We moved fast and I pushed the kid to his limit and maybe a bit beyond. We didn't talk much. I didn't want to. My thinking was "Why get attached?" He was going to be history within days of us getting back. Banished into the wilderness.
We did some scavenging in houses as we came across them. Only the ones I felt okay about. I didn't want to deal with people even though I knew we were going to have too eventually. If for no other reason than we needed food and news. I skipped one house that looked good and was empty. No real reason other than I didn't like it. Zane didn't have a problem with it either. I think he felt it too. Some ugly shit had happened in the world and some places still held the echoes of what had happened.
We stumbled across corpses or groups of live people in the strangest of places. We would walk fire roads or whatever roads at times. I called them "Whatever" roads because I had no clue why they were there. They just were. Ruts most of the time was all they were. Maybe made by hunters, maybe by locals. They were just there. The corpses would show up off to the side of one of these roads. Never more than four or five except for the usual exception.
Most of them were just robbed and killed. A few we found stacked in piles around fire pits. The exception was over twenty men, women, and children we found in a pit. They had been executed. I was positive they were Hispanic. The hair was the tipoff. They might have been Asian but I doubted it. A few of the females still had rosaries clutched in their hands.
The live people we went around. Usually as widely as I could. I really doubted that they would welcome strangers with anything other than a bullet. If they didn't, it would because they needed time for the water to boil. Twice they tried to track us. They were good but not good enough. Woof and his friends probably considered them their version of pizza delivery. Hot, fresh, and they didn't have to do anything other than wait for it to come to them. I heard a gunshot one night when I knew we were being followed. The next day we were short one of the dogs. It was the mutt. No big deal as far as I or as best as I could tell to the others. Hell, the dogs probably ate him too.
Woof hung around the boy a lot. They got along pretty good. By the second night Woof was sleeping, when he wasn't out hunting, next to the kid. I was sort of jealous but I knew Woof was doing what he thought he was supposed to do. The kid would sit with him in the evening and go through his fur looking for ticks and whatever else he could find matted in his hair. Sometimes he would have what he thought were barely audible conversations with Woof. Mostly they were stories of what he had seen or about his family. I learned a lot, and sometimes I tried real hard not to listen.
We had made the turn back towards the way the Horde had gone on the forth day. I was ready to start looking for a place to stop. I was also looking for a vehicle or a couple bicycles. I was wishing we had Thursday's truck, maybe minus him. I regretted never getting to try the hammer. It was somewhat lame of him to blow us off like that. If I ever did run across him he was going to pay for that. Then I would give his hammer a new home. Then again, if he was who I thought he was, I might wait until I talked to Freya first. I had read a few Thor comic books as a kid so I knew he might be a challenge. The sword, and the arc light on contact with the truck told me that.
Zane asked me on our third day why Thursday had left us. I was surprised he waited that long. Then again he was like me that way. People came and went. Nobody ever explained it to you. It was just the way it was. We sitting near a small spring I had found when he said "Why did that man leave us?"
"I'm not sure. I think we were not his kind of people."
He made a kid scrunchy face and said "Huh?" Sometimes it was like I was with a midget adult. Other times he was just a kid. Those times were rare.
So I told him "Well, as best as I can figure he doesn't like the side I'm on. I think he is some kind of...god." I held up my hand to cut the kid off. I had a feeling if I didn't I would spend hours answering questions and I wanted to be moving soon. "It's like this. The Colonel has his followers right?" He nodded his head. "Well this guy, the old man, he is trying to find his own followers. I already have a couple leaders I'm following. So I was useless to him."
He thought about this. I could see it made sense to him... almost. "So who is our leaders? Max?"
"Yeah kid. He is one. Then we got Night. She is my wife sort of. We also got this girl named Freya. She is from the same group that Thursday came from. They all have special powers."
"Like Jesus? Or like Transformers?" he asked.
That stumped me. "I think kind of in between. Except Thursday wants to hurt people more than he wants to protect them."
"Is Freya good?"
I looked at him "Is anyone really?"
He thought about that for a bit then shook his head sadly. He knew.