The horse died suddenly. It had not looked good and they all knew they weren’t going to get any meat out of it. They were crossing the desert that had been Alabama before the airburst seared the land, and this was just one more obstacle they had to overcome. Jenny talked about how it had been a swampland once, but that was hard to picture given how bone dry the whole thing was now.

They had their anti-cancer machines running full capacity out here – they were lucky to have happened upon them in that facility, which seemed to have been compromised but not discovered until them.

Rumours were few and far between these days. They didn’t meet many people on the road. The kids had to be protected. Sometimes protection meant killing things. Sometimes it meant killing people. Sometimes, like with Aunt Luna, it meant dying.

Holt sat down by the side of the road. Billy and Luce sat down too. Jenny stood watching them. The clouds in the sky meant they couldn’t wait around for long, but he needed to rest. He drank from his Geiger Bottle – juice, some kind of berry he couldn’t recall the name of.

Holt was trying to recall the last time he saw a bird. Insects seemed to be doing OK. Rats seemed to have adapted. Humans? Who knew? There weren’t many people around so he figured they weren’t doing too great. Down towards Florida – it had been a long journey already. It wasn’t the first journey they’d made, and it wouldn’t be the first broken promise they arrived in. The promise was a beacon though – something to walk towards. That was Holt’s job, to keep making promises, and to absorb the disappointment when it didn’t work out. Jenny touched his shoulder – time to move.

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