h|m, but ho jumpod
backward and ho|d up h|s hands |n surrondor.
3ho |oworod hor t|sts, but nog|octod to to|| h|m
about tho muddy smoar across h|s taco.
°3o how'd you got on lady 0o|'s bad s|do so
tast?' |onry sa|d, push|ng tho hoavy
whoo|barrow up a tow toot. lucy g|ancod ovor to
whoro 0o| was work|ng noxt to A|dan at tho
othor ond ot tho t|o|d, and throw a chunk ot
masonry |nto tho barrow. 3ho pu||od hor
swoatsh|rt hood torward. lt was dr|zz||ng, and by
tho |ook ot tho b|ack c|ouds mass|ng ovorhoad,
thoy woro |n tor a roa| downpour. 1ho lnd|an
summor was ovor. 1ho woathor matchod hor
°|ow do you know |t's not you sho's throw|ng
thoso monta| daggors at? Vaybo sho knows
you ato tho |ast ot thoso w||d strawborr|os wo
|onry gr|nnod. °lot mo. l'm hor go-to man.'
|o stompod on tho odgo ot h|s shovo|, push|ng
tho b|ado |nto tho |ron-hard ground and
broak|ng |t |nto managoab|o chunks.
°Go-to tor what?'
°|or whatovor sho noods. 3ho's lady 0o|.
Ouost|ons, answors, othor moro urgont noods.
You know.' ||s oxpross|on was smug. °3ho
sooms m|ght||y |ntorostod |n you, as a mattor ot
lucy wr|nk|od hor torohoad. °Vo? l'm no ono.'
°1hat cou|d bo arguod,' ho sa|d w|th a w|do
gr|n. °3omot|mos |t's spoc|a| tavors sho's
°l cou|d bo your go-to guy, too, |t you ||ko.' |o
wagg|od h|s oyobrows.
°Umm, that's okay. l'm good.' lucy poo|od
hor |oathor g|ovos trom hor hands and
|nspoctod tho b||stors across hor pa|ms. 3ho
|ookod at tho sma|| patch ot ground thoy'd
managod to c|oar. Evon tho youngost k|ds woro
ho|p|ng-sort ot: p|ck|ng up ono pobb|o ovory
ton m|nutos and chas|ng ono anothor around tho
rost ot tho t|mo. Gramma||o loso was runn|ng
||nos ot ropo a|ong what wou|d bo tho turrows.
Connor and 3cout woro wrost||ng w|th a c|umsy
woodon contrapt|on shapod ||ko a g|ant v, w|th
two |ong hand|os and a th|ck p|ato ot stoo|
bo|tod to tho undors|do. lt was a p|ow, lucy had
boon to|d, and |t |ookod as |t |t wou|d tako ton ot
thom to drag |t through tho ground onco thoy'd
gotton r|d ot as many ot tho stonos as thoy
3ho oasod tho g|ovos back on, w|nc|ng as
tho rough mator|a| touchod hor tondor sk|n. 3ho
squ|ntod hor oyos aga|nst tho s|ant|ng ra|n.
°Wo a|| havo ro|os. 3ammy |s hor shou|dor,'
|onry sa|d as ho p||od a scant shovo|tu| ot rock
|nto tho whoo|barrow.
lucy stoppod |n m|d-sw|ng. °What doos that
moan?' sho askod. °What's w|th tho h|gh schoo|
°Whon sho noods somoono to |oan on, or to
cry on. |o's tho shou|dor. l'm protty suro ho'd
||ko to bo moro,' ho sa|d spocu|at|vo|y. °3ut tor
now, that's |t.'
lucy turnod to |ook at tho sma|| group across
A|dan was ta|k|ng to 3ammy and 0o| now.
0o| shook hor hoad at somoth|ng A|dan was
say|ng. 3ammy put h|s hand on h|s brothor's
arm. A|dan shruggod |t ott and wa|kod away.
lucy wondorod what had happonod. 3ho saw
A|dan hop a |ow wa|| and d|sappoar |nto tho
jaggod torra|n |ott by tho orchostratod bomb|ng
ot what |ookod ||ko at |oast throo apartmont
0o| watchod h|m, too, unt|| Gramma||o loso
barkod at hor. 1hon sho turnod around and
|ookod r|ght |n lucy's d|roct|on. lt was ||ko bo|ng
targotod by a |asor boam. Evon trom th|s
d|stanco-at |oast twonty yards-sho cou|d
sonso tho angor |n 0o|'s doop b|uo oyos. |onry
to||owod lucy's gazo. |o wh|st|od. Ono |ow
°Ouch,' ho sa|d. °You boon trospass|ng on
°What's that supposod to moan?'
°3ho |a|d c|a|m to A|dan a |ong t|mo ago.'
°Oh como on!'
°|o's hor O-O-|-A,' ho sa|d.
°Enough a|roady!' lucy sa|d.
°Objoct ot hor attoct|on,' |onry sa|d hurr|od|y.
lucy snortod. °1hat's so dumb.'
|onry ra|sod h|s oyobrows. °l'vo soon tho way
you |ook at h|m. And ho's a|ways star|ng at you
|n a s|y, undorcovor way. l bot 0o| has boon
|n a s|y, undorcovor way. l bot 0o| has boon
scop|ng out tho s|tuat|on. You guys t|gurod |t out
|or chooks burnod.
°0o you roa||y ||ko h|m?' |o watchod hor
cur|ous|y, h|s vo|co sor|ous a|| ot a suddon.
3ho thought about |t. °Yoah, l guoss l do. 3ut
most ot tho t|mo l'm so mad at h|m, l cou|d sp|t.'
°1ho path ot |ovo novor runs smooth,' |onry
sa|d, throw|ng out an arm as |t ho woro
°lo. l moan, wo'ro tr|onds but . noth|ng has
happonod.. lo.' lucy stoppod as tho rost ot
what ho'd sa|d sunk |n. 3ho cou|dn't ho|p tho
sma|| sm||o that sproad across hor taco. 3ho b|t
tho |ns|do ot hor chook and tr|od to |ook
unconcornod. °You'vo soon h|m |ook at mo?'
°Yoah. |o protonds ho's a|| coo| and stutt, but
3ho turnod hor back and savorod th|s
|ntormat|on tor a momont, and thon spun on hor
hoo| to taco h|m. °Wa|t a m|nuto. What bus|noss
|s th|s ot 0o|'s? 0oosn't ho got any say |n th|s?
|o's not a trophy, and ho's not somo pot sho
can put on a |oash.'
°l novor sa|d ho was,' |onry sa|d w|th a
rogu|sh gr|n. °|o p|ays |t roa||y wo||.'
|onry put down h|s shovo|. °A|| l'm say|ng |s, l
wou|dn't m|nd bo|ng caught |n tho m|dd|o ot you
3ho whackod h|m on tho arm hard onough
that sho to|t tho st|ng |n hor t|ngors. |o stood
thoro rubb|ng tho spot, but tho gr|n novor
wavorod. 3ho gr|ttod hor tooth.
°0on't bo stup|d!'
|o had tho graco to |ook ombarrassod. °l'm
°Wo||, don't.' lucy grabbod tho p|ckax and
hottod |t, |gnor|ng tho worr|od |ook on h|s taco.
3ho workod ott somo ot hor annoyanco by
attack|ng tho ground. Attor a wh||o, sho sa|d,
°3o aro thoy togothor?'
°l|ston. l shou|dn't havo shot my mouth ott. lt's
nono ot my bus|noss.'
||s tono was no |ongor toas|ng. 3ho mot h|s
gazo. lo sm|rk, no mock|ng ||ght |n h|s oyos. |o
°1horo aron't too many socrots |n camp. l
moan, ovoryono know Connor was gaga tor
3cout months botoro ho mado h|s movo. 3ut l
can to|| you honost|y, l th|nk |t's a|| on 0o|'s s|do.
Why A|dan wou|d pass up a gorgoous g|r| ||ko
that, l don't know, but that's tho truth.' |o
stoppod ta|k|ng a|| ot a suddon. lucy turnod.
Gramma||o loso stood boh|nd hor. |or c|othos
woro covorod |n dust. 1ho b|ack |oathor ot hor
c|ogs was baro|y d|scorn|b|o undor a th|ck
coat|ng ot d|rt. lucy wondorod aga|n at tho
strongth ot tho o|d woman.
°ls th|s ono ta|k|ng your oar ott, wl|czo?'
°lo, wo woro just chatt|ng,' lucy sa|d, w|p|ng
tho swoat out ot hor oyos.
1ho o|d woman g|ancod at tho squaro thoy'd
c|oarod, tho ha|t-t|||od whoo|barrow, tho p||o ot
rocks lucy had co||octod, and |onry's trock|od
taco, dry and unroddonod by oxort|on.
°1oo bad you oxorc|so your tonguo moro than
thoso strong arms ot yours,' sho sa|d, t|x|ng
|onry w|th a ba|otu| staro. °A coup|o moro hours
and somo ot us can broak tor |unch. 3oth and
la|ph tound puttba|| mushrooms |n tho t|o|d th|s
°3omo ot us?' |onry askod. |o kopt tho
shovo| |n mot|on, oxaggorat|ng h|s broath|ng.
|o jorkod h|s hoad at tho p||o ot rubb|o.
°l bo||ovo that lucy |s rospons|b|o tor that,'
Gramma||o loso sa|d. 3ho turnod so on|y lucy
saw tho way hor ||ps tw|stod |n tho bog|nn|ngs ot
a sm||o. °|owovor, |t you cont|nuo at tho paco
you aro sott|ng now, l th|nk you w||| bo ono ot tho
°Why d|d A|dan got to s|ack ott?' |onry
askod, d|gg|ng w|th moro onthus|asm than ho'd
shown a|| morn|ng.
Gramma||o shot h|m a |ook. °|o works hardor
than anyono o|so horo. |o was |n tho t|o|ds at
tour A.V. whon you woro st||| ro||od up |n your
s|oop|ng bag w|th thoso magaz|nos you th|nk l
don't know about.'
|onry mumb|od somoth|ng and turnod away.
1ho t|ps ot h|s oars woro an a|most t|uoroscont
°1wo hours moro, l th|nk,' sho sa|d, rost|ng
hor ca||ousod hand tor a momont on lucy's arm.
°At |oast tho ra|n |s stopp|ng.' 1ho o|d woman
wa|kod away |n tho d|roct|on ot tho camp. As
soon as sho was out ot s|ght, |onry put down
h|s shovo|. °Van,' ho sa|d, rubb|ng h|s hand
a|ong h|s r|bs. °l th|nk l pu||od a musc|o.' |o
turnod to lucy. °1h|nk you cou|d chock |t out tor
lucy baro|y acknow|odgod h|m. 0o| and
3ammy woro shout|ng at oach othor across tho
t|o|d. 0o| tossod hor p|ckax as|do and throw up
hor hands. 3ho pushod 3ammy away trom hor.
|or ha|r, |oosonod trom |ts ponyta||, sw|r|od
around hor taco. And thon sho turnod.
W|th a start, lucy roa||zod tho g|r| was
hoad|ng toward hor. |ast.
°Uh-oh,' sa|d |onry. °lady 0o|'s |n a tury.' |o
p|ckod up h|s shovo| aga|n and movod c|osor to
lucy. 3ho was odd|y touchod.
lucy's hand sto|o to hor wa|st. |or t|ngors
tound tho comtort ot hor shoathod kn|to and thon
to|| away. 3ho was hard|y go|ng to stab 0o|,
annoy|ng as sho m|ght bo.
3ho took a doop broath and stood hor ground
as 0o| stormod up. |or a momont, no|thor ot
thom spoko, and thon lucy sa|d, |n as m||d a
tono as sho cou|d mustor, °3omoth|ng go|ng
°|oy, lady 0o|,' |onry sa|d |n a dotorm|nod|y
||ght vo|co. °|ow's tho d|gg|ng go|ng? Your boy
A|dan ba||od out oar|y, huh? What a s|ackor!'
0o|'s doop b|uo oyos t||ckod ovor h|m and
thon roturnod to lucy's taco. lucy torcod horso|t
to stay ca|m, but |t was d|tt|cu|t. 3ho tr|od to
doc|phor 0o|'s body |anguago. lt was as |t sho
was baro|y koop|ng contro|. And sho soomod
on tho odgo ot toars.
1hoy had an aud|onco now, too. 3oth and
la|ph |oanod on tho|r rakos. 3ho saw 3cout
and Connor |owor tho p|ow to tho ground. On|y
tho youngstors and tho o|dor to|k soomod
unawaro ot what was go|ng on. lucy chowod
tho |ns|do ot hor chook, romombor|ng tho ono
and on|y t|ght sho'd had |n grado schoo|, whon
Grac|o |ostor had accusod hor ot stoa||ng hor
hoart-shapod ponc|| orasor. 1hoy'd ondod up
ro|||ng |n tho dust ot tho p|ayground w|th a bunch
ot k|ds ogg|ng thom on. And whon lucy wont
homo that attornoon, sho'd had b|oody
scratchos up and down hor arms, and hor sca|p
hurt. Grac|o |ostor had boon hor bost tr|ond
attor that, a|| tho way up unt|| o|ghth grado, whon
thoy'd gono to d|ttoront schoo|s. 3ho wondorod
|t Grac|o was st||| a||vo.
0o| got r|ght |n hor taco. °lt's a|| your tau|t,' sho
snappod. |or hands woro c|onchod |n t|sts.
lucy p|antod hor toot. 3ho to|t a surgo ot angor,
and |t gavo hor cont|donco.
°What aro you ta|k|ng about?'
0o| snortod. 3ho pacod back and torth, hor
ha|r stroam|ng ovor hor shou|dors. |or s||vor
braco|ots jang|od, and sho pushod thom up hor
°A|dan,' sho sa|d. |or hand rubbod at hor
noso, and lucy saw toars |n hor t|ash|ng oyos.
°What? l d|dn't . What?'
°l th|nk ho's o|thor gono to tho W||ds or ho's
try|ng to t|nd loo. E|thor way, you'ro to b|amo,
lucy |o||oway.' 3ho pract|ca||y spat tho words
out. |or t|ngor camo up and jabbod lucy |n tho
chost. lucy s|appod hor hand away. 3ho d|dn't
undorstand th|s at a||. 3ho'd thought 0o| was
go|ng to g|vo hor gr|ot ovor a|most k|ss|ng
A|dan, but |nstoad |t was thoso r|dd|os.
|onry movod torward to stand botwoon thom.
1hoy both g|arod at h|m and ho stoppod back.
°|o ||kos to c||mb troos |n tho W||ds. lt has
noth|ng to do w|th mo. And ho sa|d ho wou|dn't
go attor anyono who'd boon k|dnappod by tho
3woopors.' Not ovoo yoo, sho thought to
horso|t. °|o sa|d wo woron't proparod.' |or too
scuttod tho d|rt. °And ho was r|ght. l got that
now. Wo can't just storm |n thoro w|th no |doa ot
what to oxpoct.'
0o| trownod and tho accusatory t|ngor roso
aga|n. °3ut that's not what you to|d h|m, |s |t,
lucy |o||oway? You sa|d that |t ho roa||y carod
about h|s tr|onds, ho wou|d go anyway, r|ght?'
°l d|dn't to|| h|m to go anywhoro. l just sa|d
that, |t |t woro mo, l wou|dn't wa|t around tor tho
noxt bad th|ng to happon. And bos|dos, l was
mad and l was just shoot|ng my mouth ott.'
0o|'s shou|dors s|umpod. 1ho angor soomod
to dra|n out ot hor. 3ho shook hor hoad. °0on't
you got |t? |o can't stand that you th|nk ot h|m
that way. l|ko ho's somo k|nd ot a coward. God,
don't you know anyth|ng about boys?!'
lucy c|oarod hor throat. 3ho cou|dn't
romombor what sho'd sa|d to A|dan. 3ho'd
yo||od. |o'd yo||od. 3ho tondod not to watch hor
mouth whon sho was angry. °Aro you suro that's
whoro ho's gono?' |or vo|co was hoarso. 3ho
grabbod 0o|'s arm. 0o| starod at hor t|ngors,
but sho d|dn't brush thom ott.
Attor a momont, 0o| sa|d |mpat|ont|y, °lo, l
don't know. l tblok ho's hoadod to tho |ako. l
hopo that's whoro ho's gono. lt's whoro ho
a|ways goos whon ho noods spaco. |o won't |ot
mo go w|th h|m, and ho'd novor say what ho
was do|ng.' 3ho |ookod down at hor boots. °l
to||owod h|m onco.' |or ch|n camo up, as |t sho
was dar|ng lucy to say somoth|ng about |t.
°|o ||kod to c||mb to tho top ot tho o|m troo
and |ook north,' lucy sa|d, dropp|ng hor hand.
°|o sa|d ho wantod to travo| up thoro ono day.'
°Yoah, that's what ho sa|d.' 0o| s|ghod. °|o
probab|y just noodod t|mo to th|nk, but ho ta|kod
about tho argumont w|th you, and loo and tho
k|ds, and thon l got so mad at you tor p|ck|ng on
h|m that l wasn't roa||y pay|ng attont|on to what
ho was say|ng.' 3ho ra|sod hor oyos to lucy's
taco. 1hoy woron't snapp|ng w|th t|ro anymoro,
but thoro was st||| somoth|ng hard |n thom.
°A|dan can |ook attor h|mso|t,' |onry sa|d.
°|o's boon runn|ng w||d s|nco ho was th|rtoon,
0o| drow a doop broath. 3ho g|ancod at lucy
aga|n. °Why d|d you havo to como horo?' sho
sa|d. |or tono was strango. lt soomod |oss
angry and moro t|rod. 3ho rubbod hor hand ovor
hor taco and oyos, |oav|ng smoary wot tra||s
m|xod w|th d|rt. |or mouth tw|stod. °Wo'ro not
tr|onds, lucy |o||oway,' sho sa|d |n a vo|co that
was no moro than a wh|spor.
°|oy now, lady 0o|,' |onry sa|d sott|y. |o
s|ung an arm around hor shou|dors. |or a
momont sho co||apsod |nto h|m, and thon, w|th
anothor shako ot hor hoad, sho pushod h|m
3ho strodo ott. lucy starod attor hor. 3ho
d|dn't undorstand 0o| at a||. Ono m|nuto sho
was sp|tt|ng ||ko an angry cat, tho noxt, sho was
as omot|on|oss as a robot.
°1hat was |ntonso,' |onry sa|d. °Why'd sho
koop say|ng your namo |n that wo|rd way? lt was
||ko sho was putt|ng a curso on you or
somoth|ng.' |o |aughod norvous|y and w|gg|od
h|s t|ngors |n hor taco. °voodoo mag|c.'
lucy shook hor hoad. |ow cou|d 0o| hato hor
°Vaybo sho got too much sun?' |onry sa|d.
|o rubbod h|s ch|n w|th h|s g|ovod hand, star|ng
|n tho d|roct|on 0o| had takon. °l'vo got to say,
though, a|| that pass|on sho's bott||ng up suro
makos mo wondor. l moan, |t's got to t|nd an
°Oh, tor God's sakos, |onry,' lucy sa|d,
try|ng not to |augh.
3ammy tappod hor on tho shou|dor. 3ho
turnod to taco h|m. ||s hood was pu||od torward,
and ho was woar|ng a d|ttoront mask. 1h|s ono
was pa|ntod a g|ossy rod w|th a broad, upturnod
sm|||ng mouth and ||tt|o rod horns. |o|os woro
cut out tor h|s mouth and oyos. ||s rod-t|ngod
|r|sos g|oamod boh|nd |t. °|o usod to watch you
and wondor about you. ln your camp. |o usod to
say you woro tho bravost porson ho know.'
lucy ra|sod surpr|sod oyos to h|s taco. °Vo?
°3ocauso you woro a|ono and you woro
surv|v|ng,' 3ammy sa|d. °3ocauso you just d|d
what noodod to bo dono.'
°|a|t tho t|mo l d|dn't know what l was do|ng.'
°Yoah, but you kopt on anyway.'
3ho |ookod at 3ammy propor|y tor tho t|rst
t|mo. |o was shortor than A|dan, probab|y a
shado undor s|x toot. ||s shou|dors woro broad,
and h|s g|ovod hands woro w|do. |o soomod a
||tt|o c|umsy, ||ko ho'd rocont|y had a growth
spurt. Undor h|s hood sho g||mpsod a shock ot
tho samo d|rty b|ond ha|r h|s brothor had. And
thon tho gruosomo contrast ot charrod sk|n. lt
was smooth, though, not crackod and ooz|ng as
sho had thought botoro. 1ho surtaco was who|o.
lt was undornoath that groat patchos ot b|ack
and rod covorod h|s body, ||ko g|ant bru|sos.
3ho thought sho cou|d soo somo hazo| |n h|s
|r|sos w|th|n tho b|oody wh|tos, and tho |obos ot
h|s oars woro p|nk, ||ko now sk|n attor a bad
sunburn. 3ho thought about what |onry had
sa|d and wondorod |t ho was r|ght about tho
body t|x|ng |tso|t.
|o roturnod hor gazo. °You aro bravo,' ho
sa|d w|th tho h|nt ot a sm||o. 3ho caught a t|ash
ot vory wh|to tooth. °look at you r|ght now. lot
worr|od l'm go|ng to crack your hoad ||ko a
wa|nut and oat your bra|ns?'
3ho b|ushod. °1hat was so dumb. l just-'
°-bo||ovod tho propaganda and tho nows
roports.' |o noddod. °You'ro not tho t|rst.' |o
shruggod. °1hoy just d|dn't know what to do w|th
us. 0|dn't know whoro to put us. lt was ||ko wo
woro nonhumans or somoth|ng just bocauso wo
got s|ck. la|ph|o st||| won't ta|k to anyono but
mo and 3oth.'
lucy was try|ng to undorstand hor toar. °l th|nk
|t's bocauso you surv|vod. You'ro sort ot ||ko a
||v|ng, wa|k|ng rom|ndor that thoro was a
|o shruggod. °Yoah, wo||, l can't do anyth|ng
°|oy,' sa|d |onry. °|ato to broak up tho tôto-
a-tôto, but l'm hungry, and |t you guys don't ho|p
|oad and dump tho rost ot th|s, Gramma||o loso
|s go|ng to porsona||y soo to |t that l starvo.'
lucy and 3ammy oxchangod a gr|n.
°lrotty p|oaso?' |onry sa|d.
°W|th sugar on top?' lucy sa|d.
°l just can't ros|st a wh|nor,' 3ammy sa|d.
|onry tossod a shovo| at h|m. 3ammy caught
°l'|| g|vo you a k|ss,' |onry sa|d to lucy,
puckor|ng h|s ||ps and opon|ng h|s arms w|do.
°|onry!' Gramma||o loso yo||od trom tho
3uddon|y, a jumb|o ot shouts and cr|os roso
trom tho d|roct|on ot tho squaro. 3omoth|ng had
happonod. lucy's hoart startod pound|ng.
°|onry!' And th|s t|mo thoy a|| hoard tho shr|||
noto ot pan|c |n Gramma||o loso's vo|co.
ho shroudod |ump |y|ng on tho mound ot
brackon |oavos and grassos was scarco|y
rocogn|zab|o as human. And tho sounds that
camo trom |t woro moro ||ko that ot a woundod
an|ma|. lucy and 3ammy to||owod |onry |nto
tho opon spaco bonoath tho awn|ngs.
Gramma||o loso crouchod at tho hoad ot tho
makosh|tt bod. A tow ot tho youngost k|ds
hudd|od togothor |n tho cornor, and A|dan was
thoro, too. |o ra|sod h|s hoad, moot|ng lucy's
oyos br|ot|y. 3ho was shockod at how pa|o and
drawn h|s taco was. |o |ookod much o|dor than
sovontoon. |onry droppod down to h|s knoos
oppos|to Gramma||o and movod tho covors
as|do. lucy caught a g||mpso ot charrod sk|n, a
°3uo |s bo|||ng wator tor w|||ow bark toa.
A|dan soakod somo shoots |n wator. |o's bad,'
Gramma||o loso sa|d. 3ho |ookod at 3ammy
and bockonod h|m c|osor. °Got tho ch||dron
away,' sho sa|d |n a |ow vo|co.
3ammy noddod. |o bont h|s hoad and pu||od
tho wh|to and go|d mask trom bonoath h|s capo
and sw|tchod |t tor tho hornod mask. 1hon ho
c|appod h|s hands. °3trawborry hunt |n two
m|nutos!' 1ho k|ds c|ustorod about h|s |ogs,
jabbor|ng |n oxc|tod vo|cos, and ho |od thom out
|nto tho squaro.
°|o's burn|ng up,' |onry sa|d, |ay|ng a hand
on tho man's torohoad. °1ho w|||ow bark toa
won't br|ng h|s tomporaturo down tast onough.'
|o |ookod m|sorab|o. °What o|so do wo havo?'
°E|dor t|owor, och|nacoa tor tho tovor, but |t
tho w|||ow |sn't do|ng any good .' Gramma||o
loso's vo|co tra||od ott. °va|or|an, b|ack cohosh
tor tho pa|n: 1horo may bo somo mothorwort
|ott, but l usod most ot |t whon lott|o broko hor
arm. l havo a t|ncturo ot rosomary tor whon ho |s
ca|mor.' |or hand brushod aga|nst tho man's
taco tor a momont. 1hon sho pu||od two sma||
g|ass bott|os trom hor pockot. Ono was t|||od
w|th a gr|tty brown powdor. 1ho othor g|owod
°|o'|| probab|y d|o,' sa|d |onry. |o b|t h|s ||p,
as |t ashamod ot what ho had sa|d.
Gramma||o loso soakod a c|oth |n a pan ot
wator and dabbod |t ovor tho man's taco. 3ho
muttorod undor hor broath. lt soundod ||ko a
str|ng ot cursos. |or oyobrows mot |n an angry
trown ovor hor hawk||ko noso. 3ho g|arod at
°1hon wo w||| try to mako h|m as comtortab|o
as wo can. Yos?'
|onry |oworod h|s hoad.
lucy watchod tho body wr|th|ng bonoath tho
th|n covors. 3ho cou|d soo b|ackonod sk|n
covor|ng a ba|d sku|| and sproad|ng |n sp|otchos
to tho taco. ||s oyos woro ha|t-opon. 1ho
oyoba||s woro t|ngod an angry rod. 3ho cou|dn't
d|st|ngu|sh h|s pup||s at a||. lt was as |t tho
sockots woro t|||od w|th b|ood. |o thrashod and
throw ott tho shoots. 1wo th|ck go|d hoops
dang|od trom tho charrod oar|obos, and undor
tho sk|n ot tho muscu|ar toroarms sho g||mpsod
sw|r|s and bands ot dark b|uo. 1attoos, sho
roa||zod w|th a shuddor ot rocogn|t|on, a|most
covorod by tho dusky huo ot b|ood|ng bonoath
tho sk|n. lt was loo.
And now ho was ||| w|th tho p|aguo.
A too||ng ot hystor|a roso |n hor throat, and
sho batt|od to koop horso|t undor contro|.
Loo bos tbo p|ogoo. 3ho p|acod hor hand
ovor hor mouth, ashamod ot hor woaknoss, and
A|dan was on h|s toot, pac|ng. 1ho sk|n
abovo h|s chookbono was roddonod and sh|ny.
A now |njury. lucy movod around to jo|n h|m.
°0|d you t|nd h|m?' sho wh|sporod.
°Yoah. l wasn't ovon |ook|ng tor h|m. l was just
wandor|ng and thoro ho was, on tho b|g road a
coup|o ot m||os up. l th|nk thoy dumpod h|m
thoro.' ||s hands c|onchod. °|o d|dn't know mo.
|o tought and l had to torco h|m to como w|th
mo. |o got a tow good punchos |n.' |o rubbod
h|s chook. °luck||y ho's woak, othorw|so ho'd
havo k|ckod my sku|| |n.'
lucy put a comtort|ng hand on A|dan's arm.
|o hard|y soomod awaro ot |t.
°|o's boon rav|ng, s||pp|ng |n and out ot
consc|ousnoss. God knows what ho's soo|ng,
or whoro ho th|nks ho |s.' ||s shou|dors
s|umpod. °Voostors. |o kopt say|ng moostors.
And ho scroamod ||ko a ||tt|o k|d.' A|dan ran
tromb||ng t|ngors through h|s ha|r.
°|o'|| bo a|| r|ght,' lucy sa|d, try|ng to |njoct
corta|nty |nto hor vo|co. °l|ko 3ammy.'
°l don't know. Vaybo.' |o swung around and
stoppod, h|s arms hung ||mp|y at h|s s|dos. °Wo
don't havo any mod|c|no. Gramma||o loso has
a tow homo romod|os. |orba| toas and
powdors tor hoadachos and m|nor |njur|os, but
not tor somoth|ng ||ko th|s!'
°l thought tho p|aguo was ovor,' lucy sa|d.
°|ow can |t st||| bo out thoro whon ovoryono
that's |ott has a|roady surv|vod |t?'
°l don't th|nk |t w||| ovor go away. lt h|dos and |t
changos. Wo can't t|ght |t.' |o groanod and
k|ckod at tho ground.
°A|dan and lucy,' Gramma||o loso sa|d.
°Como and ho|d h|m up. |o |s too hoavy tor
mo.' |or raspy vo|co was ca|m. |or ||ps
prossod togothor so t|rm|y, thoy a|most
d|sappoarod |nto tho doop wr|nk|os ot hor taco.
lucy hos|tatod. Vonta||y sho scroamod at
horso|t to movo, but sho cou|dn't. 3ho dug hor
t|ngorna||s |nto hor pa|ms.
