“You hungry?” Christine asks. “Dinner will be ready pretty soon. Let me get you something to drink.”
She runs over to the kitchen area and Chuck looks me over.
“You look like shit, man.”
“They went after you, didn’t they?” he asks.
“What happened back at our original camp?” I ask.
“Well, when you two split,” Chuck says, “Caesar and Brett said they were going after you. Said they were concerned for your welfare and all, but I called bullshit. Brett was pissed at you, and there was no way he could have given a rat’s ass about your well-being.”
“Caesar got all defensive, so I let it drop, but sometimes you just have a bad feeling, ya know?”
“Yeah, I know.”
“They’d been gone a couple of days, and shit, we didn’t know what happened to y’all. They came back, then left again. All those times, they kept getting together in little groups and talking all hush-hush like. That shit made me nervous.”
“Us, too,” Marco says as he and Sam come around from the building to where we’re standing, nodding their heads. “I never liked that Brett guy. I was pretty glad when you pounded on him.”
“Yeah, that was sweet.” Chuck laughs.
“Did they say anything to you?” I ask. “Before they left, I mean.”
“They started coming up to me and asking why Christine and I didn’t have kids,” Chuck says. “I told them it was none of their fuckin’ business, but they kept asking. Then Brian said something about sharing, so I popped him in the mouth. The next day, Ryan said he and Brian and the other guys were going off for supplies. The rest of us talked it over and decided to split. We took what we could carry and came here.”
“Have you seen any of them since?”
“Yeah,” Marco says, “a couple of times.”
“Sam and I went back a few times looking for supplies,” Marco says. “I saw Caesar and Brett there along with a bunch of other guys I didn’t know, so I waited.”
“How long ago?”
“Oh, that’s been months. They cleared out of there just a few weeks after you two left. The last time I saw them, those spaceships flew by, so we took off. We probably could have gone back, but Chuck didn’t want to chance it.”
“Any idea where Caesar and Brett went?”
“None,” Chuck says. “Marco is right though—they have a bunch of other guys with them now. Not sure where they came from, but they seemed like they were getting organized.”
A bunch of guys.
I remember Seth’s notes on a large group gathering somewhere. How many? Who are they? What has Hannah had to go through? My stomach turns.
“They got her, don’t they?” Chuck asks.
“Yeah,” I nod once, “they do.”
“I’ve looked everywhere,” I say, “but I haven’t found any sign of them or her. I did check back at the apartments, but it had been cleared out by then.”