Chapter 27

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"Dry mouth?" asked Grant. "The sedative does that. Here."

Eva accepted the water bottle and downed it in one shot.

Laird drove the rig and Wes sat in the cab with him. Eva and Grant sat on the floor inside the enclosed cargo trailer. "We didn't want to sedate you, but under the circumstances, felt it was necessary."

She glared at him. "I told you I didn't want to go on the supply run."

Grant scratched the stubble on his chin. "Well, I wasn't about to leave you there with Mitchell. Is that what you'd have wanted?"

"I can handle myself."

"Oh, I'm aware of that. It's Mitchell who can't. And he has a penchant for strong-willed blondes."

"Yeah well, one of these days, he's going to bite off more than he can chew."

Grant nodded. "I think that's accurate."

The rig's engine moaned as they climbed a hill. "Where are we?"

"East of Community."

"The coast?"
Grant shook his head. "No. The coast is a hot spot; we never go into hot spots, just skirt the borders. But each time we make a run, we must go farther than before. Eventually, it won't make sense fuel-wise to do that. It's conceivable that at some point we might need to abandon Community and make a new home."

"Or just begin hunting and living off the land."

Grant raised his eyebrows. "Oh? You're willing to eat infected game? Or can you imagine enduring winter without a generator for heat?"

Eva shrugged. "There's this thing – I'm not sure you've heard of it – fire?"

"And what about when winter arrives? Are you going to live outdoors?"

"Why not a cabin? Or even a cave? Primitive people did it."

"Nothing can afford protection like a bunker."

"I guess," said Eva. "I guess it depends on who's running the bunker?"

Grant stared off. He removed a paper from a pocket and unfolded it. "How about you tell me what this is."

Eva's pulse thumped as she glanced at the words she'd written: Tomorrow at dusk. "Just thoughts."

"Thoughts lead to actions," replied Grant. "Were you planning something, Eva?" When she didn't answer, he pressed. "Who is Alex to you?"

Grant's tone had transformed from overbearing prick to someone who suddenly seemed capable of true concern. Either it was genuine, or he was one hell of an actor. Eva didn't want to admit it, and struggled internally against the notion, but maybe she needed someone else besides Lacy to confide in. But Grant?

"Just a person who seemed to need someone."

Folding his hands across his chest, Grant nodded. "And you were going to fill that need?"


"And what about you? Don't you have a similar need? I have news for you: we all have that need...a sense of community. That's why we all band together – to be there for one another. There's no reason why Alex can't be a part of it, too. There's no need to run."

Eva stared at the man, wondering if he was lifting the curtain he so often hid behind – something Eva understood all too well - the tough, hardened disciplinarian. Or was he merely trying to coax answers from her? The horn sounded as the rig slowed and then stopped. Grant stood and went to the rear of the trailer. "Suit up," he said to Eva. He attached the helmet to his bio-suit and after a moment, Wes opened the cargo door, flooding the space with light. When Grant hopped down and walked out of view, Eva followed.

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