In the distance now she could hear coyotes. Not unlike the regular ecosystem, when bodies became too numerous to be properly buried the coyote population ballooned and now there wasn’t enough game to keep them fed. Except the occasional strangled innocent left on the road by robbers. The roads were becoming exceptionally dangerous as supplies ran out in the cities as quickly as social order had. June had seen women with screaming children in their hands run down by groups of men just for the food, clothing, or weapons they were carrying. Once she’d watched from a cave. Standing at an unobtrusive 5’4”, she didn’t have much to contribute to a fight, aside of creativity. These attacks never made sense to her. Besides good company she didn’t want for anything. There were several people she’d met along the way who had seemed promising, but they all had the same line, “I have a family.” Besides, she was sick of burying people. The last few times she’d sat by someone suffering, begging for death… when they’d gone cold… if there wasn’t anyone else with her but Howard… she’d just left them lying there. After a while burying bodies became a meaningless act.
Anyone else she’d come across who she could tolerate had phrased their reasoning for wanting to be alone differently. Essentially, they couldn’t trust an outsider to not do something stupid, no more than they could trust their own spouses or children. If they had any left, which none of them did. Aside of this, many of them were unconvinced as to her intentions. They all wondered why she’d left a quiet home in a cooperative community. When she would explain that said community had no defenses against vandals –including manpower by the time she’d gone- they scoffed. “At least you have somewhere to go.”
This never made any sense to her either. No one had anywhere to go.
The sun had finally dipped into the horizon and she squinted against it no longer. In only minutes it would be too dark to continue. There would be no moon tonight. She and Howard dropped off the road onto a steep slope. As they ascended rocks ominously tumbled below onto the concrete of the highway. She liked to find places where they could see the road but passersby couldn’t see them. Howard had eaten all day, picking grassy bits from the side of the highway. As they had traveled south and the air grew warmer she had been pushing less for speed and more for length of the day. She figured if they were mobile they might avoid unpleasant brushes with the locals.
Several hours on the ground put her to sleep against the beast’s rising and falling stomach. Had the machine that Jack McCoy put together been more of the motorcycle variety, it is possible that she would never have woken. But the machine that Jack put together was a bit different. He had constructed a civilian tank of sorts, a new or near-new Hummer with a snowplow’s dual blades at the front to move cars that had been left on the road out of his way. With each car he passed a startling shriek of grinding metal was emitted. And at this very moment, Jack was being pursued by a few unsavory individuals.