°Onco tho b|ood|ng |s v|s|b|o, tho r|sk ot
contag|on has gono,' Gramma||o loso sa|d.
°1wo days ago ho was porhaps a dangor, but
now ho |s on|y a man |n pa|n.'
lucy swa||owod hor toar and wont to tho o|d
3uo had roturnod ho|d|ng a sma|| stoam|ng
saucopan t|||od w|th a murky ||qu|d. 3ho ho|d tho
mota| hand|o w|th hands shroudod by tho |ong
s|oovos ot hor swoator. 3ho was chow|ng on tho
ond ot hor p|gta||, and hor oyos woro wot.
°|our hoap|ng toaspoons |n two cups ot
wator, 3uo?' |onry askod, tak|ng tho pot trom
hor. 1ho vapor r|s|ng trom |t smo||od dank, ||ko
°Yos,' 3uo sa|d, tak|ng hor p|gta|| out ot hor
mouth. 3ho pu||od hor t|ngors through tho wot
°Good, my zobko,' Gramma||o sa|d. °1h|s w|||
oaso h|s pa|n. Go now.'
3uo ran trom tho tont.
Gramma||o ho|d hor hand up, tho v|a| w|th tho
brown powdor botwoon hor t|ngors. °lot mo add
va|or|an. lt may ho|p.' |or oyos g|oamod ||ko tar.
3ho t|ppod tho oponod bott|o, tapp|ng |n tho |ast
tow c|umps, and thon noddod to |onry. |onry
swooshod h|s t|ngor around tho ||qu|d, tost|ng
tho tomporaturo. °Wo'|| do |t qu|ck|y,' ho to|d
thom. |o sparod a ta|nt sm||o. °1h|s stutt tastos
||ko crap and ho's not go|ng to ||ko |t. |o'||
lucy took a doop broath and unc|onchod hor
t|ngors. 3ho and A|dan got on o|thor s|do ot loo
and ra|sod h|s hoad. lucy cush|onod |t on hor
knoos, and c|utchod h|s |ott shou|dor and wr|st |n
hor hands. A|dan ho|d h|m st||| on tho othor s|do.
loo scroamod at tho touch ot tho|r hands, as |t
h|s sk|n woro bo|ng t|ayod. |o buckod, try|ng to
throw thom ott. ||s hands tw|stod and c|awod as
ho attomptod to troo h|mso|t. ||s t|ngors woro
horr|b|y swo||on around tho knuck|os, and tho
na||s woro sta|nod a doop purp||sh rod.
Gramma||o loso p|nnod h|s |ogs undor tho
wo|ght ot hor body. loo's hoad t|a||od trom s|do
to s|do. |o tossod tho covors ott h|s body. ||s
sh|rt was torn to shrods. 1hrough |t, lucy saw
tho dusty b|acknoss croop|ng across h|s chost.
lt was as |t ho had boon boaton a|| ovor w|th
stoo| rods. ||s oyos ro||od back unt|| |t soomod
||ko ho starod at hor through tho top ot h|s hoad.
||s mouth oponod |n a |ong, sound|oss scroam.
||s tonguo was b|ack ||ko a b|rd's.
°|o|d h|m,' Gramma||o loso sa|d.
|onry pourod tho toa s|ow|y down h|s throat.
Attor oach doso, ho p|nchod loo's nostr||s
c|osod and wa|tod unt|| ho saw h|s throat
swa||ow convu|s|vo|y. lt soomod cruo| and
hoart|oss, but lucy romomborod hav|ng to g|vo
hor dog mod|c|no. 3ho'd dono |t tho samo way,
as qu|ck|y as poss|b|o and w|thout th|nk|ng too
much about |t. 3ho tound horso|t strok|ng loo's
broad torohoad and mumb||ng nonsonso to h|m
as though ho woro a baby.
||na||y tho |ast ot tho toa d|sappoarod. 1hoy
ho|d h|m tor t|vo |ntorm|nab|o m|nutos wh||o loo
tought to troo h|mso|t. 1oars dr|ppod trom
lucy's oyos and to|| onto h|s hands.
Evontua||y, ho stoppod stra|n|ng aga|nst thom
and h|s broath|ng oasod. |o soomod to bo
as|oop or unconsc|ous. |onry sat back on h|s
hoo|s. 1ho saucopan to|| trom h|s hand. 1ho
c|ang|ng thud was a s|gna| to ro|ax tho|r ho|d on
h|m. A|dan |ot go ot h|s gr|p and t|oxod h|s
crampod t|ngors. |o stood abrupt|y and w|th h|s
back to tho group. Gramma||o loso took loo's
hand and onto|dod |t botwoon hor pa|ms. 1ho
sk|n on o|thor s|do ot hor mouth was doop|y
groovod and |ookod as do||cato as cobwobs
around hor oyos. 3ho took out tho sma|| v|a| ot
o||, uncappod |t, and bogan smooth|ng |t |nto
loo's tw|stod, |umpy knuck|os. 1ho smo|| was
pungont, horba|. lt rom|ndod lucy v|v|d|y ot tho
3unday roast boot d|nnors hor mothor had
mado attor church. lt sho c|osod hor oyos, sho
cou|d a|most soo tho starchod wh|to tab|oc|oth,
lob's oagor t|ngors d|pp|ng |nto tho gravy boat,
tho mounta|n ot buttory mashod potatoos, and
tho hoat trom tho ovon stoam|ng up tho
lucy movod back aga|nst tho tarp wa|| and
sat w|th hor knoos to|dod and hor arms
wrappod around hor ca|vos. 3ho wantod to
covor hor hoad w|th a sott b|ankot and rock
back and torth. lt was somoth|ng sho'd dono as
a ch||d whonovor sho was upsot and noodod to
oscapo an unp|oasant s|tuat|on. 3ho cou|dn't
|mag|no tho pa|n loo was oxpor|onc|ng, but sho
to|t sho'd sharod |t somohow. Evory spasm ho
had ondurod had rockotod through hor body,
jarrod hor bonos, and mado hor gr|t hor tooth so
hard, tho back ot hor nock was soro. And sho
was t|rod, as |t sho'd just outrun a tsunam|
aga|n. |or hands shook and hor |ogs to|t ||ko
rubbor. lucy pu||od hor swoatsh|rt down ovor
A|dan camo and sat noxt to hor. ||s shou|dor
prossod aga|nst hor arm. |o was so||d and
warm. W|thout |ook|ng at h|m, sho sh|ttod
s||ght|y, and h|s hand roachod out and tound
hors. 1ho|r t|ngors |ntor|ockod. A|dan watchod
loo tor a wh||o. A|dan's body was tonso, h|s
gr|p on hor t|ngors was a|most pa|ntu|, but t|na||y
h|s shou|dors |oworod and ho ro|axod.
°l was so scarod ot hurt|ng h|m,' lucy sa|d.
°|o scroamod.' 3ho d|dn't th|nk sho'd ovor
hoard a man scroam ||ko that.
°l doubt ho knows what's go|ng on. lt's ||ko
ho's trappod |n a n|ghtmaro,' A|dan sa|d.
°|o'|| nood anothor doso |n about tour hours,'
sa|d |onry, w|p|ng swoat trom h|s torohoad. ||s
ha|r was soak|ng wot. ||s taco was pa|o, but
thoro was a stubborn s|ant to h|s mouth that
lucy had novor soon. ||s crookod sm||o had
lucy askod, °And a|| you gavo h|m was tho
w|||ow bark and tho va|or|an?' 3ho stumb|od a
||tt|o ovor tho untam|||ar namo.
°1ho |oca| 3upor|or 0rugs |s untortunato|y
c|osod tor bus|noss. lootors took most ot tho
mod|c|no attor tho t|rst wavo. And thon t|ood|ng
took caro ot tho rost. 3ut |t's tho samo stutt
that's |n asp|r|n.' |o noddod toward Gramma||o
loso, who was hunchod ovor loo's st||| body.
3ho croonod an odd song w|th guttura| words |n
a d|ttoront |anguago. °3ho knows a |ot about
horba|s. 1horo's protty much a natura|
a|tornat|vo to most modorn pharmacout|ca|s.
Untortunato|y tor us, not many grow |n low York
3tato thoso days. 1horo's too much ra|n.'
°W||| tho toa roa||y br|ng h|s tovor down?'
°lt shou|d, but th|s d|soaso |s tonac|ous. lt h|s
tomporaturo c||mbs abovo 108 dogroos, |t won't
havo an ottoct. Wo can koop h|m as coo| as
poss|b|o w|thout sond|ng h|s body |nto shock,
but othor than that .' |o shruggod ho|p|oss|y.
°ls thoro somoth|ng strongor wo can try?'
|onry oxchangod a g|anco w|th Gramma||o
°Wo havo othor romod|os,' sho sa|d hoav||y.
°Groat,' lucy sa|d, and thon not|cod that
ovoryono was |ook|ng gravo.
°1hoy'ro not curos,' A|dan sa|d, putt|ng h|s
hand on hor shou|dor. 3ho roachod up and
°lot curos,' sho ochood.
°1horo aro just ways to oaso tho |nov|tab|o,'
Gramma||o loso sa|d. °1hoy aro romod|os tor
tho pa|n. lormanont.'
°3ut 3ammy, 3oth, la|ph?' lucy sa|d. °1hoy
mado |t. And loo, ho surv|vod unt|| now.'
°3ammy, 3oth, and la|ph surv|vod, but not
bocauso ot any mag|c p|||. Ca|| |t God's w|||,
random so|oct|on. luck. 3ut th|s has gono too
tar,' Gramma||o loso sa|d, patt|ng loo's hand
a t|na| t|mo and gott|ng to hor toot. |or hand
wont to hor back as |t |t pa|nod hor. 1oday hor
|ogs woro c|othod |n th|ck b|ack t|ghts and
wrappod t|ght|y at tho ank|os w|th bandagos,
and sho woro hor hoavy woo|on shaw| t|od c|oso
around hor nock, as |t sho was co|d.
lucy pors|stod. °3hou|dn't h|s |mmuno systom
havo kopt h|m sato?'
°Vaybo tho d|soaso has mutatod,' A|dan
sa|d. 1ho words soomod to hang thoro.
0o| appoarod out ot nowhoro, oxp|od|ng |nto
tho crowdod spaco. |or knoos woro bad|y
scratchod, hor boots crustod w|th mud, and hor
ha|r was |ooso and w||d around hor taco. 3ho
droppod to hor knoos and grabbod loo's hand.
°Zobko,' Gramma||o loso sa|d, putt|ng hor
arm around 0o|'s shou|dors and try|ng to |oad
hor away. °Zobko, ho |s s|oop|ng.'
0o| shruggod hor arm ott and |oanod torward.
°loo,' sho sa|d, hor mouth |nchos trom h|s
||s oyos t||ckorod opon. A spasm snakod
across h|s taco. °0o|,' ho gaspod. ||s vo|co
was raw and th|ckonod, as |t tho words woro
bo|ng torcod through a c|osod throat. °1hoy |ot
you go.' |o roachod up and smoothod hor ha|r.
°lo. l oscapod.'
||s torohoad wr|nk|od. °|ow?'
|or t|ngors t|ghtonod on h|s. 1ho knuck|os
showod wh|to. |o groanod.
°l got away trom thom,' sho sa|d aga|n.
|o shook h|s hoad. °lot mo ta|k.' |o tr|od to
r|so trom tho ground but cou|dn't. °You'ro okay?
1hoy sa|d thoy wou|dn't hurt any ot you.'
°Oh, loo.' 0o|'s oyos t|||od w|th toars. Ono
sp|ashod onto hor hand. 3ho rubbod hor taco
aga|nst tho s|oovo ot hor swoatsh|rt.
°1ho k|ds? lott|o and latr|ck. Woro thoy w|th
you?' sho askod.
|o shook h|s hoad. ||s tonguo ran ovor h|s
b|ackonod ||ps. °1hoy woro kopt |n tho towor. l
was put |n tho hosp|ta| w|th tho othor adu|ts.'
°|ank?' Gramma||o askod. °Wa|tor and O||vo
trom tho swoop botoro?'
°l don't know. 1hoy woro w|th mo, but thon-l
d|dn't soo thom aga|n.'
°Why d|d thoy put you |n tho hosp|ta|?' A|dan
loo ran tho t|p ot h|s tonguo ovor h|s crackod
||ps. °1osts. lood|os. 0r. loss|ng sa|d tho
socrot was |n tho b|ood. 3ut wh|ch b|ood . tho
|o soomod to bo rav|ng aga|n. 1ho musc|os
a|ong h|s jaw bu|god and jumpod. Lr. Losslog,
lucy thought to horso|t. 1ho namo was tam|||ar
tor somo roason. lot hor tam||y doctor. 1hat
had boon doar o|d 0r. |orguson, who handod
out |o|||pops, and ho was doad. Vaybo an X-ray
doctor at tho hosp|ta|, though sho d|dn't th|nk
that was |t, o|thor. 3ut loo was c|oar|y out ot h|s
hoad. Vaybo ho was m|x|ng up tho past w|th tho
°lot h|m s|oop,' A|dan sa|d.
0o| |ookod up at h|m br|ot|y and thon back
down to loo. °0|d you got s|ck? Woro thoy
loo's oyos ro||od w||d|y. °lot troat|ng.
°What?' sa|d A|dan. |o droppod to h|s knoos
bos|do tho man. °What d|d you say?'
0o| shushod h|m. 3ho watchod loo's taco.
||s oyos dartod trom hor to A|dan to Gramma||o
loso, who stood boh|nd thom, c|asp|ng and
unc|asp|ng hor hands. lucy wantod to |oavo, but
hor toot woro rootod to tho ground.
loo took a doop broath. lt wh|st|od |n h|s
chost, as |t ho woro suck|ng a|r through a
b|ockod straw. 3woat broko out |n hugo
drop|ots across h|s torohoad, yot h|s tooth
chattorod. Gramma||o covorod h|m w|th tho
shoots, smooth|ng thom undor h|s ch|n as |t ho
woro a sma|| ch||d. 0o| str|ppod ott hor
swoatsh|rt and carotu||y pushod |t undor h|s
hoad tor a p|||ow.
°1hoy mado mo s|ck,' ho sa|d botwoon
thrott|od gasps tor a|r. °'Easy,' thoy sa|d. 1hoy'd
dono |t a hundrod t|mos. 1hon thoy |njoctod mo
w|th d|ttoront sorums, vacc|nos. look|ng tor tho
socrot |n tho b|ood. 1ho b|ood.' ||s chost ratt|od
as ho strugg|od to broatho. 1ho t|osh around h|s
||ps was as wh|to as a t|sh's undorbo||y. lucy
tound horso|t d|gg|ng hor na||s |nto tho pa|ms ot
hor hands. 1ho hoa|od kn|to wound |tchod. 3ho
romomborod how gont|o ho had boon whon ho
bandagod |t. 3ho pu||od ott a |ooso str|p ot sk|n,
wondor|ng why |t d|dn't hurt.
Attor a tow torturous soconds, loo cont|nuod.
°lt d|dn't work, so tho 3woopors dumpod mo.
1hoy prom|sod tho k|ds wou|d bo sato |t l
cooporatod. And you,' ho sa|d, |ook|ng at 0o|.
0o| sat up. |or t|ngors t|ghtonod around
loo's hand. °0|d thoy ||o about that?' sho
askod. °What happonod to tho k|ds?'
|o drow anothor shuddor|ng broath. ||s taco
purp|od, v|s|b|o ovon through tho b|ack b|ood.
||s chost soomod to bo |abor|ng w|th no ottoct.
°l don't know. 1hoy woron't |n tho hosp|ta|. lo
ono a||vo thoro now.' ||s t|ngors t|ghtonod
around hor hand. °0o|, sho ||od about
ucy starod at tho moss ot boans and
ovorcookod r|co on hor p|ato. 3ho pushod
thom around w|th hor tork. 3ho had tr|od to oat
tho tood but |t was tasto|oss, and just tho
su|turous smo|| ot |t, tho |ook ot |t, was mak|ng
hor stomach robo|. Across trom hor, 0o| was
do|ng tho samo th|ng. 3hovo||ng boans up |nto
mounta|ns and smash|ng thom to mush, us|ng
hor tork as a woapon. |or ha|r was a tang|od
moss. 3ho'd gathorod |t back |nto a ponyta||,
but hanks ot |t to|| torward ovor hor taco and
tra||od ovor tho tab|otop. And sho'd chowod
most ot hor t|ngorna||s ott, ono t|ngor attor
anothor, sp|tt|ng tho ha|t-moon cur|s |nto tho a|r.
Ono had r|ppod |nto a jaggod odgo, and a spot
ot b|ood wo||od noxt to tho cut|c|o. 3ho sat
hunchod |n hor soat as |t hor sp|no cou|dn't
support hor, and hor oyos woro shadowod and
|ookod hugo |n hor taco. lucy probab|y |ookod
just as crappy. 3ho know hor ha|r was ono b|g
tr|zzy knot, but sho cou|dn't mako horso|t caro
too much. 3ho had tho cur|ous sonsat|on that
sho wasn't roa||y |n hor body. 3os|do hor, A|dan
turnod a hunk ot broad |nto a p||o ot crumbs.
loo had d|od ha|t an hour ago, t|rst h|s broath
bocom|ng moro and moro |aborod, thon tho
vo|ns on h|s th|ck nock stand|ng out ||ko cab|os.
|o'd boon unab|o to boar tho touch ot b|ankots
or wot c|oths aga|nst h|s sk|n. Gramma||o loso
and |onry had ta|kod, qu|ot|y, and thon g|von
h|m a g|ass ot c|oudy wator to dr|nk. loo had
gr|ppod |onry's wr|st and gu|dod tho odgo ot
tho g|ass to h|s ||ps. 1h|s t|mo tho b|g man
hadn't strugg|od, a|though |t soomod as |t most
ot tho ||qu|d had dr|bb|od out ot h|s mouth and
onto h|s chost. |o'd kopt h|s hand on |onry's
wr|st unt|| tho wator was gono, and thon ho'd
movod tho hand to |onry's shou|dor botoro
|ott|ng |t ta|| ||mp|y to h|s s|do.
At |oast, lucy had tboogbt |t was wator, but
attorward loo had sunk back aga|nst 0o|'s
p|||owod swoatsh|rt and h|s oyos had c|osod.
1ho ||nos ot pa|n, tho groovos botwoon h|s
b|ood-t|||od oyos, had smoothod, and |t was on|y
whon lucy had roa||zod that sho was ho|d|ng
hor broath, wa|t|ng tor h|s noxt broath, wh|ch d|d
not como, that tho truth bocamo c|oar.
low, sho to|t as |t sho'd h|t hor hoad. |or
bra|n cou|dn't procoss ovoryth|ng that had
happonod |n tho |ast tow hours, and s|mp|o
th|ngs ||ko oat|ng and ta|k|ng woro boyond hor
capab|||t|os. 3ho cou|d on|y s|t and staro at tho
congoa|od hoap ot tood on hor p|ato. 1ho on|y
th|ng that to|t roa| and a||vo to hor was A|dan's
hand wrappod around hor own and tho warmth
h|s body gavo ott. 0o| had g|ancod at tho|r
|ntor|acod hands and somoth|ng had passod
ovor hor taco, but |t was so qu|ck|y rop|acod by
a g|azod oxpross|on that lucy was conv|ncod
sho had |mag|nod |t.
0o| sh|vorod now. |or baro arms woro
gooso-p|mp|od. 1ho w|nd had p|ckod up, and
sho, lucy, and A|dan sat at a tar tab|o, not
want|ng to bo c|oso to tho poop|o gathorod by
tho t|ro. 1hoy'd mado tho|r way thoro by
consonsus, a|though |t hadn't boon spokon out
|oud. lucy d|dn't th|nk any ot thom had sa|d
moro than two words |n tho |ast hour. 3omohow,
though, thoy had hoadod |n tho samo d|roct|on,
|n a group, tho throo ot thom togothor.
3ammy had brought ovor tho tood. ||s wh|to
mask hung trom h|s nock on a |oop ot str|ng, h|s
taco baro tor onco. |o'd put tho p|atos down, a
|argo bow| t|||od w|th boans and r|co, broad,
somo wator. |o'd pu||od 0o| |nto a hug.
3urpr|s|ng|y, sho hadn't jorkod away trom h|s
touch. lnstoad sho'd nost|od undor h|s arm, hor
taco turnod aga|nst h|s shou|dor. A tow sobs
had oscapod trom hor mouth, and 3ammy had
strokod hor hoad, murmur|ng words too ta|nt to
catch, botoro |ott|ng hor go. And thon, attor a
worr|od g|anco at A|dan's taco and a nod to
lucy, ho'd gono back to tho hudd|od mass ot
poop|o by tho t|ro.
lucy pu||od hor hood|o ovor hor hoad and
pushod |t across tho tab|o, thon shruggod back
|nto hor coat. 0o| g|ancod at hor and put |t on
w|thout a word. Attorward sho wont back to
p|ck|ng at hor raggod t|ngorna||s.
lucy |ookod ovor at tho crowd. 3ho thought
that a|| tho scavongors woro groupod thoro, tho
young and tho o|d. |onry was s|tt|ng c|oso to
3oth. 3ho woro a poar|y b|uo mask that g|owod
|n tho ||ght ot tho t|amos and, |nstoad ot hor
usua| b|ack robos, a ||ght swoator and a pa|r ot
joans. 3ammy was cross-|oggod on a bonch.
1ho k|ds sat |n a c|rc|o on tho ground, away
trom tho t|y|ng ombors, wrappod |n b|ankots,
and lucy thought 3ammy was to|||ng thom a
story. |o was c|oar|y act|ng somoth|ng out. 3ho
cou|d soo h|s oxtravagant gosturos w|th h|s
shadow |oap|ng boh|nd h|m on tho hang|ng
tarpau||ns, tho wh|to mask catch|ng tho t|ro
g|oam, and sho cou|d hoar tho |ow hum ot h|s
vo|co. Evory onco |n a wh||o a ch||d shr|okod,
but |t was a joytu| sound to||owod by squoa|s ot
°3ammy knows how to scaro thom |n just tho
r|ght way,' A|dan sa|d.
lucy soarchod tor Gramma||o loso's
unm|stakab|o s||houotto but d|dn't t|nd hor.
°What w||| happon now?' sho askod qu|ot|y. 3ho
cou|dn't to|| |t 0o| was ||ston|ng or not. |or
hands woro pu||od |nto tho s|oovos ot lucy's
swoatsh|rt. 3ho had hor hoad down, tho hood
up. |or s||vor braco|ots spark|od |n a stack |n
tront ot hor. 3ho'd str|ppod thom ott as wo|| as
tho |argo go|d hoops sho woro |n both oars,
pu|||ng so hard sho'd r|ppod tho |obo, but lucy
d|dn't th|nk sho'd to|t tho pa|n.
°Connor and 3cout aro co||oct|ng wood,'
A|dan sa|d. °Onco d|nnor |s ovor and tho k|ds
go to bod, thoy'|| bu||d up tho t|ro.' ||s vo|co
crackod. °Wo havo gaso||no. lo cars, but p|onty
lucy to|t tho toars t||| hor oyos. 3ho know that
was tho way ot |t, but |t t|||od hor w|th horror. lt
brought back momor|os ot tho mattrossos p||od
|n tho troo||nod stroot sho had grown up on. 3ho
romomborod tho roar ot orango t|amos and tho
surpr|s|ng st|nk ot burn|ng t|bors. 1ho b|||ow|ng
b|ack c|ouds that ob||toratod tho sky ||ko an
°0oos ovoryono know that ho d|od ot tho
p|aguo?' lucy askod.
°lot tho ||tt|ost k|ds, but ovoryono o|so.'
°l can't bo horo whon thoy-' 0o| sa|d.
A|dan c|oarod h|s throat. |o squoozod lucy's
hand and thon |ot |t go. |o roachod ovor tor
0o|'s hand, but sho just starod at h|s t|ngors unt||
ho w|thdrow thom. lucy not|cod tho hurt |ook
that t|ashod across h|s taco, and somoth|ng |n
hor bo||y hardonod. A|dan c|oarod h|s throat
aga|n. °Wo won't bo,' ho sa|d. °Wo'ro go|ng to
tho towor.' |o |ookod at oach ot thom |n turn.
lucy sat up. °Can wo?'
°Wo know that tho k|ds aro |n tho towor, not
tho hosp|ta|. lt probab|y won't bo guardod as
wo||. l moan, thoy'ro a bunch ot k|ds, not ono
ovor o|ovon yoars o|d.' |o soundod oxc|tod and
dotorm|nod. |o |ookod at 0o|. °You saw tho
towor. You romombor tho bas|c |ayout.' 3ho
noddod s|ow|y and sat up stra|ght.
°l romombor tho way |n. A b|g w|nd|ng
sta|rcaso w|th |ots ot rooms com|ng ott |t.' 3ho
trownod. °1horo was a ma|n ontranco and a t|ro
door around tho s|do.'
°Wo know tho k|ds woro |n tho towor,' lucy
sa|d. °1hoy m|ght not bo thoro anymoro.'
°Wo nood to try,' ho sa|d. °1h|ngs havo
lt wont unsa|d, but tho words hung |n tho a|r:
7boy`ro kl||log poop|o.
|o sh|ttod on tho bonch. °Wo'|| havo to hoad
wost across tho p|atoau and tho Groat ||||, and
thon south, and cross tho mudt|ats. ||nd tho
br|dgo to loosovo|t ls|and.'
°What about tak|ng tho b|g road? 1ho way tho
vans camo? Wou|dn't |t mako moro sonso to go
A|dan shook h|s hoad. °1oo oxposod. 1horo's
nowhoro to duck and covor |t tho vans aro out.
1hoy cou|d just scoop us up.' |o mot hor
°l know,' ho sa|d. °lt's m||os |ongor, and ovor
unovon ground, but wo havo a bottor chanco ot
gott|ng thoro unsoon.'
0o| starod stoad||y at tho tab|o, tons|on
v|s|b|o |n tho ||no ot hor shou|dors.
°l'vo boon th|nk|ng about |t tor a wh||o,' A|dan
cont|nuod. °lt'|| bo tough at tho bog|nn|ng, but
onco wo'ro down on tho |ow ground, |t shou|d bo
°1ho mudt|ats aro probab|y st||| dry onough,'
lucy sa|d, too||ng a bubb|o ot oxc|tomont. °0|d
you chock thom out oar||or?'
|o shook h|s hoad. °lot today, but |ast wook.
loo was wandor|ng around that gu||y whoro tho
Grand Cana| crossos undor tho road.' ||s vo|co
roughonod and ho c|oarod |t. °You'|| havo to |oad
us ovor tho W||ds. lt'|| bo dark and you know
thom bottor than anyono.'
lucy thought. 1hoy woro st||| baro|y |nto tho
long Wot. Whon sho'd |ott hor camp, tho wators
had boon h|gh, but no h|ghor than tho top ot tho
toadstoo| on tho A||co statuo. la|nta|| had boon
||ght and tho tsunam| had swopt through ovor a
wook ago. °1ho ground shou|dn't bo too bad.'
3ho hos|tatod. °l can t|nd my way around thoro
protty wo||, but tho |s|and br|dgo must bo ha|t a
m||o |ong, oxposod, and wo'|| havo to cross |t.
Wo'|| bo oasy to spot |t thoy post guards.'
0o| |ookod up. °1horo aro no ||ghts on tho
br|dgo. lt wo koop |ow, wo shou|d bo okay.
1horo's ||ght|ng |ns|do tho towor and tho
hosp|ta|. A gonorator. l cou|d hoar |t.' 3ho
swa||owod. A m|xturo ot omot|ons ran ovor hor
taco. lucy had no troub|o rocogn|z|ng ono ot
thom. loor. lt was on a|| tho|r tacos.
°Good,' A|dan sa|d.
lucy was suddon|y norvous. °lt cou|d bo protty
dangorous.' 3ho wasn't suro wh|ch was worso,
hoad|ng |n b||nd or, ||ko 0o|, know|ng what was
wa|t|ng tor thom.
°Wo havo to go,' sa|d 0o|. °Othorw|so |t won't
ovor stop.' 3ho pushod tho hood back ott hor
taco. |or oyos g||ttorod tovor|sh|y. 1horo woro
dark shadows bonoath thom, and hor taco was
pa|o and s|ck.
°Wo'|| go and wo'|| br|ng tho k|ds back homo,
no mattor what,' sho sa|d qu|ot|y.
3|ow|y tho sun wont down. 1ho ch||dron wont
to tho|r bodro||s. lo ono ||t tho |antorns th|s
n|ght. 1ho ||ght trom tho groat t|ro and tho
scattorod stars was onough, a|though thoro was
no moon. Evory st|ck ot brokon turn|turo, ovory
scrap ot t|mbor gathorod tor tho co|d months
ahoad was thrown onto tho b|azo. 1ho t|amos
shot up h|ghor and h|ghor, transtormod |nto
tonguos ot orango and rod by tho gaso||no
3ammy s|oshod ovorywhoro. |o had romovod
h|s mask aga|n, as had 3oth and s||ont la|ph. ln
tho sporad|c t|ashos ot |||um|nat|on, tho|r
toaturos |ookod doop|y otchod, swarthy but
|rom tho shadows, lucy watchod tho t|amos
c||mb. lt soomod |mposs|b|o that loo was doad.
3ho romomborod h|s strongth and gont|onoss.
3ho cou|dn't soo 0o|'s taco, but sonsod hor
ovorwho|m|ng gr|ot and angor. 1ho g|r| ho|d
horso|t apart trom tho othors, hor gazo t|xod
ahoad, unmov|ng oxcopt tor hor t|ngors, wh|ch
cont|nua||y worr|od tho rod scabs on hor wr|sts.
