against the leash trying to get a closer sniff at Pierce.
“I stayed in the camp as long as I could. When the food ran out, we learned to hunt and kill snakes. When it was just me, I took to the road. We tried catching boars, but they were too noisy when snared; the squealing attracted the dead.”
“Very well and all Mr. Pierce, but tell us of this cure,” Catherine said. Pierce walked among the people and showed them the bite marks and scars. He looked into each of their faces. Catherine shifted uneasy in her chair, expecting something to happen, not certain if that something would come from Pierce or Frank. Her one comfort was knowing should Pierce do anything against her people then Frank would solve the problem.
“I grabbed some of my notes and stuffed them into my pack with samples, hoping to hole up in a lab someplace safe. When I wasn’t paying attention, I was bit. I ran blind through the swamp, the zombies or whatever they are followed me. I climbed a tree and crawled into an old hunter’s rise and watched as alligators went after zombies. When the attack was over I climbed down. I felt the fever crawling up my arm from the bite.” Pierce pointed to a light pink bite scar on his wrist.
“I ran nearly blind with sickness into a cave. I fell over a rock and when I landed my hand was in a pool of water. The skin foamed and bled black around the wound. And in a few moments, the fever had cleared.”
“You fell in a puddle and you were cured?” Catherine asked.
“Pretty much,” Pierce nodded.
“Bullshit,” Frank spat.
“I lost my pack south of here. If one or two will come with me, I’ll get it. I have water samples in it. I can prove it.” Catherine rubbed her chin. She was handed a cup of well water and looked to the other townsfolk, trying to read their expressions.
“Frank, Sam and Danny get ready, you leave in an hour. Take the Jeep.” Grumbling came out from the gathered people; Micah wrote in his journal, some of the words barely legible. “Conserve all the fuel and bullets you can.”
“Don’t need to tell us,” Frank said.
“I don’t need to, but I have to. And anything that can be used...” Catherine started.
“Anything that can be used, bring it back and don’t break it.” Sam said and handed the leash to Tony.
* * * * *
Sam steered the Jeep down the rutted road. They’d taken the soft top off to get better vantage point for shooting if it came to that. Danny stood on the back seat, braced against the roof strut. Frank, in the passenger seat, had both pistols drawn; he craned his head from side to side looking for danger. Pierce sat behind him looking tentatively from his seat.
They stopped outside the remains of Dedham. Under a street sign was a battered backpack. Pierce jumped from the Jeep before it stopped and ran for it. He stopped under the sign and untied the drawstrings to inspect the insides.
“I can’t believe I let you drive my Jeep,” Frank said.
“Explorer is low on fuel. The way you were ranting about the Monte, the Jeep makes sense.” Sam said. “For the record, Frank, you’re sitting where the dog usually does.”
“The Monte is OK, but I’d kill for a pick-up truck.” Frank looked around for anything shambling towards them. “And dogs don’t ride in my Jeep.”
“What do you guys think about Lily?” Danny asked.
“She’s definitely hot,” Sam said. “Little young for me.”
“You don’t have a chance, kid,” Frank said.
“She and you are old enough to be my kids. Feel creepy even talking about it,” Sam said.
“We could drop him here, take the pack. No one would suspect. Feed him a bullet or two. Let something chew on him,” Frank said glaring at Pierce. “Something’s wrong with him.”
“The day you can pull off a lie to Catherine, let me know,” Sam said. “Sometimes it’s like you two are married.”
“Well we’re not.” Frank squirmed in his seat at the comment. Sam smiled at the obvious sore
Lindsay Paige, Mary Smith