“I know,” I said.
“Come on.” Daniels took a step back from me. “We’ll rest for the night, and in the daylight, we can start looking for where he moved to.”
The death groans were getting louder and more frequent, and I knew I’d better hurry and follow him. Boden simply chose the nearest house, and after clearing it, we all went upstairs. There wasn’t much in the way of furniture, so he turned a box spring on its side and used that to block the steps.
“We’re not eating tonight,” Boden told us. “No light. No food. No sound. We will take turns keeping watch all night. The rest of you, just get some sleep. I’ll take the first watch.”
For safety, we all slept in one room. There was no bed, just a wooden floor covered in garbage. Bishop and Teddy cleared away as much of the garbage as they could, pushing it all to one side of the room, and we all lay down in the middle.
I didn’t lie down for long, though. I couldn’t sleep. Not after what I’d seen. The compound was destroyed. Blue was a zombie. I had no idea where Max could be.
I gave up on sleep pretty quickly and went out to take over Boden’s post for him. He’d climbed out a broken window and was sitting on the roof in front of it. The moon was full above us, and he had a clear view of the street and area around us.
“You want to come and sleep?” I whispered, leaning out the window.
“No. You sleep.” He sat cross-legged with the gun lying across his lap and didn’t look back at me.
“I can’t sleep.” I climbed out through the window and slid down the roof so I was sitting next to him. “There’s no reason in us both missing sleep.”
“I’m not tired yet, either.”
Ripley had spotted me on the roof, and she stood on the sidewalk below us, swishing her tail and looking confused.
“Where’d you get that cat anyway?” Boden asked.
“Found her.” I pulled my knees up to my chest and wrapped my arms around them. “I think she used to be in a Vegas show or somebody’s pet or something.”
She paced the sidewalk in front of us, trying to figure out how to get up to where I was. She grunted a few times and kept swishing her tail.
“I’m sorry about your brother,” Boden said.
I chewed the inside of my cheek, refusing to let myself cry over this. I could still find him. I couldn’t give up hope and get upset so soon.
“I’m sorry about leading you here for nothing,” I said finally.
“What I told Nolita was true. It was worth the risk.” He paused. “We won’t last that long unless we find more supplies.”
Neither of us said anything after that. There wasn’t anything to talk about, except how imminent our demise might be, and that didn’t sound like fun.
Ripley eventually gave up trying to get up on the roof and just lay down on the sidewalk. I didn’t see anyone around, and other than the death groans, I didn’t hear anything.
That was until I heard someone calling the lion.
“Ripley?” The voice was soft and small, barely above a whisper.
Ripley heard it, though. She lifted her head and looked around. Then the call came again, and I swore I knew the voice.
I stood up. My heart was nearly pounding out of my chest, and then I saw a small figure emerge from the bushes across the street. I’m not sure how he got there without me seeing him, except that he was awfully sneaky, and it was a dark night.
But as soon as I saw him, I knew.
“Max!” I shouted, completely forgetting about the zombies and how quiet we needed to be.
He lifted his head, his eyes wide, and I couldn’t stop myself. I ran and jumped off the roof. I landed on the grass, falling to my back with a painful thud. I’d just gotten to my knees when Max made it to me. He’d run from across the street.
I grabbed his arms, almost forcefully, and I pushed his hair back from his face, inspecting him. He looked so much better than when I’d seen him last. Even an apocalyptic diet was better than the care he’d been getting in a quarantine. His face was dirty, his thick brown hair was a little long, but he was alive.
I wrapped my arms around and hugged him fiercely, probably painfully, but he hugged me back just as hard.
“Remy,” Boden said from the roof. His voice was quiet but his tone was plaintive, and I understood why.
My yelling had attracted zombies. I could see the jerky movements of three zombies as they walked down the street toward us, and when I looked around, there was movement in the shadows beside the house.
Then I heard that howl, the ones the zombies made to alert the others they’d found fresh meat. We were going to be surrounded within seconds.
I got to my feet and grabbed Max’s hand, meaning to drag him inside the house. I’m not sure how long we’d really last in there, but it was better than being on the street.
“No,” Max said and wouldn’t let me pull him. “This way, Remy.”
I wanted to argue with him, but he’d obviously survived here for a while. He probably knew better than I did where to go.
As he yanked me away, I looked back over my shoulder at Boden. “Don’t make a sound. We’ll lead them away. Don’t shoot or draw attention to yourself.”
Boden did as he was told, standing on the roof of the house, and watching as my little brother led me away.
Max was really fast, and I pushed myself to keep up with him. Once the zombies started giving chase, Ripley took after us, too. Max ducked and darted around things, taking the most complicated path to lose the zombies. They were fast, but they weren’t smart.