8 - The Lost Boy (I-II)

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September 2019 UPDATE: Hello. Due to the third issue with plagiarism since posting my work to Wattpad, this chapter will be removed as of January 1, 2020. It's not what I wanted to do, and I hate pulling my work from my readers' hands. However, I cannot have my art and writing plagiarized if I hope to have the chance of publishing these works in the future.

Thank you for your understanding and support. - Hannah

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I

The sunrise was blinding, and not in a nice way. Reem pressed the truck faster, the engine squealing to keep up with Jared's Jeep. He could hear Pax panting in the back seat and hoped for the hundredth time that they had packed enough food for all of them. He didn't like the joke Garrett had made about eating the dog if they ran out.

He didn't like the fact he was traveling with three strangers and a monster, either. But Maria didn't prove to be much of one—at least she held her own well. And until something went sideways, he'd promised Mikie he wouldn't shoot her. Andy sniffled beside him, wiping at her nose with the sleeve of her jacket. She looked like he felt: alone, dejected, worried. Exhausted.

He could feel it traveling deep into his bones. Which, wasn't a good thing. They'd only just moved on. They'd only narrowly escaped an explosive argument between Garrett and Mikie in the garage before Maria appeared in the darkness. Reem still couldn't understand why Garrett had gone to West about it. He couldn't understand where they were headed, either. North was all he knew, watching the sun arc overhead.

Andy glared against it, trying to block it out with one hand.

"Here." Reem fished an old ball cap from the back seat and passed it to her. It was dust coated, with a hole in the bill, but it was better than her squinting in silence all day. They had a long drive ahead of them.

Five miles into their highway drive he realized the signal on the Jeep either didn't work, or someone refused to use it. It wouldn't bother him, not normally. But he normally wasn't following anyone on the road. He didn't normally have to dodge so many abandoned cars on the freeway so fast. And Mikie was fast. It seemed to be the only speed she traveled at. It was impressive, how quick she managed to dodge fenders and gaping car doors as the last owners scrambled to escape. Most of the freeways had been clear enough, but there were still pockets—mostly near state borders—where the traffic became too deep to navigate.

He hoped Mikie knew where they were headed because north at this time of year didn't make sense. They'd reach Oklahoma City if they were lucky just before sunset. Restock on food there if they kept this up. Barring that no one ran into another car before they got there, of course. He didn't like it, the following, eyes searching for the oddly clean red Jeep between the muted shades of green, silver, and rust that littered the pavement.

"You guys okay back there?" Andy's backpack asked.

Reem watched as she twisted and fished out a walkie-talkie. She cranked a dial and jabbed her thumb against the button. "Fine."

Mikie sighed over the static. "We're just peachy up here, too. Garrett's got a gun to Maria's head. It's been a great reunion so far. Hey!"

The Jeep swerved dangerously.

Andy jabbed at the button again. "Mikie?"

"Yeah, sorry. Had to keep Maria from biting Garrett. I swear you're both acting like five-year-olds. Grow up!"

Reem sighed. "Sounds like loads of fun up there in the party car, huh?"

Andy scoffed. "Loads." But then there was the crack of a smile and he realized with a start that Andy was...well, not her sister. She wasn't as cold. Hell, she was still just a kid. Not a short, bitter fighter. At least she still had a sense of humor. She jabbed the button again. "You need to stop?"

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