“Untitled Novel” – Chapter 11

Chapter 11: Time to Regroup

We ran until exhaustion overtook us, then we walked in silence for what seemed like miles. We left the town to shrink to a fine dot behind us. Not one of us even considered looking at the atlas that I had found. We simply wished to put as much distance as possible between ourselves and whatever had become of Tom. When the town faded out of sight and the smoke rising from that accursed diner had disappeared, only then did we finally stop.

Rick set his bags down first, exhausted further by his injury, and they strck the ground with a dull thud. Some of the cans fell out and clunked against the stones by the roadside. Rick’s stomach grumbled angrily and reminded us that none of us had eaten anything in what might have been days. Assured that we were safe, Bobbi pulled out a stolen can opener and set about opening a can of beans for each of us. Without a word we set about devouring them with stolen forks and spoons. After we ate, I laid the atlas out on the ground. I could only hope that the supposed age of the book didn’t invalidate it.

“Now that we’re clear,” I refused to mention Tom by name, as it reminded me that I had abandoned someone who needed help despite the circumstances. My voice probably sounded grim given my mood, but it didn’t matter. “We need to figure out where we are going.” I pointed at a circled point of the map, where the previous owner had circled a tiny town named Hillock. I could only guess was the name of the ghost town behind us as it seemed to be about right in relation to where we had last known our plane to be. I chose to take this on faith. I had no other choice. Without some reference point, we were lost.

The map, as I pointed out with my finger, indicated that we were not terribly far from Denver. It seemed the Bird had only taken us about twenty miles north of our destination when it dropped us off. I guessed we had already traveled about four or five of those in the right general direction before reaching the town. The tricky part was, based on the map, there were no roads that directly connected to the big city. Instead, we had to wrap around an entire mountain, a task which would easily add more than half a day’s travel assuming we did not stop overmuch. That wasn’t even including the time to travel a straight line…  I shared these details with my companions, knowing they were as eager to make it back to civilization as I was.

Before we starteded to move on, I pulled Rick aside and asked him to remove his shirt. I used the first aid kits to treat his superficial wounds and to better set his arm. I doubted it would heal properly without a visit to the hospital. I was fairly certain splints and bandages, when combined with his continued use of our makeshift sling, would hold for the few day’s worth of travel that we still had before us.

I attempted to do the same for Bobbi. She begrudgingly agreed to let me treat the large wound on her head, telling me not to waste supplies on her more superficial and non-threatening injuries. I put up a token argument, but I could see the logic in conserving our limited supplies. I finally acquiesced after she promised to keep an eye on them for infection. After much wincing on her part and care on mine, we were on the way once more.

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