Loco was surprised to see me as I was early. I guess he saw the look on my face because he didn't argue. He just went. I wasn't thrilled with our location either. It was too damn close to town. I would have pushed us on through the night but despite what Carol and her friends had seen and done I didn't think night marches were one of them. My night version was outstanding compared to someone pre-PowerDown. Now we were finding it was damn near miraculous. Vitamin deficiency had taken it's toll on most peoples night vision since.
I took up my position, relaxed, and let myself drift out into the fields surrounding us. I was looking for anomalies, strange feelings, I am not sure how to describe it really. I was good at it, almost as good as Max, who had taught me how to do it. He was still far better at moving in the woods though. Part of that ability could be taught, part of it was mental, and another part was just a gift that you had or didn't have. I didn't have it and I had accepted that I didn't. I wasn't mentally wired for it I think. I liked to roll out and go to much.
Carol was quiet, but no where near the level she would have to be to run with us now. I heard her hesitate about 20 feet from me then whisper "Gardener..." I fought bought the flash of anger I felt. This was really stupid of her on so many different levels. I slipped over to where she was and said "What?" just before she called my name again. I startled the hell out of her which I have to admit I enjoyed.
"Jesus G...you" I cut her off by holding my finger up to my lips. Then I said "Try a little quieter Carol." She nodded her head, and I said "What?" She looked at loss for words. Something I had never seen before. She looked good in the moonlight. I doubt if she could see me as well as I could her. This was good. I could stare at her breasts more openly. Especially as she had her blouse open a couple extra buttons which was strange. I thought "Maybe the buttons fell off or she doesn't realize it." While I was hoping that she would drop something she said "I have one of his t-shirts. He would recognize that. Plus I can give you a good description. He has a scar on his left arm that is very noticeable."
"Okay fine." I thought. She could have told me this later. I was getting ready to wave her back and whisper "Later" when she hit me with the high beams. She opened her blouse, cupped the twin delights, and said "Can you see these G? They're yours to have." She hesitated, then added "And much more." They were beautiful. She was beautiful. Not all that long ago I would have been a happy man who would have been moving rapidly towards ecstatic. Not now. Instead all I felt was sadness. Well, mostly sadness. I sighed and said "No Carol. Not like this. I'll find the boy but...no. Please go." What made it worse was the relief I saw in her eyes. If she had pushed it I probably would have gone for it. The expression of relief I saw was a knife in my heart. I turned and slipped back to where I had been and listened to her snap sticks all the way back to where the rest were.