The Burnouts

The Burnouts by Lex Thomas Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: The Burnouts by Lex Thomas Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lex Thomas
crossed the state line, he might be back in civilization again, and maybe there he could find someone sane who could help him help McKinley. Instead, what he found was more danger and more starvation.
    After three weeks, he was living under a railroad bridge with a broken ankle, surviving on fish from a polluted stream and hiding out from a group of infected whom he’d watched torture and kill a hunter. He’d thought of Lucy nearly constantly and wished she were there to nurture and encourage him. He’d been so sure he’d die out there but Gonzalo had found him and taken him away. Gonzalo had been spending his time scouring the infected zone by himself, searching for his girlfriend, Sasha. He told David about what the parents were doing, and helped him get back to the school so he could join the effort.
    That was the last time he’d talked to Gonzalo. Seeing him again, now, with Will, was a surprise treat, especially on a campus populated by fiftysomethings.
    The three of them sat at a circular beige table under the blue dining tent. Sam’s dad had just left them after inquiring about what Gonzalo had seen outside. He’d told Sam’s dad “nothing much” but that wasn’t what he was telling them now.
    “There’s a cure,” Gonzalo said. He was chewing on a piece of venison jerky from the farm stock.
    “What?” Will said. He gaped at Gonzalo. “Why didn’t you say so?”
    Gonzalo shrugged. “Figured you’d want to know first. You can tell who needs to know.”
    “So …,” David said. “They’re handing this cure out or what?”
    “I don’t know the details, man. All I know is that people are saying that there is one. I was up in Nebraska. Tracked Sasha there, only it wasn’t her. Dead ringer, though.”
    The corners of Gonzalo’s mouth dipped. It was the only hint of disappointment he let on.
    “This girl and the crew she was with were headed to Minnesota. Some famous research place there. A hospital or something in Rochester. They heard they had a cure for the virus—”
    “They heard,” David clarified.
    Gonzalo finished his jerky and wiped his massive hands. “Yeah, heard. But it sounds pretty legit to me.”
    “You didn’t go see for yourself?” Will said.
    Gonzalo shook his head. “My girl’s still out there, Willie. I gotta backtrack my trail until I catch her scent again. When I find her, then we’ll go for the cure.”
    The big guy cleared his throat. David could have sworn he heard his voice crack with emotion.
    “But nothing’s distracting me till she’s with me again. That’s all I care about. David knows what I’m talking about.”
    Will gave David a piercing look. His face was tensed by a hint of that old jealousy David remembered from when Lucy had been in their everyday life. It had nearly torn them apart back in McKinley. And David wasn’t about to let that happen again. Since Will had gotten out, things between David and his brother had been better than they’d ever been. The lastthing he wanted was for some drivel he’d said about Lucy after his breakdown in the infected zone to ruin things. He didn’t even know if he still felt that way about Lucy anymore, anyway.
    “You’ll find her. I know it,” David said.
    “Yeah, and when you do, we’ll have the cure here, waiting for her,” Will said.
    David nodded along for Gonzalo’s benefit, but Will seemed to sense that David was just humoring them.
    “I’m serious,” Will said to David. “We should go to Minnesota.”
    David glanced over at his brother.
    “Uh, I don’t know. That’s pretty far to go on just a rumor. Half the trip, maybe more, is through the infected zone.”
    “So?”
    “Well, it’s dangerous,” David said.
    “It’s dangerous here. It’s dangerous everywhere. My first hour on the farm nearly got me blown up.”
    “Yeah, but … you haven’t been out there,” David said, looking to Gonzalo for support. He was a stone wall. Outside was Gonzalo’s life. David didn’t want to

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