Commodity - Page 85


“That’s unusual.”

“It’s German.”

“Oh! Were your parents from Germany or something?” Katrina leans against the food prep area and sips from the water bottle.

“Grandparents,” I say. I don’t know why I’m telling her any of this. It’s been weeks since I’ve talked to anyone. Even the sound of my own voice is strange. “It’s a family name.”

“How did you end up here on your own?” she asks.

“It’s been a long year.”

“I’ll say!” She snorts out a laugh.

The food prep counter must not be very comfortable because she decides to sit on the floor. She places the bottle of water next to her and twists her fingers around in her lap.

“How did you survive?” she asks.

“I was underground.”

“Oh yeah? I’ve heard others say that, too.” She nods her head as if we magically understand each other completely now. “We were fishing up at Lake Lanier. Me, my dad, and my brothers—Seth and John.”

She keeps glancing up at me. I should be friendly—engage her in conversation, ask her questions. That’s what she wants. It’s been too long though. I don’t know what to say, and I don’t want to hash through all the same shit again.

I was a bodyguard. I was protecting a woman. I failed at it.

“We were in a cove,” she says when I don’t respond. “There isn’t much of anything around there, but we heard all the noise. A bunch of boats out in the middle of the lake were capsized. When we got back to shore, everyone was dead or gone.”

I finish my water and toss the bottle in a nearby container. It’s getting full. I’ll have to haul the trash out soon.

“When the truck wouldn’t start, we took the boat up the Chattahoochee River as far as we could go, all the way past where the ferries are. Walked into town from there.”

I’m barely listening to her, but she goes on anyway.

“It was days before we found anyone. When we did, we wished we hadn’t.”

I glance over at her, but she’s not looking at me. I wonder how old she is. If she was out with her father, she could be even younger than I thought.

“It started out all right,” she says, “but when they kept finding more men, and I was the only girl around…well, Dad figured out what they wanted from me pretty quickly. He decided to get us out of there in the middle of the night. They came after us though. Dad stayed behind so we could get away. I never saw him again.”

A sense of relief washes over me. I’m not sure if it’s because she wasn’t violated like I thought she probably was or if it’s because I don’t have to hear about it. She’s chatty. She may very well have given me all the details, and I don’t need to hear that.

“We’ve been in this area ever since then—me and my brothers.”

“Where are your brothers?” Some part of her story is still missing. If she had family to return to, she wouldn’t have followed me here so blindly.

“Seth got sick,” she says. Her voice gets soft. “John went out to find some antibiotics or something, but he never came back. That was three weeks ago. Seth…well, he died in his sleep four days ago. I had to dig a hole big enough to bury Seth, and I waited around for John to come back. When the food ran out, I left. That was this morning.”

“You haven’t been on your own long.”

“Just the past few days, really. Seth wasn’t much of a talker at the end.”

If they have been living out here, they probably got bad water. Her brother wouldn’t be the first to die from it.

I kick off my boots and shove my feet under the blanket. I scoot back to the wall so there’s enough room for her to lie down as well.

“Are you going to sleep?”

Tags: Shay Savage Science Fiction
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