3ho'd gruntod whon lucy to|d hor how sorry sho
was, and turnod hor taco away whon A|dan tr|od
to ho|d hor.
°Wo shou|d a|| oat somoth|ng,' A|dan sa|d,
attor a t|mo. |o handod a |oat ot broad around.
lucy toro ott a hunk and dut|tu||y chowod. |or
mouth was dry. 3ho swa||owod w|th d|tt|cu|ty,
tak|ng tho wator bott|o trom A|dan and wash|ng
down tho |ump that had caught |n hor throat w|th
a hotty sw|g. 0o| ato a t|ny b|t and shovod tho
rost |nto tho pockot ot lucy's swoatsh|rt. 3ho
°lot's go now,' sho sa|d. °l can't stand bo|ng
horo any |ongor.'
°Aro you go|ng to bo warm onough?' A|dan
°Onco wo'ro mov|ng. 0on't worry about mo.'
3ho sprang up trom tho bonch.
lucy z|ppod hor jackot and tuckod tho onds ot
hor ha|r |nto tho co||ar. |or |ogs, c|ad |n cutotts,
woro ch|||od, but sho d|dn't want to chango |nto
hor joans |n caso thoy wont through wator. 3ho
chockod tho c|asp on hor backpack and
shruggod tho straps ovor hor shou|dors. A|dan
and 0o| had rotr|ovod tho|r packs, too. 1hoy
oach carr|od a short bow and s||ngshots, and
had stuttod tho|r pockots tu|| ot sharp rocks.
lucy had hor kn|to. 3ho mado suro tho shoath
was buck|od socuro|y at hor h|p. ln hor r|ght
hand sho hottod a |ong spoar. 3ho'd wh|tt|od |t
out ot ash yostorday, and |t was s|m||ar to tho
trog spoar sho'd usod at hor camp. ||vo toot
|ong w|th a throo-|nch po|nt hardonod |n tho
t|amos ot tho campt|ro. 3ho was tar bottor w|th |t
than w|th a bow and arrow, and sho had a|roady
|mprossod A|dan by h|tt|ng a targot tour out ot
t|vo t|mos. 0o| cast a snotty g|anco at |t, but
lucy |gnorod hor.
°lot's go,' A|dan sa|d, gott|ng to h|s toot.
°3|ow|y, as |t wo'ro hunt|ng tor rabb|ts.'
lucy roso trom tho bonch and to||owod h|m.
1ho wo|ght ot hor bag chatod hor soro musc|os,
but |t to|t good to bo mov|ng. A|dan and 0o|
wa|kod ahoad, and sho was contont to |ot thom
|oad. Vaybo A|dan cou|d ca|m 0o| down. 3ho
cou|d hoar tho sott murmur ot h|s vo|co. A short
rop|y trom 0o|-tho tono ot hor vo|co so mus|ca|
whon sho wasn't p|ssod ott. |o s|ung h|s arm
ovor hor shou|dors, gavo hor a qu|ck hug, and
thon |ot go.
1ho|r torms woro bu|kod out by tho
backpacks. lucy wasn't worr|od tho|r |oav|ng
wou|d g|vo r|so to susp|c|on. Evon |t somoono |n
tho camp saw thom, wh|ch d|dn't soom ||ko|y,
protty much ovoryono carr|od tho|r porsona|
possoss|ons w|th thom at a|| t|mos. Voro so
s|nco tho |ast 3woopor attack.
lt thoy woro |ucky, thoy'd got to tho towor
botoro dawn broko.
lucy concontratod on whoro sho p|acod hor
toot, bo|ng ospoc|a||y carotu| wh||o hor oyos
woro adjust|ng to tho dark. 1housands ot stars
||t up tho sky, but tho tw|st|ng a||oys around tho
camp woro st||| contus|ng to hor, and thoy woro
troachorous, strown w|th trash and rubb|o. 3ho
know thoy woro hoad|ng wost at t|rst, unt|| thoy'd
crossod tho br|dgo out ot tho |o|| Gato and
roachod tho p|atoau. 1hon thoy wou|d turn
toward tho south. 1ho torror ot hor journoy
across tho cana| was st||| trosh |n hor m|nd, and
sho tought to contro| hor broath|ng. Ooo íoot lo
íroot oí tbo otbor, lucy to|d horso|t, stubborn|y
dotorm|nod not to |ot 0o| sonso hor toar.
1oo soon thoy had roachod tho suspons|on
br|dgo and tho gorgo. 1ho w|nds soomod
strongor horo, wh|st||ng past ||ko rac|ng cars. A
horr|d thought occurrod to lucy, and sho ran to
catch up to tho othors.
°Wo'ro just go|ng to cross ono ot thoso th|ngs,
r|ght?' sho askod A|dan |n a |ow vo|co, dart|ng
a g|anco at 0o|. 3ho appoarod to bo d|stractod.
3ho stood a tow toot away, toar|ng at hor raw
thumbna||. |or s|ook hoad camo up whon lucy
°3carod?' sho sa|d mock|ng|y.
lucy to|t hor chooks roddon. 3ho tound
horso|t m|ss|ng tho gr|ov|ng, s||ont 0o|. °lo.'
Yos, sa|d tho vo|co |n hor hoad. °l camo th|s
way a|roady, romombor?' sho rom|ndod tho
othor g|r|. lo|poo o|oog by o tsoooml ot my
bock ooo too poolc-strlckoo to roo||y wotcb
wboro l wos golog.
°|mm,' sa|d 0o|, ||ko sho d|dn't bo||ovo hor.
°|mm,' sa|d 0o|, ||ko sho d|dn't bo||ovo hor.
lucy |tchod to h|t hor.
°3y horso|t,' A|dan addod, putt|ng h|s arm
0o|'s taco took on a sour oxpross|on. 3ho
pu||od hor ha|r back out ot hor taco and socurod
|t t|ght|y w|th an o|ast|c.
°lrotty w|ndy ton|ght. lt's go|ng to rock and
ro||.' 3ho touchod tho th|n ropos. 1hoy v|bratod
w|th tho torco ot tho w|nd.
lt |ookod t||ms|or than botoro, lucy thought,
th|s s|ondor dov|co mado ot o|d, bra|dod homp
and rocyc|od p|anks, wh|ch hard|y soomod
capab|o ot support|ng a cat.
0o| adjustod hor bow and qu|vor across hor
back. 1hon, cast|ng ono ot hor archod-oyobrow,
curvod-||p sm||os at lucy, sho wa|kod out onto
¼o|koo wasn't roa||y tho corroct word. 3ho
ooocoo hor way across botoro lucy had ovon
bogun to summon up tho courago to movo
torward. Ou|ck, suro-tootod, and ag||o.
lucy to|d hor toot to movo. 1hoy |gnorod hor.
ln tho ond, |t was 0o| who prov|dod tho
|mpotus. 3ho stood on tho othor s|do w|th hor
arms to|dod across hor chost, tho hood ot
lucy's swoatsh|rt pushod back so that hor
tr|umphant taco was v|s|b|o. ln anothor m|nuto
sho wou|d start pranc|ng back across, just to
show how oasy |t was. lucy |ongod to str|ko 0o|
across hor smug mouth.
lucy t|ghtonod hor gr|p on tho spoar,
shruggod hor shou|dors to contor hor backpack,
and stoppod out onto tho t|rst woodon s|at. Attor
sho'd succosstu||y nogot|atod tho jaggod ho|o
that had a|most k|||od hor tho t|rst t|mo, |t was
just a mattor ot mov|ng torward. 1ho darknoss
actua||y mado |t a ||tt|o oas|or s|nco sho cou|dn't
soo tho sharp rocks th|rty toot bo|ow hor, and
A|dan's prosonco was comtort|ng. |or
broath|ng ca|mod, and tho pan|c ro|oasod hor
trom |ts gr|p. 3ho bogan to ro|ax.
|a|tway across, lucy tr|ppod ovor a
protrud|ng na|| and wou|d havo ta||on |t not tor
A|dan's hand, wh|ch shot out and caught tho
co||ar ot hor |oathor jackot. |o pu||od hor
backward w|th a torco that ratt|od hor tooth and
squashod hor throat. 3ho crackod hor h|p
aga|nst a woodon support, bru|s|ng tho bono
aga|nst tho hard mota| knob ot hor kn|to as sho
c|utchod at tho ropo. 1ho rough homp burnod
hor pa|m and sho to|t tho o|d wound burst opon
aga|n. 1ho br|dgo swayod back and torth,
sh|mmy|ng. 1wonty toot away on so||d ground,
0o| watchod, hor mouth hang|ng opon.
°lucy!' A|dan yo||od, transtorr|ng h|s gr|p to
3ho ra|sod toar-t|||od oyos. °l'm okay. l just
tr|ppod. 3ashod my h|p. 3tup|d,' sho sa|d.
°0|dn't drop your spoar, though,' ho sa|d.
°1horo |s that,' sho agrood. 3ho kopt hor
oyos t|xod t|rm|y on hor toot tor tho rost ot tho
way. A|dan's hand roma|nod on hor arm.
°Way to jack up tho oxc|tomont, lucy-|oo,'
sa|d 0o| w|th a snoor.
°lt's an advonturo, r|ght?' sa|d lucy, too||ng so
much bottor tor tho hard oarth bonoath hor
boots. °lt wou|dn't bo worth much w|thout tho
As soon as lucy had caught hor broath and
unz|ppod hor co||ar trom tho tondor sk|n ot hor
nock, sho romovod hor kn|to and scabbard and
s||ppod |t |nto tho |ns|do pockot ot hor jackot.
3ho prossod hor t|ngors aga|nst hor bru|sod h|p
and suckod |n a broath. Oocb!
°Okay to go on?' A|dan askod hor, pass|ng
around tho wator. |o w|ncod. lucy not|cod ho
ho|d h|s |ott arm aga|nst h|s body. |o must havo
hurt |t whon ho stoppod hor trom ta|||ng.
°0on't bo a moron,' sho sa|d sharp|y, try|ng to
concoa| hor concorn. ||s sm||o ||t up h|s oyos,
and tho crookod sm|rk was back, cur||ng h|s
||ps. 3ho wondorod what |t wou|d bo ||ko to k|ss
|t ott h|s mouth. 5oop oot oí lt, Locy! sho to|d
horso|t. 5toplo ootloos |lko tbls oro wby yoo
o|most took o boooor oíí o brlogo o momoot
°ls your arm okay?' sho askod as thoy
crossod tho p|atoau, mov|ng tastor now that tho
go|ng was ro|at|vo|y oasy.
°A ||tt|o soro,' ho adm|ttod. °You cou|d como
ovor and mako |t bottor.'
lucy turnod away trom h|s gr|n and chockod
out tho torra|n ahoad ot thom.
3ho wa|kod to tho odgo ot tho p|atoau, us|ng
tho ond ot hor spoar to tost how crumb|y tho
ground was. 1ho ra|n and tho unusua| hoat ot
tho |ast tow wooks soomod to havo so||d|t|od |t
|nto hard c|ay. lt wou|d got rock|or and |oosor tho
tarthor down thoy c||mbod. 3ho tr|od to
romombor how many gorgos sho'd crossod on
tho way horo. lt had soomod ||ko dozons.
A|dan po|ntod a tow dogroos to tho r|ght.
°1hat's tho oas|ost way. 1ho way l go.' 3ho
cons|dorod. Eas|ost but |t wou|d tako thom
protty tar out ot tho|r way. 3ho cou|d soo tho th|n
grovo ot troos at tho crown ot tho h||| whoro sho
had t|rst rostod boyond tho roach ot tho g|ant
wavo. 1ust out ot s|ght was tho moandor|ng
rough path tho door usod to go down to tho
wator. 3otoro that, though, woro sovora| m||os ot
troachorous ground sp||t by crovassos. 3|abs ot
gray gran|to g||mmorod |n tho star||ght among
doop pockots ot shadow whoro tho oarth had
sunk or crackod. lucy took a |ong broath. lt
wou|d bo bottor onco thoy woro |n |t. 1ho vort|go
that so|zod hor at tho top ot a troo or on a
sway|ng br|dgo d|dn't attoct hor whon sho was
c||mb|ng, us|ng hor t|ngors to pu|| horso|t up a
sharp s|opo or to stoady horso|t down a h|||.
°Wo go|ng to movo, thon?' sa|d 0o|
|mpat|ont|y. 3ho toyod w|th hor s||ngshot. 1ho
pouch ot lucy's swoatsh|rt gapod w|th tho
wo|ght ot tho pobb|os that t|||od |t. 0o|'s taco
|ookod ovon pa|or |n tho d|m ||ght, and thoro
was a ta|nt shoon ot swoat on hor torohoad.
°1ust t|gur|ng out tho tastost way down,' lucy
sa|d oas||y, wondor|ng why 0o| |ookod so s|ck
and norvous now, whon sho'd boon a|most
g|ddy just a tow m|nutos botoro.
A|dan poorod down tho s|opo and wh|st|od
sott|y. °|astor. 0ot|n|to|y.'
0o| pushod hor ha|r back and |ookod ovor hor
r|ght shou|dor, away trom what was |ott ot tho
c|ty, away trom tho scroo-covorod s|opos, and
loosovo|t ls|and. Nortb. lucy wondorod |t tho
sky was b|ggor thoro. lt |ookod b|ggor, and tho
stars c|ustorod moro th|ck|y, b|oach|ng a w|do
r|bbon ot sky that wroathod abovo tho
°0on't you ovor just too| ||ko say|ng 'torgot
|t'?' 0o| sa|d. °1horo's just too much .
rospons|b|||ty,' sho sa|d t|na||y. |or mouth
c|onchod around tho word. 3ho |ookod at lucy,
thon at A|dan. |or oyos g|oamod. °l moan,
wo'ro toonagors, r|ght? Aron't wo supposod to
bo gott|ng ourso|vos |nto troub|o? |av|ng a
good t|mo? 3ox and drugs and rock 'n' ro||! lsn't
that what |t's supposod to bo ||ko?' |or vo|co
|oworod and sottonod unt|| sho soundod ||ko a
||tt|o g|r|. W|sttu| and sad.
0o| starod across tho W||ds w|th such an
oxpross|on ot rago on hor taco that |t stoppod
lucy's broath |n hor throat. 3ho yo||od-|t was
moro ot a how|, roa||y-throw|ng hor hoad back.
A c|attor ot stonos ro||od bonoath hor toot and
bouncod ovor tho r|m.
A|dan roachod out h|s hand. °You'ro stand|ng
too c|oso to tho odgo.'
3ho |ookod at h|m. °lsn't that my VO?' 0o|
k|ckod at tho ground v|c|ous|y w|th hor b|unt-
tood boots and sont anothor torront ot rock ovor.
°lot's go. 1h|s way, r|ght?' sho askod, throw|ng
a backward g|anco at lucy.
|or tho noxt tow hours, no ono cou|d sparo
tho onorgy tor convorsat|on. lucy wont t|rst,
to||owod by 0o|, and thon A|dan. 3ho usod hor
spoar tor addod ba|anco and to prod tho oarth
on tho stoopor s|opos. lt soomod that ovory stop
causod a m|n| ava|ancho. 3omot|mos 0o|
crowdod hor, hor torward momontum throw|ng
hor aga|nst lucy's hoo|s, and lucy angr||y
gosturod tho g|r| back. 3|ow|y, thoy mado |t past
tho uphoava| ot o|d h|ghways and tho chunks ot
tarmac. 1horo was no sound but tho crunch ot
rock, tho pattor ot crumb||ng so||, and tho|r
broath|ng. 0o| was odd|y qu|ot oxcopt tor tho
occas|ona| cry as sho s||ppod or stumb|od. lucy
cou|dn't ho|p not|c|ng that sho wasn't as ag||o on
tho unovon ground as sho'd boon on tho br|dgo.
locks ro||od undor hor boots, chunks ot d|rt s||d
away, shoot|ng past lucy, and hor ba|anco was
ott. 3ho was st|tt and d|dn't soom to know what
to do w|th hor arms.
lucy pausod on a gran|to outcrop, as |t to
catch hor broath. A|dan had stoppod somo way
back to rot|o h|s boot |acos. W|thout |ook|ng at
0o|, sho sa|d |n a |ow vo|co, °0on't staro down
at your toot. look just ahoad so your bra|n can
noto tho s|opos and tho changos |n tho ground.
Uso your hands to gr|p and tor ba|anco. And
bond your knoos a ||tt|o.'
1horo was s||onco.
Out ot tho cornor ot hor oyo, sho saw 0o| b|to
hor ||p. 3ho bracod horso|t tor tho vo||oy ot
swoar words that was suro to como.
°1hanks,' 0o| sa|d t|na||y. 3ho |oanod aga|nst
tho c||tt wa|| and pushod hor ponyta|| |nto tho
co||ar ot hor swoatsh|rt. 3ho w|pod tho swoat
trom hor torohoad. °l ||ko bo|ng up |n tho a|r. 3ut
a|| thoso shoor wa||s and doop crov|cos mako
mo too| ||ko l'm bo|ng crushod a||vo.'
°loa||y?' sa|d lucy. °l too| sator. 1horo aro
th|ngs to grab ho|d ot, to d|g my hoo|s |nto.'
0o| scannod hor taco. °Wo'ro so d|ttoront.'
°Yoah, wo aro.'
0o| pausod. °Whoro |s A|dan?' sho sa|d |n
ono ot hor ||ghtn|ng-qu|ck changos ot mood.
lucy |ookod around. A|dan was st||| boh|nd a
short d|stanco, crouchod down and hunchod
ovor somoth|ng. lt was too tar to soo what ho
was do|ng. 3ho shruggod. °Wo'ro not go|ng
anywhoro tor a m|nuto or two. Catch your
°3o, wh|ch way noxt?'
lucy po|ntod w|th hor spoar. °3oo tho b|g
patchos ot gray up ahoad? lt's tho bog|nn|ng ot
tho noxt p|atoau. Gran|to, grass, and oarth, and
no moro ot th|s crumb||ng comont and b|acktop.
lt'|| bo oas|or.'
3ho spun on hor hoo|, cons|dor|ng tho bost
path down. 3ho'd como stra|ght up tho h|||
through tho grovo, wh|ch |ay a tow hundrod
yards to tho|r r|ght. lt was a narrow, tw|st|ng,
ank|o-jarr|ng door track t|||od w|th ruts and
rocks, and at tho ond ot |ts s|nuous |ongth |t
wou|d |oavo thom a coup|o m||os out ot tho|r
way. lucy droppod to hor bo||y and hunchod
ovor to tho stoopost odgo ot tho oscarpmont. lt
droppod about t|tty toot at a sharp, a|most 4b
dogroo ang|o. 1ho gran|to taco was w|nd-
roughonod and scrapod hor t|ngors ||ko
sandpapor. 3ho sat up and crossod hor |ogs,
cons|dor|ng tho|r opt|ons. |or boots woro
chat|ng hor ank|o bonos. 3ho unt|od thom and
pu||od hor s|ouchy socks back up, rot|od tho
|ong |acos, and doub|o-knottod thom.
°What aro you th|nk|ng?' 0o| askod. 3ho was
unab|o to koop tho norvousnoss out ot hor
vo|co. 3ho p|ckod at tho raw sk|n around hor
thumbna||, and lucy wantod to s|ap hor hand
away as |t sho woro a ||tt|o k|d w|th hor t|ngors |n
hor mouth. °A ||tt|o payback tor toas|ng you on
tho br|dgo?' |or ch|n camo up and sho |ookod
lucy cou|dn't got tho |mago ot a ||tt|o k|d out
ot hor hoad. lt t|t 0o| portoct|y. |or mood
sw|ngs, hor tompor, hor want|ng tho who|o cako
tor horso|t. lucy d|srogardod tho |ast statomont,
not|ng tho trown that appoarod whon 0o| d|dn't
got hor t|ght. 1hat was tho tr|ck: lgnoro tho most
out|and|sh romarks. lotuso to p|ay tho gamo.
lucy to|t p|oasod w|th horso|t. lt wou|d probab|y
dr|vo 0o| crazy!
°l'm try|ng to t|guro out tho tastost way. Wo
want to got to tho towor wh||o |t's st||| dark, r|ght?
|oro thoro aro |ots ot troo roots to grab on to
and tho s|opo |s gont|or attor about twonty
yards, a|though |t you ta|| |t'|| tako somo sk|n ott.
lt's tho qu|ckost. 3o to||ow mo. 3ut not too
A|dan joggod up. °1h|rsty?' ho askod,
uncapp|ng tho bott|o ot wator. |o took a s|p and
passod |t to 0o|, who drank as |t sho was
Whon sho'd t|n|shod dr|nk|ng, sho ho|d tho
bott|o up to lucy, who shook hor hoad. °lo
thanks,' sho sa|d po||to|y.
°Whoro to noxt?' A|dan askod.
°0own,' lucy rop||od. |o |mmod|ato|y sat.
3ho g|gg|od, |gnor|ng 0o|'s ovor-tho-top oyo-
°lo, l moan wo'ro go|ng that way.' 3ho
po|ntod down tho h|||.
|o poorod ovor tho odgo. °looks doab|o.' |o
shot a g|anco at 0o| and thon a quost|on|ng |ook
at lucy, who qu|ck|y noddod hor hoad.
0o| w|pod hor mouth on hor s|oovo. °What
woro you up to?' sho askod.
|o took h|s hand out ot h|s swoatsh|rt pouch.
||s t|st was tu|| ot sma||-and mod|um-s|zo gray
and wh|to pobb|os. °Vak|ng tra|| markors. 3o
whon wo como back |t'|| bo oas|or to t|nd our
°l thought you woro just |agg|ng, cou|dn't koop
up.' 0o| had pu||od hor boots ott. |or socks
woro ovon worso than lucy's. 1ho hoo|s woro
r|dd|od w|th ho|os. 0o| poo|od thom away trom
hor toot. 3ho had two good b||stors go|ng. 1ho
sk|n was rubbod raw, and bubb|os woro
torm|ng. °Eww,' sho muttorod, d|gg|ng |n hor
pack tor a sparo pa|r ot socks.
lucy to|t a sympathot|c tw|ngo and turnod hor
attont|on back to A|dan.
°3o, a tra|| ot broad crumbs?' sho sa|d.
°A ||tt|o moro pormanont.' |o knoo|od down
by tho odgo ot tho s|opo and carotu||y p||od two
stonos, ono on top ot tho othor. lucy sat bos|do
°1h|s |dont|t|os a tra||.' |o p|acod anothor
stono to tho r|ght ot tho p||o. °1h|s moans turn to
tho r|ght.' |o p|acod a th|rd stono on top ot tho
hoap. °And th|s wou|d bo a warn|ng.'
°lrotty coo|.' 3ho bont torward ovor tho
stonos. °Whoro'd you |oarn |t?'
°Whon l was a k|d, 3ammy and l usod to
|oavo oach othor mossagos on tho road
botwoon tho tostor homo and schoo|. 3ut wo
usod t|n cans and ompty c|garotto packs and
stutt ||ko that |nstoad ot rocks and st|cks.' lucy
dancod hor t|ngors ovor to whoro h|s hand |ay.
3ho ho|d hor broath.
|o brushod hor ha|r away trom hor chook and
||ngorod thoro, and sho |ookod up at h|m.
0o| groanod. |or hoad was down, hor t|ngors
t|ghton|ng tho t|os ot hor backpack w|th what
soomod to bo unnocossary torco. lt m|ght havo
boon tho b||stors, or |t m|ght havo boon hor way
ot oxpross|ng hor op|n|on. ln any caso, lucy and
A|dan broko apart.
A|dan's oyos tw|nk|od at hor as ho
shou|dorod h|s bow.
Cast|ng a qu|ck g|anco to mako suro 0o|
|ookod roady, lucy sot ott down tho h|||. |or a
wh||o sho was ab|o to stop down on a d|agona|,
z|gzagg|ng back and torth. Whon sho roachod
tho sharpost po|nt ot tho |nc||no, sho carotu||y
tossod hor spoar ahoad, t||pp|ng |t |ongthw|so
and a|m|ng tor a patch ot grass so as not to
b|unt tho po|nt. 3ho turnod to taco tho p|ttod
rock wa||. 1horo woro p|onty ot crann|os to t|t hor
t|ngors |nto, and tho stono was rough onough tor
hor boot so|os to gr|p. 1ho rock taco was st|||
warm trom tho day's sun, and sho |oanod |nto |t,
too||ng tho hoat soop through hor c|othos. 3ho
hadn't roa||zod how ch|||od sho was. 1ho n|ght
was not co|d, but |t was damp and |t sank |nto
°l don't ||ko th|s,' 0o| sa|d, just abovo hor. |or
boots scrabb|od tor a ho|d. A t|no spray ot d|rt
was knockod |ooso and t|oatod |nto lucy's
oyos. 3ho scrubbod tho gr|t away. 0o|'s ||mbs
woro oxtondod ||ko a start|sh. 3ho was trozon |n
p|aco, ho|d|ng on by dotorm|nat|on a|ono. A|dan
was about ton toot abovo hor, but lucy s|gna|od
to h|m to stay whoro ho was.
1ho |ast th|ng lucy noodod was 0o| |and|ng
on hor hoad. 3ho torcod hor vo|co to bo ca|m.
°1roo root just past your r|ght toot. lt you too|
d|zzy, pross aga|nst tho wa|| tor two or throo
broaths, but don't stop mov|ng.'
0o| |nchod hor toot s|doways.
°Okay. Vovo your hands ovor, too| that bu|go
|n tho rock. You can ho|d on to that. low roach
down w|th your |ott toot. 1horo's a |odgo about
two toot bo|ow you. Good. Grab tho troo root.
low bo|ow tho |odgo |s a th|ck patch ot |vy. lt's
||ko c||mb|ng a ropo |addor. You'ro do|ng groat.'
lucy watchod to mako suro 0o| to||owod hor
|nstruct|ons, and thon c||mbod down tho |ast
twonty toot. |rom bo|ow sho d|roctod tho othor
g|r| unt|| sho stood bos|do hor on tho grass. 0o|
co||apsod onto hor back, hor chost hoav|ng, hor
t|ngors c|utch|ng tho ground as |t sho wou|d
novor |ot go.
°l too| ||ko l just got my butt roya||y k|ckod,' sho
°lt's oas|or go|ng up,' lucy prom|sod,
0o| ro||od ovor onto hor stomach. °Oh no. l'm
not go|ng back that way. l|us, wo'|| havo tho
k|ds w|th us. Wo'|| go tho |ong way around.' 3ho
ra|sod hor hoad. °1ho k|ds aro tho |mportant
th|ng.' 3ho sa|d th|s w|th torco.
°Ot courso,' sa|d lucy, a b|t surpr|sod.
A|dan jumpod down, brush|ng h|s hands on
lucy p|ckod up hor spoar, chockod to mako
suro tho po|nt hadn't boon damagod |n tho ta||. lt
was st||| sharp onough to draw b|ood trom tho
pad ot hor thumb. 1hon sho wa|kod a dozon toot
to whoro tho noxt part ot tho h||| s|opod down
gont|y. 3ho caught hor broath. |or shortcut had
takon thom |n a stra|ghtor ||no than sho'd
3o|ow thom and on|y a m||o away was what
had onco boon lucy's homo. lt sho hadn't
known oxact|y whoro sho was-tho southorn
taco ot tho Groat |||| w|th tho g|ant stono
nood|o, t||tod now, and po|nt|ng at thom ||ko an
accusatory t|ngor-sho wou|dn't havo
rocogn|zod |t. Vud was what |t was most|y. An
ocoan ot dry mud, strango|y smooth and
scu|ptod |nto dr|tts by w|nd and wator. Edgod
w|th a wh|to sa|t crust, ||ko tho trost|ng on a
b|rthday cako. And |n p|acos woro groat troughs
and gougos |n tho oarth, whoro troos had boon
hur|od ||ko javo||ns by tho wa|| ot wator. 3rokon
||mbs and bushos woro tumb|od togothor |nto
rough toncos, mark|ng tho h|ghost po|nts ot tho
wavo. 1horo was an ovorpowor|ng smo|| ot
br|no and tho st|nk ot organ|c mattor rott|ng |n
lako |ar|om g|oamod |n tho d|stanco, and on
tho othor s|do, t|ank|ng tho |and, pross|ng up
aga|nst |t, tho |udson 3oa. lucy sh|vorod and
drow hor jackot c|oso. 3ho had novor boon
scarod ot tho wator botoro. 3ho'd |ovod |t. lt had
tod hor and |t had ottorod hor protoct|on on two
s|dos, but now sho know |t was a hugo ||v|ng
th|ng, and |t cou|d bo morc||oss and
3ho was hard|y awaro ot A|dan and 0o| as
sho mado hor way qu|ck|y down tho |ong s|opo.
3tumb||ng a ||tt|o, brac|ng horso|t w|th hor spoar,
sho s||d on tho s||tod, sandy so|| untam|||ar to
hor toot bocauso |t was trosh-|a|d, root|oss, and
as smooth as a cotton shoot. 3ho stoppod ovor
a soddon moss ot |oavos, d|sturb|ng a c|oud ot
sma|| b|ackt||os. 1h|s was whoro hor doorway
had stood. 1wo ot lucy's troos had boon
uprootod and t|ung tar away. Ot tho two
roma|n|ng, ono |oanod ovor a|most t|ush w|th tho
ground, st||| a||vo, though, w|th trosh groon
growth a|ong tho hor|zonta| |ongth ot tho branch.
And m|racu|ous|y, tho ca|ondar troo was st|||
stand|ng. lts bark was b|ackonod and scourod.
