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Skye shifted yet again against the wall of the box truck. Her body sore, both from the abuse she'd received, and the lack of comfort in the vehicle. She and Kelsey leaned against each other for moral and physical support, the only softness provided them.

The truck bounced again, jarring them against each other and the hard wall behind them. Kelsey groaned.

Without a thought, Skye laid a hand on Kelsey's arm and patted her, and Kelsey laid her head on Skye's shoulder. Skye had grown close to this girl as she helped her come to grips with everything that happened to her in Fenton.

Kelsey patted her back. "We certainly are going to have some interesting sessions once we get out of this one."

Skye smiled. "That's what I love about you, Kelsey, your unending optimism. It's a wonderful thing as a time like this."

"I wasn't always that way. When I was alone in Fenton..." Kelsey shuddered. "But then the doc and Bre found me. If I could get out of there, we can get out of this. It's just a matter of time."

Skye gave her a sharp nod. "We have to keep our eyes open for the best opportunity, one we know will work."


Skye patted Kelsey again. The girl had grown up quick this past year, physically she may still be a young teen but she was wiser than her age. She would need to be to continue to survive.

"I knew things were bad, I really did," Skye said. "Everything you told me, others have told me, but Dylan and Wade, they've sheltered me. All that badness was so close all along. Not just a few people on our trail like Calvin and his thugs, but men like Jack and these up front." Skye jerked a thumb toward the cab. "Ruthless men, uncaring men.. I didn't see the world for what it is now. I saw the individual troubles but not what it meant as a whole."

"Yeah, well, that's your optimism."

Skye hung her head. "It'll get me killed. Dylan told me that once, and he is right. I can't go into each situation as if the people will react like they used to. There's no veil of civilization now. People can be as evil as they want to be."

Kelsey shook her head. "Strangers. We have to be careful of strangers. Look at all the good people on Cole's mountain. There's good ones, lots of them. It's like everything went all topsy-turvy, and it's all mixed up. But pretty soon everyone will be divided, the good and the bad. It'll be easier to tell. That's how it was in Fenton, anyhow."

Skye agreed. "Your right. As time goes by, it will be easier to tell. Until then, we need to treat new people like enemies until they prove otherwise." Skye scanned the empty white and steel truck they traveled in. She stared through the window at the one man she could see, the one that had seemed sympathetic to their plight. "I'm not sure how that helps us now, but I do know I need to start thinking like you. Let them be top dog if that's what they want. Don't fight until I know I can do damage. It's not like I'm going to beat these men physically, but maybe I can outthink them."

Kelsey laughed. "Did you get a good look at them? That shouldn't be hard."

"I hope your right."

Skye laid her head back on the wall as she thought about the containment center. How long had that existed? Had it always been so horrible?

People penned like animals, not even sheltered from the elements. Were they fed? She shuddered. The disease was tragic enough, to be treated that way was more than horrible, it was a nightmare.

But maybe they were the lucky ones. Soon, the Sick would be out of their misery, but what would be happening to the rest of them? If the evil people of this world won, what would be left of it, of people like those on Cole's mountain?

Skye straightened her legs, bouncing them up and down to get the blood moving in them again. When would this trip end? The drive seemed to last forever. Though Skye was forced to acknowledge with her nerves stretched so taunt and no way to tell the time, it could have been thirty minutes or thirty hours, how would she know?

No. The sun still shone through the pass-through window to the cab. Not thirty hours than, but it still felt like hours. Long enough she needed to pee again.

Skye sighed. Why had she thought that? Now that was all she would think about.

As if someone read her mind, the truck slowed and stopped. Skye's heart almost came to a standstill along with it. When Kelsey clenched her hand, Skye murmured it would be all right even though she had no idea if it would be.

"Don't cause trouble," Kelsey reminded her.

Only Skye's anxiety held back her laugh. How many times had she told Wade that? Yet, what she wouldn't do for a little of his trouble now.

The back door of the truck rolled up and the tall leader stood there. "You want to take care of any business?"

When the women nodded, he waved them down. Skye and Kelsey jumped off the back of the truck to the pavement of the road and looked around. They were on an interstate, long grass and a few groves of trees were all there was to see besides one gray-weathered house in the distance.

Skye was startled when the leader grabbed her by the arm and pulled her toward him. "You gonna cause me any trouble?"

Skye immediately showed all the signs of submission. She lowered her head and avoided looking him in the eye as she said, "No, sir. I will not."

He seemed satisfied with that, pushing her on her way. It was the truth. There was nowhere to run, and five men just waiting for them to try. It was not the time.

One of the men, a shorter stubbier one, pushed through the grass to the nearest grove of trees. He waved them to it. "I got this," he said as he waved his gun and flicked off the safety. "I could use a little target practice."

He took a couple of steps away from them, turned his back and relieved himself against one of the trees.

Skye and Kelsey took care of their need as quickly as possible. Thankfully, the man kept his back turned until they were ready to go back to the truck.

Skye wanted to ask so badly where they were but any questions were unwise. It was more humid here, warmer than when they started this trip. They were going south, but where? On her way back to the truck, she looked for anything that could tell her, but there were no road signs, no billboards. It was just an empty stretch of road.

Her concern grew. How far from home were they?

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