Chapter 3- Part 1
“So, this survival school?” Susan asked hesitantly. “Will we be sleeping in tents or on the ground?”
Indiana glanced at Susie, then back to the road. Her friend had never really been interested in the survival school. Then again, unless it had to do with boys, fashion, or gossip, Susie didn't really care. “It's more of a compound. There's a bunk house and cabin. I'm sure mom will let you stay in the cabin.”
Susan stared out the window. “What about you?”
“This time of year, the cabin, since the weather’s still kind of unpredictable and it's freakin’ cold.”
Wrinkling her nose, Susie crossed her arms over her chest. “I don't get why you like all this outdoor crap.”
Indie shrugged, slowing down as red and blue lights appeared before them. The sheriff climbed out of his car. Pulling to a stop Indie rolled down her window and smiled. “Sheriff Perkins, what can I do for you?”
He grinned, showing tobacco stained teeth, and glanced between her and Susie. “Where you ladies headed?”
“Up to the school.”
“Neither of you have been sick, or eaten anything that might have been contaminated?” The girls looked at each other and shook their heads. “Are you carrying anything that might have been contaminated or come in contact with anything or one?”
“Only food we have is some MREs dad's had for a couple months.” Her mind flashed to Ms. Weltner. “But you might want to send someone to check on my neighbor, Debbie Weltner.”
His eyes widened. “You didn't touch her or get to close.”
Indie shook her head. “We saw the news report, and tried the numbers but all of them were busy.”
He nodded. “All right, I'll send someone over. Tell the folks up at the school that the towns are on lock down. No meat products are to be transported.” He turned his head and spit. “Waste of time sitting out here, no one’s carrying that stuff. Everyone’s chucking it, bears are having a field day in the dumpsters. Between everyone panicking and hospitals being overwhelmed...” He sighed and suddenly looked a lot older.
“I'll make sure they know, Sheriff.”
He nodded again. Turning to look up the road, he frowned. Indiana followed his gaze.
“Isn't that Old Man Benti?” Susie asked, shifting in her seat.
The grizzled form stumbled and shuffled down the road. The sheriff placed his hand on his gun. “I think you ladies should get going. I'll deal with Mr. Benti.”
He stepped away from the vehicle and Indie rolled up her window. As they pulled away she heard him yell. The old man's head jerked awkwardly, and he started shuffling faster toward the sheriff. Indie drew in a startled breath as they passed him. His leg was twisted at the wrong angle, causing him to drag it—hence the stumbling. Blood ran down his face from a large gash on his head to clump in his matted beard.
Indiana yanked her gaze back to the road as Susie strained against her seat belt to look behind them.
“Shouldn't we do something?”
Indie glanced in the rear-view mirror. A primal urge to flee lodged itself in her brain. That wasn't right. While she wasn't even close to a doctor, she knew he shouldn't be walking around. Not without a stick or crutch or barfing agony.
“No.” She gripped the wheel firmer and they turned a corner. “He's headed toward the sheriff. Perkins will be able to help more than we can. Besides, he told us to leave.”
“Yeah.” Susie sat forward, hesitantly at first, then with more conviction. “Yeah the sheriff can help him.”
A few minutes later they came across a truck, the driver side smashed against some trees. Branches crisscrossed through the windows.
“How did he walk away from that?”
Indie shook her head and swallowed, her throat suddenly dry. “I don't know, but let’s get out of here.”