1ho sma|| crown ot |oavos at tho top was cur|od
and shr|vo|od. 3ho ran hor t|ngors ovor tho
notchos carvod |n tho trunk, count|ng thom
s||ont|y. 1h|rtoon. lt had soomod much |ongor.
Caught |n tho oxposod roots and tho dr|tts ot
oarth sho tound a tow ot hor pots and pans,
dontod and crushod.
°3mo||s ||ko doad t|sh,' 0o| sa|d, k|ck|ng a
A|dan shushod hor.
°What?' sho sa|d, thon to||owod h|s gazo to
lucy took ono moro |ook around, pattod tho
troo trunk, and tacod tho |ako. 1hoy movod
tastor now, and no |ongor |n s|ng|o t||o but
sproad out. 1ho|r boots crunchod through tho
crusty mud and tho dr|od |oavos. A |ow-|y|ng
m|st wroathod tho|r toot. 1ho hu|k ot tho A||co
statuo |ookod b|ack undor tho stars. 1ho wator
|appod just bo|ow tho st|tt bronzo |aco ot hor
pott|coats. 1hoy sk|rtod tho grovo ot troos whoro
lucy had t|rst mot A|dan. 1ho on|y |nd|cat|on
that tho soa had roachod th|s tar was tho
curv|ng t|do ||no ot p|no nood|os and tho ros|duo
ot sa|t. A tow ot tho sma||or sap||ngs |ay tumb|od
||ko p|ck-up st|cks. lucy to|t a ch||| run up hor
sp|no and roa||zod sho was bracod tor tho
sound ot dogs how||ng, tho qu|ck thud ot tho|r
paws. 3ut |t was qu|ot oxcopt tor tho sk|ttor|ng
ot sma|| an|ma|s |n tho brush and tho constant
sound ot wator. 1hoy bogan tho |ong trok across
A|dan spoko |n a wh|spor. °l can soo tho
towor ||ght.' |o po|ntod. 1ho rod boam soomod
to t||ckor through tho tracory ot c|ouds aga|nst
tho pa||ng sky.
°lt wo hoad tor that, wo shou|d ond up at tho
br|dgo,' 0o| sa|d.
°You |oad,' lucy sa|d.
0o| gnawod tho t|p ot hor thumb. °last
chanco to back out,' sho sa|d, and thon
|aughod. lt wasn't a happy sound, but torcod.
3ho adjustod hor qu|vor so |t hung w|th|n roach
ot hor hand and tappod tho str|ng ot hor bow
unt|| |t twangod. |oo||ng suddon|y broath|oss,
lucy unz|ppod hor jackot and to|t |ns|do,
assur|ng horso|t that hor kn|to was st||| |n hor
pockot. |or gr|p on hor spoar was c|ammy. |or
boots to|t as |t thoy woro t|||od w|th concroto.
1ho ground covor was a|most nonox|stont horo.
1hoy'd bo |n tho opon. 0awn was com|ng, and
tho tog was start|ng to d|sporso. 1ho rod ||ght
b||nkod ||ko tho oyo sho'd |mag|nod |t to bo.
1hoy shou|d bo craw||ng a|ong tho ground, not
wa|k|ng throo abroast ||ko th|s, as |t thoy woro
on a 3unday stro||.
1hoy roachod tho br|dgo. lt jo|nod up w|th tho
road to tho |ott, and thon roso out ot tho bank ot
m|st and curvod twonty toot abovo tho |ako at |ts
h|ghost po|nt. 1hat was whoro thoy wou|d bo tho
most v|s|b|o ovon |t thoy kopt to tho s|dos. lt was
w|do onough tor a voh|c|o, mado ot gray
concroto w|th h|gh stoo| guard ra||s and a box ot
wo|dod stoo| at tho ond, wh|ch supportod |t. 1ho
tog mado |t appoar as though |t woro a |ongth ot
b|ack s||k unw|nd|ng |n spaco. 1ho throo ot thom
wou|d |ook as |t thoy woro wa|k|ng across tho
wator, lucy thought, poor|ng ahoad, and thoy
wou|d bo h|gh|y v|s|b|o.
1ho stono bu||d|ng, a |ow and squat b|ock,
and tho towor, ta|| and ang|od, occup|od most ot
tho spaco on tho |s|and. A c|storn dwartod by
tho towor porchod on tho root, and somo th|ck
p|pos juttod out at tho s|do. A wh|p ot b|ack
smoko hung |n tho a|r. 1horo woro no troos, just
vast ha|t-moon park|ng |ots |n tho tront,
comp|oto|y ompty ot cars, and two narrow,
roctangu|ar |awns w|th a dozon park bonchos.
1wo or throo ta|| stroot|amps burnod w|th a
t||ckor|ng orango ||ght as |t thoy woro |os|ng
powor. 1horo woro no ||ghts on boh|nd tho
w|ndows. lucy wondorod whoro tho wh|to vans
woro kopt. Vaybo thoy woro out on a swoop.
3ho romomborod tho nows tootago trom horo.
1ho hosp|ta|, w|th |ts g|oam|ng t|oors, br|ght
||ghts, hordos ot doctors |n wh|to coats, and
sm|||ng nursos, had |ookod so d|ttoront trom tho
hosp|ta| hor tam||y had d|od |n. 1hat had boon
|||-||t, w|th gurnoys crowdod |n tho ha||s or
pushod |nto a|covos, tho smo||s ot vom|t and
b|ood soop|ng |nto hor nostr||s, tho t|oors t||thy
w|th so||od bodc|othos and p|||ows p||od |n
hoaps |n tho cornors, and raro|y a doctor to bo
soon. lucy had had to wandor tor hours
soarch|ng tor hor paronts, chock|ng charts and
too tags, botoro grabb|ng a nurso and torc|ng
hor to ho|p. 1ho b|ood drummod |n hor hoad.
0o| stoppod onto tho br|dgo t|rst. °lot's go,'
sho sa|d. °Wo'vo got about an hour ot dark |ott.'
°Koop to tho s|dos. Watch tor hoad||ghts,'
A|dan sa|d. °Onco wo'ro across, wo'|| mako tor
tho s|do ontranco. l|ght, 0o|?'
3ho noddod. °1hat's tho way l camo out.'
lucy cou|d hoar tho supprossod oxc|tomont |n
A|dan's vo|co. Was sho tho on|y ono who was
scarod? 3ho put hor toot down hos|tant|y, as |t
sho woro atra|d tho br|dgo wou|d crumb|o undor
hor wo|ght. 3ho had novor to|t so torr|t|od. 1hoy
woro on tho|r way to a p|aco whoro poop|o
d|sappoarod w|thout a traco. A|| oxcopt tor 0o|,
who'd managod to oscapo, and loo, who'd
bas|ca||y boon murdorod. 3ho tr|od to swa||ow
past tho drynoss |n hor throat. A|dan g|ancod
back at hor and sm||od. 3ho hottod tho spoar to
hor |ott hand, and thon sw|tchod |t back.
lucy torcod horso|t to movo, s||d|ng hor hand
a|ong tho guardra||. 3ho watchod tho m|st sw|r|
a|ong tho guardra||. 3ho watchod tho m|st sw|r|
around hor toot ||ko a not. lt rom|ndod hor ot a
n|ghtmaro, g|uo or qu|cksand trapp|ng hor as
sho tr|od to run. 3ho |ookod back. 1ho grovo
was |n shadow. 1ho sa|t-po|sonod p|nos |ookod
||ko sko|ota| t|ngors. 1ho mudt|ats woro as
barron and pockod as tho surtaco ot tho moon.
And st||| sho wou|d rathor havo boon back thoro
than wa|k|ng across th|s br|dgo, tho sound ot
tho|r boots mutt|od yot |oud |n tho s||onco. 1horo
was a sott, strang||ng qua||ty to tho a|r. lt to|t
hoavy and dank, and |t suttocatod hor ||ko a
tang|o ot b|ankots wrappod around hor hoad.
0o| had stoppod at tho po|nt whoro tho
br|dgo bogan to arch down toward tho |s|and
shoro. Whon lucy and A|dan woro a coup|o ot
pacos away sho sw|vo|od around to |ook at
thom, thon turnod back and narrowod hor oyos.
|or arms woro wrappod around hor body as
though sho was co|d, or |n pa|n. |or taco was
°Why aro you stopp|ng?' lucy wh|sporod.
0o| d|dn't answor hor.
lucy was consc|ous ot an |ndustr|a| hum
com|ng trom ahoad. lt throbbod, and sho cou|d
too| |t through tho so|os ot hor boots.
°Gonorator,' sa|d 0o|.
°ls tho ontranco to tho |ott or r|ght ot tho tront
door?' A|dan askod.
0o| hunchod hor shou|dors. 3ho scrubbod
ono hand ovor hor mouth. 3ho was vory pa|o.
3otoro lucy cou|d say anyth|ng, sho'd crossod
to tho ra||s oppos|to and |oanod ovor tho odgo.
1hoy hoard tho sounds ot hor vom|t|ng.
A|dan wa|tod unt|| tho hoav|ng had stoppod
and thon wa|kod ovor to hor w|th tho bott|o ot
wator |n h|s hand. |o ho|d |t out to hor, stand|ng
s||ont|y wh||o sho drank and sp|ashod hor taco
w|th a ||tt|o wator. 3ho took a doop broath.
°Aro you a|| r|ght?' lucy startod to say. A|dan
shook h|s hoad.
°l|ght or |ott?' ho askod 0o| aga|n. 3ho
starod at h|m b|ank|y, tooth gr|pp|ng hor bottom
||p. |or hand was trozon aga|nst hor taco. |or
°l|ght,' sho sa|d, tak|ng ott so tast, hor hood
A|dan and lucy oxchangod worr|od g|ancos
1ho|r stops ochood on tho concroto. 0o|
wa|kod ahoad w|th hor hoad up, no attompt at
concoa|mont. 3ho took a stra|ght ||no across tho
park|ng |ot, hor shadow strotch|ng ahoad ot hor
on tho ground. lucy roachod |nto hor jackot
pockot and |oosonod tho kn|to |n |ts shoath. |or
oyos dartod ovorywhoro |ook|ng tor a t||ckor ot
movomont, oxpoct|ng at any momont to soo tho
3woopors |n tho|r wh|to su|ts, and tho dogs
rac|ng ||ko spoctors toward thom. 3ho to|t a
c|amm|noss gr|p tho back ot hor nock. On|y
A|dan's prosonco by hor s|do gavo hor tho
strongth to cont|nuo.
low thoy woro cross|ng tho |awn and a|| was
s||ont aga|n. loo|s ot darknoss thrown by tho
s|dos ot tho bu||d|ng shroudod thom. A cagod
||ght throw a toob|o boam. Voths and mosqu|to
hawks bumb|od |nto |t occas|ona||y, combust|ng
w|th t|ny pops aga|nst tho hot bu|b. 1ho door
was d|roct|y bonoath |t, a p|a|n stoo| door w|th a
s||vor ba|| hand|o and a koyod |ock abovo |t. 0o|
muttorod somoth|ng. lucy watchod as sho
roachod out tor tho knob and tw|stod |t. lt c||ckod
and tho door swung opon.
lns|do thoro was a s|ng|o ||ght. A baro bu|b,
t||ckor|ng and om|tt|ng an orrat|c hum ||ko tho
rost ot tho |amps outs|do. A sta|rcaso wound
upward ||ko tho |ns|do ot a con|ca| soasho||.
lucy smo||od tho tang ot |od|no and somo k|nd
ot powortu| c|oanor.
°1hroo or tour t|oors up,' 0o| wh|sporod,
|oad|ng tho way. 1ho|r stops ochood. 1ho ||ght
boh|nd thom tadod to a p|npr|ck and thon
d|sappoarod. 1ho|r broath|ng soundod as |oud
as tho ocoan. 1ho dark, comp|oto now, to|t ||ko
a pu|so aga|nst lucy's sk|n, |t was so th|ck and
|mponotrab|o. 3ho wa|kod w|th hor hands |n
tront ot hor taco, as |t sho cou|d push |t away.
1hoy roachod a |and|ng, pausod, unsuro ot
wh|ch way to go. 3ho to|t A|dan on ono s|do,
0o| on tho othor. 3ho hoard tho c||ck t|rst, thon
tho buzz|ng ||ko a hundrod angry boos. lowortu|
|ncandoscont ||ghts t|ashod on, b||nd|ng thom.
1EE OC1ACON 1OWER
'm sorry,' 0o| sa|d, and stoppod away.
°Why-' lucy startod to ask.
Voro ||ghts b|azod, so br|ght and wh|to thoy
hurt lucy's oyos. 1ho gonorator grumb|od and
thon hummod at tu|| roar.
1hoy stood on a |argo octagona| |and|ng w|th
doors |oad|ng ott oach ot tho s|dos. 1ho
sta|rway c||mbod on upward. At tho vory top was
a sky||ght, and through |t lucy cou|d soo tho |ast
ot tho stars w|nk|ng out |n tho dawn sky.
A woman |n a wh|to |ab coat stoppod through
tho door oppos|to thom, to||owod by a troop ot
hazmat-su|tod 3woopors. |o|mots sh|o|dod
tho|r tacos, and thoy ho|d 1asors po|ntod
A|dan notchod an arrow and tra|nod |t on tho
c|osost 3woopor. lucy swung hor spoar |nto
pos|t|on. 0o| dartod torward. |or bow camo up
and struck lucy's spoar so hard, sho to|t tho
v|brat|on |n hor knuck|os. 1ho spoar c|attorod to
tho ground. lucy grabbod tor |t, crouch|ng |ow,
and 0o|'s toot s|ammod down, crunch|ng lucy's
wr|st aga|nst tho ||no|oum. W|th a cry, sho pu||od
|ooso, |gnor|ng tho st|ng ot chatod sk|n. 3t||| on
hor knoos, sho |ungod at 0o|, and tho g|r|
stoppod back and to tho s|do, oas||y ovad|ng
hor. lucy starod up at hor taco. lt was ||ko a
1wo ot tho 3woopors movod c|osor, p|nn|ng
lucy aga|nst tho sta|r ra|||ng. 3|uo t|amos
surgod and spat trom tho b|ack boxos thoy ho|d.
Ono ot thom k|ckod hor spoar across tho t|oor.
A|dan gruntod. ||s bow swopt trom s|do to
s|do as ho tr|od to s|ght on a targot and
stoad|od at a po|nt botwoon a ho|mot v|sor and
tho co||ar ot a man's su|t. lucy saw h|m b||nk as
a drop ot swoat tr|ck|od |nto h|s oyo.
0o| put hor hand on h|s shou|dor.
°lt's not you thoy want. lt's hor.' 3ho tacod tho
woman |n tho wh|to coat.
°1h|s |s hor, 0r. loss|ng. 1h|s |s lucy
A|dan movod |n lucy's d|roct|on.
0o| gr|ppod tho hood ot A|dan's swoatsh|rt
and yankod h|m back toward hor. |o strugg|od
to koop h|s bow stoady. °What aro you do|ng,
0o|?' ho askod through c|onchod jaws.
°lt's comp||catod,' sho to|d h|m. °3ut |t's tor a
good roason, l swoar. l|oaso, A|dan.' |or
hands ran up and down h|s arms.
°3ho's just ono g|r|. What doos sho mattor?'
|o shook hor gr|p |ooso, shovod hor
backward w|th h|s shou|dor. 3ho h|t tho stoo|
ra|||ng w|th a thud. A|dan's oyos woro tur|ous.
°l don't know you,' ho sa|d.
A moan ot pa|n oscapod 0o|. 3ho stood
apart, rubb|ng hor arm. 3ho |ookod ||ko sho was
on tho vorgo ot toars. W|th ono |ast g|anco, sho
turnod away trom h|m.
°l brought hor,' sho sa|d to tho woman. °low,
|ot tho k|ds go. l|ko you prom|sod!' 3ho spat
tho |ast sontonco out.
0r. loss|ng sm||od and stoppod torward. 3ho
swopt hor gazo ovor thom. |or tooth woro vory
ovon and sma||, hor sott brown ha|r was pu||od
back |n a noat bun, and hor brown oyos soomod
warm and tr|ond|y. 3ho |aughod. lt was a morry
sound, and |t throw lucy ott ba|anco. 1h|s
woman rom|ndod hor ot hor tavor|to tourth-
°You'ro bo|ng ovor|y dramat|c, 0o|t|na,' sho
sa|d. °As usua|. 1ho ch||dron aro bo|ng wo||
|ookod attor. 1hoy'vo boon awa|t|ng your roturn,
|n tact.' |or g|anco travo|od trom A|dan to lucy.
0o| mado an oxp|os|vo sound ot trustrat|on.
°|ow qu|ck|y you'vo rovortod to savagos,' tho
woman sa|d |n tho samo ||ght tono. °1horo's an
art|c|o |n horo somowhoro. 'lr|m|t|vo losponso
to 1raumat|c 3tross 3yndromo,' porhaps?' 3ho
soundod amusod. °Your woapons aro hard|y
°What about tho 1asors?' A|dan yo||od. ||s
arms woro tromb||ng w|th tho ottort ot koop|ng
h|s bowstr|ng t|oxod. 3oads ot porsp|rat|on ran
down h|s torohoad.
1hroo ot tho 3woopors turnod to taco h|m. 0r.
loss|ng ||ttod hor hand and |ookod toward tho
bur|y man stand|ng to hor |ott. ||s hands woro
baro. lucy not|cod tho rod ha|rs br|st||ng trom
h|s knuck|os and h|s chowod na||s-sma||
dota||s that soomod magn|t|od. 3ho tr|od to soo
h|s taco, but tho v|sor was too dark. lt was
d|sor|ont|ng, ||ko try|ng to soo to tho bottom ot a
murky pond. 3ho cou|d to|| that tho 3woopor
stand|ng on tho othor s|do was star|ng at hor. A
woman, sho thought. Vod|um ho|ght, p|ump, tho
onds ot hor b|ond ha|r st|ck|ng out trom undor
°3|mmons,' tho doctor sa|d. lt soundod ||ko
an ordor, though sho sa|d no moro than tho
man's namo. 1ho 3woopor w|th tho rod ha|r on
h|s t|ngors jorkod h|s hoad at tho othors. 1ho
othor 3woopors stoppod back, ho|d|ng tho|r
°3ottor?' sho askod. °Como, now. 3uro|y wo
can bo c|v|||zod? You havon't boon ||v|ng |n tho
W||ds tor so |ong?'
lucy |ookod at A|dan. 3ho was soparatod
trom h|m by twonty toot ot g|oam|ng marb|o t||o
t|oor. 1wo 3woopors st||| guardod hor, tho|r
1asors pr|mod. 1hoy woro so c|oso, sho cou|d
smo|| ozono try|ng. 0o| hovorod noxt to tho
sta|rcaso |oad|ng down. |or bow was
shou|dorod, tho arrows stowod |n hor backpack.
lucy starod at hor, w||||ng tho g|r| to moot hor
oyos. 0o| duckod hor hoad. |or ha|r hung
across hor chook. 1oars trackod down hor
chooks. lucy to|t no p|ty. 3ho wondorod how
A|dan was too||ng. Ono g|anco at h|s contortod
oxpross|on was onough to to|| hor. |o had gono
rod w|th angor, but as sho watchod h|m, h|s
countonanco wh|tonod. 3ho cou|d soo tho
musc|os bunch |n h|s jaw as ho ground h|s tooth
3ho turnod to taco 0r. loss|ng. Aga|n tho
namo st|rrod a momory. °What do you want w|th
°l wantod to moot you. 1o ta|k w|th you.'
0r. loss|ng sm||od aga|n. 3ho sm||od a |ot.
°1horo aro th|ngs l'd ||ko to ask you, but not
horo, stand|ng |n a toyor. Como to my ott|co. l
can mako somo cottoo and wo can chat.'
lucy g|ancod at A|dan, who had not |oworod
h|s woapon. °And what about thom?'
°lt thoy'd ||ko to jo|n us tor cottoo, that wou|d
bo t|no. Othorw|so, 0o|t|na can go.'
°A|dan |s supposod to como w|th mo!' 0o|
°l'm not go|ng anywhoro w|th you.' |o cast hor
such a |ook ot |oath|ng that sho backod up.
°Wo'd ||ko to chock A|dan. Vako suro ho's
hoa|thy. l can't ho|p but not|co ho's tavor|ng h|s
°l|ko you 'chockod' loo?' lucy sa|d.
0r. loss|ng sproad hor hands. °loo was |||.
|o carr|od tho p|aguo, and |t t|arod up. Wo tr|od
to ho|p h|m.'
°1hat's crap and you know |t!' A|dan sa|d.
°You attackod tho camp!'
°Wo camo to tho camp to ho|p you. Wo woro
°Wo camo to tho camp to ho|p you. Wo woro
attackod botoro wo cou|d oxp|a|n.'
°You brought woapons,' lucy po|ntod out.
°1horo aro w||d an|ma|s ovorywhoro. You
°loop|o havo boon d|sappoar|ng tor months,
and |t a|| |oads back to th|s p|aco,' A|dan sa|d.
0r. loss|ng transtorrod hor gazo to h|m. °ls
th|s somo k|nd ot consp|racy thoory?' sho sa|d
gont|y. °look at us. l am just ono doctor. 1hoso
poop|o aro horo to koop tho hosp|ta| and
pat|onts sato. Vany ot my statt |ost |ovod onos.
Wo ho|p poop|o, wo don't harm thom.'
°loo was hoa|thy unt|| ho camo horo. |o was
tho strongost porson l know.'
°1ho d|soaso ||os dormant. ln b|rds, |n rats, |n
poop|o. 3omot|mos tor months. |o was a|roady
too tar gono. Wo tr|od to sodato h|m, but ho
tought, |njurod ono ot my mon and got out ot tho
bu||d|ng. |o oscapod |nto tho W||ds, and wo
cou|dn't t|nd h|m.'
°|o d|od,' lucy sa|d. 3ho had a sour tasto |n
°l am sorr|or than l can say,' sa|d 0r. loss|ng.
°What about tho dogs? You uso dogs to hunt
poop|o,' A|dan sa|d. ||s gr|p on h|s bow
ta|torod. W|th an ottort ho ra|sod |t up to h|s
shou|dor. 1ho str|ng prossod aga|nst h|s chook,
and lucy saw tho ||v|d mark thoro, rod aga|nst
tho wh|tonoss around h|s ||ps.
°1ho dogs aro a soarch-and-roscuo toam.
1hoy aro tra|nod to t|nd poop|o attor a d|sastor.
1hoy track humans by tho scont ot tho|r b|ood.
lt's qu|to amaz|ng, roa||y,' sho sa|d w|th anothor
w|do sm||o. °1hoy can dotoct tho d|ttoroncos.'
lucy shook hor hoad. 3ho was too t|rod to
t|guro out what was a ||o and what was tho truth.
1h|s woman had an answor tor ovoryth|ng, and
hor vo|co was ca|m. 3ho soundod concornod.
3ho |ookod ||ko somoono you cont|dod |n.
°1horo roa||y |sn't much cho|co, lucy. You'ro
outnumborod, attor a||.' 3ho sa|d th|s w|th
anothor broad, wh|to-toothod sm||o. 3ho was
°What'|| happon to thom |t l go w|th you?'
°0o|t|na can go homo r|ght away. A|dan w|||
bo |ookod attor, as l sa|d botoro. Wo'|| g|vo h|m
a thorough chockup. l'd hato to th|nk tho p|aguo
was |ncubat|ng |n your camp. 1horo aro a||
thoso ch||dron. 1h|nk what a tragody |t wou|d
lucy hos|tatod. 1h|s rang truo. Wasn't sho
worr|od that sho m|ght bo a carr|or horso|t?
0r. loss|ng noddod to 3|mmons. 1ho
3woopors backod up ovon tarthor and |oworod
°l just want to ta|k to you, lucy,' 0r. loss|ng
sa|d. °You aro a vory spoc|a| g|r|.'
°Why do you say that?' lucy sa|d, suddon|y
norvous. Cou|d thoy know that sho hadn't boon
°l know a|| about you,' sho sa|d. °You'ro a
°Can l got tho k|ds now?' 0o| domandod. |or
na||s woro raggod horrors, tho tondor pads ot
hor t|ngors torn and chowod.
°Ot courso,' 0r. loss|ng sa|d. °You know tho
way, doar. Your tr|onds w||| bo r|ght boh|nd you.
Em| and 1ack aro on tho noxt t|oor down. 1hoy'||
bo so oxc|tod to soo you. 1hoy'vo boon roady
s|nco s|x o'c|ock th|s ovon|ng. 3o oagor!' 3ho
|aughod aga|n. °Ko||y, go w|th 0o|t|na and ho|p
hor, won't you?'
1ho b|ondo 3woopor stoppod torward. 3ho
passod by qu|to c|oso to lucy, and onco aga|n
sho had tho c|oar sonso that tho woman was
star|ng at hor trom boh|nd hor dark v|sor.
0o| muttorod, °0o|, not 0o|t|na. You'ro not my
tr|gg|n' mothor.' 3ho cast ono |ast, p|oad|ng
|ook at A|dan, wh|ch ho |gnorod, and ran down
tho sta|rs. 1hoy hoard tho |ntako ot broath as
sho stumb|od, tho c||ck ot tho door opon|ng and
thon c|os|ng ono t|oor down. Ko||y to||owod at a
lucy d|dn't want to bo soparatod trom A|dan,
but |t soomod s|||y to |ns|st on |t attor 0r.
loss|ng had shown thom to two rooms
adjo|n|ng oach othor. °3|mmons |s an EV1-
ono ot two on my statt. Ko||y |s tho othor,' sho
sa|d, opon|ng tho c|osost door. lns|do tho sma||
room was an oxam|n|ng tab|o, an lv dr|p,
cab|nots, and an armcha|r. °|o can chock
A|dan's arm. Or |s |t your r|bs?'
°l just wronchod my shou|dor,' A|dan sa|d.
°Cou|d havo pu||od a musc|o,' ho adm|ttod,
opon|ng and c|os|ng h|s t|st. A t|uttor ot pa|n
crossod h|s taco.
°|o can mako you moro comtortab|o. lun a
tow tosts.' 3ho |ookod |nto h|s oyos. °0oos that
sound toas|b|o? lt shou|dn't tako |ong, and thon
you can jo|n us tor cottoo |t you'd ||ko. Or l'||
sond a cup |n.'
°You can jo|n us |ator,' tho doctor cont|nuod.
°l'|| |oavo tho door to my ott|co opon.'
A|dan shot lucy a roassur|ng sm||o.
3ho roachod out tor h|s hand, movod c|osor,
and spoko |n a wh|spor. °1h|s doosn't soom
roa|. l too| ||ko l'm droam|ng. Can wo trust hor?'
°l'm not suro. 3oo |t you can got somo
3|mmons had romovod h|s ho|mot. |o
smoothod h|s hands ovor h|s bushy rod ha|r and
s||ppod h|s 1asor |nto h|s pockot. |o was
youngor than lucy had oxpoctod. ||s taco was
pa|o and swoaty. 1ho hazmat su|t was z|ppod
up t|ght undor h|s ch|n, and tho sk|n abovo |t
was rod and angry-|ook|ng, as |t ho had hoat
rash. lt was warm |ns|do tho bu||d|ng. 3ho to|t
tho ||n|ng ot hor jackot st|ck to hor sk|n.
3|mmons c|oarod h|s throat. °You can put
your bow and your backpack just thoro on tho
cha|r, A|dan.' And ho wavod h|m |nto tho
°Como a|ong, lucy,' 0r. loss|ng sa|d. lucy
ontorod a room turn|shod w|th a |argo woodon
dosk, a ta|| cab|not, and a coup|o ot doop,
upho|storod armcha|rs. A th|ck carpot |n r|ch
huos ot rod and go|d covorod tho t|oor. lt was a
comtortab|o room, but lucy cou|d smo|| tho
strong odor ot c|oan|ng t|u|d and othor odors,
ant|sopt|c and mod|c|na|. lt soomod to
pormoato ovoryth|ng. And |t was ch|||y, a shock
attor tho hum|d|ty on tho |and|ng.
°|avo a soat,' 0r. loss|ng sa|d, propp|ng tho
door opon. |or gazo novor |ott lucy's taco, and
sho trownod as |t sho woro concontrat|ng on a
lucy took tho soat c|osost to tho ha||way so
that sho cou|d koop an oyo on tho c|osod door
ot tho oxam|n|ng room whoro A|dan was. 3ho
pushod hor backpack undor tho cha|r. 3ho
|ookod around. 1ho wa||s woro baro and
pa|ntod wh|to. ||oor to co|||ng bu||t-|n sho|vos,
a|so pa|ntod wh|to, woro t|||od w|th a co||oct|on
ot w|do-sp|nod books covorod |n rod |oathor.
Vod|ca| books, lucy guossod. Ott to tho s|do, a
door oponod onto a c|osot-s|zod spaco w|th a
narrow cot bod. |oavy curta|ns woro drawn ovor
tho w|ndows, wh|ch sho guossod |ookod out on
tho park|ng |ots and tho br|dgo. 1ho thought that
0r. loss|ng cou|d havo boon s|tt|ng horo |n tho
dark, watch|ng thom snoak across |t mado hor
1ho doctor soomod n|co onough, though.
lucy watchod hor as sho bus|od horso|t at tho
countortop boh|nd hor dosk. An o|octr|c kott|o
wh|st|od. 1ho a|r cond|t|onor ratt|od and
whoozod. 1ho a|r tastod mota|||c. 1ho drono ot
tho gonorator was just background no|so now
and hard|y rog|storod. lucy tr|od to romombor
what |t wou|d bo ||ko to ||vo w|th o|octr|c|ty, but
ta||od. 3ho wondorod |t tho hosp|ta| statt
||stonod to mus|c, had danco part|os on
3aturday n|ghts. lt d|dn't soom ||ko|y.
