I walk away and let her work. Then what she said triggers another thought in my head, one that I’m not about to share with her.
The way her father’s body had looked… now it strikes me that maybe he’d been assassinated, killed by an angry mob. I don’t want to ask, but I have the feeling that he saved her life – sending her off with someone else while he confronted the mob out front, even though it meant that he would die.
I run my hand along the cool counter tops, feeling my anger cool a bit as the knowledge that he’d died to save Cassie, died to save his research and to keep the one person who knew about it safe as well.
I turn and look at Cassie’s back. What are the chances that I would run into maybe the one person left that could get us all of out of this? Surely there are more like her out there, right? With that kind of knowledge?
I’d gotten good grades in school – I wonder if I can help. And hey, it isn’t like I’m going to get to be a world-famous actress now.
“Cassie, can I help?”
“What?” she looks up, a bit distracted.
“Can I help with the research?” I pause – I can’t believe I’m going to offer up this next part – I so want to be in an area where I can kill zombies I don’t know. “Since everything’s set up here, we could stay here and work on it.”
She stops working, blinking several times and tipping her head back, then shakes her head. “No, ah – ” her voice dips low – “you were right. I think it would be good to get out of town and away from everywhere we knew. We can set up a lab somewhere else. And then yes, I’d like your help. You definitely have more science than I have,” she tries to smile, but it breaks in the middle and never reaches her eyes.
“I’m almost done here. Why don’t you go ahead and take anything else we might need for the trip?”
“Sure,” I say quietly and slip out of the room.
A few hours later I find her in her bedroom. Her room is a typical little girl’s room. The walls are a dark pink color with white trim. There are pictures of unicorns on the wall, and Barbies piled in a heap in a wire bookcase to the left of me.
Then there’s the non-typical, at least in my experience. She has a tan chest of drawers that has a TV on top – a TV for goodness sake! – and what looks like a satellite receiver on top. Next to that is a tan desk with a laptop and two large flat screen monitors, with school books piled next to the computer. I notice that the books all seem to be science oriented – again, she’s smart.
Then it’s back to the kid part again – she has a giant white four poster bed that’s covered in a bedspread with ballerinas all over it, twirling on one toe forever.
“I’m almost done,” she says, and shuts down her laptop.
“Do you want to bring that?”
“No, too heavy. I’ll pick up a new one wherever we settle down. I’ve got everything important anyways,” she holds up a silver thumbdrive.
“Okay,” I say as she leads the way out of the room.
At the last moment, I grab a picture off of her chest of drawers. Cassie’s sitting on a chair with a bright, big smile, and a man and a woman stand behind her with smiles to match, one hand from each on her shoulders. I take the picture out of the frame and slip it into her backpack when she’s not looking.
I know from experience – it’s easier when you can remember what they looked like.