“Snacks would be good, but gas is the primary objective,” I said. Holding up my box again, I said, “We brought contraceptives.”
“And poison oak ointment.”
Indy laughed. “Those are two things that go together more often than not out here. Come on over, kids. Let’s look at your toys, and see if we can’t come to some sort of an agreement about what they’ll buy you.”
Becks and I exchanged a relieved glance as we walked over to the counter. Indy held out her hands for the box. I briefly considered refusing to hand it over, since that would reduce our bargaining power. Stupid idea. Bargaining power wouldn’t do us any good if we didn’t get out alive. I gave her the box.
“Where you kids heading?” Indy asked, as she put the box down and began picking through its contents.
“Berkeley,” said Becks.
“Florida,” I said at the same time.
Indy glanced up, a glint of amusement in her eyes. “Long-term and short-term goals, I see. The Doc put you up to this?”
“She wants mosquitoes,” I said with a shrug. “There are some people in Berkeley who may be able to help us get to Florida and back out again without getting arrested for suspected bioterrorism. I’m pretty sure the people maintaining the blockades out there won’t like the idea of us just popping in.”
“The Masons can probably help you,” agreed Indy, pulling three packs of contraceptive implants out of the box and setting them on the counter. “Don’t look so surprised. I looked you up as soon as you told my boys who you were.”
“We know what the Internet is,” contributed Nathan.
“Not all the old networks have been shut down,” said Indy, and straightened, pushing the box toward me. “The implants—we have our own injection gun—two boxes of condoms, four test kits, and some antibiotics. We’ll give you a full tank of gas, feed you lunch, and let you leave here alive. We’ll even throw in a shower, if you want one.”
“I’ll pass on the shower for now, but the rest works,” I said.
“It’s amazing that you can live out here like this,” said Becks.
“Well, honey, if you grew up before the whole world was behind walls, this can seem like the only way to live.” Indy smiled a little wistfully. Then she caught herself. Wiping her hands briskly against her jeans, she straightened. “Come on. Let’s get you fueled up.”
Paul was still standing at the gate when we emerged. He and Indy exchanged a nod, and he watched silently as I got back into the van and pulled it up to the fuel pumps. Becks went back inside while I pumped the gas, emerging a few minutes later with a brown paper sack of something that smelled spicy and delicious.
Indy followed her, watching with folded arms as I finished pumping. “You want some free advice?” she asked. “It’s worth what you’ll pay for it.”
“I’m listening,” I said, hanging the fuel pump back on its hook.
“Trust the Doc as long as you’re not between her and whatever crazy-ass thing she’s working on right now. Trust the Masons as far as you can throw them.”
“I learned that second part a long time ago,” I said, with what I hoped was a wry smile. “Thanks for your hospitality.” I wanted to ask what she knew about the Masons. I didn’t think it would be a good idea, and so I kept my mouth shut.
“Any time.” Indy turned to smile at Becks, who was staring at her like she’d just seen a ghost. “Drive safely, kids.” She walked back inside before either of us could answer.
Becks followed me back to the van in stunned silence, climbing into the passenger seat without saying a word. I waved to Paul and Nathan as I started the engine, and navigated the van carefully around the closing gate, back onto the gravel road.
It wasn’t until we reached the end of the gravel and started down the uneven dirt road that she spoke. “That was Indigo Blue,” she said.
“What?” I asked, only half listening as I fought to keep from losing control of the van. “I hate this road.”
“I said, that was Indigo Blue. The Newsie? The one who disappeared after she collaborated with your father?”
“Adoptive father,” I said automatically. Then I blinked. “Wait, really? Are you sure?”
“We covered her in my History of Journalism class. I didn’t recognize her immediately, but yes, I’m sure.”
“Huh. I wonder what she’s doing out here?”
“I wonder why she isn’t dead! Everyone thought she was.”
“Want to go back and ask her?”
“No!” Becks’s answer was fast enough to make me take my eyes off the road and frown at her. She sighed. “If she’s out here, she’s got a reason. I want to know what it is, but I’ll respect it. We’re not here for that.”
“I guess not.” I turned my eyes back to the road. “I wonder if Dr. Abbey knew.”
“I wonder if Dr. Abbey cared.”
“There’s always that. I—” My sentence went unfinished as I hit the brakes, causing my seat belt to cut painfully into my shoulder. Becks yelped as she was flung forward.
“Shaun! What the f**k?”
I didn’t answer her aloud. I just raised my hand, pointing at the shaggy hulk that was standing at the end of the dirt road. Becks turned to follow my finger, her eyes going wide.
“Shaun. Is that… is that a bear?”
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