Commodity - Page 46

“Probably scratched it gathering wood yesterday. No big deal. You ready to get food? I’ll go throw on some clothes.”

He disappears into the bedroom and returns a minute later dressed in jeans and a T-shirt with a Captain America symbol on the front, and we head outside to join the rest of the group as they gather for breakfast.

My appetite has returned, and I think I might be making up for last night’s slight supper as I go back for a second helping of oatmeal. Chuck must have located the brown sugar because it’s positively delicious.

Ryan, Sam, and Marco sit together, chatting easily with the four new people. Falk takes me over and introduces me since I hadn’t met them officially last night, and I finally catch all their names—Owen, Brian, Brett, and Wayne.

“We came down from Smyrna,” Wayne says. “Been walking for the better part of two weeks, just looking for people.”

Wayne’s in his late fifties or early sixties. He looks like he’s in pretty good shape, though. Brian is his son, and looks like the spitting image of his father. Brett and Owen are their neighbors, and they’ve lived near each other for many years.

“We’d about given up,” Brian says. “Dad keeps blaming terrorists, but I told him that wasn’t possible.”

“You never know what they got hidden away,” Wayne says. “You think that’s better than his idea of space aliens?”

“Just pointing out the facts as I know them,” Falk says. “There isn’t a power in the world that could have done the kind of damage we’ve seen.”

“What he said about the women and kids makes sense,” Brett remarks.

“Where did she come from, then?” Wayne asks, nodding toward me.

“She was in the MARTA tunnel with me,” Falk says as he takes a slight step closer to my side.

“Well, it ain’t all women then, is it?”

Caesar joins the group and addresses me.

“Have you seen Beck around?” he asks.

“Not today,” I reply. I don’t make eye contact with him, and I hope he isn’t going to ask me about the circumstances of my last encounter with Beck. Falk’s badgering me about it last night was enough. I really don’t want to talk about it.

“Well, if you do, let him know I’m looking for him.” Caesar drains a cup of coffee and sets it down near the rest of the dishes. “We were supposed to head out for supplies this morning, but I can’t find him anywhere.”

“He’s probably passed out cold,” Ryan says. “He was pretty hammered last night. If he is awake, he’s holding his head somewhere. Just listen for the moans.”

“Probably,” Caesar says with a nod. “I can’t wait around though. Brett, you want to join me instead?”

“Sure thing.” Brett stands and walks over to Caesar.

“Do you still want me to tell him you’re looking for him?” I ask.

“Fuck it.” Caesar and Brett head off, and I don’t think much of it until later.


Falk steps up closer behind me.

“I’m just going to help you aim,” he says softly as his arms come up around me. I can feel his chest pressed against my back. He places his hands over mine and holds the gun up a little higher. “Look right down the top of the barrel. See the notch? That’s there you want to look. That’s it.”

I try to focus on my

aim on the empty pop can sitting on a tree stump and not the feeling of him pressed up behind me.

“Take a deep breath.” His words are hot in my ear. “Breathe out slowly, and pull the trigger as soon as all the breath is out.”


“It improves your aim.”

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