The Burnouts

The Burnouts by Lex Thomas Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: The Burnouts by Lex Thomas Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lex Thomas
go back out there. He was scared, but he didn’t want to tell them that.
    “David, you’re the one that said it’s only a matter of time until we’re outnumbered by people moving back to Pale Ridge. What if everyone inside hasn’t graduated by then? A cure is a chance to better the odds, man. If everybody getsvirus-free, then we’ve got no problems anymore. And how far is Minnesota anyway?”
    “Twelve, fifteen-hour drive, something like that,” Gonzalo said.
    Will pointed at Gonzalo with a wild grin.
    “Let’s do it,” he said. “We’d be heroes.”
    It was what David admired most about his brother. He had no fear of the unknown. Then again, too many times David had seen the brashness that came with it be Will’s undoing. That was exactly what had tangled him up with Gates when David had been powerless to help. Watching that train wreck from above and then going on the missions to fulfill Gates’s demands had been agonizing. But that was over now. They’d survived. And just as often David had seen Will’s brashness morph into bravery, like when he had taken down Varsity single-handedly. Everything Will was saying now was right. If they retrieved a cure, all of this just might end happily.
    “A fifteen-hour drive is nothing to scoff at,” David said. “We’ll need supplies we can’t spare. Fuel we don’t have. And we’ll have to get more gas mask filters somewhere on the way. There’s still infected out there. It’s still a war zone.”
    “So, what are you saying?” Will said.
    “If we could get all that,” David said, “then … it’s worth a shot.”
    Will clapped his hands with a big smile.
    “Road trip!”

7
    LUCKY COULD HANDLE THE REST. SHE COULD stomach the loneliness of her new life in her plant room. She could withstand the waves of sadness that washed over her without warning. She could deal with the fact that none of the gangs would let her join. And with the reality that she’d traded away everything she’d owned in the last few weeks. She’d made peace with becoming a thief, a beggar in disguise. The hunger dictated her morality, it negated her pride. She could handle all that. What she couldn’t handle was what she held in her hand.
    A positive pregnancy test.
    She’d traded nearly everything she had left for it. Lucy squinted at the pink plus sign like it might be a mirage. The result seemed impossible, even though she knew it was the opposite. It was extremely possible. It was what happened when people had sex. They hadn’t used any protection thatnight. This was happening because of what she’d done. She’d brought it on herself. Just like Violent’s death, or getting kicked out of the Sluts.
    Sometime in the future, somewhere other than here, maybe this news would have warmed her heart that there was a tiny person growing within her, but not here in McKinley, and not now, when she had no one. The responsibility felt like a tree trunk strapped to her shoulders. She was too young for this, too ill-equipped. Before the quarantine, she’d never even babysat.
    Her heart started to thump, a film of sweat covered her body. She had to do something. She’d go crazy sitting and thinking about it in her plant room. She had to find food. Now more than ever. She had to start building up a supply for when she got too big to go back and forth through the vent.
    Her hands trembled as she took her nose plugs off the windowsill. They were short sections of a thick plastic straw from a sports water bottle. Each was only a centimeter long, and she’d lined the outside in layers of masking tape to make them thicker. When she shoved them up into her nostrils, it changed the shape of her nose. It was wider, with chunkier nostrils, but she could still breathe. Next, she took two jelly bra inserts and stuck them in her cheeks. She’d found them in a backpack she’d stolen from a bathroom while the owner was in one of the stalls. She had cut the inserts down to fit right, but they

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