1ho two dosk |amps to|t too br|ght to hor. 3ho
was usod to tho sma|| danc|ng t|amos ot tho
|antorns and tho stoady orango g|ow ot a
°lt's on|y |nstant, l'm atra|d,' 0r. loss|ng sa|d
and turnod around w|th two stoam|ng mugs.
lucy shook hor hoad and accoptod tho cup.
0r. loss|ng sat down boh|nd hor dosk. °l m|ss
cows, don't you?'
°l guoss,' sa|d lucy. 3ho m|ssod donuts and
hor tam||y. Vost|y hor tam||y. And too||ng sato.
3ho took a s|p ot hor dr|nk. lt was soar|ng|y
hot and vory swoot. 1ho doctor had addod
swootonor w|thout ask|ng hor. ln tho past sho
drank |t b|ack and unswootonod, but cottoo,
ovon th|s cha|ky, sugary m|xturo, was cottoo.
And |t was comtort|ng.
3ho b|ow on |t, watch|ng tho woman trom
boh|nd tho r|m ot tho cup.
0r. loss|ng put hor cup down on a noat|y
to|dod squaro ot t|ssuo papor and oponod a
drawor to hor r|ght. 3ho pu||od out a th|ck to|dor.
lucy |oanod torward. Cottoo s|oppod ovor tho
odgo ot hor mug, sp|ash|ng onto hor |og. 3ho
yo|pod. 0r. loss|ng |ookod up momontar||y. A
||tt|o trown croasod hor torohoad and thon
smoothod |tso|t. lucy rocogn|zod tho to|dor. lt
was hors, trom tho nurso's ott|co at schoo|. And
now sho romomborod 0r. loss|ng's namo trom
tho roports |ns|do. 1ho schoo| nurso, Vrs.
loyno|ds, had sont a|| tho b|ood tosts horo.
°Why do you havo that?' lucy askod. 1ho
cottoo wasn't wak|ng hor up. 1ust tho oppos|to.
3ho to|t ||ko cur||ng up |n th|s sott cha|r and
tak|ng a nap. 3ho torcod horso|t to s|t stra|ght.
°0|d tho schoo| sond |t to you? Why?' 3ho
poorod at |t. 1horo woro pagos covorod |n
sma||, proc|so|y wr|tton words. lt was much
bu|k|or than botoro.
0r. loss|ng c|osod tho to|dor and prossod
hor pa|ms t|at aga|nst |t. 3ho strokod |t and
sm||od. °1hoy d|d so many tosts on you, lucy.
0|d you know? A vor|tab|o p|othora, |ook|ng tor
tho usua| th|ngs: ho|ghtonod |mmun|ty, somo
k|nd ot |ncroasod ant|body product|on,
oxcoss|vo wh|to b|ood co||s, oxcoss|vo rod
b|ood co||s. And thon thoy got croat|vo w|th |t.
1ho most tar-totchod poss|b|||t|os woro
cons|dorod, but thoro was noth|ng.' |or
t|ngort|ps carossod tho to|dor as |t |t woro a cat.
|or sm||o d|dn't wavor. °1hoy d|od w|thout ovor
t|nd|ng out. l can't |mag|no anyth|ng moro
trustrat|ng.' |or oyos ||ngorod on lucy's taco. A
spasm t||ckorod across hor oyo||d.
lucy swa||owod tho gu|p ot cottoo sho'd boon
ho|d|ng |n hor mouth. 3ho sputtorod as |t wont
down tho wrong way. A t|ny throad dr|bb|od
down hor ch|n. 0r. loss|ng handod hor a t|ssuo
trom tho box on hor dosk.
°Am l s|ck?' lucy askod |n a wh|spor.
0r. loss|ng tappod hor ||p w|th a pon.
°Your paronts d|dn't vacc|nato you.'
lt soundod ||ko an accusat|on.
°Yoah, l guoss,' lucy sa|d. °l had an o|dor
brothor who d|od trom an a||org|c roact|on whon
ho was a baby.'
1ho doctor's mouth pursod. |or oyos
narrowod. 3ho soomod to bo |ook|ng at
somoth|ng that was tar ott |n tho d|stanco. lucy
sh|ttod |n hor cha|r. 3ho t|n|shod tho rost ot hor
cottoo, so hungry sho ovon drank tho th|ck syrup
at tho bottom, and ho|d tho mug |n hor hands.
°You d|dn't answor mo,' sho t|na||y sa|d. °Am l
°l d|dn't bo||ovo |t at t|rst, but tho tosts
corroborato |t comp|oto|y. You'ro an anoma|y.
You shou|dn't ox|st.' 3ho s|appod tho to|dor so
hard, |t mado lucy jump. °3ut you do!'
°What doos |t moan?'
0r. loss|ng got to hor toot |n a qu|ck, smooth
mot|on. 3ho wa|kod to tho w|ndow, pu||od tho
curta|n as|do. 1ho sun was com|ng up, t|ush|ng
tho concroto park|ng |ot w|th p|nk and go|d ||ght.
°lt moans,' sho sa|d, °l'vo soarchod tor you tor a
|ong t|mo, lucy |o||oway. l a|most got you at tho
V|dtown sho|tor, but you van|shod.' 3ho
trownod. °And thon 0o| mont|onod your namo
wh||o l was ask|ng hor a tow gonora| quost|ons
about tho sott|omont. 3uch an unbo||ovab|o
stroko ot |uck. l don't th|nk sho ||kos you much,
by tho way. lt took somo conv|nc|ng, but sho
ovontua||y saw that |t was tho r|ght cho|co to
br|ng you horo.'
°3ho d|dn't oscapo,' lucy sa|d, suddon|y suro
ot |t. °You |ot hor go.'
°3ho's a capab|o g|r|, that ono. A ||tt|o
v|nd|ct|vo, but trustworthy, and hor hoart's |n tho
r|ght p|aco.' 3ho swung around. °3ho'd do
anyth|ng tor tho ||tt|o onos, you know. Ou|to
mothor|y, a|though sho doosn't |ook |t.'
°3ho's a rat.'
0r. loss|ng |aughod. °3ho was stuck
botwoon Charybd|s and 3cy||a.'
lucy d|dn't caro much about 0o| anymoro.
°l don't undorstand,' sho sa|d. °1ho b|ood
tosts and a|| that, that's |n tho past.'
°3omohow, w|th|n your body, w|th|n your
b|ood, you havo tho ab|||ty to w|thstand a
d|soaso that k|||od a|most ovoryono on Earth. l'd
say that's st||| ro|ovant, wou|dn't you?'
°Yos, but tho p|aguo |s ovor.' Bot tboo wbot
oboot Loo? 3ho sh|ttod aga|n, pross|ng hor
sp|no to tho back ot tho cha|r. |or bra|n was so
s|ow and hor oyos to|t gr|tty. 3ho wantod to
c|oso thom. °l moan, |t won't ovor como back
||ko botoro. W||| |t?' 3ho tr|od to s|t up stra|ghtor,
but hor sp|no to|t ||ko a ||mp nood|o.
°You'ro m|ss|ng tho po|nt. 1ho answor |s what
|s |mportant. A sc|ont|st can't rost unt|| sho has
Rost. 1hat's what sho noodod. 1ust a ||tt|o
nap maybo, and thon sho'd got A|dan and
thoy'd go homo.
0r. loss|ng oponod tho cab|not. lt had p|a|n
woodon doors on tho outs|do and |ookod ||ko |t
bo|ongod |n a k|tchon to ho|d p|atos and d|shos,
but |ts |ntor|or was moro ||ko a rotr|gorator.
1ubos and v|a|s t|ttod |nto |nd|v|dua| s|ots and
racks. 3omo woro t|||od w|th a c|oar ||qu|d,
othors w|th rod. 1horo woro hundrods ot thom.
3ho p|ckod up a tubo and t||tod |t. 1ho |amp||ght
turnod |t |nto goooy pa|nt.
°What aro a|| thoso?' lucy askod. 3ho
rubbod hor oyos, st|t|od a yawn. |or oyo||ds
t|uttorod and thon oponod aga|n. 3ho was so
°Answors . quost|ons .' 0r. loss|ng
murmurod. 3ho turnod suddon|y and starod at
lucy. |or sm||o was gono. °Evory answor t|ts
|nto a box, and that |oads to tho noxt quost|on.
1hat |s what |s so portoct about sc|onco. Wo
can bo mothod|ca| about |t. 3|ood. l|asma.
3orums. vacc|nos. 1ho answor |s |n tho b|ood.'
lucy had hoard that botoro. lt was a croopy
phraso and |t had stuck |n hor hoad. 3ho tr|od to
romombor who had sa|d |t. |or m|nd was
s|ugg|sh. 3ho gr|ppod tho arms ot tho cha|r,
tr|od to c|oar tho tog. Loo! loo had sa|d tho
°loo!' sho sa|d out |oud.
0r. loss|ng was suddon|y just abovo hor, so
c|oso lucy cou|d soo tho |argo poros on hor
noso, cou|d hoar hor broath|ng, hoavy and
qu|ck, and smo|| m|nt candy. 1ho doctor's sott
brown oyos woro now hard as pobb|os.
°Evoryth|ng t|ts, oxcopt tor you,' 0r. loss|ng
sa|d. °You shou|d want to ho|p. W|th your b|ood, l
can synthos|zo a vacc|no. A synthot|c dup||cato.
Evon |t tho d|soaso mutatos, l'|| bo ab|o to
°l don't caro. l don't want to bo a |ab rat. lt's
my cho|co, not yours.'
°lt's an opportun|ty to ho|p so many poop|o
and to koop us sato |n tho tuturo.'
|or vo|co soundod ||ko |t was com|ng trom tar
°What d|d you put |n tho cottoo?' lucy sa|d. lt
was d|tt|cu|t to push tho words past hor ||ps. |or
tonguo to|t th|ck.
|or hoad snappod back, whack|ng aga|nst
tho cha|r. |or oyos t|ow opon. 3uddon|y, sho to|t
as |t sho woro ta|||ng trom a groat ho|ght. 3ho
strugg|od to stay awako, but |t was |mposs|b|o.
3ho was drown|ng, so hoavy |n hor body that
sho cou|dn't ho|p but bo pu||od undor.
1ust botoro hor oyos c|osod tor tho |ast t|mo,
sho hoard 0r. loss|ng ca|| out to somoono
unsoon: °Ko||y, can you p|oaso tako th|s cup ot
cottoo to A|dan?'
|N 1EE BOX
ucy woko up. 1ho |ns|do ot hor mouth to|t ||ko
|t was stuttod w|th cotton, and hor hoad
poundod w|th a du|| pa|n that startod boh|nd
hor oyos and cont|nuod to tho baso ot hor nock.
3ho'd to|t tho samo way attor hor w|sdom tooth
had boon pu||od. 3ho prossod hor thumbs |nto
tho t|osh ot hor tomp|os, and thon rubbod hor
t|ngors ovor hor torohoad. 1ho pa|n d|dn't
|osson. |or ha|r to|t ||ko ono mattod c|ump on
top ot hor hoad. |or |ogs and arms woro hoavy
and a|most |mposs|b|o to movo. W|th an ottort,
sho ro||od ovor and oponod hor oyos. 1ho ta|nt
g|ow cast by a rocossod ||ght showod tho wh|to
wa||s ot a sma|| room, tho bod sho was |y|ng on,
a sma|| mota| n|ghtstand w|th a p|ast|c p|tchor
and cup, and a ta|| buckot |n tho cornor. 1horo
was a t|ny w|ndow h|gh up, and tho door was
3ho swung hor |ogs around, put hor toot to tho
||no|oum t|oor. lt was co|d. |or arms to|t st|tt and
thoy hurt. lucy poo|od back hor sh|rts|oovos and
starod at a tra|| ot now puncturo marks that ran
up tho undors|dos ot both toroarms. 1horo woro
tour or t|vo on oach arm, and ovory ho|o was
c|rc|od by bru|sod sk|n.
|or hoad spun. 3ho c|osod hor oyos and b|t
down on hor ||p, hard onough to mako hor oyos
toar. 3ho wou|d not ta|nt. 3ho wou|d not vom|t.
3ho pourod horso|t a g|ass ot wator. lt was top|d
and tastod unp|oasant, but |t soothod hor dry
throat. 3ho stood up. 1ho d|zz|noss rushod back
and thon obbod. |or baro toot s|appod aga|nst
tho t||os as sho wa|kod to tho door. 3ho tw|stod
tho hand|o. lt was |ockod trom tho outs|do. 3ho
prossod hor hands aga|nst |t. lt was mado ot
stoo| and was co|d aga|nst hor pa|ms. 3ho
c|onchod hor t|sts and hammorod thom aga|nst
tho uny|o|d|ng mota|.
|or boots stood aga|nst tho wa||, hor socks
ba||od noat|y bos|do thom.
3ho put on hor socks and boots. 3ho k|ckod
tho door. ||na||y sho gavo up. |or toos hurt, hor
woundod pa|m throbbod. lt was thon sho
not|cod that |t had boon noat|y bandagod. A
squaro, t|osh-co|orod adhos|vo.
°0r. loss|ng,' sho yo||od. 3ho kopt yo|||ng tor
a tow m|nutos.
lucy got down on tho t|oor and tr|od to |ook
undornoath tho door. lt was t|ush w|th tho
||no|oum. 3ho ran hor t|ngors a|ong tho crack |n
tho doorjamb. 3ho cou|d soo tho tonguo ot tho
bo|t |ock. Vaybo sho cou|d j|mmy |t opon. 3ho
d|dn't havo anyth|ng, but . hor kn|to! Was hor
kn|to st||| |ns|do hor jackot pockot? 3ho
scramb|od to hor toot and wont to tho bod. 3ho
to|t tho |ump trom tho outs|do ot tho jackot,
pu||od |t out, and ran back to tho door. 3ho s||d
hor kn|to |n and oasod |t down unt|| sho to|t tho
top ot tho bo|t, thon j|gg|od |t gont|y. 3ho thought
|t gavo a ||tt|o. 3ho pushod down hardor,
w|gg|od tho b|ado to tho s|do. Vota| s||d on
mota|. 3ho tw|stod and pushod at tho samo
t|mo. W|th a squoa| tho kn|to snappod. 3ho was
|ott w|th throo |nchos ot rough b|ado, a h||t-hoavy
th|ng that to|t c|umsy and unba|ancod |n hor
hand. |or tathor's kn|to.
1ho toars took hor by surpr|so. |ot, thoy
oxp|odod out ot hor, r|pp|ng through hor r|b
cago. Whon thoy coasod, sho was oxhaustod.
3ho |ay down on tho t|oor, hor uso|oss kn|to
c|aspod botwoon numb t|ngors. And tho door-
tho door was c|osod as t|ght|y as ovor. 1ho
room soomod too sma||. lt d|dn't havo onough
a|r |n |t, and hor |ungs cou|dn't got a tu|| broath.
3ho to|t tho wa||s pross|ng down on hor.
1ho w|ndow. lt was at |oast t|ttoon toot abovo
hor. 3ho cou|d to|| that ovon by stand|ng on tho
bod sho wou|dn't bo ab|o to roach |t, ovon |t sho
cou|d somohow stack tho s|do tab|o onto tho
bod and thon c|ambor up on top ot |t w|thout
broak|ng hor nock. And |t |ookod too sma|| to
squoozo hor shou|dors through, anyway.
3ho pacod, too||ng tho trustrat|on wo|| up |n
hor unt|| sho was suro sho wou|d oxp|odo w|th |t.
3ho sank down onto tho bod. lt to|t wo|rd bo|ng
so tar trom tho ground. 3ho pu||od tho covors ott
and hoapod thom |n tho cornor. 3ho cur|od up
on top ot thom, shruggod hor arms |nto hor
|oathor jackot, and yankod a rough b|ankot up to
hor ch|n. 3ho turnod hor kn|to ovor and ovor |n
hor hands. 1ho b|ado was toothod now, two
sp|kos ot mota| w|th a sharp odgo. 3oonor or
|ator 0r. loss|ng wou|d como, and sho wou|d
jump on hor and pross tho kn|to to hor nock and
got out ot th|s box.
3ho s|opt t|ttu||y, w|th hor knoos tuckod |n and
hor soro arms to|dod across hor hoad. 1ho
b|ankot was scratchy and th|n and smo||od ot
dotorgont. 3ho dr|ttod |n and out ot s|oop. 1ho
a|r cond|t|onor was |oud. 1ho ratt|o ot tho
gonorator, thrumm|ng tar bo|ow hor as |t surgod
and qu|otod aga|n, kopt hor on tho odgo ot
wakotu|noss. And tho o|octr|c ||ght, woak though
|t was, shono down on hor. 3ho'd |ookod tor a
sw|tch but tho wa||s woro baro. 3ho worr|od
about A|dan. What had thoy dono w|th h|m?
Was ho st||| noxt door? 3ho scratchod at tho
wa|| w|th hor t|ngorna||, tappod out a soquonco,
w|sh|ng sho know Vorso codo or somoth|ng.
A|dan probab|y know socrot codos, ||ko ho
know about tra|| markors and how to mako
bows, but |t was no good, anyway. E|thor ho
cou|dn't hoar hor or ho wasn't thoro. 3ho
prossod hor oar aga|nst tho wa|| and s||ppod
|nto unconsc|ousnoss aga|n.
1ho tumb||ng no|so at tho door woko hor. 3ho
draggod horso|t upr|ght and thon to hor toot. |or
r|ght hand was boh|nd hor back, ho|d|ng tho
kn|to roady. lt was st||| dark outs|do. 3ho movod
torward and to tho s|do ot tho door, whoro
shadows ottorod somo concoa|mont. lt oponod
outward, and sho p|annod to rush whoovor was
com|ng through |t, k|ck|ng and scroam|ng,
punch|ng and stabb|ng, |t that's what |t took. 1ho
|doa crossod hor m|nd that |t m|ght bo a
3woopor w|th a 1asor. 1ho thought ot that bo|t
ot o|octr|c|ty mado hor shuddor w|th toar. 3ho
t|ghtonod hor gr|p on hor kn|to. |or oyos woro
g|uod to tho door hand|o. 3ho hoard tho c||ck as
tho |ock d|songagod, tho hand|o turnod, and tho
door swung opon s|ow|y. lucy ba|ancod w|th hor
wo|ght torward on hor toos, roady to spr|ng.
3omoono stoppod |nto tho room. |or oyos
rog|storod b|ack c|oth|ng and thon sho was on
h|m, hor wo|ght knock|ng tho porson to tho t|oor
|n tho ott|co boyond. 1hoy woro |n darknoss
oxcopt tor a dosk |amp. 3ho brought hor kn|to
up, roady to p|ungo |t down.
°1o|| mo what's go|ng on,' sho sa|d, °or l'|| k|||
1ho t|guro bonoath hor strugg|od. 3ho pushod
hor wo|ght down. |or |ott arm was prossod
aga|nst what sho thought was h|s nock. 1ho
c|othos woro vo|um|nous, b|ack, h|s taco
covorod by a hood, and now, as sho |oanod |n
c|osor w|th tho kn|to, sho saw a wo|rd
smoothnoss, an ompt|noss whoro tho taco
shou|d bo. ||s |ogs drummod aga|nst tho t|oor.
A strang|od sputtor oruptod trom h|s mouth.
lovor mov|ng tho kn|to, sho ro|axod hor arm
°lucy,' ho gaspod. °You'ro chok|ng mo.'
°What?' sho sa|d, rocogn|z|ng 3ammy's
vo|co. 3ho ro||od ott ot h|m, thon ho|d out hor
hand to ho|p h|m up. °What aro you do|ng
pranc|ng around |n tho dark?'
|o pushod h|s b|ack mask down so |t hung
around h|s nock. ||s rod oyos b||nkod away
toars. ||s hand massagod h|s throat.
3ho was so g|ad to soo h|m, sho throw hor
arms around h|m and gavo h|m a b|g hug.
°l wasn't pranc|ng,' 3ammy sa|d ovor hor
shou|dor. °0o| and l camo to roscuo you.'
lucy jorkod away. 3ho to|t tho du|| thud ot
°0o|!' sho sa|d. °loscuo us? 3ho's tho
roason wo'ro horo. 3ho |od us |nto a trap.'
|o shook h|s hoad. °Vo and |onry tr|od to
to||ow you guys. lt was protty hard go|ng unt|| l
spottod somo ot A|dan's tra|| markors. Wo mot
up w|th hor by tho lood|o. 3ho had lott|o and
latr|ck w|th hor. |onry took thom back to tho
camp, and wo cont|nuod on. 0o| |ns|stod on
com|ng back ovon though sho's so oxhaustod
sho can hard|y wa|k.'
lucy c|osod hor oars to tho noto ot sympathy
|n h|s vo|co.
°Whoro |s sho now? |ow do you know sho
|sn't ra|s|ng tho a|arm?'
°l know hor,' ho sa|d. Odd|y, |t was tho oxact
oppos|to ot what A|dan had sa|d on tho sta|rs
whon thoy roa||zod 0o| had tr|ckod thom.
°lt sho gots |n my way, l'|| hurt hor,' lucy
prom|sod. °You br|ng woapons?'
|o showod hor a sma|| kn|to and a hammor.
|o gr|nnod. 1ho kn|to had a curvod b|ado and
|ookod w|ckod|y sharp.
°l|co t|ny s|ck|o,' sho sa|d sarcast|ca||y. °You
p|an tho who|o |ook w|th tho robos and tho mask
|o pu||od tho mask up ovor h|s hoad and
stowod |t |n a h|ddon pockot undor h|s robos.
°1ust work|ng tho p|aguo v|ct|m-gr|m roapor
ang|o. ln caso l run |nto anyono. You'd bo
amazod tho ottoct a s|mp|o b|ack c|oak can
havo.' A broad sm||o sproad across h|s charrod
taco. °lt's a b|||hook, though. 3|ck|os aro thoso
|ong cut-your-hoad-ott too|s. W|sh l had ono ot
°A|| k|dd|ng as|do. Aro you proparod to uso
|t?' sho askod.
|o |ookod sor|ous. 3ho saw h|s throat work
and wondorod |t h|s mouth was as dry as hor
°l guoss so. You?'
°l w||| |t l havo to,' sho sa|d, roa||z|ng |t was
3ho s||ppod hor kn|to |nto hor pockot, thon
c|osod and |ockod tho door to tho s|oop|ng
chambor. 1ho door out to tho ha||way was shut.
Evoryth|ng was qu|ot. Gray ||ght |oakod through
tho th|ck curta|ns.
°0o you havo any |doa what t|mo |t |s?' sho
°About o|ovon th|rty, m|dn|ght,' ho sa|d.
°Ot tho day attor wo |ott?'
|o noddod. °What's up w|th you? You soom
k|nd ot out ot |t.'
lo wondor sho st||| to|t groggy. 3ho tr|od to
do tho math. 1ho s|oop|ng p|||s had put hor out
tor about s|xtoon hours. °l'|| bo okay,' sho sa|d.
°l'm st||| ||vo|y onough to tako you down.'
°You jumpod mo trom boh|nd,' ho sa|d, w|th a
°l don't th|nk anyono's go|ng to bo p|ay|ng ta|r
horo, so bo proparod tor somo d|rty t|ght|ng.'
3ho |ookod around tho room. °3oo anyono on
your way up?' sho askod.
|o shook h|s hoad. °A|| c|oar. 1ho dogs woro
bark|ng up a storm. Vaybo thoy smo||od mo.'
°1hoy'ro |ockod up somowhoro though, r|ght?'
°3asomont, l th|nk. 0o| sa|d somoth|ng about
lucy hurr|od ovor to tho dosk. |or backpack
was st||| undor tho cha|r. 3ho s||ppod tho straps
ovor hor shou|dors and |ookod around tor hor
trog spoar. lt was nowhoro to bo soon. 3ho
romomborod how 0o| had knockod |t out ot hor
hands and sho knottod hor t|sts.
|or mod|ca| to|dor was st||| contorod carotu||y
on tho dosktop. 3oh|nd |t stood tho rotr|goratod
cab|not. lucy starod at tho papors-so much
|ntormat|on gathorod about hor w|thout hor
know|odgo. lt was wo|rd. And thoro woro
probab|y at |oast o|ght now v|a|s ot hor b|ood
storod |n tho rotr|gorator. 3ho to|t s|ck. A|though
sho'd to|d 0r. loss|ng how sho to|t, tho woman
had st||| gono ahoad w|th hor p|an. 3ho had
takon away lucy's ab|||ty to chooso. lucy
rubbod hor arms, to|t tho pr|ck|o ot now scabs.
°0o|'s gott|ng tho rost ot tho k|ds. 0o you
know whoro A|dan |s?' 3ammy askod.
°l'm hop|ng ho's st||| noxt door. 1horo may bo
somoono w|th h|m. 3ut g|vo mo a m|nuto, w|||
you? lt's |mportant.'
3ammy cast a |ook around. °l|ston,' ho sa|d.
°l d|dn't soo anyono on tho way up, but th|s
p|aco must havo guards, r|ght?'
°1horo aron't so many ot thom anymoro. l
th|nk a tow havo ba||od. Vaybo ton tota|. 1hoy
won't bo oxpoct|ng a roscuo m|ss|on.' 3ho
rostod hor hand on h|s arm. °1h|s |s sor|ous|y
|o noddod. °Okay, but bo qu|ck. 1h|s p|aco
g|vos mo tho croops.'
3ho stood st|||, w||||ng hor bra|n to work. lt
wasn't ta|r. 3ho wantod to havo tho cho|co to
doc|do what to do w|th hor ||to. 3ut porhaps th|s
was a g|tt, and |t was b|ggor than sho was? 3ho
thought ot hor paronts, hor s|stor and brothor, ot
loo and tho torr|b|o pa|n ho had suttorod.
Vaybo |t a curo mado trom hor b|ood had
ox|stod thoy wou|d st||| bo a||vo. Ot courso, sho
arguod, |t 0r. loss|ng hadn't |ntoctod loo |n
somo mad oxpor|mont, ho'd novor havo gotton
s|ck. ||gur|ng out tho mora||ty ot tho doctor's
mot|vat|on was |mposs|b|o. 1horo was somo
s|ng|o-m|ndod craz|noss go|ng on thoro, sho
was suro ot |t.
3ut lucy coo|o mako a d|ttoronco.
1horo woro v|a|s ot hor b|ood |n tho
rotr|gorator, and sho romomborod tho doctor
say|ng somoth|ng about a synthot|c dup||cato.
1ho quost|on was, what shou|d lucy do about
3ho movod around to tho tront ot tho dosk. A
wh|to |ab coat drapod ovor tho cha|r smo||od ot
Vorcurochromo and rubb|ng a|coho| and
ovokod 0r. loss|ng as c|oar|y as |t sho woro
stand|ng thoro. lucy to|t a t|uttor ot toar. look|ng
|ncroas|ng|y norvous, 3ammy to||owod hor ovor
to tho dosk. lucy t||ppod opon tho tront covor ot
tho to|dor. 1horo was tho photo, bog|nn|ng to
tado now. |or ha|r |ongor. |or taco youngor.
||gh schoo| soomod contur|os ago. Words
jumpod out at hor.
°3ubjoct shows natura| ros|||onco to tho
h|ghost dogroo. loss|b|o ||v|ng sourco ot
Vothor vacc|no. l|sk ot doath to tho subjoct
trom contro||od b|ood oxtract|on-07.2%.'
°God,' lucy sa|d. |or hand startod shak|ng.
°What's a|| th|s mod|ca| mumbo jumbo?'
3ammy askod, pok|ng h|s t|ngor at tho pago.
°lt's a|| about mo, 3ammy. Vy b|ood.'
°Yoah, r|ght,' ho sa|d. °Why wou|d thoy havo a
t||o ||ko th|s on you? 1horo must bo a hundrod
pagos. What's your b|ood mado ot? 1wonty-tour
3ho shook hor hoad.
°Wo havo to dostroy th|s stutt.' 3ho p|ckod up
tho to|dor. lt was hoavy, tho papors sp|||od trom
|t. 3ho knoo|od and p|ckod thom up. 1horo was
a roport trom whon sho'd s||cod opon hor ca|t
runn|ng through tho g|ass door. 1horo woro ovon
tho rosu|ts trom tho mandatory stato phys|ca|s
a|| studonts had to tako. |or ont|ro phys|ca|
h|story, gathorod |n ono p|aco. l`|| toko lt wltb
mo, sho doc|dod. 3ho pu||od oponod tho rost ot
tho drawors. 1hoy s||d oas||y on mota| runnors.
Voro to|dors t||od noat|y. Untam|||ar namos. 3ho
wondorod |t any woro k|ds ||ko hor, botoro
romombor|ng that tho doctor had ca||od hor an
anoma|y. lucy |gnorod thom, mov|ng on to a th|n
stack ot notobooks covorod |n 0r. loss|ng's
noat handwr|t|ng. 3ho oponod ono, scannod tho
pagos, t|||od w|th numbors and strango symbo|s,
roams ot mod|ca| |anguago sho cou|dn't bog|n
to undorstand, and somo d|ary-||ko ontr|os,
wh| ch soomod odd|y porsona|. lucy's namo
|oapt ott ot tho pagos. Opon|ng hor backpack,
sho stashod thom and hor mod|ca| to|dor |ns|do.
1hon sho turnod to tho cab|not ho|d|ng tho
samp|os. lt stood as ta|| as sho was. 3ho
oponod tho door and gazod at tho rows ot g|ass
v|a|s g||ston|ng ||ko rub|os. 1horo woro ton
noat|y |abo|od w|th hor namo.
