The week spent waiting for this meeting with Spitfire, I felt on edge. What did he want with me? This was the second time he’d told me he needed to speak with me, but why all the secrecy? I made my way up to the roof, seeing him standing by the edge, watching something.
“You wanted to see me?” I said, making him jump.
“Did anyone follow you?” he asked, spinning around and looking at me.
“Just Riley and Joe wanting to know why they couldn’t come up here. What’s going on?”
“Wait” he said, looking over the edge of the roof again. He stayed like it for a while, before relaxing slightly, as I heard the trademark roar of the Hummer’s engine.
“Look, Spitfire, if-”
“It’s Sekani, not Spitfire. That’s just the nickname they gave me”
“Uh, Sekani, then, what’s all this about? Why the secrecy?”
“They’d kill me if they knew I was talking to you” he said, and I frowned. “Let me guess, you thought they were just a bunch of helpful soldiers, right?”
“I guess so. We have our differences, but they haven’t done anything wrong so far” I shrugged. Spitfire, or Sekani as I now knew him, laughed, though I didn’t see what was funny. “What’s so funny?”
“Boy, have they got you fooled. Know why they’re being so helpful? They’re trying to gain everyone’s trust”
“Why? What for?”
Sekani sighed. “Let me start from the beginning. So, like I said, my name’s Sekani Cotton. I was holed up with a bunch of survivors in Washington when those three turned up. We had some real problems, same as you guys did, and sure enough, they fixed everything. The guy in charge back in Washington, Josh, he got voted out, same as you, and next thing we know, everyone’s acting like they’re best pals with them”
“I think it’s safe to say we’re at the stage” I muttered. Everyone seemed to approve of them, and Maria and Grovesnor had been getting pretty cosy together.
“Yeah? Well it’s what comes next you should be worried about. One day, Natch and Grovesnor take Josh out on a supply run and come back empty handed, without Josh. Told us he got bitten by a zombie, but I knew better. Josh was terrified of germs and illnesses, I don’t think I’d ever seen him within ten feet of one of those things. So I started asking questions, and before long, my privileges started getting cut. I’d go down for meals and there wouldn’t be enough there to feed me, things like that. All the while, the number of men was going down”
“Were they getting careless?” I asked curiously, hoping it wasn’t what I thought.
“They were getting murdered. And once all the men were gone, the rest of the ladies were defenceless. I was running on empty, I was hardly a threat. You really need me to spell out the rest?”
“I can’t act based on assumptions”
Sekani sighed. “They raped the women. A couple of them were willing at first, they’d been going out with them, or sleeping with them before, but then things turned nasty. If someone said no, they’d get violent. Usually Grovesnor, Natch doesn’t like using his fists”
“When they got bored, they killed them. That wasn’t the worst part. A few people had kids, I forget their names, there were quite a few. They… They killed them for sport. Set them challenges and killed the loser, made them fight each other, stuff like that. Eventually, it was just me left. I thought they’d kill me, or leave me to fend for myself, but they took me with them, like some sick kind of trophy”
“I knew there wasn’t something right about them. We have to warn the others”
“You want to be the first one that gets “eaten by zombies”, idiot? If they find out I told you, you won’t get a chance to tell the others. We need to do this slowly, carefully. Find out who’s still loyal to you”
“Not many, by the looks of it. What’s the plan?”
“We need some kind of code to find out. I’ll figure something out, give a couple days” he said, and I nodded. “You better go, I don’t think Grovesnor went out”
I didn’t need telling twice, telling Riley and Joe they could finally get up to the garden to tend the plants. I was on kitchen duty that day, and spent most of my time in Rae’s shop, mulling over what Sekani had told me. Something about the whole thing seemed suspicious. I didn’t know whether to believe him or not, but I suppose he had no reason to lie to us. I guess I’d just have to wait and see.
I was dragged out on a supply run the next day with Kat, Natch and Sam. Natch had paired me up with Kat, and sent us in a different direction. I couldn’t help but be paranoid that Sam wasn’t coming back. Kat and I went off the way Natch had sent us, and I got to work, hoping that the sooner we were done, the sooner I could check on Sam.
"So you and Rae, huh?" Kat said, smiling.
"What about it?" I asked.
"I think its best. You like her and she likes you" she shrugged.
"Is this to do with Thanksgiving?"
"Sort of. I'm just glad… I didn't ruin anything"
"She doesn't know" I shrugged.
"Good" she said, catching my eye and looking at me sternly. "Let’s keep it that way"
I ignored her, going back to scavenging. Across the months, we’d gathered almost everything to be found within the surrounding area. Soon, we’d have to start heading further out, and I didn’t want to have to do that.
"Rainer's pursuing me" Kat announced after a while.
"What?" I asked, freezing.
Kat looked at me. "He's pursuing me and... I can't stop him, Colligan. I'm worried because... because whenever he's around I stop thinking about Pet" she said, taking a shaky breath. "I never did that before"
"Kat, he's..." I trailed off, looking around for Natch. "Stay away from him"
"Don't you think I've tried?" she snapped.
"No, you really need to stay away from him"
"I'm trying" she frowned.
"Good" I said, going back to scavenging and hoping that’d be the end of it.
"What aren't you saying, though?" she asked.
Kat grabbed my wrist. "If it’s something that puts Pet in danger, you better tell me"
"Then you better swear to me Pet won’t be hurt"
"I can't promise that, either" I said, ignoring her when she glared at me.
"If Pet gets hurt for you not telling me, I won't ask questions first" she said, letting go of my wrist.
"I'm not the enemy here, Kat"
"I don't care. Pet's safety is my only concern these days"
"Just be careful"
She looked at me. "Always"
We gathered up all that we could, heading back to the Hummer to wait for Natch and Sam. I’m not religious, but I said a quiet prayer, hoping that Sam would come back. When I saw Natch heading back on his own, I was ready to shoot him then and there, but before I could move, Sam came racing after him, apologising for dropping something. I let out a relieved sigh, hoping Sekani would come up with something soon.