Peter nodded, “Morning.” He poked the glowing embers of the fire with a stick and blew on them,
coaxing them back to life while Zach went about filling a kettle that he took from it’s customary spot where it hung from the side of the cart and filled it with snow.
Zach set the kettle in the fire and then began digging through one of the other shopping carts. “Fuck!”
“What is it?” Amy said, stepping out of her own tent.
“We’re almost out of coffee.”
“So, I noticed something this morning when the sun came up,” Peter said, grabbing a pair of binoculars. Peering through them, he found what he sought and handed them to Zach. “There, by the tree line.”
“What am I looking… oh.”
“What is it?” Amy asked and Zach passed her the binoculars.
“How long do you think he’s been there?” She asked, finally locating what the others had seen.
“I don’t know, but he has a pair of these as well,” Peter said, taking the binoculars back.
“What do we do about him?” Amy said, looking to the two men.
“We’re moving on, we’ll just keep an eye out. He probably has a place near by and is just making sure we leave him alone. If he follows us, well, we’ll figure it out then.” Peter said.
Zach nodded. “Sounds good, lets keep this between the three of us for now, no need to worry the rest of them yet.”
The kettle began to whistle and grabbing a towel, Amy pulled it from the fire. “The press ready?”
“Sorry, I got distracted,” Zach said, digging through the cart the coffee was in and pulling out a french press, which he poured some of the ground coffee into. “I got to say, I would have never drank it this way before…” he added, handing the press to Amy, who poured hot water in.
“Yeah, but this is better than nothing. How much would you say we have left?”
“We’ll be out tomorrow.” While they waited for the coffee to steep, Brian woke up.
“So, how far you think we have left to travel?” He asked.
“As far as I know, we’re still in Texas.”
Sarah poked her head out of the tent she and Amy shared, “What’s this about us still being in Texas?”
“We should be leaving it any day now, and we should be able to pick up the pace pretty soon too.”
“It would help if we had some bikes or something.” Brian said.
“Well,” Peter said, a bit annoyed, “Keep your eyes out, and if we find some, we will gladly take them.”
“What’s for breakfast?” Kyle asked, joining them.
“Do you do anything else other than eat?” Zach asked, pulling a package of oatmeal from a cart and throwing it toward the boy.
Kyle caught the packet and dug through his pack for a bowl and a spoon. “Thanks,” he said, opening the packet and pouring its contents in.
Amy added some hot water and Kyle added a scoop of snow. “Thanks,” he said again.
Zach continued to dig for more oatmeal as Amy started another kettle of snow to boil.
“It looks dark,” Brian said, nodding towards the sky in the west.
“Yeah, we ought to get moving pretty soon before the storm stops us completely.” Peter responded. Amy sat down beside him and he squeezed her leg when he caught her glancing toward the trees and their observer.
“Let me get my mom,” Kyle said.
“I’m up,” Julie called from within her tent. “I don’t know how you expect any of us to sleep with that damned, darned kettle.”
The group finished their meal and were packed in under an hour, the carts rolling down the road.
The storm finally broke, dumping cold water on them, after nearly three hours of walking. They huddled underneath umbrellas in pairs,, Rocky and Brian, Kyle and his mother, Zach and Sarah, and finally Amy and Peter.
“Is he still there?” Amy whispered.
“I haven’t had a chance to check yet. It’ll look suspicious if I am looking backwards,” He whispered back.
The rain only fell for fifteen minutes. The sun poked through the clouds and after stowing their umbrellas, they were on the road again. Despite the road ahead being damp, the group was in high spirits. Rocky ran ahead, while the rest of the group marched on, laughing and singing.
They stopped as the sun reached its zenith and ate a meager lunch. Grabbing the binoculars, Peter made a show of scanning the horizon before them before swinging around to the trail they had left behind.
“What are you looking for?” Brian asked, coming to stand beside Peter.
“Just trying to see how far we’ve come. I think we’ve made it almost five miles already today.”
“Yeah,” Peter handed him the binoculars and tried to point out where he thought they had started.
“Who’s that?” Brian asked all of a sudden.
“Where?” Peter said, grabbing back the binoculars.
Peter followed the line of Brian’s hand and, despite having missed the man earlier, he saw him now.
“Zach, come here.” Peter said and handed the field glasses to him.
“Damn! How far away do you think he is?”
“Too far to shoot.” Pete said.
“What? You don’t even know who he is!” Brian said.
“He’s right,” said Zach, handing the binoculars back to Brian. “Look again, at maximum zoom. Look at his face.”
Brian did so, and could see the man’s lifeless eyes. “Damn.”
“I’ll go,” Zach said.
“No, it’s my turn to leave the group. You guys get going. I’ll catch up.” Peter said, grabbing a shotgun and slinging it over his shoulder. He then checked the gun tucked into his belt, found it was full, and replaced it. Hold this for me, would you?” He pulled out his wallet, where he had tucked his own obol. He tossed the coin to Zach. “I won’t be needing it just yet.” He turned but stopped when someone called his name.