Vegas, no longer the rich golden oasis in the desert, is starting to wear on Evie—or maybe it’s the new company they keep. For the story up until now, go here.
Edgar chatted as they prepared breakfast–he even had a battered coffee can and some instant coffee that he brewed over the little fire. They added more scraps of wood and paper, but there wasn’t much left. Evie eyed the flare gun tucked in the side of Owen’s pack. They were supposed to use that to signal Greg. If he came back. Vanessa, Evie noted, looked worse for her night on the floor. Her dark hair was tangled and her full lips were pinched. She refused any of the coffee and stayed wrapped in her blankets, staring morosely at the fire.
“Sleep okay, Van?” Evie asked brightly, savoring the gritty cup of coffee like it was fresh from the corner Starbucks.
“Not really…E,” Vanessa’s eyes darkened and she refused to meet Evie’s gaze.
“Maybe it was the snoring. Owen always snores when he doesn’t sleep on his side,” she smiled at her. “But then, you probably knew that.”
Owen took a gulp from his can of coffee and swore when he burned his tongue. His eyes were red and there was a tighness around them that she recognized as signs of a headache. She knew he would be regretting finishing the rum before the day was out. Jessamy kept his head down, eating his soggy instant oatmeal with no comment to anyone else. Evie downed her portion as quickly as she could with a grimace. She hated oatmeal.
“…so we’ve been trying to make it up to Reno, where we hear there’s some sort of out post, but, I’ll tell you, it’s been a bloody time trying to make it there,” Edgar was talking to Owen now.
He didn’t appear to be listening, his dark eyes were half shut and there was almost a pallor to his bronze skin.
“Reno?” Evie asked. “You really think there’s anything up there?”
“It’s what we heard,” Edgar shrugged turning to her. “Where are you two headed, anyhow?”
“We were making for California before we heard there’s nothing left,” Evie answered, afraid Owen might reveal they shared a destination.
“I never saw anything like it,” Edgar shook his head. “Everything was overrun. There were…bodies everywhere.”
Vanessa shuddered and pulled her coat over her shoulders. Jessamy’s can of coffee hung from his long fingers and his eyes were unfocused.
“New Orleans was like that,” Owen said, his voice gravelly. “The streets were full of tweakers and dead bodies and drunks who had no idea what was happening–still. All the major cities—I don’t know if Reno will be any better.”
“It has to be,” Vanessa said somewhat desperately. “You said your friend has a plane, that he’s coming back.”
Evie made an involuntary move of protest, the Cessna originally sat six, but with the wear and tear and lack of fuel—she was worried it wasn’t going to make it off the ground again with three.
“What?” Vanessa turned on her. “You’re gonna take that plane and fly up to Reno and leave us to walk? You little bitch,” she leaned forward, her eyes full of hatred. “Who are you to make those decisions?” She hooked a thumb at Owen. “It’s his friend and his plane. What is a skinny little piece of trailer trash like you going to do? There’s three of us and one of you.”
“Now, Vanessa–” Edgar said in a soothing tone.
“It’s his friend’s plane and I’m his goddamn wife,” E said, standing up so fast she almost spilled her coffee all over the fragile fire. “And I’ve taken down twenty tweakers myself before, and they’re a sight smarter than you, so I’d say the odds are pretty damn even.”
Vanessa blinked as though Evie slapped her and Evie realized that she was breathing like she’d run five miles through the swamp back home pursued by a pack of stumblers. Edgar pointedly began stirring the coffee and Owen gaped at her. She realized what she said and felt her ears heat. Well, she thought, it’s technically still true .