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datatime: 2022-09-25 15:52:49 Author:suWaDRDC

"Why'd you think the door was locked, then? This is private property"

Something moved at the corner of his vision. He looked to the side, and something small-a jackrabbit? he wondered-darted out of sight behind the ruins of the caf®¶.

The wind was still shoving mightily at his back, but after what seemed like eight hours of walking yesterday and at least five today, he was about to topple to the ground. He carried the exhausted child in his arms, as he had for the past two hours, and walked stiff-legged, the soles of his feet oozing with blisters and blood in shoes that were coming apart at the seams. He thought he must look like a zombie, or like the Frankenstein monster carrying the fainted heroine in his arms.

The wind was still shoving mightily at his back, but after what seemed like eight hours of walking yesterday and at least five today, he was about to topple to the ground. He carried the exhausted child in his arms, as he had for the past two hours, and walked stiff-legged, the soles of his feet oozing with blisters and blood in shoes that were coming apart at the seams. He thought he must look like a zombie, or like the Frankenstein monster carrying the fainted heroine in his arms.

"Why'd you think the door was locked, then? This is private property"

The dark town-just a scatter of wind-ravaged buildings and a few widely spaced houses on dusty lots-beckoned him onward. He saw no cars, no hint of light or life. There was a Texaco station with one pump and a garage whose roof had collapsed. A sign flapping back and forth on its hinges advertised TUCKER'S HARDWARE AND FEEDS, but the store's front window was shattered and the place looked bare as Mother Hubbard's cupboard. A small caf®¶ had also collapsed, except for the sign that read GOOD EATS Every step an exercise in agony, Josh walked past the crumbled buildings. He saw that dozens of paperback books lay in the dust around him, their pages flipping wildly in the restless hand of the wind, and to the left were the remains of a little clapboard structure with a hand-painted SULLIVAN PUBLIC LIBRARY sign.

The outlines of small, blocky one-story buildings and red brick houses began to appear from the deepening scarlet gloom. A town, Josh realized. Thank God

"I doubt it," the man countered. "Not from a scratch like that. It'll freeze up pretty soon, but you'll have a blood smell on your clothes. Like I say, they'll come out of the mountains with knives and forks between their teeth. But you do what you want to do; I'm hitting the trail." He shrugged into his pack, wrapped the cord around his shoulder and picked up his rifle. "Take care," he said, and he started gliding across the snowy highway toward the woods.

It took Sister about two more seconds to make up her mind. "Wait a minute" He stopped. "Okay. We'll come with you, Mr.-"

They had spent last night in the windbreak of an overturned pick-up truck; bound-up bales of hay had been scattered around, and Josh had lugged them over to build a makeshift shelter that would contain their body heat. Still, they'd been out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by wasteland and dead fields, and both of them had dreaded first light because they knew they had to start walking again.

The outlines of small, blocky one-story buildings and red brick houses began to appear from the deepening scarlet gloom. A town, Josh realized. Thank God

It took Sister about two more seconds to make up her mind. "Wait a minute" He stopped. "Okay. We'll come with you, Mr.-"

The woman was silent. Josh could see the outline of her head, but not her face; her head angled toward Swan. "A little girl," she said softly. "Oh, my Lord... a little girl..."

Something moved at the corner of his vision. He looked to the side, and something small-a jackrabbit? he wondered-darted out of sight behind the ruins of the caf®¶.

Something moved at the corner of his vision. He looked to the side, and something small-a jackrabbit? he wondered-darted out of sight behind the ruins of the caf®¶.

"Leona" a weak voice called from inside the house. "Leo-" And then it was interrupted by a strangling, terrible spasm of coughing.

They had spent last night in the windbreak of an overturned pick-up truck; bound-up bales of hay had been scattered around, and Josh had lugged them over to build a makeshift shelter that would contain their body heat. Still, they'd been out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by wasteland and dead fields, and both of them had dreaded first light because they knew they had to start walking again.

"We ought to go with him," Artie said to Sister. "I might bleed to death"

"If you don't mind, we'll just go on our way."

Sullivan, Josh thought. Whatever Sullivan had once been, it was dead now.

The outlines of small, blocky one-story buildings and red brick houses began to appear from the deepening scarlet gloom. A town, Josh realized. Thank God

The woman was silent. Josh could see the outline of her head, but not her face; her head angled toward Swan. "A little girl," she said softly. "Oh, my Lord... a little girl..."

Sullivan, Josh thought. Whatever Sullivan had once been, it was dead now.

The woman was silent. Josh could see the outline of her head, but not her face; her head angled toward Swan. "A little girl," she said softly. "Oh, my Lord... a little girl..."

"You broke my screen door," a woman's voice said in the gloom. The pistol did not waver.

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