I drive for a bit and then we find a gas station outside of town, running in to grab a map and some gum. Fortunately there aren’t any zombies in there.
As we leave, I notice someone’s spray painted the brick side of the store with a single, short message – “We’re all pretty now.”
I glance at Cassie but she doesn’t seem to notice it.
I drive for about ten minutes to make sure we’re safely away from the town, then pull the Jeep off the road. I get out and spread the map on the hood until I realize that Cassie can’t see the map very well, so I put it on the grass and use rocks to keep it there. Cassie comes over, popping her gum.
“I think we’re just in Colorado,” I tap my finger on the map. “I think if we head west that we can make it back to the freeway.”
Cassie examines the map by crawling onto it and wrinkling it in spots. “Delilah, are we in a hurry to get to a certain spot? I mean, get to a certain place in Colorado by a certain time?”
“No,” I shake my head. “Why?”
She grins, then jumps up and runs to the Jeep. She comes back with a slightly tattered brochure in one hand, holding it out to me. I open it up and find it’s an ad for a place in Colorado called Garden of the Gods, and it looks magnificent.
“I think it’s here,” she lands on the map and I wince. She points at a spot that doesn’t look too far from the freeway.
I crawl onto the map next to her, trying to find the various points in my head. I’m horrible at reading maps, but in a few minutes I put it together.
“Yeah, I think if we go here, here and then here that we can get there.”
“Cool!” Cassie jumps up and down, and then twirls and jumps.
I wait until she’s slightly off balance, and then push her just a bit. She stumbles, but catches her balance, and then runs full tilt at me, pushing me backwards a bit. We giggle, and push each other back and forth to the car.
I drive for hours and hours, and we all eventually settle into a routine. Sunshine at one point crawls into Cassie’s lap, and then with many protests from Cassie sticks her head out the window. Eventually Cassie gets the large dog into the backseat and rolls up the window while I laugh at her. About four hours in we pull over at a rest stop.
There are abandoned cars here, of course. There’s a large, white vehicle – somewhere in between a station wagon and an SUV – with one of the back doors open and blood on the side. There’s food everywhere, all though it’s obvious that animals have eaten what they can. And there’s a family of three at one of the picnic tables, slumped over on the table, holding hands.