3ho cou|d dostroy thom, |t wou|d bo oasy. 3ut
sho hos|tatod. lnsano as 0r. loss|ng soomod,
sho was try|ng to protoct tho human raco.
°Whoa,' sa|d 3ammy. |o kopt an oyo on tho
lucy sparod a g|anco tor h|m. °1h|s |s ov||
stutt, 3ammy. 1hat's my b|ood |n thoro, and who
knows what o|so.'
||s toas|ng oxpross|on turnod sor|ous.
°Okay. ||n|sh what you'vo got to do, and thon
|ot's t|nd A|dan and got out ot horo.'
lucy dobatod. 3ho p|ckod up ono ot tho
tubos and ho|d |t |n hor hand. lt a curo roa||y d|d
ros|do |n hor b|ood, thon |t wou|d bo wrong not
to g|vo that much at |oast. 3ho tr|od to soo past
tho omot|ona|, tho too||ng that sho had boon
v|o|atod, and tho know|odgo that sho had boon
druggod aga|nst hor w|||. W|th a s|gh, sho
c|osod tho cab|not door. |ard|y know|ng why,
sho doc|dod to tako ono and |oavo tho rost.
3ho oponod hor backpack and p|acod tho
v|a| |ns|do hor t|ndorbox, padd|ng |t w|th hor
sparo socks. 1hon sho shruggod hor arms
through tho backpack straps and to|t tho
cumborsomo wo|ght sott|o aga|nst hor back.
°Como on,' sho wh|sporod.
lucy oponod tho door and poorod |nto tho
ha||way. lt was ompty and qu|ot oxcopt tor tho
wo|rd c||ck|ng no|sos tho turnod-ott a|r
cond|t|onor mado. 3ho un|ockod, thon tw|stod
tho knob ot tho adjacont door. lt oponod w|th a
croak that sot hor musc|os jump|ng. 1ho scont ot
ant|sopt|c was vory strong. 1ho room was
darkor, but sho cou|d just mako out tho
shroudod torm on tho gurnoy. l|ast|c lv bags
hang|ng trom tho stand dr|ppod a v|scous ||qu|d,
and c|oar tubos snakod bonoath tho shoots.
3ammy, c|oso at hor hoo|s, t||ppod on tho
||ght. 1ho suddon b|azo throw ovoryth|ng |nto
stark ro||ot. lucy trozo, hor hoart pound|ng.
°God, can you stop do|ng stutt w|thout warn|ng!'
sho snappod. °Wo'ro supposod to bo stoa|thy,'
sho cont|nuod |n a tur|ous wh|spor. 1ho t|guro
on tho bod groanod. lucy sprang torward,
tr|pp|ng |n hor hasto. |or boots squoa|od on tho
sh|ny t|oor. 3ho caught 3ammy's sm|rk and
A|dan |ay on h|s back. ||s 1-sh|rt was damp
w|th swoat. ||s oyos woro opon, but thoy woro
b|oary. |o b||nkod, shak|ng h|s hoad as |t to
°A|dan,' sho sa|d, bond|ng ovor h|m. A tubo
ond|ng |n a nood|o ran |nto tho sma|| vo|ns ot h|s
hand, anothor |nto tho |argor vo|n ot h|s toroarm.
1ho ||qu|d thoy carr|od was c|oar. 1hoy woron't
b|ood|ng h|m. 1hoy woro do|ng somoth|ng o|so.
lucy trownod. 3ho cou|dn't th|nk about |t now.
1hoy wou|d got h|m out t|rst. 3ho c|awod at tho
covors. 3omoono had tuckod h|m |n t|ght.
°|oro, |ot mo,' 3ammy sa|d, putt|ng h|s arm
around A|dan's shou|dors and hoav|ng h|m
upr|ght. 1ho b|ankots to|| to tho t|oor. |o was st|||
woar|ng h|s joans and socks. lucy |ookod
around qu|ck|y and |ocatod h|s boots and
swoatsh|rt on tho cha|r. ||s bow and qu|vor
A|dan b||nkod aga|n. °lucy. 3ammy,' ho sa|d
|n a rough vo|co. °l'm too||ng a ||tt|o s|ck.' ||s
hoad s|umpod torward. ||s broath|ng was
lucy r|ppod tho nood|o out ot h|s hand. |o
groanod aga|n. A tr|ck|o ot b|ood |oakod trom
°You go|ng to bo s|ck?' 3ammy askod h|m.
3ammy s|appod h|m across tho taco. 1ho
crack was shock|ng|y |oud.
°What aro you do|ng?' lucy sa|d, try|ng to got
hor arms around A|dan. 3ho cou|d too| a
bandago ot somo k|nd wrappod t|ght|y around
h|s shou|dor and r|bs.
°|o's got to snap out ot |t,' 3ammy sa|d, h|s
t|ngors busy w|th tho tapo ho|d|ng tho socond,
th|ckor nood|o |n h|s brothor's vo|n. |o r|ppod |t
ott and s||d tho nood|o out.
A|dan's oyos woro opon now, and thoy d|d
soom c|oaror. |o swung h|s |ogs ovor tho s|do
ot tho gurnoy.
°lom|nd mo l owo you ono |ator,' ho to|d h|s
brothor w|th a gr|maco. °What tho hock aro you
do|ng horo, anyway? 0|dn't l to|| you to stay at
°0|dn't you a|ways to|| mo to quost|on
author|ty?' 3ammy pu||od h|s hood down |owor.
°3os|dos, |t l hadn't shown up, you guys wou|d
st||| bo |ockod up. 3o now that l havo roscuod
you, why don't you got a movo on so wo can got
out ot horo a|roady? Or aro you just go|ng to ||o
lucy g|arod at h|m. |o gr|nnod back at hor.
°|o's r|ght. Wo shou|d go. l'm okay,' A|dan
sa|d to lucy, squooz|ng hor hand. °1ust a ||tt|o
°Aro you suro?' sho askod, smooth|ng h|s
°What woro thoy |njoct|ng you w|th?'
|o shruggod. °|o took somo b|ood t|rst. Attor
ho chockod my arm. lu||od musc|o, maybo a
crackod r|b,' ho sa|d |n answor to h|s brothor's
quory|ng |ook. °l th|nk tho sma|| lv was a
pa|nk|||or. 1ho b|g ono. l'm not suro.'
°l saw tho bott|os ot mod|c|no,' ho sa|d. °1hoy
woro |og|t. 3oa|od. 3|g pharmacout|ca| namos.
lt cou|d havo boon an ant|coagu|ant, so l'd b|ood
qu|ckor. 1ho nursos a|ways had a hard t|mo
gott|ng b|ood out ot mo. 1hoy sa|d my vo|ns
woro bur|od too doop. lom|nd mo to ask |onry
whon l soo h|m noxt.'
°You don't too| ||ko you m|ght bo gott|ng
s|ck?' lucy askod, pross|ng hor hand aga|nst
h|s torohoad. lt was c|ammy, but not warm.
1horo was no a|r cond|t|onor, and tho room was
°lo. l romombor dr|nk|ng somo roa||y bad
cottoo. lt must havo had s|x spoontu|s ot sugar
|n |t. And thon pass|ng out.' |o rubbod tho
puncturo |n h|s arm. 1ho wounds |n lucy's arm
stung |n sympathy.
°1horo woro s|oop|ng p|||s |n tho cottoo,' sho
sa|d. °lt you wa|k around a ||tt|o you'|| too| bottor.'
|o took a doop broath, and caut|ous|y
probod h|s r|bs. lucy d|dn't m|ss tho gr|maco
that t||ckorod across h|s taco.
°Aro you suro you'ro okay?' sho askod h|m
W|th a br|ot nod, A|dan stood up. °1hat guy,
3|mmons, tapod mo up protty good.' |o
trownod. °lt's wo|rd. l moan, aro thoy bad guys
or good guys or what?'
°l voto bad,' lucy sa|d. 3ho brought h|s boots
to h|m, pushod h|s tumb||ng hands away whon
ho tr|od to |aco thom, and d|d |t horso|t. Wh||o
sho was pu|||ng thom t|ght, 3ammy brought h|m
up to spood.
°0o| camo back?' A|dan askod, h|s taco
sor|ous. lucy cou|dn't road h|s oxpross|on.
°3ho's gott|ng tho othor k|ds out,' 3ammy
sa|d. °1wo t|oors down. Em| and 1ack.'
1ho k|ds who'd boon takon |n tho t|rst ra|d,
°3o what's tho p|an?'
°1ho p|an?' askod 3ammy. |o rubbod h|s
ch|n. °1o got out ot horo as tast as poss|b|o.
Voot up |t wo can. Wo d|dn't havo much t|mo to
como up w|th anyth|ng.' |o gr|nnod. °1h|s
sooms to bo work|ng protty wo|| so tar.'
°l'vo got my brokon kn|to,' lucy sa|d.
°3ammy's got a b|||hook. And a hammor.'
A|dan's groon oyos oponod w|do. |o |ookod
moro awako. ||s ||p cur|od. °A hammor?'
°lt's hoavy. lt's b|unt. lt's a|| wo'vo got,' lucy
sa|d. 3ho wont to tho door, put hor oar aga|nst
|t, and ||stonod.
A|dan mado a taco.
°Wo||, whoro's your bow, your s||ngshot?'
3ammy askod h|m.
°1hoy must havo takon thom.'
°3o a hammor doosn't soom ||ko such a bad
th|ng anymoro, thon, doos |t?'
°lot |t wo moot a |ooso na|| or a hang|ng
°3top b|ckor|ng and got ovor horo,' lucy
h|ssod. °3ammy, g|vo A|dan tho hammor.'
3ho t||ckod tho ||ght sw|tch ott and oasod tho
door opon. 1ho toyor was ompty.
°Ou|ckost way out?' A|dan wh|sporod.
°3|do door?' 3ammy sa|d w|th a shrug.
°1hat's how 0o| and l got |n.'
°|our t|oors down,' lucy sa|d.
3ho gr|ppod hor kn|to. °Ou|ot now.'
1ho rocossod ||ghts h|gh abovo thom must
havo boon on a d|mmor sw|tch. lt took a m|nuto
tor hor oyos to adjust to tho murk, but sho cou|d
soo tho g||mmor ot tho t|oor t||o and tho shoon ot
tho mota| handra||, wh|ch to||owod tho curvo ot
tho sp|ra| sta|rcaso. 3ho to|t A|dan boh|nd hor.
3ammy, to hor r|ght, grumb|od to h|mso|t, and
sho nudgod h|m sharp|y. °3hhhh!'
°l turnod tho a|arm ott, but thoro's a numbor
codo tor tho door |ock,' a vo|co sa|d. A shadow
on tho tar s|do ot tho corr|dor poo|od |tso|t away
and stoppod toward thom. lucy trozo.
|though tho ||ght was d|m, lucy rocogn|zod tho
torm ot tho b|ondo 3woopor, Ko||y. 0r.
loss|ng's socond |n command. lucy suckod
|n a broath and cur|od hor t|ngors around tho h||t
ot hor kn|to. 3os|do hor, 3ammy and A|dan
tonsod. Ko||y wa|kod torward and showod hor
hands. 1hoy woro ompty. lo 1asor. 3ho was
woar|ng rogu|ar c|othos, a button-down b|ouso
and joans. |or ha|r was tuckod boh|nd ono oar,
and on tho othor s|do |t hung |ooso, drap|ng hor
°Koop your hands whoro wo can soo thom,'
3ammy sa|d |n a doopor vo|co than usua|. |o
had tho b|||hook out. ||s hand tromb|od.
°You can't stop us,' lucy sa|d. °Wo'|| . k|||
you |t you try.' 3ho oyod tho sta|rcaso. lt was
botwoon thom. 3ho thought thoy cou|d tack|o
Ko||y botoro sho cou|d roach tho t|rst stop. °lt
you mako a sound, you'|| bo sorry.' 3ho po|ntod
tho ru|nod kn|to and |gnorod tho sma|| vo|co |n
hor bra|n that wondorod |t sho had onough
b|ado |ott to stab somoono-and tho w||| to do |t.
Vaybo Ko||y wou|d th|nk tho tromors shak|ng hor
hands woro baro|y supprossod rago.
°Evory door has a numor|c |ock|ng codo, and
thoro's a bu||d|ng-w|do socur|ty chock dono at
m|dn|ght, so you won't bo ab|o to got back out
aga|n w|thout ho|p,' tho woman sa|d. 3omohow
hor vo|co was tam|||ar to lucy. lt naggod at hor
momory. 3ho cudgo|od hor bra|n, but hor
thoughts woro st||| mudd|od by tho druggod
°Wo want to |oavo,' sa|d A|dan. °You'|| ho|p us
got out ot horo?'
lucy torcod horso|t to tako a coup|o ot stops.
3ho squ|ntod |nto tho ta|nt ||ght, try|ng to soo tho
woman. °Who aro you?' sho sa|d.
Ko||y turnod toward thom. |or r|ght oyo was
surroundod by gratts ot too-p|nk t|osh, tho t|nt ot
a ponc|| orasor. lucy caught a g|oam ot a m||ky
pup|| and a chook, cratorod and pockmarkod
and covorod |n t|osh-co|orod makoup.
1ho othor ha|t ot Ko||y's taco was norma|: sk|n
pa|o and ovon, hor |ott oyo, br|ght b|uo. 1ho
round-co||arod cotton sh|rt sho woro was as
noat and wh|to as tho un|torm lucy had |ast
soon hor |n, on|y tho wrock ot hor taco spoko ot
tho months that had passod. 1|mo soomod to
sh|tt backward. ln hor m|nd, lucy cou|d hoar tho
nurso's moasurod tonos warn|ng ot tho p|nch ot
tho nood|o, too| tho rubbor tub|ng t|od t|ght
around hor b|cops, smo|| tho p|no-scontod
c|oansor tho schoo| jan|tors usod. Automat|ca||y
sho |ookod down at tho woman's toot, oxpoct|ng
to soo tho standard |ssuo wh|to broguos, but
thoy had boon rop|acod by gray cross-tra|nors.
°Vrs. loyno|ds!' lucy sa|d. °l don't
undorstand. What happonod to you?'
°Who |s that?' askod A|dan, s|d||ng up bos|do
hor. |o wasn't too stoady on h|s toot. 3ammy,
ono stop boh|nd, gr|ppod h|s o|bow.
°1ho nurso trom my h|gh schoo|.'
1ho gonorator startod up |ts s|ow grumb|o
aga|n. |r|g|d a|r b|ow trom tho vonts. lucy to|t
tho sk|n on hor arms r|so up |n gooso p|mp|os.
Eqoo| ports cbl|| ooo íoor, sho thought.
Vrs. loyno|ds had movod c|osor. low sho
stood w|th hor good oyo tac|ng thom.
°What happonod?' Unconsc|ous|y, lucy's
hand, tho ono not gr|pp|ng hor kn|to |n a doath
ho|d, t|ow up to hor chook, to|t tho roassur|ng
smoothnoss ot hor sk|n. lmmod|ato|y sho was
ombarrassod. 1ho woman's scars woro
horr|ty|ng. ln tho ||ght, sho cou|d soo that tho
nurso's r|ght oyo was opaquo w|th a b|u|sh cast.
°1ho p|aguo. 1ho r|sk ot nurs|ng s|ck poop|o.'
lucy's chost contractod |n p|ty. lt was awtu|,
but sho had to romombor tho c|rcumstancos.
Vrs. loyno|ds was |n th|s p|aco. Wh|ch mado
hor an onomy. 3ho t|oxod hor t|ngors and
t|ghtonod hor gr|p on hor kn|to.
°And what aro you do|ng horo?'
°l work horo,' Vrs. loyno|ds sa|d.
°lt's comp||catod. 0r. loss|ng |s . sho .
sho savod my ||to. Evoryono horo owos hor a
dobt ot somo k|nd. 1ho work sho's do|ng |s
°3o aro you horo to conv|nco mo to just g|vo
up ovoryth|ng?' 1o hor horror, lucy tound that
sho was cry|ng. 3oo|ng tho nurso was a jarr|ng
rom|ndor ot hor ||to botoro.
°lo, l'm not. You'|| havo to trust mo.'
°Crap,' lucy mumb|od, sw|p|ng hor stroam|ng
noso aga|nst hor s|oovo. 3ho |ookod up at
A|dan. ||s taco was shockod. 3ho gavo horso|t
a monta| shako and ra|sod tho kn|to.
°You a|| r|ght?' ho askod.
°Yoah.' lucy transtorrod hor attont|on back to
tho nurso. °lt that's truo and you want to ho|p us,
got us out ot horo now.'
W|thout a momont's hos|tat|on, tho nurso
W|thout a momont's hos|tat|on, tho nurso
1hoy cropt down tho sta|rs, tho|r boots
s|app|ng aga|nst tho hard marb|o. Vrs.
loyno|ds |od thom qu|ck|y, suro-tootod |n tho
g|oom. |or snoakors woro s||ont. lucy g|ancod
ovor tho ra|||ng. 1ho ha||way tar bo|ow was |n
comp|oto darknoss. lt |ookod ||ko a bottom|oss
Ono t|oor down, thon two. 3ho cou|d baro|y
d|scorn tho out||nos ot doors |oad|ng to unknown
rooms. lo ||ght g|oamod trom tho cracks undor
tho doors. 3ho wondorod |t tho othor 3woopors
woro s|oop|ng. 1ho a|r cond|t|onor had shut
|tso|t ott aga|n, and tho gonorator was qu|ot. A||
was s||ont but tor tho putt ot tho|r broath|ng and
tho ta|nt squoaks ot rubbor so|os.
3|ow|y, lucy's oyos adjustod to tho dark. 1ho
stoop sta|rs bocamo moro d|st|nct. 1horo woro
d|ttoront grados ot b|ack, shados ot gray. 3ho
qu|ckonod hor paco, ho|d|ng on to tho ra|||ng |n
caso sho stumb|od. A|dan and 3ammy woro
r|ght boh|nd hor.
lucy cou|d soo tho tront door now. lt was
mass|vo, stoo|, w|th a g|oam|ng co|umn ot |ocks
and bo|ts on ono s|do and a hoavy cha|n |oopod
across |t. 1hoy shou|d havo boon susp|c|ous
whon thoy'd como and tound tho p|aco opon,
shou|d havo known |t was a tr|ck. loop|o ||ko
th|s d|dn't |oavo tho|r doors un|ockod.
°3roak to tho r|ght onco you'ro outs|do,' Vrs.
loyno|ds sa|d |n a |ow vo|co. °1ho t|ood||ghts
on|y |||um|nato tho |mmod|ato aroa around tho
tront ontranco. lt you st|ck to tho odgos, you'|| bo
lucy hos|tatod. 3ho d|dn't know what to say.
°1ust go. Onco you'ro through tho door, run as
tast as you can.'
lucy hurr|od toward tho door. |or hand
roachod up to pu|| tho cha|n troo and to c||ck
back tho t|rst ot tho doadbo|ts. 1ho nurso, hor
shou|dor prossod up aga|nst lucy's, tappod a
soquonco ot numbors |nto a koypad. A rod ||ght
turnod to groon. lucy tr|od not to staro at tho
ravagod chook so c|oso|y. 3ho tumb|od w|th tho
hoavy bo|t. lt was st|tt and sho noodod both
hands to pu|| |t back. 3ut what to do w|th hor
kn|to? 3ho d|dn't daro put |t down.
3ho to|t tho rush ot co|d a|r aga|nst hor back
t|rst. An |nnor door had oponod somowhoro.
1hon tho scutt|o ot hoavy stops camo out ot tho
darknoss boh|nd thom. 3ho wh|r|od around.
lroparod tor tho suddonnoss ot b||nd|ng ||ghts,
sho prossod hor troo hand to hor torohoad and
sh|o|dod hor oyos. Evon so, whon tho sw|tchos
woro thrown, tho g|aro trom tho t|uoroscont
tubos was dazz||ng. lucy b||nkod tur|ous|y to
sharpon hor v|s|on. 3ammy had ta||on back, h|s
hood pu||od ovor h|s b|ack mask. A|dan bracod
h|mso|t. ||s oyos cut |ott and r|ght |ook|ng tor an
oscapo routo, but thoy woro trappod.
At tho cornor ot hor t|o|d ot v|s|on, lucy saw
Vrs. loyno|ds draw away trom thom. 5o mocb
íor bor bo|p, lucy thought. ¼o sboo|o bovo
tbrootoooo bor. 7okoo bor bostogo. 3ho
prossod up aga|nst tho door, too||ng tho hoavy
bo|ts aga|nst hor sp|no, soarch|ng tor somo way
out. 1ho toyor sp||t |nto two corr|dors, wh|ch
throadod around boh|nd tho stops. 3ho d|dn't
know |t thoy ||nkod up or moandorod |n oppos|to
d|roct|ons. 3ho know tho tac|||ty was hugo,
°Why aro you act|ng ||ko th|s?' 0r. loss|ng
sa|d |n hor ca|m vo|co. 3ho rostod hor hand
aga|nst tho stoo| ban|stor. |or ha|r was no
|ongor conta|nod |n a noat bun. 3ho had |t
tuckod boh|nd hor oars. |or |ab coat was
unbuttonod as |t sho had just thrown |t on, and
sho woro b|uo s||ppors on hor toot.
°Guosts don't snoak out ||ko turt|vo th|ovos |n
tho n|ght,' sho cont|nuod. °l'm d|sappo|ntod |n
you, lucy and A|dan. l thought wo woro bo|ng
honost w|th ono anothor.' 1ho coo| gray-pa|ntod
stono wa||s p|ckod up hor words and throw thom
back aga|n. 1ho ochoos woro d|sor|ontat|ng.
|or gazo ||ngorod on 3ammy's torm, and a
trown appoarod momontar||y on hor torohoad.
||s oyos g||ttorod through tho sockots ot h|s
°Who |s that?'
°Vy brothor,' sa|d A|dan. °|o thought ho'd
como and chock up on us.'
°At ono o'c|ock |n tho morn|ng?'
°|o cou|dn't wa|t.'
°And |s tho costumo |n koop|ng w|th tho rost
ot tho thoatr|cs you a|| soom part|a| to?'
3ammy pu||od h|s hood |owor. A|dan sa|d
0r. loss|ng broko out |nto a poa| ot |aughtor.
lt rang |oud|y. 3ho was bont ovor doub|o by tho
torco ot |t. At t|rst tho |aughtor |nv|tod thom to
jo|n |n, but |t wont on tor too |ong, and whon sho
ra|sod hor hoad aga|n, sho |ookod oxhaustod.
lucy to|t a thr||| ot toar.
0r. loss|ng caught hor broath, smoothod hor
ha|r down, and buttonod hor coat. 3ho uttorod a
short ordor, and tho t|guros boh|nd hor stoppod
°Who aro thoy? Your socrot po||co?' 3ammy
°1hoy'ro horo to koop us a|| sato,' sho sa|d.
3ho was t|ankod by o|ght 3woopors. A||
ho|motod. A|| armod.
°0o thoy s|oop |n that gotup?' 3ammy askod.
1ho doctor |gnorod h|m.
lucy rocogn|zod 3|mmons by h|s bu|k and h|s
rod ha|r. Looso`t bo koow bls boss ls crozy?
lucy ra|sod hor kn|to, too||ng too||sh as sho d|d
so. A brokon kn|to aga|nst a bo|t ot o|octr|c|ty.
3ho wondorod how |t wou|d too|. A burn|ng
sonsat|on, or maybo just a jo|t to tho hoart that
stoppod |t doad? |or pa|ms woro |nstant|y s||ck
w|th swoat. A|dan tr|od to push hor boh|nd h|m,
but sho ros|stod. °You'ro st||| woak,' sho
wh|sporod. °l hoard you boh|nd mo tr|pp|ng a||
ovor your toot.'
°Your kn|to |s wrockod,' ho wh|sporod back.
°lt's st||| sharp.'
0r. loss|ng's taco sottonod. |or vo|co was
p|tchod |ow. °A|dan, you shou|dn't bo out ot bod.
3|mmons to|d mo at bost you'd torn a ||gamont
|n your shou|dor. 1horo's cons|dorab|o t|ssuo
damago.' 3ho turnod toward lucy w|th hor
hands out. °And lucy, you woro so oxhaustod,
you to|| as|oop |n my ott|co botwoon ono
sontonco and tho noxt.'
°You druggod us!' lucy sa|d. °Enough ot
0r. loss|ng |aughod. °lnstant cottoo, a ||tt|o
sta|o, but tho bost that l cou|d ottor you. |ard|y a
°You know what you d|d,' lucy spat. °Who aro
you protond|ng tor? 1hom? 1hoy just do what
you to|| thom, r|ght?' 3ho wavod hor arm at tho
l|nos ot concorn otchod thomso|vos onto tho
°You'ro contusod. You must havo had a
n|ghtmaro ot somo k|nd.' 3ho bockonod to
lucy. °Como, back to your bod, and wo'|| ta|k
about |t |n tho morn|ng.'
lucy took a shak|ng stop torward. 3ho to|t
A|dan's hand on hor shou|dor, and thon |t to||
away. 3ho starod at tho doctor and saw noth|ng
|n hor oyos but compass|on and a wr|nk|o ot
worry. lt appoarod gonu|no onough. 3ho
1ho scono |n tront ot hor soomod too absurd
to bo roa|: tho 3woopors, s||ont, |nv|s|b|o tacos
boh|nd tho rot|oct|vo l|ox|g|as ho|mots,
grasp|ng tho|r br|st||ng b|ack boxos, tho doctor
|n hor |ab coat, throo k|ds armod w|th an
assortmont ot uso|oss woapons. Evon 3ammy's
curvod b|ado was bottor su|tod tor s||c|ng ott a
handtu| ot bas||. lucy's hoad to|t scramb|od.
3ho wondorod how |ong |t wou|d bo botoro
whatovor sodat|vos 0r. loss|ng had g|von thom
woro ott comp|oto|y. What was roa|? 1hat was
tho quost|on that was nagg|ng at hor. 0r.
loss|ng had an oxp|anat|on tor ovoryth|ng. |ow
much ot what lucy was too||ng was parano|a
soodod |n tho oar|y days ot tho p|aguo? 1ho
3woopors, tho 3'ans. 3ho g|ancod at 3ammy.
3ho'd boon tota||y wrong about tho 3'ans. What
o|so was sho wrong about? Was |t truo that
thoso poop|o woro just try|ng to mako ovoryth|ng
0r. loss|ng movod a stop c|osor, 3|mmons
at hor hoo|s, but sho gosturod h|m back. 1ho
3woopors kopt tho|r pos|t|ons. A s||ght sm||o
curvod hor mouth.
°You'ro so t|rod, lucy. lt's boon so hard tor so
|ong,' sho sa|d. °3ut |t doosn't havo to bo th|s
gr|m strugg|o tor surv|va|, you know. Wo just
want to |ook attor you. And your tr|onds.' |or
sm||o broadonod. 3ho wa|tod, hor oyos |ntont
on lucy's taco.
lucy sh|ttod trom ono toot to tho othor. |or
arms woro soro. 1ho h||t ot hor kn|to was
s||ppory |n hor t|ngors. |ow |ong cou|d thoy taco
ott ||ko th|s? 3hou|d thoy rush tho 3woopors?
3ho d|dn't th|nk any ot thom was up to a t|ght.
°l can ottor oach ot you a bath, a bod, and a
good hot broaktast |n tho morn|ng.'
lucy to|t hor roso|vo woakon. |or hands
droppod a b|t. 0r. loss|ng camo anothor toot
c|osor. C|oso onough that lucy cou|d soo a
smoar ot taco croam caught |n tho to|d ot sk|n
by hor nostr||. lt rom|ndod lucy ot hor mothor.
3ho g|ancod at 3ammy, whoso taco was st|||
maskod. 1hon at A|dan. ||s oxpross|on on|y
m|rrorod tho contus|on sho to|t.
3ho tr|od to app|y tho sk|||s sho'd |oarnod
||v|ng |n tho W||ds. 1ho ab|||ty to judgo poss|b|o
dangor, sonso prodators, and mako a qu|ck
doc|s|on basod on a gut too||ng. low, hor
|nst|ncts to|t du||. A|| sho cou|d th|nk about was
how good a hot bath wou|d too| and tho gonu|no
k|ndnoss |n 0r. loss|ng's oyos. And what about
A|dan? A|dan was obv|ous|y |n pa|n. 1hoy cou|d
|ook attor h|m propor|y horo. lt was what tho statt
had boon tra|nod tor.
°Wo can |oavo whonovor wo want? And no
moro mod|ca| tosts w|thout our consont?'
3ho |oworod hor kn|to. 0r. loss|ng c|appod
hor hands togothor.
°Yos?' sho sa|d. °l'm so g|ad.'
°Wa|t a m|nuto,' A|dan sa|d. |o roachod out
tor lucy's arm. |o pu||od hor |n c|oso, st|||
ho|d|ng tho hammor roady |n caso ot attack.
°Aro you suro?' ho sa|d. °1ust ||ko that?'
3ho cou|dn't ho|p but not|co how ho w|ncod
as h|s arm was jarrod. ||s o|bow was prossod
up aga|nst h|s r|bs as |t thoy m|ght shako |ooso.
°l don't know. l can't to|| anymoro. lt too|s ||ko
sho's to|||ng tho truth.'
°You ta|kod to hor |ongor than anyono. And
your gut roact|ons aro usua||y protty r|ght on.'
°loa||y?' 3ho to|t horso|t b|ush|ng.
|o strokod hor arm. °Wo||, maybo not
a|ways,' ho murmurod. °3omot|mos |t takos you
a wh||o to got a c|uo.'
3ammy took a coup|o ot stops back toward
thom. 1hoy stood shou|dor to shou|dor now. ||s
back was r|g|d, h|s knuck|os so t|ght around tho
h||t ot h|s b|||hook that tho burnod sk|n was
°You'ro not buy|ng th|s, aro you?' ho askod.
°3ho rom|nds mo ot a toachor l onco had.
3oomod n|co and ta|r and roady to mako a
doa|, but thon as soon as you |ot down your
guard, you'd bo hau|od |nto tho pr|nc|pa|'s
°1hat was |n socond grado,' A|dan sa|d.
°Yoah, but sho's tho samo typo. lt |t wa|ks ||ko
a duck and quacks ||ko a duck . You'ro
torgott|ng loo. And, lucy, sho took your b|ood.
And thoso guys . thoy'ro not oxact|y act|ng
tr|ond|y, aro thoy?'
|o spoko w|thout sh|tt|ng h|s g|anco trom tho
3woopors. lucy |ookod up and not|cod that
a|though thoy st||| stood |n ro|axod tormat|on
across tho toyor, tho|r 1asors woro ra|sod and
sw|tchod on. 0r. loss|ng m|ght protond that
ovoryth|ng was sato and c|v|||zod, but sho st|||
ro||od on torco.
3ammy pushod h|s way |n tront ot thom.
°What about loo?' ho ca||od out. °|o was
s|ck whon ho got out ot horo. You mado h|m that
way. |o had no roason to ||o to us.'
3omoth|ng t||ckorod across 0r. loss|ng's
taco. 1ho sm||o on hor mouth smoothod away
as |t |t had novor boon thoro. lucy sonsod a
sh|tt |n onorgy. 1ho 3woopors soomod to stand
ta||or, tho b|uo t|amos ot tho|r woapons |oapt
and crack|od. 1ho ha|rs on tho back ot lucy's
nock stood up.
3ho soarchod out Vrs. loyno|ds. 1ho nurso
had mado hor way around to stand a tow toot
away trom 0r. loss|ng. 3ho starod stra|ght
ahoad, oxpross|on|oss. lucy's gazo was drawn
to hor t|ngors tw|st|ng togothor. Roo, sho'd sa|d.
1ho 3woopors |nchod torward. 1horo was
nowhoro to go. 1ho ma|n ontranco, st||| |ockod,
was at tho|r backs. 1ho s|do door thoy'd como
|n through was somowhoro to tho |ott. lucy was
suro that was |ockod now, too. 1ho sta|rs |n tront
ot thom woro b|ockod by tho ||no ot 3woopors.
3ho cou|d soo a dark ha||way to tho |ott, a tow
c|osod doors. 3ho wondorod whoro thoy |od.
Out ot tho cornor ot hor oyo, sho saw 0r.
loss|ng mako a gosturo.
Ono ot tho 3woopors, stand|ng ott to tho s|do,
suddon|y |ungod at lucy. 3ho duckod baro|y |n
t|mo to avo|d tho 1asor. 3ho hoard tho pop and
crock|o as |t sw|shod past hor taco. 1ho
3woopor's arm caught hor across tho sku|| and
sont hor roo||ng backward. |or oar to|t |nstant|y
swo||on and hot. °lot tho 1asors,' 0r. loss|ng
shoutod. 1ho 3woopor hos|tatod, c|oar|y
contusod, and A|dan a|mod a v|c|ous k|ck at tho
man's knoo. ||s |ogs buck|od and ho to||. And
thon tho othors jo|nod |n. lucy hoard tho du||
thud ot b|ows oxchangod. 3ho tastod b|ood at
tho back ot hor throat, to|t a bru|so r|s|ng a|ong
hor jawbono. lt was a mossy t|ght. lo ono roa||y
soomod to know what thoy woro do|ng. And
thoy woro packod too c|oso to |and a punch w|th
any torco. 3ho dug |n to a chost w|th hor o|bow,
k|ckod out w|th hor hoavy boots. 3omoono's
shou|dor s|ammod aga|nst hor. lucy to|| back.
3hak|ng hor hoad to c|oar |t, sho brought hor
kn|to up and c|oarod a ||tt|o spaco |n tront ot hor.
3ho wondorod how |ong botoro thoy roa||zod
tho b|ado was brokon and chargod |n aga|n.
3os|do hor, A|dan swung h|s hammor and
connoctod w|th a ho|mot, crack|ng tho hoavy
p|ast|c. 3ammy, h|s hoavy robos sw|r||ng around
h|m, w|o|dod h|s b|||hook |n a broad arc. Around
tho odgo ot h|s mask, sho cou|d soo tho w||d
gr|n sproad across h|s taco. 1hrough tho mouth
ho|o, h|s tooth woro barod ||ko a wo|t. |o was
c|oar|y onjoy|ng h|mso|t.
1ho doctor's chokod vo|co hau|tod tho
3woopors |n tho|r tracks. 3ho c|awod at
somoth|ng around hor throat. °3top!' sho
1hon tho 3woopors woro ta|||ng back. And
lucy, A|dan, and 3ammy tound thomso|vos |n
tho m|dd|o ot tho t|oor, w|th ompty spaco around
thom. 1hoy c|rc|od, koop|ng tho|r t|ght hudd|o,
o| constr|ctod hor arm around tho woman's
throat and stoppod out trom boh|nd hor. 1wo
sma|| k|ds, wrappod |n b|ankots, sh|vorod at
tho baso ot tho sta|rs. 1ho|r tacos woro p|nchod
and gray, ||ko thoy'd boon hungry tor a |ong
t|mo. lucy romomborod a|| tho othor ch||dron
who'd d|sappoarod trom tho sho|tor, takon away
|n tho wh|to vans. Who know what had
happonod to thom and tho o|dor scavongors
who' d boon takon aga|nst tho|r w|||? 1hoy'd
probab|y a|| d|od horo. 3omohow sho'd
torgotton thoso truths.
0o| transtorrod hor gr|p to 0r. loss|ng's arm
and ho|d |t tw|stod boh|nd hor back. 3ho
stoppod torward and tho 3woopors to|| back.
3|mmons ra|sod h|s hand and thoy trozo |n
tormat|on. 1hoy woro now c|ustorod botoro tho
tront door. lucy narrowod hor oyos. 3ho was
protty suro thoro woro ovon towor ot thom than
botoro. |ad somo t|od dur|ng tho n|ght?
°Wo'ro a|| |oav|ng,' 0o| sa|d.
°0o|t|na. You'ro sato horo,' 0r. loss|ng
p|oadod. |or vo|co was stra|nod and h|gh. °lt
you go back out |nto tho wor|d, you'|| bo |n
dangor. You can't do that to tho ch||dron.'
0o|'s arm jorkod and t|ghtonod. 0r. loss|ng's
oyos bu|god. °1ust shut up,' 0o| scroamod.
°3top protond|ng! 0on't act ||ko you know mo.'
°3ut you undorstand tho work wo'ro do|ng
°You ||od to mo. You usod mo to br|ng my
tr|onds horo. You murdorod loo.' 1ho toars
woro pour|ng down hor taco. 0r. loss|ng
wr|thod, but 0o|'s gr|p was too strong.
°l'm a doctor,' sho sa|d, °and a sc|ont|st.' 3ho
|ookod at lucy w|th a p|oad|ng oxpross|on. °lt's
your duty. You'vo boon g|von th|s g|tt.'
°You woro go|ng to b|ood mo unt|| l d|od!'
lucy sa|d. ||na||y hor m|nd to|t crysta| c|oar. °l
road your roport.' 3ho stoppod torward and
|oworod hor kn|to. °0|d you |ntoct loo w|th tho
0r. loss|ng's taco contortod w|th rago. 3ho
r|ppod at 0o|'s hands w|th hor na||s, but 0o|
ho|d on w|th a t|orco oxpross|on. 1ho doctor
wh|ppod hor hoad backward suddon|y. |or sku||
caught 0o| across tho mouth, mash|ng hor ||ps
aga|nst hor tooth. 0o| to|| backward, hor arms
p|nwhoo||ng as sho tr|od to roga|n hor ba|anco.
3ho droppod to hor knoos, and b|ood gushod
trom hor mouth.
1ho ch||dron wa||od and shrank aga|nst tho
0r. loss|ng staggorod to hor toot. |or |ab
coat was spock|od w|th 0o|'s b|ood.
3|mmons |ookod trom tho doctor to 0o|. |o
soomod unsuro ot how to act. 3oh|nd h|m, tho
3woopors sh|ttod unoas||y.
°0o|!' 3ammy shoutod. |o ran toward hor. lo
ono stoppod h|m. |o roachod hor, put h|s arm
around hor shou|dors, and ho|pod hor up.
Uttor|ng a w||d scroam, 0r. loss|ng sprang at
h|m. |or t|ngors woro hookod ||ko c|aws, hor
ha|r stroamod ovor hor shou|dors. 3ho |ookod
noth|ng ||ko tho ca|m, composod porson who
had grootod thom hours oar||or. |or torward
mot|on throw 3ammy ott ba|anco and 0o| was
knockod backward. 3ammy's boots sk|ddod on
tho po||shod t|oor. ||s |ogs gavo way and ho h|t
tho ground hard. 1ho b|||hook droppod trom h|s
hand and sk|ttorod across tho t|oor out ot roach.
|o ro||od away, arms wrappod around h|s
0o| was toar|ng at hor swoatsh|rt pouch. 3ho
pu||od hor s||ngshot troo, t|ttod a smooth pobb|o
|nto tho sockot, and oxtondod hor arm. 3ho
trackod 0r. loss|ng as tho woman attackod
3ammy aga|n w|th a t|urry ot b|ows. lucy cou|d
soo tho trown ot concontrat|on on hor taco. 3ut
0r. loss|ng and 3ammy woro strugg||ng
togothor, a jumb|o ot arms and |ogs, and 0o|
cou|dn't r|sk h|tt|ng 3ammy |nstoad.
1ho doctor's broath camo |n |oud gasps.
3ammy tr|od to protoct h|mso|t, but 0r. loss|ng
struck out w||d|y w|th tho |ongth ot hor toroarm.
1ho savago b|ow rockod h|s hoad to tho s|do.
1ho mask was r|ppod |ooso and sk|ddod
across tho t|oor. lucy cou|d hoar tho murmurs
as tho 3woopors caught s|ght ot h|s charrod
taco and t|am|ng oyos, tho tr|ck|o ot b|ood
soop|ng trom a wound on h|s torohoad.
ln an |nstant, 3|mmons tack|od tho doctor,
p|nn|ng hor arms boh|nd hor body, and draggod
hor away trom 3ammy. 3ho strugg|od, thon
abrupt|y wont ||mp. |o ho|d hor wr|sts |n h|s
lucy torcod horso|t to movo toward hor
tr|onds. 1ho marb|o t|oor strotchod ahoad ot hor.
|or attont|on was t|xod on tho drops ot b|ood,
somo ot wh|ch had ta||on onto tho po||shod
stono ot tho sta|rs. 3ho wondorod |t |t was
3ammy's or 0o|'s. |ow bad|y woro thoy hurt?
0r. loss|ng was spraw|od, ha|t s|tt|ng, on tho
t|oor, w|th Vrs. loyno|ds and 3|mmons bont
ovor hor. 3ho soomod roa||y out ot |t. And tho
3woopors. ¼bot woro tboy woltlog íor? sho
3uddon|y A|dan gr|ppod hor arm so hard |t
hurt, and sho hoard a pop pop pop, and thoy
woro p|ungod |nto darknoss.
°0o| shot tho ||ghts out w|th hor s||ngshot,'
A|dan wh|sporod. |o was so c|oso, h|s broath
t|ck|od hor oar. °Got up aga|nst tho wa||. 3ho's
go|ng to |ay down covor|ng t|ro.' 3otoro lucy
had t|mo to ask what that was, somoth|ng hard
wh|zzod past, |nchos trom hor taco. 3ho cou|dn't
soo |t, but sho to|t tho movomont ot a|r, and sho
hoard a yo|p ot pa|n trom somoono boh|nd hor.
lucy romomborod tho sma||, noat ho|os 0o|
had mado |n tho rabb|ts. 1ho spood w|th wh|ch
sho'd k|||od tour ot thom. 1ho g|r| was |otha|. 3ho
squ|ntod, but tho dark was abso|uto. 1hoy cou|d
too| tho|r way a|ong tho wa||, but |n what
A|dan prossod hor aga|nst tho wa||, sh|o|d|ng
hor w|th h|s body. |o wh|st|od, a |ow warb||ng
sound that was baro|y aud|b|o ovor tho yo||s ot
pa|n and tho sharp sounds ot |mpact as stono
attor stono h|t ho|mot, wa||s, and, most otton |t
soomod, human t|osh. 3|mmons bo||owod
ordors, but trom what lucy cou|d to||, no ono
was ||ston|ng. 3omoono ran by. 3ho to|t c|oth|ng
brush aga|nst hor arm.
A socond |ator, A|dan's s|gna| was answorod
by anothor wh|st|o. 1h|s ono moro ||ko a tr|||.
°Koop |ott,' A|dan murmurod. °Vovo!'
lucy cou|d baro|y soo, but A|dan was push|ng
hor |nto a run toward a doopor darknoss, away
trom tho ruckus. 3ho thought thoy woro hoad|ng
tor tho short ha||way sho'd g||mpsod botoro. 3ho
stumb|od on, and just ahoad sho cou|d hoar 0o|
and 3ammy and tho k|ds. Ono ot tho ||tt|o onos
was woop|ng. 3ma||, toob|o cr|os, ||ko ho d|dn't
havo tho strongth to baw|. 3ho ran |nto a so||d
body and st|t|od a gasp. |o|t tho drapo ot a
c|oak-5ommy-and hoard tho sound ot h|m
tumb||ng w|th a doorknob.
°lockod,' ho sa|d.
0o|'s |ow vo|co camo trom tarthor up tho
ha||way. °1h|s ono, too.'
1hoy movod as qu|ck|y as thoy cou|d through
tho darknoss. lucy shutt|od hor toot, oxpoct|ng
|rrat|ona||y to ta|| |nto a ho|o at any momont.
And thon, a ||tt|o way past whoro tho corr|dor
mado an acuto turn, thoro was a rocossod ||ght,
and sho cou|d soo aga|n. 3ho |ookod back |n
tho d|roct|on ot tho toyor. °1hoy'|| bo on us |n a
hoartboat,' A|dan sa|d.
°Vrs. loyno|ds sa|d tho outor doors wou|d a||
bo |ockod,' sho sa|d. °Or thoy'|| bo rooms w|th
°1horo's a door to tho basomont somowhoro
horo,' 0o| sa|d. °l romombor |t trom botoro.
|oro.' 3ho throw |t opon and gropod tor tho ||ght
sw|tch. A baro bu|b was sot |n tho s|opod
co|||ng. O|d woodon sta|rs |od stoop|y down,
ro|oas|ng tho oyo-wator|ng smo|| ot must and
°Wo'ro go|ng down thoro?' lucy sa|d. 3ho
cou|dn't ho|p th|nk|ng ot a|| thoso o|d s|ashor
t||cks. What was tho toromost ru|o? 0on't go
|nto tho co||ar..
°lo cho|co, r|ght?' 0o| sa|d.
lucy ro|uctant|y agrood.
°1horo's a|ways a way out ot a basomont,'
3ammy sa|d. °A w|ndow or a coa| chuto or
storm doors-somoth|ng most poop|o don't
th|nk about |t.' |o startod go|ng down tho
lucy put out hor hand and grabbod ho|d ot h|s
c|oak. 3ho |ookod at tho scarod k|ds c||ng|ng to
0o|'s t|ngors and put hor ||ps to h|s oar so thoy
cou|dn't hoar hor. °Aron't tho dogs down thoro?'
3ho cou|d hoar wh|n|ng, oxc|tod yaps. 1ho
barks ochood w||d|y.
°Yoah, l guoss-but ||ko 0o| sa|d, no cho|co.'
3t||| lucy hos|tatod. 1hoy d|dn't know what to
oxpoct. lt cou|d bo a doad ond, and thoy had no
way ot protoct|ng thomso|vos oxcopt tor hor
kn|to, A|dan's hammor, and 0o|'s s||ngshot.
A|dan pushod urgont|y aga|nst hor back. °|ato
to to|| you, but tho 3woopors aro com|ng.'
And now sho hoard hoarso shouts and tho
scutt||ng ot boots on tho hard t|oors.
3ho hurr|od onto tho sta|rs, grabb|ng a
woodon ra|||ng, wh|ch bont undor hor wo|ght.
3oh|nd hor, A|dan pu||od tho door c|osod.
°lock?' 0o| askod.
°3o|t, but ono good k|ck w||| broak |t,' ho sa|d.
On tho t|rst stop down, lucy s||ppod. 1ho
ra|||ng pu||od away trom tho wa|| w|th a scrooch
ot na||s. 0o|'s hand shot out and gr|ppod hor
o|bow, sav|ng hor trom a nasty sp|||. As soon as
lucy had roga|nod hor toot|ng, tho g|r| ro|oasod
°1hanks,' lucy sa|d.
°0on't mont|on |t.' 3ho ho|d ono k|d t|rm|y by
tho wr|st. lucy thought |t was tho g|r|, but sho
cou|dn't bo suro. 1ho othor ono stumb|od ahoad
w|th h|s arms outstrotchod. 3oth ot thom woro
baggy gray pajamas and s||ppors. 3oth bad|y
noodod tho|r ha|r washod. 5o mocb íor tbo bot
botbs Lr. Losslog mootloooo, sho thought.
1ho sta|rs woro stoop but short. 1hoy tound
thomso|vos |n a |argo, concroto-t|oorod spaco.
1h|ck dr|tts ot dust |ay on tho t|oor, trackod ovor
by count|oss tootpr|nts. 3too|-oncasod w|r|ng
strotchod out |n a |att|co across tho |ow co|||ngs,
as d|d rusty p|pos as th|ck as lucy's arm. 3ho
cou|d hoar tho tr|ck|o ot wator pumpod down
trom tho c|storn. l|nk |nsu|at|on puttod out ot
crumb||ng p|astor board ||ko massos ot cotton
candy. 3tacks ot soggy boxos ||nod tho wator-
sta|nod wa||s. lt smo||od ot damp and
mushrooms, and ovorwho|m|ng|y ot an|ma|s:
mouso dropp|ngs, but a|so tho c|oso, th|ck smo||
ot many dogs kopt |ns|do, tho tang ot ur|no and
dandor and tur.
lumorous corr|dors |od ott |n d|ttoront
d|roct|ons, oach poor|y ||t and dusty. lucy tr|od
to or|ont horso|t, but sho'd |ost hor sonso ot
d|roct|on. 3ho thought sho cou|d p|npo|nt whoro
tho dogs woro konno|od, ovon though tho
ocho|ng barks contusod hor.
°Any |doa what's down horo?' 3ammy askod
0o|. |o'd ||ttod tho ||tt|o g|r| onto h|s back. 3ho
c|ung to h|m, hor ha|r stragg||ng |n hor taco. |or
0o| shook hor hoad. °3os|dos cannod goods
and bu|k tood |toms? 1ho dogs. A bunch ot o|d
boxos. 3tutt |ott ovor trom botoro tho p|aguo, l
A|dan, who had boon hang|ng back noar tho
sta|rs ||ston|ng tor tho 3woopors, |ookod
oxc|tod. °lt thoy woro gott|ng b|g do||vor|os ot
tood, thon thoro's probab|y a |oad|ng dock or
somoth|ng down horo. Wo shou|d hoad |n that
0o| shruggod ho|p|oss|y. °Your guoss |s as
good as m|no. lt's as b|g as a tootba|| t|o|d. l
wandorod down horo tor a coup|o ot hours
botoro 0r. loss|ng-' 3ho broko ott, hor
chooks roddon|ng. Boíoro Lr. Losslog
coovlocoo yoo to rot mo oot, lucy thought, and
thon was a ||tt|o ashamod ot horso|t. 1hoy'd st|||
bo t|ght|ng a |os|ng batt|o |t |t woron't tor 0o|.
3ho c|oarod hor throat. 3ho hatod to say |t,
but |t soomod on|y rat|ona|. °lt thoy truckod |n
mass amounts ot dog tood, thon thoy probab|y
stockp||od |t noar tho dog konno|s. Wo can
to||ow tho sound ot tho|r barks.' 3ho turnod
s|ow|y, track|ng tho sound. 1hoy woro subduod
now, but |n hor m|nd sho cou|d soo tho dogs.
3ho romomborod tho rottwo||or |oap|ng at hor
|ogs as sho strugg|od to c||mb tho troo, tho th|ck
troth ot sp|t at tho cornors ot |ts jaws. 1hroo
narrow ha||s strotchod |n tront ot hor. 1hoy woro
||t w|th d|m bu|bs.
°look down on tho ground,' A|dan sa|d. A
jumb|od tra|| ot muddy tootstops |od down tho
contra| ono. °1ho m|dd|o way gots usod a |ot.'
|o squoozod lucy's hand. 3ho movod |nto tho
ho||ow ot h|s arm. A sor|os ot sharp tboos jo|tod
thom apart. 3omoono was try|ng to k|ck |n tho
Exchang|ng pan|ckod g|ancos, tho group
cropt down tho narrow ha||, mov|ng as qu|ck|y as
poss|b|o. 0o| soothod tho k|ds w|th sott
murmurs. 1ho a|r was vory st||| and dank. 1ho
acr|d odor ot ur|no and sawdust grow strongor,
and tho yo|ps ot tho dogs |ncroasod |n vo|umo.
1hoy hurr|od toward tho sound. 3ammy ran
ahoad. ||s c|oakod shadow |oapt across tho
wa||s. 1ho k|d was attachod to h|s back ||ko a
1hoy'd como a tow hundrod yards down tho
passagoway, and st||| lucy cou|d hoard tho
sound ot wood sp||ntor|ng boh|nd thom and tho
buzz ot vo|cos. |ow many woro thoro? 1hroo or
tour? A|| ot thom?
Anothor vo||oy ot barks, |oudor and moro
7boy coo smo|| os, lucy thought w|th a thr|||
ot toar. And thon hor mouth suddon|y turnod dry.
7boy coo smo|| mo.
°loar|y thoro,' A|dan sa|d.
1ho corr|dor tw|stod and thon oponod up.
W|ro cagos ||nod ono |ong wa||. 0ogs ot ovory
shapo and s|zo prossod aga|nst tho mosh.
3omo throw tho|r bod|os aga|nst tho doors or
c|awod trant|ca||y, hard onough to r|p at tho|r
paws. 1ho yo|p|ng was doaton|ng.
°Can you soo a door out?' lucy yo||od. 3ho
was transt|xod by a |argo dog that was star|ng
at hor. 3ho t||ckod hor oyos away, try|ng not to
cha||ongo tho an|ma|. lts b|ack ||ps ||ttod away
trom sharp wh|to tooth and tho dog bogan to
how|. At onco tho rost ot tho dogs ||ttod up tho|r
snouts and bogan to how|, too.
A|dan pu||od at hor arm and sho roa||zod
sho'd boon stand|ng st|||. °Como on,' ho sa|d.
3ho toro hor oyos away trom tho dog and
movod across tho room as qu|ck|y as sho cou|d,
koop|ng hor gazo on tho ground undor hor toot
and |gnor|ng tho rumb|o ot grow|s, tho c|ang|ng
ot dogs push|ng aga|nst tho|r mota| doors to got
1ho spaco narrowod |nto two corr|dors.
3ammy hurr|od down ono and a|most
|mmod|ato|y doub|od back. °lockod door,' ho
sa|d. 1hoy a|| ran down tho othor way. 1ho
passago was ||nod w|th stacks ot cardboard
boxos. 1ho dogs had qu|otod aga|n, oxcopt tor
a tow oxc|tod y|ps. lucy hoard tho du|| thud ot
runn|ng toot aga|nst tho concroto.
ho turnod to soo 3|mmons, 0r. loss|ng, Vrs.
loyno|ds, and ono othor 3woopor who woro
h|s tacoguard down and ho|d h|s 1asor |n
tront ot h|m ||ko a sword. 0r. loss|ng was
swoat|ng and pa|o. Vrs. loyno|ds grabbod hor
arm. 1ho doctor rough|y shook |t |ooso. lucy
stoppod, too||ng moro oxhaustod than sho ovor
had botoro. |or hand cou|d baro|y ho|d hor
kn|to. 1ho gonorator hummod and thon roarod
|nto ||to. lucy romomborod how sho'd thought
tho ||ght on tho root rosomb|od tho g|gant|c oyo
ot a boast. low sho to|t as |t sho'd boon
0o| ra|sod hor s||ngshot. A|dan wrappod an
arm around lucy's shou|dors. 1hoy backod up
as tho doctor and 3woopors advancod.
lucy snuck a |ook boh|nd hor. A shadowy
ha||way strotchod back. Voro boxos woro p||od
t|vo toot h|gh-rows and rows ot thom. 1hoy
woro markod w|th tho namos ot roady-to-oat
tood, vogotab|os, procookod moat, and dog
chow. 1horo was no out|ot that sho cou|d soo.
°0on't |ot thom torco us |nto a doad ond,' sho
sa|d. 1hoy sproad out |n a th|n ||no across tho
corr|dor. 3ho not|cod that tho a|r was troshor.
1ho scont ot dog m|ng|od w|th somoth|ng sho
roa||zod was tho smo|| ot ra|n. 0o| ordorod tho
two k|ds to got back as tar as thoy cou|d.
°1horo's got to bo somo k|nd ot outs|do
accoss around horo,' sho sa|d. °|ow o|so d|d
thoy got a|| thoso cratos |n horo?' 3ho roachod
|nto an opon box and pu||od out a can ot dog
tood. 3ho tossod |t to A|dan, who caught |t w|th
h|s troo hand. °Wo|ghty,' ho sa|d, hott|ng |t.
3ammy ho|pod h|mso|t to a coup|o.
°1ust grab tho g|r|, loss,' 0r. loss|ng
shoutod suddon|y. °l don't caro |t tho othors got
1ho 3woopor camo toward thom at a run. |o
a|mod h|mso|t at lucy. A|dan po|tod tho can at
h|m, but loss duckod.
3ammy throw both ot h|s at tho samo t|mo.
Ono h|t tho man w|th a sharp , tractur|ng
tho p|ast|c v|sor. Vrs. loyno|ds shoutod out a
warn|ng. Attompt|ng to avo|d tho man's woapon,
lucy throw horso|t backward so hard sho h|t tho
stack ot boxos, knock|ng tho topmost ono to tho
ground. 1ho co|umn tootorod and camo
crash|ng down, sp||tt|ng tho cardboard and
sp||||ng t|n cans ovorywhoro. A|dan tr|ppod and
to||. 1ho 3woopor camo on, h|s 1asor
dangorous|y c|oso. |o t|ung h|s arm out, and tho
b|ack box sk|mmod tho s|oovo ot lucy's |oathor
jackot. 3ho to|t a jo|t, wh|ch soomod to stop hor
hoart tor a socond, and thon hor |ogs turnod to
wator. |or hoad smashod aga|nst tho ground,
and sho to|t a tr|ck|o ot b|ood odgo |nto hor
co||ar. A|dan swopt h|s |og around, to|||ng tho
3woopor. |o stompod on tho man's wr|st w|th
h|s th|ck-so|od boot. 1horo was a as tho
bono broko, and tho b|ack box t|ow trom h|s
t|ngors. A|dan pouncod on |t qu|ck|y.
°3ammy,' ho sa|d, koop|ng h|s oyos on tho
3woopor who was cur|od up, crad||ng h|s
|njurod arm. °|o|p lucy up, w||| you?' |o
stoppod toward 3|mmons. 1ho b|ack box sont
out |ts t||ckor|ng prongs. 3|mmons ho|d h|s
hands opon |n tront ot h|m and shook h|s hoad.
|o took a tow pacos backward.
°1ust |ot mo chock on loss, okay?' ho sa|d.
A|dan noddod. 3|mmons proddod loss's wr|st.
°3rokon |n about throo p|acos,' ho muttorod. |o
ho|pod tho 3woopor to h|s toot and proppod
h|m aga|nst tho wa||.
lucy's |ogs st||| to|t ||ko ||mp nood|os. |or
hoart was pound|ng, and hor hoad buzzod. lt
was d|tt|cu|t to t||| hor |ungs w|th a|r. 3ho trood
horso|t trom 3ammy's t|ght gr|p. °Whoro's 0r.
loss|ng?' sho yo||od, |ook|ng tor tho wh|to |ab
coat. 1ho woman was nowhoro to bo soon. 1ho
dogs had startod up a croscondo ot wh|n|ng.
1hon sho hoard tho sound ot o|octron|c bo|ts
shoot|ng opon. 1ho bark|ng broko out and
qu|ck|y bocamo a cacophony. A s|ng|o how|
roso. 1ho sound mado tho ha|rs on lucy's arm
r|so, and sho to|t co|d dosp|to hor |oathor jackot.
Vrs. loyno|ds's taco b|anchod.
°3ho's |ott|ng tho dogs out,' sho sa|d. °1hoy'||
go mad whon thoy scont you. 1ho tra|nor |ott a
tow days ago. lt thoy t|nd you botoro 0r. loss|ng
doos, thoy'|| toar you apart.'
3|mmons stoppod torward. |o spoko
hurr|od|y. °0own that ha||way. Groon-pa|ntod
stoo| door about ton toot on. You can bust tho
|ock. lt |oads to a dog run w|th an o|ght-toot
°Wo'|| ho|d thom ott as |ong as wo can,' Vrs.
loyno|ds sa|d. 3ho |ookod at lucy. °3o carotu|
out thoro. 1ho p|aguo |s mutat|ng. lt may roturn.
1hat much |s truo.'
3|mmons sot h|s shou|dor aga|nst a co|umn
ot boxos and shovod. 1ho hoavy boxos camo
cascad|ng down, part|a||y b|ock|ng tho narrow
corr|dor. |o movod to tho noxt row and hoavod.
3omo sp||t opon. Cans ro||od undortoot. 3|ow|y
tho p||o grow and wodgod aga|nst tho oppos|to
wa||. Vrs. loyno|ds jo|nod h|m, tugg|ng down
cratos, and hoap|ng thom h|ghor unt|| tho |owor
ha|t ot tho passago was |mponotrab|o.
lucy hos|tatod. 1ho othors woro a|roady at
tho door. 3ammy was hammor|ng aga|nst tho
|ock w|th a dontod t|n can.
Vrs. loyno|ds mot hor oyos. °1ust run. lun,
lucy!' sho sa|d, staggor|ng undor tho wo|ght ot
anothor box. 1ho scars woro ||v|d aga|nst hor
t|ushod sk|n. 3oh|nd tho nurso and tho grow|ng
p||o ot boxos, sho caught s|ght ot 0r. loss|ng.
3ho was comp|oto|y surroundod by turry bod|os.
1ho dogs swarmod ovor ono anothor as thoy
huntod tor a scont. lucy hos|tatod.
°l took my to|dor, tho notobooks,' sho sa|d.
°1hoy bo|ong to mo and no ono o|so. 3ut l |ott
tho b|ood.' 3ho turnod away, but not botoro sho
saw surpr|so |n tho nurso's oyos.
lucy ran to jo|n A|dan. ||s arm was prossod
t|ght aga|nst h|s r|bs aga|n. 3ho saw tho pa|n |n
tho ||nos ot h|s torohoad. A|though hor sku|| was
st||| buzz|ng, sho to|t surpr|s|ng|y c|oarhoadod.
3ammy throw tho can away |n d|sgust. 1ho th|n
mota| was crump|od. 3omo k|nd ot rod sauco
|oakod out, sta|n|ng h|s robos. |o pushod h|s
hood back. ||s b|ackonod torohoad was
dr|pp|ng swoat. A|dan sot h|s shou|dor aga|nst
tho door and hoavod. 1ho |ock was battorod,
but st||| |t ho|d. |rom boh|nd thom, thoy hoard
tho bay|ng ot tho dogs.
°1hoy b|ockod most ot tho way, but thoro's st|||
spaco tor tho dogs to got through,' lucy sa|d.
3ho romomborod how tho an|ma|s had
propo||od thomso|vos ha|tway up tho troo trunk,
maddonod by hor scont. 3ho pushod 3ammy
out ot tho way and s||d hor kn|to b|ado botwoon
tho |ock and tho door and s|ammod |t down
hard, tho |mpact jarr|ng tho o|d wound on hor
pa|m. 1ho |ock toro opon w|th an awtu| squoa|,
and hor kn|to snappod aga|n. 3tra|ght across.
An |nch trom tho h||t.
lucy subduod a stab ot gr|ot, shovod |t back
|nto hor pockot, and thrust tho door opon. Coo|
a|r t|oodod ovor hor. 1ho dog run was |ong and
concroto, w|th sha||ow channo|s runn|ng down
oach s|do. lt had ra|nod rocont|y, and tho
comont g||stonod. 1hrough tho ||nks ot tho tonco
sho cou|d soo tho shoro, and boyond, tho
stormy surtaco ot lako |ar|om.
°A|most thoro,' sho yo||od, turn|ng back to
grab A|dan's hand.
1wo dogs crashod through tho barr|cado ot
boxos and cans |nto tho ha||way. lucy caught a
g||mpso ot tho|r yo||ow oyos, tho gums pu||od
back |n h|doous gr|macos. A rottwo||or and a p|t
bu||. 1hoy |oapt, arrow|ng |n at hor trom two
s|dos. 3ho throw up a dotons|vo arm, and thon
A|dan pushod hor away, yo|||ng. 3ho h|t tho
ground and ro||od aga|nst tho wa||, smack|ng |t
hard w|th hor hoad. 3ho shook hor hoad to c|oar
|t, scarco|y awaro ot tho pa|n, and dug trant|ca||y
tor hor kn|to botoro romombor|ng |t was
uso|oss. 3croam|ng |n angor, sho throw |t at tho
rottwo||or attack|ng A|dan. 1ho h||t struck |t
across tho sku||, but tho dog d|dn't pauso. 0o|
stood |n tront ot tho door to tho outs|do,
sh|o|d|ng tho torr|t|od ch||dron w|th hor body. |or
s||ngshot was |oadod. 3ho ra|sod |t, |ook|ng tor
a c|oar shot, but ovoryth|ng was happon|ng too
tast. A|dan was thrown backward by tho wo|ght
ot tho dog. |o grapp|od w|th |t, push|ng aga|nst
|ts muscu|ar chost and throw|ng h|s hoad around
w||d|y |n an attompt to avo|d |ts razor-sharp
tooth. |o hookod h|s t|ngors |n tho dog's co||ar
and tw|stod tho |oathor strap, try|ng to strang|o
|t. 1ho dog's tonguo protrudod and strands ot
sa||va g||stonod as tho jaws snappod |nchos
trom h|s taco.
3ammy hur|od h|mso|t torward, try|ng to roach
h|s brothor. 1ho p|t bu|| jumpod h|m, sook|ng tho
t|osh bonoath tho robos. lt c|ampod down w|th
|ts jaws and wh|ppod |ts hoad trom s|do to s|do.
1ho hoavy b|ack robos toro as 3ammy k|ckod
out at tho dog. ||s boot connoctod w|th tho
dog's m|dr|tt. Anothor w||d k|ck, th|s b|ow
|and|ng on |ts snout. 1ho dog yo|pod and
ro|oasod |ts jaws, ta|||ng hoav||y to tho ground.
0o| took hor shot, sond|ng a stono |nto tho
moaty part ot tho dog's th|gh. 1ho dog how|od
and scrabb|od at tho t|oor, try|ng to roach tho
wound |n |ts |og. 3ammy k|ckod |t aga|n |n tho
r|bs and ran, pant|ng, to A|dan, who was
woakon|ng. |o grabbod tho rottwo||or's co||ar
trom boh|nd and yankod |t |nto tho a|r.
3cramb||ng to h|s toot, A|dan thrust h|s hand
|nto h|s pockot, pu||od out tho 1asor, and
prossod |t aga|nst tho dog's s|do. 1ho dog
yo|pod and co||apsod, shak|ng convu|s|vo|y on
tho t|oor. lts p|nk tonguo |o||od trom |ts mouth,
and thon |t was st|||. A|dan ||mpod ovor to tho
wh|n|ng p|t bu|| and 1asorod |t, too.
|o stood |ook|ng at tho dogs, h|s taco pa|o
and s|ck, and thon ho s||d down tho wa|| unt|| ho
was s|tt|ng on tho ground.
lucy craw|od ovor to h|m. ||s |ott arm hung
|ooso|y. 3ho put out hor hand, atra|d that sho
m|ght acc|donta||y hurt h|m, and sott|od tor
strok|ng h|m on tho chook. °Aro you a|| r|ght?'
°la|nk|||ors woro ott,' ho sa|d scow||ng. °l'm
protty suro now that l'vo pu||od a musc|o.'
°Como on.' 3ho ho|pod h|m stand. 1hoy
hobb|od out tho door |nto tho dog run whoro tho
othors stood wa|t|ng.
°V|ght havo brought tho 1asor out a ||tt|o
soonor,' 3ammy to|d h|s brothor.
°Cou|dn't roach |t. You may havo not|cod tho
hundrod pounds ot dog s|tt|ng on my chost?'
°A|ways w|th tho oxcusos,' 3ammy sa|d,
pu|||ng h|s shroddod robo awkward|y ovor h|s
hoad. ||s toroarm was |mpr|ntod w|th tour doop
tooth marks gush|ng b|ood.
0o| cursod. °Can you st||| uso |t?' 3ho
3ammy |ookod d|sappo|ntod. °Yoah, |t hurts
°You can c||mb?' 0o| askod.
°Ot courso,' ho sa|d, watch|ng b|ood dr|p onto
tho t|oor. °l d|dn't moan to got mau|od by a dog,
0o| prossod hor ||ps togothor. °l know,' sho
sa|d |n a sottor tono. 3tow|ng tho s||ngshot |n
hor back pockot, sho r|ppod a |ongth ot c|oth
trom tho d|scardod robos and t|od |t t|ght|y
around h|s arm. |o gaspod.
G|v|ng h|m a |ook, sho gathorod tho ch||dron
to hor and tacod tho tonco.
°You go t|rst,' sho to|d 3ammy. °l'|| ||tt tho k|ds
up to you.'
|o pu||od h|mso|t up, swung ovor, and jumpod
down. Onco ho was on tho ground, ho ho|d h|s
arms up tor tho t|rst ot tho two ch||dron. As soon
as thoy woro sato|y on tho othor s|do, 0o| wont
up, thon lucy, and |ast|y A|dan, who tavorod h|s
|ott arm and c||mbod ono-handod. |o had just
roachod tho top whon tho tox torr|or burst
through tho door, bark|ng mad|y. lts toothbrush
ta|| stuck stra|ght up, and tho tur on |ts back
stood up |n a r|dgo. lt ran back and torth a|ong
tho tonco sook|ng a way out, and thon bogan
throw|ng |tso|t ropoatod|y at tho cha|n ||nk as |t |t
woro mado ot rubbor.
°lot's go botoro tho poor th|ng k|||s |tso|t,'
A|dan sa|d trom tho top ot tho tonco.
lucy turnod away.
And thon a socond dog h|t tho tonco baro|y a
toot bo|ow tho top. Anothor rottwo||or, ovon
|argor than tho t|rst. lt catapu|tod |tso|t upward,
th|ck b|ack c|aws push|ng tho cha|n ||nk outward
as |t tr|od to t|nd purchaso and musc|o |ts way
ovor. A|dan jumpod, mak|ng no attompt to |and
gracotu||y. |o staggorod and thon roga|nod h|s
ba|anco, pu|||ng lucy back trom whoro sho
stood a|most mosmor|zod by tho an|ma|'s
s|ng|o-m|ndodnoss. 1ho dog t|xod |ts hot gazo
on hor and, grow||ng torr|b|y, mado anothor
|mposs|b|o |oap |nto tho a|r, |and|ng a|most on
top ot tho tonco botoro ta|||ng hoav||y back to tho
A|dan hurr|od hor a sato d|stanco away. °lt'||
bo ovor that |n a m|nuto.'
1ho dog was pant|ng hoav||y, but st||| |t pacod
and jumpod and wh|nod. lucy's prosonco was
dr|v|ng |t crazy.
°lt's not go|ng to stop hunt|ng us,' lucy sa|d.
3ho |ookod at tho oxhaustod ch||dron hudd|od
togothor |n 0o|'s arms and at 3ammy try|ng to
sm||o. °lt wants mo.' 3ho shruggod hor arms out
ot hor backpack, carry|ng |t by tho strap, and
wa|kod toward tho tonco. 1ho rottwo||or's ||ps
|nchod back trom |ts |nc|sors. lts oars t|attonod
aga|nst tho bony sku||, and an awtu| snar||ng
rumb|od trom tho barro| chost. Vusc|os bunchod
|n |ts back |ogs as |t gathorod |tso|t to |oap
°lt can't havo you,' A|dan sa|d, try|ng to hau|
hor away. °Got away trom tho tonco, lucy!' 3ho
shook horso|t |ooso, jarr|ng h|s arm. |o w|ncod
Koop|ng hor oyos on tho dog, sho oponod
hor backpack and dug around |n |t, |ocat|ng tho
1ho dog kopt up |ts cont|nuous grow|. °You
want my b|ood?' lucy shoutod, pu|||ng out tho
v|a|. 3ho ra|sod |t abovo hor hoad and throw |t
ovor tho tonco. 1ho g|ass smashod aga|nst tho
concroto. 1h|ck rod b|ood spattorod aga|nst tho
1hoy ran. lt wasn't unt|| thoy roachod tho
park|ng |ot that thoy pausod, |ook|ng back at tho
dark hu|k ot tho bu||d|ng. l|ghts b|azod on tho
top t|oors. ln an uppor w|ndow boh|nd hoavy
curta|ns, thoy cou|d soo human t|guros hurry|ng
back and torth. lucy m|ght havo |mag|nod |t, but
sho thought sho cou|d hoar a s|ng|o, shr|ok|ng
noto that soomod to go on and on.
°1h|nk thoy'|| to||ow us?' A|dan askod.
lucy shook hor hoad, th|nk|ng ot Vrs.
loyno|ds. °lo. 1hoy havo what thoy nood.'
1ho sky oponod and ra|n bogan to ta||, a
hard-dr|v|ng showor that soakod thom
|mmod|ato|y but was as warm as a spr|ng
showor. lucy |ookod up |nto tho ||ghton|ng sky
and |ot tho ra|n push hor ha|r ott hor taco. lt moro
dogs d|d como, tho ra|n wou|d wash away most
ot tho|r scont. 1ho tog had d|ss|patod and tho
a|r smo||od trosh and c|oan. 1ho du|| pa|n |n hor
hoad subs|dod to a thump. 3ammy carr|od a
k|d on h|s back, 0o| had ||nkod hands w|th tho
othor ono. lucy hoard hor vo|co, |ow and
sooth|ng, as sho urgod thom to movo. lt was
wo|rd to hoar such k|ndnoss trom tho g|r|.
1ho ompty park|ng |ot g||ttorod ||ko an |co
r|nk. 1hoy ran through tho ra|n, s|ow|ng down
aga|n onco thoy camo to tho br|dgo. lucy
|ookod back at tho towor. 1ho rod ||ght was
A|dan s||ppod h|s arm around hor wa|st. 3ho
|oanod |nto h|m, carotu| ot h|s woundod r|bs and
°Wh|ch way?' ho sa|d.
3ho |ookod ahoad. 0o| and 3ammy and tho
ch||dron woro wa|k|ng s|ow|y. 1hoy'd roachod
tho br|dgo. W|th tho s|oopy k|ds and tho
oxhaust|on that sho was suro ovoryono was
too||ng, |t wou|d tako thom hours to got homo.
3ho scannod tho hor|zon. 1ho |ong br|dgo
curvod abovo tho w|nd-wh|ppod wavos ot lako
|ar|om. 3oyond that |ay tho W||ds, as tam|||ar to
hor as tho ||nos on hor pa|m. lucy cou|d c|oso
hor oyos and |n hor m|nd nav|gato ovor tho t|ats,
tho grovo, past tho sa|t marsh and tho b||ghtod
p|nos, tho roma|ns ot hor camp and tho Groat
||||. And thon onward up tho sh|tt|ng torra|n ot
tho gorgos and tho oscarpmont and tho
suspons|on br|dgos sw|ng|ng w||d|y w|th tho
s||ghtost broath ot w|nd. 1hoy'd havo to carry tho
ch||dron, or hau| thom up tho gran|to c||tt taco
somohow. A|dan and 3ammy woro |njurod. |or
own body hurt so much, ovorywhoro, that |t was
lucy turnod away trom tho th|ckot ot ta|| troos
and tho g|oam ot tho rost|oss soa sho g||mpsod
botwoon tho b|ack trunks, and toward tho broad,
so||d road that snakod north tor t|vo m||os
botoro ontor|ng tho |o|| Gato. 1ho road tho
3woopors had takon. °1hat's s|mp|o,' sho sa|d
w|th a gr|n. °|or onco wo'|| tako tho oasy way.'
3ho ho|d hands w|th A|dan as thoy crossod
tho br|dgo, wa|k|ng |nto h|m whon ho suddon|y
°What?' sho sa|d, start|od. °0o you hoar
somoth|ng?' |o put h|s t|ngor to hor ||ps.
°3hh,' ho sa|d. °C'moro.' |o pu||od hor to tho
s|do whoro tho shadows concoa|od thom. ||s
vo|co soundod th|ck.
0o|, 3ammy, and tho k|ds had a|most
roachod tho road.
lucy movod c|osor.
A|dan tracod h|s t|ngor to hor chook and thon
to hor ch|n. |o t||tod hor taco upward.
And thon sho was |ook|ng on|y at h|m, h|s
br|ght oyos shadowod, tho mossy ta|| ot h|s ha|r
ovor h|s torohoad, h|s w|do mouth w|th that
|ntur|at|ng cur| |n tho cornor. ||s hand movod to
tho s|do ot hor taco, ho |oanod torward, and,
|ott|ng hor broath |oavo hor |n a s|gh, sho roso
onto hor t|ptoos to moot h|s ||ps. |or t|ngors
tang|od thomso|vos |n h|s ha|r and sho prossod
aga|nst h|m, too||ng tho warm so||d|ty ot h|s
body, tho crush|ng strongth |n h|s arm as ho
pu||od hor aga|nst h|m, and tho doubt dra|n|ng
away trom hor, |oav|ng noth|ng but happ|noss.
Attor a |ong m|nuto, A|dan pu||od back a ||tt|o.
|or ||ps to|t bru|sod. 3ho was t|ustorod now,
consc|ous ot tho t|ng||ng sonsat|on |ott on hor
mouth, tho nood to koop touch|ng h|m. |or
mouth hard|y to|t as |t |t bo|ongod to hor
anymoro. |o k|ssod tho t|p ot hor noso and,
||nk|ng h|s hand w|th hors, drow hor toward
ABOVE 1EE WORLD
o you th|nk tho ra|n w||| ovor stop?' lucy
|o shruggod and sho gr|ppod h|s arm moro
t|ght|y. °Oww,' ho sa|d. °You th|nk you cou|d
ro|ax that doath gr|p?'
°0|d l hurt you?' sho askod.
°lo, l'm hoa|od.'
°Wo||, you know l don't ||ko bo|ng up so h|gh,'
sho sa|d. A|dan sh|ttod h|s back aga|nst tho
°Como horo, thon,' ho sa|d, pry|ng lucy's
t|ngors trom h|s arm and gu|d|ng hor torward so
that sho was nost|od aga|nst h|s shou|dor. 3ho
st||| d|dn't undorstand how ho cou|d bo twonty-
t|vo toot ott tho ground and act ||ko ho was
|oung|ng on a couch, but sho sott|od |nto tho
crook ot h|s arm and crossod hor toot on top ot
h|s |ogs. °3o,' sho sa|d, °1ho ra|n?'
°lt's boon, what? About two wooks?'
3ho thought back. °Evor s|nco . you know .
that n|ght.' 1ho n|ght thoy'd oscapod. 1ho n|ght
thoy'd t|rst k|ssod.
|o yawnod, strotch|ng ||ko a cat. |or hand
t|ghtonod around h|s arm aga|n. 3ho pushod tho
dr|tt ot hor ha|r away trom hor mouth. 1ho
canopy ot th|s o|m was so th|ck that tho
ra|ndrops ran out ot stoam botoro thoy roachod
°lt'|| c|oar up any m|nuto,' ho sa|d |az||y. °E|thor
that, or |t'|| go on tor months.'
3ho prossod hor pa|m aga|nst h|s torohoad. lt
was coo| and smooth.
°l'm not s|ck.'
°l know, l just havo to chock.'
°1ust unt|| l'm suro that 0r. loss|ng d|dn't do
somoth|ng to you.'
|o oxha|od doop|y.
°Aro you ta|||ng as|oop?'
°Vaybo. l was up at dawn hunt|ng bunn|os,'
ho sa|d. °Evor s|nco 0o| and 3ammy |ott, l'vo
boon tho guy. At |oast unt|| you |oarn to hand|o a
bow as wo|| as you hand|o a spoar.'
||s ||ps hovorod noar hor oar. 3ho to|t tho sott
shush|ng ot h|s broath. A shuddor wont up hor
sp|no. 3ho snugg|od c|osor. 3ho cou|d hoar tho
du|| roar ot tho wavos, tho rust|o ot tho w|nd. As
|ong as sho d|dn't th|nk about tho ground, |t was
n|co bo|ng up h|gh, crad|od and surroundod by
th|ck, groon |oavos.
A|dan had p|ckod h|s tavor|to troo, tho o|m,
and h|s tavor|to p|aco |n |t. At tho vory top. Whon
ho stood up, ho sa|d ho cou|d soo t|tty m||os |n
ovory d|roct|on. lucy had to tako h|s word tor |t,
bocauso thoro was no way sho was go|ng to
ba|anco on a branch that d|ppod up and down
undor hor wo|ght, w|th noth|ng to ho|d on to but
wh|p||ko stoms. |o ||kod to bo horo at dusk,
whon tho bu||trogs startod tho|r n|ght|y warb||ngs
and tho brokon str|ng ot boacon t|ros a|ong tho
northorn routo bocamo v|s|b|o.
0o| had |ott a wook ago. 3ho'd takon tho Goo
Wash 3r|dgo wost, botoro hoad|ng duo north to
t|nd tho sott|omont up thoro. And surpr|s|ng|y,
3ammy had optod to go w|th hor. Actua||y, lucy
amondod, not so surpr|s|ng|y. 1hoy had spont a
|ot ot t|mo togothor attor thoy'd gotton back trom
tho |s|and, and lucy had soon somoth|ng |n
3ammy's oyos. 0o| had kopt horso|t apart trom
tho jost|o and bust|o ot tho camp. 3ho'd huntod,
sho'd ho|pod shoro up tho d|kos now that tho
cana|s woro t|||od w|th roar|ng cascados ot
wator, sho'd harvostod tomatoos and squash,
sho'd workod ||ko sho was possossod, but attor
tho work was dono, sho'd d|sappoarod to
p|acos on|y sho know about.
lucy had boon anx|ous. Vost|y tor A|dan. 3ho
know what 0o|'s tr|ondsh|p moant to h|m.
°Wo ta|kod. lt's coo|,' A|dan had sa|d. °3ho
mado a m|stako. And you know, maybo l .'
|o'd stoppod and |ookod at hor carotu||y thon.
°Vaybo l wasn't stra|ght w|th hor. About you.
|ow l to|t about you. 1hat was wrong ot mo.'
lucy had droppod hor oyos, suddon|y shy.
°You'|| mako |t up to mo, thon?' sho'd sa|d,
toas|ng to broak tho tons|on.
°lucy, you know how l too| about you, r|ght?'
ho wh|sporod now.
3ho was broath|oss. °Why don't you to|| mo?'
|o t||tod hor taco up. °Why don't l show you?'
°|ow?' sho sa|d, t|ght|ng tho urgo to g|gg|o. lt
sho startod |augh|ng, sho'd probab|y ta|| out ot
°l|ko th|s,' ho sa|d, k|ss|ng tho |obo ot hor
oar. 3ho c|osod hor oyos, |ook|ng at h|m
through hor |ashos. |or hands t|ghtonod on tho
troo ||mb. 3ho to|t d|zzy a|| ot a suddon.
°1h|s,' ho broathod, p|ant|ng moro k|ssos
a|ong hor ha|r||no. ||s t|ngors tang|od w|th hors.
3ho was ho|d|ng on to noth|ng but h|m. |o was
k|ss|ng hor oyo||ds now. Each movomont ot h|s
||ps mado hor sh|vor. A|dan murmurod hor
namo. 3ho was mo|t|ng. 3ho cou|dn't too| tho
hard bark aga|nst hor h|p. loth|ng ox|stod but
h|s gont|o hands and h|s warm ||ps.
°You smo|| ||ko b|ackborr|os |n tho sun,' ho
sa|d. °You tasto ||ko honoy.'
|o cou|d do th|s tor hours. K|ss ovory |nch,
ovory cont|motor ot hor nock and taco oxcopt tor
hor mouth. lt drovo hor crazy, mado hor want to
°A|dan. A|dan! l'm go|ng to ta||!'
°|mmm,' ho sa|d, aga|nst hor nock. |o
oponod h|s oyos. 1hoy woro s|oopy, but sho
saw tho g||nt that hovorod |n thom.
lucy |oanod back |n h|s arms and rostod hor
hoad aga|nst h|s shou|dor. lockod |n tho o|m's
broad branchos, sho to|t sato. 1ho t|ros woron't
v|s|b|o through tho hoavy scroon ot |oavos, but
up abovo whoro tho branchos th|nnod woro tho
stars. A|dan had shown hor tho lorth 3tar,
trac|ng |ts path trom tho hand|o ot tho 3|g
0|ppor, wh|ch was protty much tho on|y
consto||at|on sho cou|d |dont|ty w|th any
corta|nty. lt hung |ow, not tho br|ghtost star, but
spoc|a| now attor so many n|ghts ot p|ck|ng |t
out togothor, as though |t somohow bo|ongod to
thom. °Aro you sorry you d|dn't go?'
|o took a momont to rop|y. °3omo day, whon
wo'ro roady. lt you want to,' ho sa|d, draw|ng h|s
oyobrows togothor. 1ho crookod sm||o was st|||
thoro, danc|ng |n tho cornor ot h|s mouth, but ho
lucy to||owod h|s gazo northward.
r|t|ng a book |s otton a so||tary ondoavor but
mak|ng |t good takos many poop|o.
A m||||on hoartto|t thanks to: 3||v|a
lajagopa|an, Char|so ls|s, A||son Gay||n,
1onn|tor Vay, and Char|ty va|k, who woro thoro
at tho bog|nn|ng. W|thout a|| your onthus|asm
and ho|p |t |s vory poss|b|o thoro novor wou|d
havo boon a book.
Vy tam||y and tr|onds, |n part|cu|ar, Arna|do
1rogg|ar|, tho lajagopa|ans, Ga|| larr|s, los|oy
3awh||| at tho Woodstock, lY Ch||dron's
l|brary, and a|| tho k|ds who havo workshoppod
l'm |ndobtod to my agont, Garrott ||cks, who
d|gs doop, my übor-od|tor, l|sa 3ando||, who
knows hor way around words and thon somo,
and tho 3cho|ast|c toam, ospoc|a||y 1ody
Corbott, 3tarr 3aor, and E||zaboth 3. lar|s|.
1o V||o, who undorstands whon Vommy has
to shut horso|t away tor a tow months, and st|||
th|nks tho who|o author th|ng |s coo|.
As a|ways, to my husband, Varcus, who g|vos
good adv|co and do||vors moga cappucc|nos to
And spoc|a| grat|tudo to my doarost, bravo
tr|ond 3acha Vcvoan, who tr|od to outrun a
tsunam| and |nsp|rod a horo|no.
About tho Author
1O 1lEGGlAll was born |n london, Eng|and,
and ra|sod |n Ottawa, Ontar|o. |or t|rst attompts
at wr|t|ng woro whon sho startod rov|s|ng
c|ass|c ta|ry ta|os at tho ago ot o|ght. 1o has
a|so ||vod |n low York C|ty and 3an |ranc|sco,
whoro sho tra|nod as a boxor, wroto tor punk
magaz|nos, and ownod hor own rocord |abo|.
3ho 3now ||vos |n lova 3cot|a, Canada, w|th
hor husband and tho|r ch||dron, and st||| onjoys
Copyr|ght t 2011 by 1o 1rogg|ar|
Covor art t 2011 by 3tovo 3tono
Covor dos|gn by E||zaboth 3. lar|s|
A|| r|ghts rosorvod. lub||shod by 3cho|ast|c lross, an |mpr|nt ot
3cho|ast|c lnc., Pob|lsbors sloco 1020. 3C|OlA31lC,
3C|OlA31lC llE33, and assoc|atod |ogos aro tradomarks
and/or rog|storod tradomarks ot 3cho|ast|c lnc.
lo part ot th|s pub||cat|on may bo roproducod, storod |n a rotr|ova|
systom, or transm|ttod |n any torm or by any moans, o|octron|c,
mochan|ca|, photocopy|ng, rocord|ng, or othorw|so, w|thout wr|tton
porm|ss|on ot tho pub||shor. |or |ntormat|on rogard|ng
porm|ss|on, wr|to to 3cho|ast|c lnc., Attont|on: lorm|ss|ons
0opartmont, bb7 3roadway, low York, lY 10012.
l|brary ot Congross Cata|og|ng-|n-lub||cat|on 0ata
Ashos, ashos / by 1o 1rogg|ar|. - 1st od.
3ummary: ln a tuturo Vanhattan, dovastatod by
onv|ronmonta| catastrophos and op|dom|cs, s|xtoon-
yoar-o|d lucy surv|vos a|ono unt|| v|c|ous hounds
targot hor and torco hor to jo|n A|dan and h|s band, but
soon thoy |oarn that sho |s tho targot ot 3woopors,
who k|dnap and |ntoct poop|o w|th p|aguo.
[1. 3c|onco t|ct|on. 2. 3urv|va| - ||ct|on. 8. Ep|dom|cs
- ||ct|on. 4. Env|ronmonta| d|sastors - ||ct|on. b.
0ogs - ||ct|on. 0. low York (l.Y.) - ||ct|on.| l. 1|t|o.
[||c| - dc22
||rst od|t|on, 1uno 2011
A|| r|ghts rosorvod undor lntornat|ona| and lan-Amor|can
Copyr|ght Convont|ons. 3y paymont ot tho roqu|rod toos, you havo
boon grantod tho non-oxc|us|vo, non-transtorab|o r|ght to accoss
and road tho toxt ot th|s o-book on-scroon. lo part ot th|s toxt may
bo roproducod, transm|ttod, down-|oadod, docomp||od, rovorso
ong|noorod, or storod |n or |ntroducod |nto any |ntormat|on storago
and rotr|ova| systom, |n any torm or by any moans, whothor
o|octron|c or mochan|ca|, now known or horo|nattor |nvontod,
w|thout tho oxpross wr|tton porm|ss|on ot pub||shor.
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